Between 65 and Death (Living in the Philippines).

A short while back, I began writing a post titled “The Summer I Turned 65.” It was supposed to be about entering one’s ‘Twilight’ years while living in the Philippines. While I never finished writing that post, it did inspire me to write another post about my own personal take with “Medical Concerns” in the Philippines.

Just recently I came across another post that included some retirement advice titled titled “Between 65 and Death” originally composed by a certain Steve Korker back in mid 2017. I know the title sounds kind of morbid, but it seemed to include some of the same thoughts I had when writing my turning 65 post and included some really sound advice to follow. But while reading this post, I quickly realized that although these 21 pieces of advice are sound, some needed to be tweeked to fit the mold, so I decided to re-publish the list along with my own thoughts (annotated in blue) on how some of this advice should be amended in order to better conform to a happier retirement in the Philippines. So here goes….

Sage Advice for Old Age! … Retirement in the Philippines

01 – It’s time to use the money you saved up. Use it and enjoy it. Don’t just keep it for those who may have no notion of the sacrifices you made to get it. Remember there is nothing more dangerous than a son or daughter-in-law with big ideas for your hard-earned capital. Warning: This is also a bad time for investments, even if it seems wonderful or fool-proof. They only bring problems and worries. This is a time for you to enjoy some peace and quiet.  Using up your savings can become really accelerated when settling down in the Philippines. Yes things might be cheap and seem like a real bargain, but even the slightest attempt at retaining that comfortable style of living that you might be used to can get expensive.  And it’s not the son or daughter-in-law that you need to worry about. It is ‘the NEW extended family,’ who, if you are not well indocrinated, who can tap you out and make you feel like an abused ATM machine. Investing your money into business ventures in the Philippines is also not a good idea. Many expats who have come before you can attest to this: The way to make a small fortune in the Philippines is to begin with a big one! Remember that many of you may have come here for the freedoms and liberties, the peace and quiet… and that really doesn’t cost much.

02 – Stop worrying about the financial situation of your children and grandchildren, and don’t feel bad spending your money on yourself. You’ve taken care of them for many years, and you’ve taught them what you could. You gave them an education, food, shelter and support. The responsibility is now theirs to earn their own money.  Many times expats will leave their family behind when they relocate to the Philippines. This advice probably holds true those who were educated and live in the West. But, if you are starting anew with a family in the Philippines, it could be a long journey and one that you will never see come to an end. Your money tends to become their money in the Philippines!

03 – Keep a healthy life, without great physical effort. Do moderate exercise ( like walking every day ), eat well and get your sleep. It’s easy to become sick, and it gets harder to remain healthy. That is why you need to keep yourself in good shape and be aware of your medical and physical needs. Keep in touch with your doctor, do tests even when you’re feeling well. Stay informed.  I have discussed this at length in several of my past posts. Injury, poor health, and sickness all take on a different dimension in the Philippines. Staying active and making the effort to stay healthy can seem like a daunting task in the Philippines, and it will take some extra effort to find the activites and foods that will help you accomplish your health and well-being goals. Simple wellness visits to the doctor are very inexpensive in the Philippines, so don’t wait until you are ill to pay a Doctor a visit.

Practicing stress relief in retirement should not be difficult.

04 – Always buy the best, most beautiful items for your significant other. The key goal is to enjoy your money with your partner. One day one of you will miss the other, and the money will not provide any comfort then, enjoy it together.  I really don’t know how to address the first part of this advice. You may have just found the real true love of your life and all you want to do is spoil her, but remember that “to the victor go the spoils.” The big winner (who will always be the Filipina) is seemingly entitled to all of the rewards, bonuses, or benefits of (her) success. It can be written as:  Peachie placed her bets (on the foreigner) and she won the betting pool, so she gets the whole pot of money from [the foreigner] who paid in. I totally agree with the second part of this advice where you should both enjoy life together, but not with excess extravagance. Also remember that when you are gone (and if she is much younger), she will again have to fend for herself, so leaving her and the young ones with a home or nest-egg is important. In other words, do not blow your wad on retiring in the Philippines.

05 – Don’t stress over the little things. You’ve already overcome so much in your life. You have good memories and bad ones, but the important thing is the present. Don’t let the past drag you down and don’t let the future frighten you. Feel good in the now. Small issues will soon be forgotten.  This is good and true advice. You supposedly left an abundance of stress behind when you moved to the Philippines, so just chill out! Filipinos are real good at living ‘in the now’ so learn to go with the flow. Trust me when I say there will be a new set of stresses living here, but considering what you left behind, these can be overcome very easily. If you feel you have a hard time adapting to the culture and coping with all the new-found stress, then maybe living in the Philippines is NOT right for you. Maybe you should return home and take your new-found honeyko along with you.

06 – Regardless of age, always keep love alive. Love your partner, love life, love your family, love your neighbor and remember: A man is not old as long as he has intelligence and affection.  This is definitly not hard to accomplish with a Filipina partner. As far as her family goes, you will either love ’em or not. And if you don’t love ’em to death, you can easily learn to tolerate them. After all, they are warm and friendly people and they will treat you better than you know. Respect goes a long way in this part of the world. My best advice here: Set boundaries early on!

07 – Be proud, both inside and out. Don’t stop going to your hair salon or barber, do your nails, go to the dermatologist and the dentist, keep your perfumes and creams well stocked. When you are well-maintained on the outside, it seeps in  making you feel proud and strong.  Guys, don’t take this advice literally (unless you are… you know!).  All too often you will see expats that just let themselves go. Overweight, sloppily dressed, unkept, drunkard, ect. Some expats believe that they don’t need to put their best foot forward anymore thinking their cute Filipina gal will never leave them. Don’t be too surprised if she does!

08 – Don’t lose sight of fashion trends for your age, but keep your own sense of style. There’s nothing worse than an older person trying to wear the current fashion among youngsters. You’ve developed your own sense of what looks good on you – keep it and be proud of it. It’s part of who you are. This goes along with the advice above (07). It’s easy to dress down in retirement, but observe how the local population dresses for events.  Many times it means long pants, collared shirts and shoes. Have some pride man, loose the sleeveless shirts and Speedo!

09 – Always stay up-to-date. Read newspapers, watch the news. Go online and read what people are saying. Make sure you have an active email account and try to use some of those social networks. You’ll be surprised what old friends you’ll meet. Keeping in touch with what is going on and with the people you know is important at any age.  This is not really critical advice. I still try to keep up with what goes on back home. Most expats long for world news and will keep up-to-date more than the average Filipino does. One thing that always baffled me is how ‘non-cosmopolitan’ the majority of Filipinos tend to be. When it comes to Filipino pop-culture, the average Filipino is hip. When it comes to world news, history, and events and such, many are in the dark.

10 – Respect the younger generation and their opinions. They may not have the same ideals as you, but they are the future, and will take the world in their direction. Give advice, not criticism, and try to remind them that yesterday’s wisdom still applies today.  This is sort of a backwards statement in that younger generations in this part of the world are brought up to respect their elders and tend to follow the program. And while the future of the Philippines is in the younger generation’s hands, ‘trust’ might be a more applicable term than ‘respect.’ While progressivism might be a destructive force in the western world, in the Philippines (developing country) it can only be a GOOD thing! As a foreigner in this country, know that a big word of caution applies when giving advice and handing out criticisms. Filipinos are generally thin-skinned when it comes to critique and insults. Many an expat has learned the hard way to keep their mouth shut.

11 – Never use the phrase In my time. Your time is now. As long as you’re alive, you are part of this time. You may have been younger, but you are still you now, having fun and enjoying life.  What’s to add here but nothing! Stop being so serious and learn to enjoy life. It’s much easier to enjoy the more simple side of life in the Philippines.

12 – Some people embrace their golden years, while others become bitter and surly. Life is too short to waste your days on the latter. Spend your time with positive, cheerful people, it’ll rub off on you and your days will seem that much better. Spending your time with bitter people will make you older and harder to be around.  It’s not uncommon to see otherwise happy-go-lucky expats who arrive in the Philippines become sour and bitter over time. Allot of the blame for becoming this way though should be self-appointed as a result of developing relationships with the wrong people. You know what they say about bad apples!  Expats are generally drawn to other expats simply because of their commonalities and for good English conversation, but beware, a cynical attitude many times can be contageous. While we may all have arrived here with similar intent, personalities and backgrounds can vary widely. Never let another man’s frustrations frustrate you. Remember that assumptions are the root of all disappointment.

13 – Do not surrender to the temptation of living with your children or grandchildren (if you have a financial choice, that is ). Sure, being surrounded by family sounds great, but we all need our privacy. They need theirs and you need yours. If you’ve lost your partner ( our deepest condolences ), then find a person to move in with you and help out. Even then  do so only if you feel you really need the help or do not want to live alone.  This may be more common (more acceptable) in Western societies, but not in these parts. Family bonds and togetherness is the culture here. I’ve seen sons and daughters here that have never left home, rather they marry and have children, and still reside with the parents. Living alone in the Philippines during one’s later years in life can be a very lonely proposition, and not a very healthy one (depressing). But all that aside, privacy is very important to most Westerners. There is not much privacy to go around here so plan accordingly.

Is swatting flies a hobby?

14 – Don’t abandon your hobbies. If you don’t have any, make new ones. You can travel, hike, cook, read, dance. You can adopt a cat or a dog, grow a garden, play cards, checkers, chess, dominoes, golf. You can paint, volunteer or just collect certain items. Find something you like and spend some real time having fun with it. All in the realm of possibilities here (beer drinking is not really a hobby).

15 – Even if you don’t feel like it, try to accept invitations. Baptisms, graduations, birthdays, weddings, conferences. Try to go. Get out of the house, meet people you haven’t seen in a while, experience something new (or something old). But don’t get upset when you’re not invited. Some events are limited by resources, and not everyone can be hosted. The important thing is to leave the house from time to time. Go to museums, go walk through a field. Get out there. More good advice regardless of where you might live. Get out and meet people. Learn and live the culture. Always be aware of your surroundings. Watch out when walking through them [rice] fields though, you might just find yourself recruited to help plant rice with the locals.

16 – Be a conversationalist. Talk less and listen more. Some people go on and on about the past, not caring if their listeners are really interested. That’s a great way of reducing their desire to speak with you. Listen first and answer questions, but don’t go off into long stories unless asked to. Speak in courteous tones and try not to complain or criticize too much unless you really need to. Try to accept situations as they are. Everyone is going through the same things, and people have a low tolerance for hearing complaints. Always find some good things to say as well.  This can be challenging… or not. Where I live, it is difficult to find locals to have good intelligible conversation with (poor English speaking). Some days I can easily find myself doing all the talking, only to realize the person I’m talking to doesn’t understand a word I’m saying. Those that do tend to speak English will many times initiate the conversation… with a hundred questions – You have gf? Are you married? Where are you from? How many children you have? Where do you live? An on and on and on…  (Related to the ‘Information is Power’ sydrome that afflicts many Filipinos. ) Always be courteous and don’t be a complainer. Complaining about anything really will not change things. Giving compliments to Filipinos however goes a very long way so go for it!

17 – Pain and discomfort go hand in hand with getting older. Try not to dwell on them but accept them as a part of the cycle of life we’re all going through. Try to minimize them in your mind. They are not who you are, they are something that life added to you. If they become your entire focus, you lose sight of the person you used to be.  Like most guys my age, I’ve found that pain and discomfort increased with age AND stress. Reducing the stress in your life goes a long way to reducing pain and discomfort. There are some good homeopathic remedies in this part of the world, if you believe in that sort of thing. I do. Certain diets here can compound your ailments or help alieviate them. Google is your friend.

18 – If you’ve been offended by someone – forgive them. If you’ve offended someone – apologize. Don’t drag around resentment with you. It only serves to make you sad and bitter. It doesn’t matter who was right. Someone once said: Holding a grudge is like taking poison and expecting the other person to die. Don’t take that poison. Forgive, forget and move on with your life.  Learn to forgive easily and remember that Filipinos don’t hold this as a very good trait. The best policy is to NOT offend anyone, even if something is not your fault (some things will always be your fault here). Do not hold grudges, it goes nowhere. You will learn quickly about misplaced trust and how you should stick to your gut feelings in this regard. Dealing with people that you shouldn’t be dealing with in the first place can create issues. Mis-communication and being overly presumptuous is what leads to misunderstandings. Be cautious with your speak and practice patience. Major grudges held by some Filipinos have been known to get people dead.

19 – If you have a strong belief, savor it. But don’t waste your time trying to convince others. They will make their own choices no matter what you tell them, and it will only bring you frustration. Live your faith and set an example. Live true to your beliefs and let that memory sway them. Not much else to say here except to keep your eyes and ears open and your mouth shut!  It has been said that we have two eyes and two ears and only one mouth for good reason – so practice twice as much seeing and listening than you do talking. It is almost impossible to change a person’s ways here, so why expend all that energy (unless it is your spouse).

Play old games or learn new ones.

20 – Laugh A Lot. Laugh at everything. Remember, you are one of the lucky ones. You managed to have a life, a long one. Many never get to this age, never get to experience a full life. But you did. So what’s not to laugh about? Find the humor in your situation. Just reading this makes me laugh. I created my YouTube channel based upon things that make me laugh here in the Philippines. Understand this; if at first you do not complain, then you will eventually laugh about it! Laughter is the best medicine they say… it just comes in bigger doses in the Philippines!

21 – Take no notice of what others say about you and even less notice of what they might be thinking. They’ll do it anyway, and you should have pride in yourself and what you’ve achieved. Let them talk and don’t worry. They have no idea about your history, your memories and the life you’ve lived so far. There’s still much to be written, so get busy writing and don’t waste time thinking about what others might think. Now is the time to be at rest, at peace and as happy as you can be!  As a foreigner in the Philippines, you can be the subject of discussion almost wherever you go, and on a daily basis. It will not matter how long you have lived here or how ‘Filipino’ you have become. You will always stick out like a sore thumb, and you will always be a foreigner and the topic of good Tagalog conversation. Today you might be asked those one hundred questions. Tomorrow, you will be asked again. Living in the Philippines can be like the movie Groundhog Day. Learn to roll with it!

And, Remember: Patience is a virtue, and one that is perfected by living in the Philippines.” ~ RL.

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