A New Vision.
I sit, and I think. Therefore I must be alive! Well, at least the “virus” hasn’t gotten me yet, nor do I think it will. The fact is, there is a good chance I’ve already had it and recovered without even knowing. My brain however has been fogged with the debate over this war we are in. Is it even real? There are a lot of things being said. There are allot things NOT being said. And we must all question why so much is not disclosed. There are many folks who are at the point where they are having a difficult time making a rational decision one way or another. And maybe that is exactly where we are designed to be… locked away and powerless to effect change.
But NOT me.
If this pandemic has accomplished anything with me, it has made me even more aware of my own life’s enjoyments… with my wife at my side. One of the primary reasons we retired early and moved to the Philippines was to enhance our enjoyment of life. I remain grateful that we have accomplished all our life’s goals over the last 7 years, that we are happily retired, and that we are both in good health. I wouldn’t trade our experience for anything. But this new awareness has shed some light on many things. First and foremost, our quality of life.
If there is one topic that most ex-pats have all chimed in on at one time or another, it is Quality of Life (QOL) in the Philippines. And if there has been one conversation, there have been thousands of individual perspectives offered. And with each ex-pat, perspectives of QOL differ. We all came to live in the Philippines for similar reasons, yet the justifications for making that big move vary widely. From spirituality to poor health, or to increase quality time with family. It could be that financial stability, frugality, or sustainability was their driving reason. Most folks would tend to agree that it is also the reduction of stress that that is the big draw. For many that live there now and who have been there for a while… they will never leave the Philippines. It is where they want to be.
However one defines their reasons for settling in the Philippines, there will always be something missing. Yesterday I saw a Fb post that asked its members to list three things they miss the most while living in the Philippines. The list of topics ranged from gun ownership to food and from highway driving to camping in the wilderness. Of all the many things I saw listed, I couldn’t really disagree with any of them. We all miss many things… which brings me to this point. After hearing and learning about the many ex-pats who are suffering through some of the most authoritarian and draconian pandemic lock-down measures any country has imposed, I have come to the realization that living in the Philippines no longer provides us the enjoyment of life which we seek. Not to life’s fullest anyway.
There are so many things I love about the Philippines but I have become cognizant that continuing to live there full-time places my own longevity is at risk. Observing this pandemic play out in the Philippines has provided us with mixed feelings. While we are both concerned about the health and well-being of Teri’s family, we are happy NOT to be there at this time. Hearing about the latest extension of one of the world’s longest and strictest Covid-19 lockdowns while watching from afar has been concerning. It is yet another controversial move by the Philippines government that is out-of-step with regional easing trends. Emergency rule has taken a toll on the nation’s democracy, raising concerns whether curbs on civil liberties will ever be fully restored. To be at the age of 60 or above in the Philippines has been downright detrimental, not only to every senior citizen’s civil liberties but to their health. Many ex-pats have talked about their difficulties in being able to even get out of the house, let alone get to a doctor or even to the drug store to pick up their prescription drugs. My wife chides me about my COVID attitude and says that if we were in the Philippines at this time, I would probably already be in jail!
The book titled The Longevity Paradox: How to Die Young at a Ripe Old Age, by thinking about the price we ultimately pay for living in paradise. To me, the cost comes with our mental and physical well-being, and that cost far outweighs the rewards.
Give Me Liberty or Else…
Here on Guam, there has been no shortage of complaints coming from the folks living here who feel they have been deprived of their civil liberties and rights during the lockdown. While all tourism has stopped, and most businesses are shuttered and hurting, things are not that much different than anywhere else in the world currently. When I simply look at the lockdown differences between here and the Philippines though, I am reminded of how people here on Guam (America) tend to take their liberties more seriously. While most businesses here were forced to close, the ability of the local people to move around has not been affected. Yes, we have been repeatedly told by the ‘blue-in-the-face’ authorities that we must all “wash our hands” and “wear our masks” and those orders have been taken literally. But the “Stay at Home” mandate has never really been accepted here. The government here attempted to keep folks at home through creating an inconvenience – setting up roadblocks (illegal detainment without cause) during the middle of the lockdown. Legally challenged by the citizens, the government quickly changed the term “roadblock” to “checkpoint” thinking they could safely end the barrage of legal inquisitions. That didn’t work so they again changed the name to “Information Dissemination Point” where they began to hand out Covid-19 pamphlets under the guise that the public needed “educating.” All a big ruse is what it was. All it did was piss the people off. It wasn’t long before a civil suit was presented in the courts and the “checkpoints” came down shortly thereafter. The people got their way under the rule of law.
Because the restaurants and all other non-essential stores were closed, there was simply is no place to go… except to the beaches and parks. That fact alone kept many people at home… along with “fear” instilled by the media. But the people who wanted out were still able to leave their homes at will. Just knowing you can get in your car and drive to ‘nowhere’ has been a good thing for everyone’s mental well-being. The parks and the beaches that remained open were just an added bonus. K-Mart and The Home Depot also stayed open and became the ‘new’ weekly attractions for many.
The lockdown inconveniences here on Guam though definitely cannot compete with the lockdown measures taken in the Philippines. There have been hundreds of ex-pats that have already left the Philippines and according to many discussions in many online forums, many more are contemplating a permanent change.
The Cost of Freedom
We have been living on Guam now for three years and the initial reason for our being here was explained in several of my past posts beginning with I’ve Got Something to Tell You!
The reasons we will keep Guam as our permanent residence is for our health and well-being, and the not-so-subtle constitutional differences that we enjoy here. If our three years living on this island have taught us anything, it’s that no developing country in the world can match the true liberties with which we westerners were inherently born with. Here on Guam, we have all of those rights and freedoms that are constitutionally guaranteed to us. In the Philippines, there are also supposed to be “constitutional protections” but in reality… not so much. Where there is no justice, there is no liberty. Generally speaking, life in the Philippines is not that easy for anyone. Relaxing to a point, but definitely not easy.
We return home to Samar whenever we get a chance as we are only 3 1/2 hours from Manila. Our plans to come home last month (April) for the summer were obviously derailed, and are on hold. Since arriving to live on Guam and sharing some of our experiences here, I continue to receive an increasing number of requests for more information about the island. My first response always is this – It is not as cheap as living in the Philippines (increasing costs) but it is cheaper than Hawaii! Without a supporting income, it would be difficult to survive here without working, but there are jobs (well there were, but they will come back). For many, just an easy-going part-time job might be all that is needed to bolster the income needed to live here. Some might consider putting their spouse to work in an effort to gain Social Security eligibility. For others who might be retired military, the Commissary and Exchange can provide a substantial offset to the cost of living here. Paying for Medicare already? You can use it here!
Toss in miles of beautiful tropical beaches and coastline, blend together all the SE and East Asian and American cultures, and you have a recipe for a cool culture with all the western amenities, never-ending food choices, the rule of law, excellent shopping, space, privacy, peace and quiet, and more. You will not beat the easy-going modern lifestyle of tropical island living that Guam can provide. I asked my wife just this morning – out of all the places we have lived in the last 33 years (California, Florida, Chicago, Mississippi, Philippines, Guam), which place she liked best, she chose Guam! It’s comforting to know that we think alike.
The bottom line is this: If you are thinking about exiting the Philippines and would love another paradise option that is close-by, Guam is that option. If you are looking to reset your QOL, Guam can do that. And if you absolutely love living in SE Asia and amongst Filipinos… Guam can definitely provide you with all the “Filipino” you need… and then some… at cost!
Please Note: This blog might be reaching the end of its useful life. I began this post as “the one” that would end it all, but then realized I had something I needed to get off my mind and share with my readers. I’m not sure whether it is due to the Covid-19 pandemic or maybe my “blog focus” has waned over time but nonetheless, this blog’s traffic continues to show a steady decline in visits. I believe that over time, more people are choosing to watch videos and the blogging industry, in general, is suffering. For me, it’s becoming harder to justify the expense of publishing this blog when the generated income barely covers the costs.
I have recently begun the process of downloading all this blogs content and am considering incorporating much of the content into an e-book someday. Once I have downloaded all that I need, I will quietly close it down (unless someone makes a huge donation and forces me to keep writing! lol).
I will then concentrate more on making more videos with a focus on “tropical living” versus just living in the Philippines. I look to be able to share the best that both worlds have to offer – One Day at a Time! And, I am awaiting my drone to provide me with additional and better video perspectives. So don’t forget to SUBSCRIBE to my YouTube channel if you haven’t already. Living in the Pacific