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We Have Returned!

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The other day, I re-read Bob’s column reporting that Live in the Philippines readers are moving to the Philippines. Bob was not expecting this migration, regardless of its size and scope. Like many of us who follow his columns, Bob views it as a good thing.

My wife Emy and I viewed it as a good thing, too. We thought it is such a good thing that we are participating in the “flood of humanity” to the Philippines. Our move, however, is more of a “MacArthur-like” return than just a simple “Gee, that’s a beautiful place” move. Do not get me wrong. Any reason to move could be a good reason in our eyes. We are returning to our friends and family after defeating the soul-sapping invader: uncertainty. While not being totally dispatched, retreat on all fronts is uncertainty’s order of the day. We are able to “land and move inland,” exclaiming that we have returned.

Visa Assistance

This PAL baggage handler “Ping”, an Ilocano, was one of the first to greet us at the Centennial Terminal’s baggage claim at NAIA. Every time we transit baggage claim, he is the handler who takes care of us. He knows that we will seek him out whenever we are there. He always makes sure that our bags clear customs and find their way to our Laoag flight. All transits are successful meetings and each with that, “Welcome back!” ever-present smile.

We took his picture on our last visit when we asked him to watch for our son who would be transiting baggage claim in two weeks time. We emailed his picture to our son with instructions to seek him out. When our son finally made his trip, he was surprised that “Ping” was calling him by name while eying the passengers from our son’s flight. He made sure our son’s baggage cleared customs and found their way to that Laoag flight – another successful transit!

Our porter (baggage handler) at Laoag International Airport is a cousin who, likewise, greeted us grandly and quickly had our bags in tow. While it is the northernmost international airport in the Philippines, it is small. So is the baggage claim area. I counted eight porters working our flight. The flight was nearly full, so there were about one hundred and thirty passengers. The porters really hustled – our flight’s baggage was deplaned, transported, and “out the door” in just over thirty minutes. Larger airports cannot match that! Though the airport has just installed a baggage carousel, it awaits power hook-up and certification. I wonder how the porters will handle working side-by-side the carousel.

It is about a half-hour ride from the airport to our home. That half-hour tried to fly by as we pass the all too familiar sites, but it seemed to drag on whenever we thought of our destination.

Home always looks good. Such a nice, tranquil place that is soothing in the shade. While the katulangs and our driver took care of the baggage, I found time to visit the nipa hut. What a wonderful place to sit and enjoy one’s surroundings. I just had to go in, sit down, and convince myself that we were actually here. We did it – we made the move (well, the traveling part any way).

When I had fully convinced myself that, yes, we were home; it was time for a personal ritual that I do not fail to perform whenever I come home. I visit Auntie Lydia’s “tiangi” or sari-sari store, across the highway from our house. This visit has a two-fold purpose: to greet Auntie, who has always been supportive and friendly, and to buy two cold bottles of San Miguel Beer. I always offer the first bottle to Auntie. She traditionally declines it.

There will be other San Miguel’s in my life, but those first two cold ones, ritually imbibed upon my return to Pasuquin, are always among the best.

Rituals completed, it is time to head to the house, help unpack, and get a little naptime. The house is new and is my part of a bargain. Emy once told me that the only way we could retire in the Philippines would be to build a new, American style house there. Well, I upheld my part!

The outside has the “island flair,” but the inside has quite a few western amenities. This, indeed, is Emy’s dream house and it makes her happy. I’m happy, too, that we both held up our parts of the bargain.

Like most houses in the Philippines, construction is never 100% complete. There are always little touches and personal tweaks that occur over the years. We had the house wired for both 220VAC and 110VAC, but we have yet to purchase and install a pole transformer that will provide such western magic. We will also purchase and install an outdoor chandelier at the front doorway. Finding just the right one is difficult. I am sure we will find more home improvements as time goes on. For now, however, it is time to enjoy being home.

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PaulK

Paul is a CPA and a retired tax accountant, having served companies and corporations of all sizes, as well as individuals, in public accounting practices. Prior to what he refers to as his "real job," he served a 24-year career in the U.S. Navy, retiring as a Master Chief Petty Officer. It was during this career that he met and married his OFW spouse of 40+ years, Emy, while stationed in London, UK. (Though he pleaded for the assignment, Paul never received orders to the Philippines.) A "Phil-phile" from an early age, Paul remembers his first introduction to the Philippines in the primary grades of a parochial elementary school where, one week each year, children donated their pennies to purchase school supplies, food and other necessities for Filipino children in need. That love for Filipinos continues to this day. Calling Pasuquin, Ilocos Norte--in the far northwestern part of Luzon--home (just about as far away from Davao as one can be while still being on one of the major islands) Paul prefers a more relaxed provincial life style, and willingly shares a different view of the Philippines from "up north"!

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queeniebee
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queeniebee

Hi Paul, When we arrive after our Cathay Pacific flight that takes us straight on to Mactan Cebu Airport from the States, my husband’s childhood friend who is a baggage handler there, always seems to find us as if he knew we were coming. Finally getting to our house after grocery shopping, errands lunch etc. in the city, it’s a great feeling like we never left. It sounds like you’re really happy in your familiar place. I hope that you have long happy life there. (Off topic, I’d reccomend Cathay Pacific to anyone needing to get to Cebu because they… Read more »

Paul
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Paul

Hi Bob – We ended up not bringing any lamps, so that problem solved itself before it occurred.

All of the “stuff” I brought that needs AC power is compatable 110/220 stuff. Emy did end up bringing a mixer, a blender and a rice cooker ( ❓ ) that are 110 VAC only.

I suggested that we wire the house for 220 VAC only, but my honey of a chief engineer said “no way – it’s my dream house.” Who says dreams don’t come true? 😆

Paul
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Paul

I’m at that point already – only 220 VAC stuff, nuttin’ else!

But the boss . . . . 😀

John Rodgers
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John Rodgers

Congradulations on getting home. It’s a long flight full of logistics from S.F., so I know it’s even more involved farther away. Hopefully everything will just fall in place for you, and you will continue to smile on……..i2f

Vanessa
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Vanessa

Nice house Paul, how long did it take you to build this house and how big?? Husband and I are planning of building our house next year in Davao City(3hrs drive from Mati my hometown). Welcome back and enjoy Philippines.

Dave
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Dave

Paul, glad you were able to return. We have a similar “friend” in customs at the transfer area of the old airport named “Willy”. My third trip here this guy recognized me right off. On another trip when our bags were delayed by LAX, but we had to advance onward to Dipolog, he gavwe me his cell number, and quaranteed to personally follow up with LAX if they failed to ship our luggage. Needless to say the bags arrived the next day with a note from Willy.

Tyleen
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Tyleen

Hi Master Chief, Nice house….so how much more $$$ did it cost to wire the house for 110??? How will you make usre that you don;t plug the toaster in the wrong outlet?? Stupid question but my friends say it is easy when you are sleepy or tired to make the mistake and… Phfft the smoke means you will be shopping for a new applicance!!!! I can hardly wait to see some pics of the interior. Do you have land with it????Walled back yard??? Sorry for the house questions just curious as to expat choices in their living arrangements. I… Read more »

danny
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danny

Hello Paul, Great article, I love the look of the house too. Almost like some of the newer houses down here in South Florida. I too am curious about the electricity you had put in, I am not too good about these things, so could you explain why you did this, and how does it work when they hook up the electricity to your house?? Is it because you brought a lot of your electrical appliances from the USA to be used there? Is nice that you have your own little “7-11” across the street too, that comes in handy..lol.… Read more »

John Miele
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John Miele

Paul: Would love to build like that on the beach property… The logistics of doing so in Abulug are truly mind-boggling. I’ve already reached the same conclusion that we’ll have to do it from Manila… I don’t thing the contractors in Tuguegarao can handle it. Congrats on a difficult fulfillment to your dream and welcome to our new neighbor (within 5 hours!)

kostas kai juvy
Guest

Hi Paul,
Nice house Paul,,all i can say is enjoy your life there w/your family!!Me and my husband have plan to move to philippine too after i’ve give birth but pending coz of the job,maybe next year i wish..

manny
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manny

Hi Paul, great article, and I love ice cold San Miguel too!
Maybe I should retire in Bangladesh to afford the convenience you guys enjoy in Philippines 🙂

By the way, I’m a little confused at how you are willing to pay for the installation of 110v in a country that uses 220v. I guess the 110 v appliances are also part of the deal?

Maligayang Pagdating!

Manny

Miss August
Guest

Congratulations on your return to the Philippines and beautiful house!

Helpful hint: get a label maker and put a label near the end of the plug for all your 110v appliances. Also label the 110v outlets; this should help people plug appliances into the wrong outlets.

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