My Enchantment

My Enchantment with Tropical Island Life

I always wanted to live on a tropical island. I’m not sure why but it could have all began while growing up watching the Gilligan’s Island television  series. It was not always Ginger or Mary Ann that  captured my imagination as a boy (though I won’t deny that the two  young beauties played a good  part in my cognitive development), as much as it was the beautiful beaches, all the coconut trees, and the turquoise blue lagoons. It was every episode and re-run that Gilligan threw at me that drove my fascination with  discovering and living in my own tropical paradise, wherever it may be.  I knew I needed to get one of those sailor caps that Gilligan used to wear. After graduating high school, me and my best friend immediately migrated to the closest place that we knew had palm trees and warm weather (thanks to  the technology of  television) and we settled in Orlando, Florida. It wasn’t long before I ventured out even further and landed in Key West, where I discovered the famous “Cheeseburger in Paradise” culture of relaxation and peacefulness. Ah, the life in “Margaritaville” and the tropics. I quickly learned however, that without money and some form of sustenance, I was destined to return home to reality – the now even more dreaded snow-belt of North-central Illinois, where I just knew I would live the rest of my life growing up living between a bean field and a corn-stalk.  I needed a plan and it wasn’t long before I placed my bet…I would take my chances and join the U.S. Navy. 

At least I could start with the Gilligan hat!

Where I Once Imagined I Could Live
Where I once imagined I could live…not today though.

After returning to Illinois, it wasn’t long until I was swearing to uphold and defend the U.S. Constitution, without any reservations (well, maybe a couple). The Navy guaranteed me photography school but as sure as the world turns, “stuff” happens, and I found myself accepting an assignment to “Weather Observing” school (Lakehurst N.J.) after boot camp. I was going to become an Aerographer! How prophetic this was, as I can remember during my late teen years, my father quite regularly accused me of walking around with my head in the clouds. And this was the result of my armed forces aptitude test???  Okay I thought, it was a good fit. Whether it was prophecy or irony, I was resigned to a career of watching the clouds AND getting paid to do it. It was more than a good fit, it was perfect! I can remember the strangest looks on my friends faces when I told them I was going to get paid for staring at the sky. And, It just kept getting better as my living in the tropics destiny would have it – my first set of orders after “Weather” school landed me in Guam, U.S.A., where “America’s Day Begins!” Not only was it lush and tropical, but It was also in the  Domain of the Golden Dragon. Nice beaches, coral reefs, coconut trees, and the Asian fiesta. Many, many fiestas!  Did I mention the tropics? I figured life couldn’t get any better than that. After I landed there (at the ripe old age of 19) I found myself working a great job all the while getting paid to live in paradise. Eight of the next twelve years found me living, working, or visiting somewhere between the 180th meridian and the Indian Ocean, mostly under the tropical sun. It seemed to always follow me…from Guam to the Philippines, Singapore and Hong Kong, to Diego Garcia, and back to the Philippines, where I met my match…and my Filipina bride (1984).

House Under Construction in 2012
House Under Construction in 2012

As everybody’s road map in life consists of funky twists and turns, and even an occasional unplanned U-Turn (or three), mine was no different. The bulk of my non-government sponsored lifestyle (after the Navy) found me living and working on the U.S. mainland, and like many others during the latter half of this new mellenium’s first decade, I had been sucked into the working-class rut of a “work-to-live”  lifestyle scheme, all the while being witness to an obvious demise of American culture and the once powerful American middle class. Our mutual cognitive dissonance forced us to make a decision… either we work-to-live, and  take our chances with some form of a late [non-guaranteed] retirement, or make a run for it back to the tropics where we could relax and live life to its fullest.

Our choices were:

  •  Keep working hard to pay bills
  •  Shell out much of it to insurance companies
  •  Pay ever-increasing taxes and higher costs of living
  •  Live with increased regulatory compliances
  •  More healthcare complexities
  •  Witness a continued erosion of individual liberties and loss of personal freedoms
  •  Live a life filled with stress


  • Liquidate all assets and become less materialistic
  • Join the family
  • Enjoy a stress-free lifestyle
  • No house payment or large monthly obligations
  • Live under the warmth of the tropical sun
  • Enjoy un-crowded beaches with more coconut trees than Gilligan and the professor could count together
  • Retire in the Philippines

This was not an arduous decision. As a matter of fact, once we gave ourselves the green light, it didn’t take me long to pack my complete wardrobe of shorts, t-shirts, and flip-flops and like a true sailor, I was ready to get underway on a moment’s notice.  And… believe it or not, I still had my Gilligan hat!

At the time of this writing, it had been just over 6 years since we purchased a corner lot and began construction on our retirement home in a small fishing village just outside of Calbayog City, Samar. By this time, it was much easier to make the decision to retire a little earlier than we previously planned, and once that decision was made, our focus then shifted to minmalizing. That also meant eliminating all bills, saving our cash, and getting as much of the new house completed as possible before we actually left the U.S.

Shortly after selling our Mississippi home of nearly 18 years, we found a temporary rental. We liquidated all remaining assets and continued to sell all the personal items that we didn’t ship to the Philippines. When we were down to our suitcases and two cats, we departed. I’ve never looked back.

Our Home Today
Our Home Today (2015)

Visit my “Before Paradise” section of this blog to read about the “There-and-Then” chronicled events leading up to our retirement to the Philippines. It should provide a good idea of what it takes to prepare. Visit this blog often as I continue to document the saga of living in paradise, through my own personal perspective, of theHere-and-Now.”

Also visit and Subscribe to my YouTube Channel for some of my Philippines experiences and see what living here has to offer. Then when you catch up, you can follow me back to Guam!

If you are considering a retirement move to the Philippines, and with some steady-as-she-goes planning, you too could someday find that some coconut tree, on some deserted beach somewhere, has your name on it (Note: you’ll need two trees for your hammock). You just never know.

Digital drawing commissioned for Living in the Pacific by: Jeric Gal, Barangay Tomaligues

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Visit my Channel here.
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12 thoughts on “My Enchantment

  1. You said it Randy. I suppose everyone can’t or won’t make the decision to move here, but they sure are missing out. I guess if everyone comes, then maybe it wouldn’t be so wonderful.

  2. Well Randy, we are both ex-navy, ex-Illinois, married to Filipina’s from Samar, and both expats. I’m here now in Zambales waiting for 2013 and my trip down to Northern Samar. Shoot me an e-mail

  3. Wow! You don’t happen to like digging through dry summer Illinois river bottoms for turtles to make turtle soup, do you? Just kidding. 😉
    To be honest, I’m not surprised of the irony. I could easily live in Zambales too but because the wife’s family is so wonderful and all live in Calbayog City, that is where we have been building. We traveled up to Subic last April to meet with Paul Thompson and his wife and enjoyed several cold ones together. We are just waiting for the house to sell here in Mississippi and we will be on our way. You can connect with me on fb at at your convenience. Thanks for visiting and hope to see you here more often.

  4. Can’t look at Hawaii now. I’ve never been there. I’d like to go for a few days though, or even a week. Maybe someday.

  5. Sorry Dennis for such a late reply. Music in my vids is usually taken from royalty free selections offered by YouTube or my video editing software. Also, you can find royalty free music online. As a photographer, you should consider joining the “Steemit” community where you can post your photos and get paid. Here is the link:

  6. Shipmate, found your blog while searching expat sites, I read your story and am seeing myself in your tale, but just a few years behind you. I was a USS MIDWAY Sailor back in ‘87 and then to Cubi Point and stayed there until the bases closed and retired in 2016. I am now in that “working to live” mode you wrote about. My asawa of 28 years and I are currently living and working in Okinawa and planning out our exit strategy to Legazpi City. Looking forward to checking out more of you site and videos

  7. Good to see you found my site. I have had comments turned off for some time now because of all the trolls and spammers inundating the site with crap. Anyway, your comment found it’s way. Good to know we will have neighbors in Bicol. Don’t settle too close to Mt. Mayon, she’s been real tempermental of late. Make sure you connect with me on my facebook page.

  8. I enjoy your blogs,We r from Rockford,il, I grew up around Chicago.We decide to move too the Philippines about 5 or 10 years.My Beautiful Wife is from Danao, Bohol.We bought land near the Beach in Dauis,Bohol.I knew I wanted to live there,Simple Life,Fresh fish from the Sea.I want to thank you for your blogs.It show me that We r doing the right move. thank u very much.

  9. Hi Dale, sorry for the late reply. I’m also from the Chicago area and never going back for sure (to live)! After spending nearly 5 years in Samar, we have decided to come to Guam and plant some stakes (or steaks – not usually in stock in PI). We will treat our home in Calbayog as our “retreat” and travel back and forth. A long stint of time there tends to change one’s outlook on things. Some more than others. We have travelled to Bohol and while it reminds me a lot of Samar, it is also just as isolated. I will agree with you on the points of a more simple and organic life for sure. Thanks for visiting.

  10. Hi Randy,

    Just found your site. Great to hear you found your true bearings. We have been returning to PI on an annual basis now for a few years and plan to retire in 2020. We have a homestead in Santa Rita Samar. Looking to connect with you on medical information, doing our taxes in PI, and a few other things before we head off into the sunset. Looking forward to hearing from you soon. Take care.

  11. Hey Robert. Personally, we are not happy with the medical situation there as it leaves much to be desired. That is one reason we are now in Guam and am traveling back and forth from here on. We have built a nice home there and will use it as our vacation retreat several times per year. Taxes are not a problem as long as you have internet. You can use one of the many online tax prep softwares like Turbo-Tax or H&R Block. Recently I have used TaxSlayer. As long as you can obtain all your tax docs online, you should find it easy,even if you are doing long form. If you are filing as a corporation, all bets are off. At least you will be closer to Tacloban, which doesn’t offer much more than Calbayog does, but it is a larger city.

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