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Lately, I have been burdened with a lot of bad news.  I’m talking deaths of friends.  As I told you a few weeks ago, I had one friend who recently killed himself.  I have known several other expats here in the Philippines who have died of late, unfortunately.  It seems that nearly ever week for the last couple of months, I have gotten e-mails from people informing me of deaths of friends or acquaintances.   Some of these people were close to me, others, actually most, were only people that I had met, or had e-mail contact with.  Still, though, you hate to see people that you know die.

Last week, I got a “friend request” from somebody on Facebook.  I didn’t know who the girl was, only that she wanted to be friends.  Well, I am pretty liberal with approving friends on Facebook, because a lot of people who read my various sites want to be friends, and I am happy to do so, even if I don’t really know them.  Well, after approving the friendship with the girl who requested it, I almost immediately got an e-mail from her.  Turns out that she was the daughter of one of my regular readers here on LiP.  Unfortunately, this reader, whom I considered a friend, and who has been reading for a long, long time here recently passed away here in the Philippines.  I am not going to name the reader in this article, because some of the things I want to say in this article might not be appreciated or understood by the daughter.

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This reader, let’s call him Steve, was living in Digos, Davao del Sur, about an hour south of where I live.  He kind of came and went over the years, spending time both in the Philippines, and back in the USA.  But, he had told me, via private e-mails, that it was his intention to make the Philippines his home, and to stay here permanently more and more as time went by.  Unfortunately, he died last month in a motorcycle accident.

His daughter contacted me, because she knew of me through her father, and knew that we were friends.  His daughter was quite disturbed, naturally, by her father’s death.  She even questioned whether it really happened the way that it was said to have happened, thinking that perhaps his girlfriend had a hand in his death, although there was really no evidence to point to that.

Unfortunately, there was a communications problem between the daughter and the girlfriend too.  Steve had been cremated after his death.  The daughter wanted her father’s ashes to be returned to the States so that “he could be at peace.”  Well, I can’t say that having his ashes shipped back to the States would put him at peace, but it seemed that it would give the daughter some peace.  What were Steve’s wishes, though?  Frankly, I don’t know, and based on conversations with the daughter and the girlfriend, I don’t think either of them knew for certain either.

The daughter asked me to communicate with the girlfriend to see if I could get the ashes sent back to the States.  I was a bit uneasy with this, because I did not know Steve’s wishes.  But, since it seemed that he had not made his wishes known, I obliged and acted as an intermediary, and it seems that things have  been worked out between them.

I had a situation about 9 years ago along a similar vein.  After I had been living here for about a year, I got a call one day from my Mom.  She had been pretty much against my moving to the Philippines, and did not understand why I would want to do something like that.  When she called she had a question for me:

Son, I just want to know, if you die will you have your body shipped back to the States?

The question kind of took me by surprise, but indeed it was something we had never discussed, and I had not made my wishes known.  I replied to her:

Well, I would prefer to just be buried here in the Philippines.  This is my home.

Mom didn’t like that answer much, and she was actually quite upset by it.  Over the years, though, she has come to understand, and even feel that I would be doing the right thing by being buried here in the land that I call my home.  Last week, though, I called my Mom to tell her about this experience that I had in talking with the girl who’s father died here.  I told Mom that I just wanted to make sure that she understood what my wishes were, because I did not want her and Feyma to argue over what would be done with my body, should I meet my demise.  Thankfully, when we talked, Mom was understanding and supportive, and assured me that she understood what my wishes were.

Basically, I would just like to encourage everybody reading this to make your wishes known to your family members.  If you are from one country and have family there, yet you are living, or spending significant time in another country, this is something you need to consider and plan for appropriately.  What if you die while you are in the other country?  What do you want to be done with your remains?  For you, since you will be dead, your wishes will really have little impact on yourself, but it can bring peace and understanding to those whom you care about in each location.

Ideally, you should have a Will that would lay out your intentions and wishes.  However, a lot of people do not have a Will, so at the very least, talk to your loved ones and make sure that they know what it is that you want.  If they can’t accept your desires, that is their problem, but at least they will know what your desire is.

To my friend, “Steve”, I hope that the arrangement that was made for what to do with your ashes is within your intentions.  May you rest in peace, my friend.

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Bob Martin

Bob Martin is the Publisher & Editor in Chief of the Live in the Philippines Web Magazine. Bob is an Internet Entrepreneur. Bob is an American who lived in Mindanao from 2000 until 2019. Bob has now relocated back to the USA.

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Dave Starr
Guest

Some good advice there. Bob. As some know my beloved mother-in-law passed away at the beginning of April. Even though we feel most of her wishes were well known and honored, there was nothing but memory of different children to guide us, and when you have the death of a parent on your hands is a time when it’s very hard to think clearly or make judgments without emotion. I’m certainly no lawyer, and we don’t need to make this into a legal discussion, but no one can stop you, right now, from taking a sheet of paper, writing down… Read more »

MindanaoBob
Guest

Hi Dave – The best that one could do is to have a proper Will drawn up, but short of that, just writing down your wishes on a sheet of paper is a good thing to do. Like you, I am certainly no attorney, but just the act of letting loved ones know what it is that you want is certainly the first step toward easing the process when the end comes.

Paul-T
Guest
Paul-T

Hi Bob; My family in the states and here know that I desire to be buried at sea, one, it is where I spent most of my adult life, and two, anyone that wants to visit my grave has but to go to any beach, as I’m out there somewhere. This can be done free by the U.S. Navy, though one would have to wait for a U.S. Navy ship to pull into port. So, I’ve asked to be cremated and my ashes cast into the sea, here in the Philippine’s, to make it easier on all. Yes, it’s in… Read more »

MindanaoBob
Guest

Hi Paul – I have thought of being cremated and having my ashes spread in Sarangani Bay, down around GenSan. But, that was back when I lived in that area. Now… perhaps I would want it to be in the Davao Gulf, maybe over around Samal. I just hope that it is still a long time for both of us before we require such services!

Paul-T
Guest
Paul-T

Hi Bob;
Believe me I’m in no great hurry to have it done; it’s just something that makes sense to me, as I have no desire for a box under the dirt. As if I’d know (lol). As for which body of water, it makes no never mind to me.

MindanaoBob
Guest

Hi Paul – Yep, no hurry here! It will be interesting to see what is on the other side.. but I can wait! 😯

Kano Doug
Guest
Kano Doug

🙁

Nice write up Bob. Thank you for bringing such an issue to the forefront. Like myself, I’m sure many of us tend to put it off time and time again.

May Steve’s soul rest in peace.

MindanaoBob
Guest

Hi Kano Doug – Yep, I think it’s a good idea to not let it slide, even just letting people know what you want can get the ball rolling!

Kano Doug
Guest
Kano Doug

Wow, are there two of us here?

MindanaoBob
Guest

I was wondering the same! 😯

Paul
Guest
Paul

Hi Bob – Like Paul T, my desire is burial at sea. To facilitate things, I’d go so far as to have someone ship me to Guam to pick-up my ride to my final resting place. Western Pacific, Philippine Sea or (mostly desired) South China Sea are fine places for me. (Taiwan Straight would be great, but I’m sure China and Formosa [yeah, I still call it Formosa] would be concerned about a US Naval ship dumping there. 😉 ) Though the rationale is similar to Paul T’s (visit me at any beach, etc.) the response from loved ones (?)… Read more »

Paul
Guest
Paul

Then, again, I’ll be dead. INMP (Is No My Problema) 😆 😆 😆

MindanaoBob
Guest

Exactly! 😉

MindanaoBob
Guest

Hi Paul – Personally.. I would not consider ash as pollution.. it’s just a natural substance from life. I wouldn’t consider it any different than dirt. It will just become part of the earth….

PaulK
Member

Well, Bob, with all the medications (prescribed and otherwise) over the years, plus a lot of other “this’s and that’s” ingested, I’d say it was more like a biohazard than some simple dirt. 😆

MindanaoBob
Guest

Ha ha… I’d say that the incineration will take care of the bio side of it, though! 😯

PaulK
Member

“. . . incineration will take care of the bio side of it, though!”

That’s the problema – with bio out of the way, it just leaves the hazard. Those “heavy metals” and other minerals can take substantial heat! 😯

And the thought of an incinerator: Oooo…that’s gonna leave a mark! 😆

MindanaoBob
Guest

Ah, Paul… the incinerator is no problem… every time I walk out the front door, I feel like I’m stepping into the incinerator! 😆

PaulK
Member

And I, stepping out of the ice-box! 😆

Paul-T
Guest
Paul-T

Paul;
My wife has the same problem’ except she’ll be afraid to eat any fish because they ate me. Ya can’t fight city hall. But you can reverse the logic; I explained that if I wake up under dirt I will come back, mad as hell.

ian
Guest
ian

My will needs updating so I am going to get someone local to do a cheap and simple one. I did my previous one myself but I dont know if their are any laws peculiar to the Phil that I need to be aware of . If I make a deal with a local atty i will post the results here. [ maybe we can get a group discount ! lol ]

MindanaoBob
Guest

Hi ian – I personally wonder about this. I would be a little hesitant to use a Filipino lawyer to draw up a will. Not that I don’t trust lawyers here, but I think that as a citizen of another country, the inheritance laws of our country of citizenship would apply to us. I feel that if we were to have a will drawn up by an attorney here, the Philippine inheritance laws would then apply to us. For example, I believe under Philippine law, your wife automatically gets half, and your kids automatically equally split up the other half.… Read more »

ian
Guest
ian

My first thought re where i go the will drawn up was the Phillipines because all of my assets are here, and I think that no matter where the will was done Phil law would prevail. My other consideration- which may in fact invalidate the first – is that my 2 kids are in Canada, and I have only been with my woman here for under 2 years and I am not prepared to give her as much control as you are Bob- not at this point anyway. I also have to see how much control of assets I can… Read more »

MindanaoBob
Guest

This is certainly a matter that needs to be discussed with an attorney. I feel, Ian, that since we are not citizens, and if we express our wishes, our home country laws can be enforced, but I’m not a lawyer (I don’t even play one on TV) haha … it’s just hard to say. As it is now, I think that under Philippine law your wife (if you marry) will get everything, but I am not certain. I have no problems leaving everything to Feyma… we’ve been married nearly 20 years, and whatever I have is hers too already, as… Read more »

janet
Guest
janet

well, i think because it's always been easier to go up than to go down.

ian
Guest
ian

I’ll post the results here when i find out Bob. But I do know that in Canada the place of death determines the estate laws applied, and that where you got your will done is irrelevant

MindanaoBob
Guest

Let me just rephrase for clarity, ian. I do not mean that “where you got your will done” will determine how the estate will be handled, although I agree that the way I wrote it sounds like that. What I mean is that if you write up a will here, a Philippine lawyer will write a will that fits within Philippine laws, that will just be automatic. If you have a will that is drawn up based on the laws from where you came, I believe that Philippine authorities would let that stand, based on the fact that you are… Read more »

lenny2000
Guest
lenny2000

Funny, You write alot of articles that I am alrady thinking about and this is another one, maybe we are related?? Hahahah, but yes very good article and its the right thing to do to discuss this with your family so they know your thoughts. I have thought about it as I said, a couple of times and I think I would want to be cremated, something I never thought of in the USA, and have them shipped to my family in the USA and they can make a decsion what to do with them, but I haven’t looked into… Read more »

MindanaoBob
Guest

Hi lenny – I have spies out there that let me know what my readers are thinking about… and it always shows up in my articles! 😯 ha ha

Personally, I don’t have any desire or need to have my remains repatriated to the USA. But, if it is important to you, certainly let your loved ones know, so that it can happen.

Ron LaFleur
Guest
Ron LaFleur

Interesting once again. I want my ashes to be buried in the root ball of a fruit bearing tree wherever my wife and daughter live. In that way I will always have a part of me living with them near. Sounds strange but thats my desire and its in my will.

MindanaoBob
Guest

Hi Ron – Remind me to stay away from the fruit in your yard! 😆 Ha ha.. just kidding… it sounds like you have your plans set, and have made them known. Good for you, Ron! I hope it’s a long time, though, before you see the roots of that fruit tree!

lenny2000
Guest
lenny2000

Ron, Thats cool..

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