OMG, I’ve Been Taken Aback!

Someone is in the Attack Mode!

Today, I was taken aback by some harsh comments that were directed at me in a Facebook forum that I visit regularly here in the Philippines. Most days when I visit this forum, I witness good information, stories, great guidance and good advice. In this forum, I rarely comment unless I have something to add or share with the members. Today was different, and really was a first for me. While there will always be some disagreeable comments in any internet forum, rarely do you see someone lambasted like I was today. Maybe because it’s Halloween? I’m Not sure.

It all started with the below written article published by Investopedia – an Internet site devoted to investing. Launched in 2007, the site was purchased by U.S. publishing company Forbes, which later sold it to Value Click, which is an online advertising company who provides online advertising campaigns and programs for advertisers and advertising agency customers in the USA and internationally.

Now normally, I don’t read publications that are driven by financial or that may have ‘underlying’ motives. To me, it’s just as bad as reading satirical sites in order to formulate an opinion on something. It’s just not entirely accurate information in most cases, and can be so far from the truth it will confuse you. Kind of like trusting the extreme liberal left media to provide someone with the straight and skinny on conservative values (I apologize to my liberal readers). As far as Value Click is concerned, their job is to satisfy advertising clients by driving internet traffic to advertisers. So why are they publishing articles about retirement in the Philippines? If you guessed “increased traffic counts and advertiser earnings”…you are correct. Why not? An article on Retirement is a very popular topic these days that could contain many valuable keywords that search engines love. Therein lies the problem. Sensationalism. In real estate circles it is called “Puffing,” and it is ethically illegal. To puff on someone or something is to inflate or distend the reality of it all…to distort the facts in a more favorable light.  

Not all beaches here are beautiful!
Not all beaches here are beautiful!

Because I publish [this blog] which mainly surrounds the topic of retirement in the Philippines, I always try to be as realistic and factual as I can. And although my writing style might be straightforward and even sarcastic at time, I still receive many emails and requests for additional and accurate information from my readers. Because with all the information available to them on the internet, it is hard to assimilate fact from fiction, and most seem to trust my honesty. For the newcomers to this part of the world, it can be difficult to sort through all the information and decipher all of its accuracy. It can be intimidating. And, whenever I can set the record straight, I have a tendency, not to mention an obligation, to do so!  I contort very little.

So, here is what I came across this morning posted on the aforementioned expat forum: (or you can visit the original Investopedia publication article HERE.

6 Reasons Why Americans Retire in the Philippines

The Philippines comprises over 7,000 islands and offers its residents endless beaches and crystal clear Pacific Ocean waters. The country has a warm year-round climate, a low-cost of living, some of the best medical care in Southeast Asia and provides easy access to other destinations in Asia. Of course, as with any developing country, it is important to understand what specifically makes it a desirable retirement location for Americans. The following are the top six reasons why Americans retire in the Philippines.

1. Cost of Living

The cost of living is extremely low in the Philippines. For roughly $1,000 a month, it is possible for retirees to live comfortably in the country. For just $1,200, it is possible to live a life of comparative luxury. For around $200 a month, retirees can rent a great one-bedroom apartment; if purchasing a home instead of renting, luxury homes can be purchased for roughly $250,000 or less.

Maintenance and entertainment expenses are also low when compared to the cost of living in the United States. A plumber, for example, costs about 400 pesos, or less than $10. A nice dinner for two costs about 1,000 pesos, or roughly $25. 

To live a comfortable “western” lifestyle, you will need to own one of these!

2. Affordable Health Care Coverage and Good Health Care Facilities

Health care coverage in the Philippines is very affordable for retirees. The normal cost of seeing an English-speaking doctor is around 300 pesos, the equivalent of $7. For more complicated medical procedures such as X-rays, the cost to take and read the images is around 800 pesos, or about $20.

The medical facilities in the Philippines are comparable to the medical facilities in the U.S. For example, Asian Hospital has one of the best heart specialists in Southeast Asia, who splits time between the Philippines and Washington, D.C. The country also has the Philippine Heart Center, a facility that offers a range or specialists to retirees and residents.

3. The Diversity of Food

The Philippines offers a great diversity of gastronomy. Local Filipino food has blended Spanish and Chinese influences to create a unique array of food options. Additionally, as expatriates flock to the Philippines, the availability of American, Japanese, Indian, Arabic and Southeast Asian food has increased.

4. Modern Conveniences

The Philippines offers retirees all the modern conveniences of an American lifestyle in a tropical paradise. With large malls, modern transportation options, Hollywood movies and cable TV, a retiree is able to maintain a first-class lifestyle similar to one in America.

Unless you own a car or take a taxi, jeepneys are it!
Unless you own a car or take a taxi, jeepneys are it!

Up until recently, the country allowed internet service providers to set their own speeds, reducing the potential of a high-speed connection. In response to reform requests, the Filipino government has set a minimum speed requirement of 256 kilobytes per second (kbps), giving signs that the country’s internet speed will soon be on par with its other modern conveniences. Currently, however, it ranks at the bottom of Asian countries when it comes to connection speeds.

5. A Plethora of Activities

The country is known for its tropical beaches, diving locations and amazing views, and it entices retirees to live active and outdoor lifestyles. From the sands of famous Boracay Island to the hills of Tagaytay, the Philippines has thousands of islands that offer unique outdoor benefits.

The Filipino weather, which is made up of a long dry season followed by a long rainy season, is conducive to outdoor activities. Even during the rainy season, the temperature is fair throughout the entire year. If the weather gets too rainy for hiking and beach lounging, the country offers great wellness centers that give massages and promote relaxation.

6. Low Language Barrier

For Americans looking to retire to this country, English is one of the Philippines’ official languages. Many, if not all, Filipinos are fluent in English, making a transition to this country an easy one.

………………………………………………End of Investopedia article………………………………………………………….

After reading the article, I felt the need to “clarify” a few things, so I responded in summarized fashion:

Wow, is this article ever sensationalized! Live comfortably for $1,000? In comparable luxury for $1,200? (Comparable must be a keyword.) English is ONE of the “official” languages where “many, if not all are fluent in English” Really? (very few speak English where I live.) Medical care on par with the U.S? In the Province? That’s just funny. Crystal clear waters and great diving everywhere? Have you swam near an estuary lately? Show me a coral reef that is greater than 5% intact. Modern transportation systems…how about a jeepney? Internet speed minimums of 256kps? 256k is a joke in itself! And I saved the best for last – “Diversity of Food” – Aside from an abundance of fresh fruit and vegetables, meats, and sea foods, most food preparation in the Philippines is either fried, full of fat, or loaded with sugar! Look up the incidence of heart disease, stroke, and diabetes in this country! That pretty much leaves two good reasons to retire in the Philippines – The weather is warm all year round and the beer and the brandy are really cheap!

Okay, by the end of my post, I was feeling somewhat cynical. As I responded in a “comment” fashion as opposed to a full rebuttal of sorts, I didn’t feel as if my reply was insulting to anyone, except maybe the article author, and he or she probably deserved it. That article was ambiguous at best, and I was merely implying that the gist of the article was not entirely accurate, that it should be considered “exaggerated.” No harm, no foul, and with just a little sarcasm thrown in for good measure. My goal is always to encourage readers to do their own research, and especially learn not to place a lot of trust in improvised or sensationalized articles that leads one to believe that everything is not too good to be true. Most of the guys in this forum would agree with me on almost any given day (because they also live here in the Philippines), except for this one Filipino guy who lives in the San Diego area who responded with: “sounds like you’re not very happy living there. then get the hell out and move to China or Indonesia. better yet, go to the middle east. stop crying like a baby. maybe that’s the reason why you’re wearing a mask so nobody would recognize you. why don’t you take your mask off before saying anything bad about Calbayog.” (He was referring to my personal Halloween profile on Facebook and I don’t remember saying anything bad about any city.)

Now normally when someone disagrees with me I can usually remain civil. But today, because he sounded so crude, all I could muster up was to call him and idiot and then further explain to him that I was simply pointing out all the sensationalism in the article. Then he then basically enlightened me with: “I already know where you live. My wife is from xxx xxxxxxxx, Samar and I’ll be seeing you when I go home in a few months.”

Not once did I ever give the indication I was not happy living here, nor did my comments sound like a baby crying. Mine was a truthful reply to a nefariously written article, in my opinion. I admit, I may not have been wearing my most tactful flip-flops this morning, but I’m not moving anywhere just because some easily offended immigrant living in MY home country tells me to because he assumes I’m unhappy!

And I would be remiss if I did not mention and give thanks for all the supportive comments I received during my little online fray this morning…when my attacker got none! And the weather is fine and the beer and the brandy here still remain a very good deal!  There…I do feel much better now.

To qualify my remarks about higher than average heath issues in the country, here is a good country-by-country comparative link…

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10 thoughts on “OMG, I’ve Been Taken Aback!

  1. I’m going to agree with Randy on this one, at least for the rebuttal he made. Life here is pretty decent, but it’s not near the same living standards as the US. You can live here for about $1200 per month (I do), but it’s no where near luxury. A lot of people do speak English, not great English usually, but once you get use to it, you can usually understand it. Some of the ones that do know English are afraid to speak it though. The food is also as Randy says. They like sweet. If it says Filipino style on it, that probably means it is sweetened. You can’t even buy non-sweet tea in any restaurant here. Most of the food is fried or bbq. Sodium is another thing that they use a lot of here. So you need to figure out how to do your own. Most people here don’t worry about high blood pressure or diabetes until they already have it and even then, some don’t all take it too seriously. I suppose it’s hard to change your eating habits after doing it for 40 years, even if it’s killing you.
    It’s not a big variety of beer here. Only a 2 major ones and a couple of other semi-popular ones. Pretty good stuff actually. The brandy I don’t drink, so I can’t say on that. They have really cheap tequila and the more expensive stuff, just like in the US. Some of the cheaper stuff is P80 ($1.77) and 1/5 of Jose Cuervo (for instance) is like P795 ($17.66). I don’t know how that compares to the US.
    Living here is just fine. It’s definitely not for everyone and it can drive you crazy at times, but, at least for now, it’s home.

  2. Randy many peeps as obviously was your attacker was, is that they must begin to scream at whatever any others say, nor matter your position of thoughts you present. I often must remind them to stop by their Proctologist’s office to have those hemorrhoids attended to while on their way home from their anger management classes. Seems that they believe that their problem of presenting intelligent, thoughtful, civil human discussion is far beyond their capabilities. I just assume it is due to their limited ability to reason the spoken or written word, low self-esteem and their feelings (knowledge?) of their general worthlessness in society to their fellow man (likely PTSD of being banned from their high school debate team). I must remind myself occasionally that their problems are not my problem and I should not waste my time nor my energy on their problems. However this then reinforces to their simplistic understanding and knowledge level of their complete and utter worthlessness. So let their mothers, fathers, wives, doctors and their unfortunate children (that is if someone was as loony as they were to actually permit them to copulate), handle their immature and feeble minds.

  3. Definitely, his problems are not my problems, unless he comes to invade my world. Then I have a problem! But it’s nothing a little bug spray can’t handle!

  4. I defiantly think if he wrote that as the 6 reasons americans retire in the philippines he needs a trip back to reality.

  5. Thanks for backing me up on this one John. Most times, I’ve found that these articles written and published by the mogul sites (i.e., International Living, Forbes, Investopedia, etc.) are sensationalized and not entirely accurate. Many of these articles are written by folks who have maybe briefly visited or have never been to the places they write about. So, good information shoould always be gathered from the guys on the ground…you will get a much better picture.

  6. Hi Randy,
    I learned sometime ago to treat “REVIEWS” of anything as EXACTLY what they are: THE OPINION OF THE AUTHOR and therefore are to be compared to the oft quoted and nearly always true “opinions are like A_______, everyone has one and most of them stink!”

    It is for this precise reason, I most often go to and enjoy those movies the “critics” speak or write badly of.

    I ALWAYS enjoy your posts and even if I don’t completely agree with you (which is VERY seldom), I can say “well, I may not have enough information to disagree.”

  7. But in this case Jerry, this was not a review as much as it was skewed information. I will not sit back and allow others to be mis-informed.

  8. Randy your response was realistic! I especially like the fact about the food. I do think you have the opportunity for healthy eating here but it’s not as convenient as in the states.

  9. Season’s Greetings Doug! Thanks for your positive take on this. Healthy eating here limits one to certain sets of foods, with not a lot of variety. If you could eat greens, soups, fish, poultry, and fruits every day that would be one thing, but that diet would get old very fast.

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