I have been living in the Philippines for seven years now. As I begin to type this, seven years ago today I was on a jet somewhere over the Pacific Ocean. The next day, February 6th, I landed in Manila with a wide mixture of emotions. Fear and hope being the most predominant emotions. Fear of the unknown and hopes for a better life. Hopes for a good relationship with a pretty Filipina named Jessie. Being too excited to sleep the day before, the flight went by pretty fast for me because I slept through most of it. Two days in the air and at least 24 hours of it I spent sleeping over the Pacific Ocean. This American living in the Philippines for the last seven years actually lost track. I thought I had been here for only six years but I arrived in February of 2008 so I have completed seven years here. I am so happy I came.

The last year has been quite difficult. First came being alone with Jessie in the same house but still I was alone. Then came Typhoon Haiyan or Yolanda that brought severe damage to Bogo City and significant damage to the home I lived in. Then followed that up with my most difficult time, and ending of my six year relationship with Jessie. That I loved her made no difference. I had to go. I was tired of being left alone. Not only did she want to go out with her friends, she did not want me there. When she was home, she was in another room.

Still Happy to be an American Living in the Philippines

The last 8 or 9 months have been a little difficult. Often sick, including pneumonia and often alone it has not been the best part of myAmerican Living in the Philippines Rusty Ferguson life. However, I never wished to be back in the USA. It is simply too expensive there and my opportunities for a better life are substantially increased by living in the Philippines.

Besides, a lot of people would have thought my life during the last eight months was paradise and for them it would have been. If I was looking for a quick conquest, I certainly could have been happy. I am not the love them and leave them type. I need a partner in life, that is just who I am.

There have been quite a few ladies, all but two under 25 years old and that one of those was a winner in personality. She almost ended up being with me. She would have if her timing had not been off a little bit. The other, never really sure of her age was the sexist of them all. I really wanted her actually but she refused something I consider essential. She also needed more money than I could spare. There were two months in a row of no prospects at all. That was not fun ha ha. And there were the scammers. Not all the ones that didn’t work out were scammers. Like life any place, sometimes two people are just not right for each other.

So what I consider to be a bad time included more than five women close to me, in my hotel room and most of them less than half my age. Each one looked fantastic to this now 56 year old broken down man.

The very first woman I went out with was awesome, she did not have time for me. Three others, including Jhen were keepers but just didn’t work out.  Honestly, the pain over loosing Jessie has not been easy and spoiled most of the last eight months. The first two years of Jessie was like having my own private angel.

My First Six Years Living in the Philippines

Jessie in PalawanHands down, the best time of my life were my first two to three years with Jessie. It helped that we were able to travel some. To explore new places and that was fun. The highlights of that were trips to Bantayan Island and Palawan.  While in Palawan we went to the Underground River, the Crocodile Farm and Estrella Falls. Resulting in this super sexy picture of Jessie and I didn’t even had a DSRL at the time. You have probably seen it before. It was a nice period and it hurts that it is gone. About two months after this picture was taken, it was really all over.

Palawan is a back to nature experience. I had a blast with the wild monkeys but they really hated me. Go to a park in the USA and see squirrels. Go to a park in the Philippines and you might see monkeys. Little thieves will steal anything they can. Especially food but if you try to give it to them, they will give you an eye full of fangs. I tried to take picture of the babies but their guards did not like that at all. I was afraid they would stop their mock charges and actually do it.

The Bear Cat at the crocodile farm was an incredible beast. It was so heavy he must have been pure muscle and could easily rip me apart. It wanted my camera and nearly had it. I was allowed to touch it and it crawled up my arm. It was awesome. An eagle there had more attitude and pride than brains. It wanted us to know this was his area and do not dare come across that wall.

Bantayan Island is a romantic experience. Quite and serene. Bantayan takes extra steps to keep the vehicle noise down. Pedicabs are the rule instead of motorized tricycles. I went twice three years ago but I have not been there in three years, I really miss it.

More Difficult Times for Me in the Philippines

Rusty Ferguson with Philippines MonkeyMoney problems hit about then and I was able to travel less and Jessie became distant, it could be argued that I had it coming but it could be argued that I did not have it coming too. I do not think I did, the story goes a little deeper than anyone but myself knows. That is where it will stay, with me.

The money problems were caused by three issues. The great recession in the USA, the fall in the exchange rate of the US Dollar to the Philippines Peso and inflation in the Philippines with virtually none in the USA.  Those are really all tied to the great recession. A third is Google changed the playing field, starting enforcing one of its rules and my website with about one million others were penalized. Many one person online businesses are no more after that change. That I survived at all is better than most of the others. I would be thrilled to get back just a third of what I lost in that move by Google. I have held on to less than ten percent and making money online is much more difficult for a one person operation now. When Google penalizes a website it isn’t displayed in the search results and thus gets no traffic. The rule I broke was being broken by everyone and still is. I guess I over broke it ha ha.

Then the problems with Jessie came. I tried for three years but she just did not like spending time with me. Finally there was nothing left for me to try. I hoped when I left she would be willing to change but she was not. So that choice was made for me.

That makes it harder for me to stay motivated but being depressed due to being alone and in the last year, being sick most of the time makes it very hard to be motivated. I do try to stay positive and motivated.  Most know, that can be very hard to do at time.

My Present Life in the Philippines Is Improving

The romantic side of my life is very good right now. I have a wonderful new lady in my life. She’s been with me for a month and she is awesome. She seems too good to be true. I fear she will grow bored with me too. She is 24 years old, no children, never married, petite and desires to “serve me”. Honestly, I am having trouble getting my head and heart to believe she will stay with me. However, that does not affect how I treat her. I treat her as she will be here the rest of my life. At least that is what I am hoping to do. I think her biggest concern is that I will cheat. I think she has that history in her life. Changing my phone number though seemed to help a great deal in at least minimizing that fear.

Filipina GirlfriendShe does not need for me to support her. She does not want me to support her. She is rather independent when it comes to that. She takes our clothes to the laundry and often pays for it all. I struggle to get her to let me pay part of it. The laundry has a three pound minimum and I only exceeded that one time. But our laundry together will meet that and more. My laundry usually cost 90 pesos. When I give her 100 pesos for my part but she resist that. I think I have managed to give it to her a couple of times but I am not sure she didn’t sneak it back into my money. I wrote more about Jhen here.

To find a young sexy Filipina that wants and needs only me is a little hard for me to accept after years of Filipina trying to get money out of me for nothing. Now I have a wonderful woman that just gives and gives and does not seem to me for any reason other than me. She prefers foreigners and we are hard to come by. I cannot ask for more from a woman. It would be nice if she was with me more but most of that away time is required of her job. I do not have a problem with that of course.

Money is still tight. I recently made some improvements in that. I started eating a lot more from the roadside eatery next to the hotel. It is a restaurant but it is still street food. Sometimes the food is a little undercooked and it seems to have got the best of me at the moment. It has made me slightly ill in a rather gross way. So for the last three days, I did not get my food from there. I hope whatever is going on over there clears up but I fear they have been told to cook for a shorter time to save money. If so, that is history.

Money is the only issue I have. There are some things I can do to improve on that and I likely will. Jhen can actually help me with some of it. I have some plans that require me to communicate with Filipinos and she can do that for me. She is away a lot though. She earns really good money for someone in her stage of life. Three to five times more than what most working Filipina that I know earn.

It would be nice if I could get my online income up to double what it is right now. That would give me some spending money but not enough for a lot of travel.  Unless I become better at saving which I doubt since there are so many things I have been putting off.

Medical Care is my One Significant Issue in the Philippines

One thing I have been putting off is a chest x-ray. I think I probably need one. I need a lot of medical test. My medical treatment has suffered during the seven years that I have lived here. While medical care cost much less I have to pay for it first then submit a claim to the insurance company. I don’t expect to live as long here as I would in the USA but I will live better. I wish I had good health but I just do not. That is a negative of living in the Philippines.

My Perceived Future in the Philippines

Part of me being happy any place means a woman in my life. I have one, a good one now. So I can be happy and plan to be happyAmerican Expat at Sinulog. Hopefully Jhen loves being with me as much as I love her being with me. I have learned the hard way, never count on that. Especially a month into the relationship. Counting on it is really probably a bad thing to ever do because that leads us to take our partner for granted. It is an easy thing to do when someone become routine. We all do it. I have never known anyone that does not need to make an effort to not let that happen to their relationship. A serious threat of them leaving will put an end to that compliancy but my experience is once that happens, stick a fork in it is dead. I cannot let someone go until I know there is nothing more I can do. I am romantic kind of guy. I do not know if I show it but I am. It took me 30 years to get over my first love because I did not give it everything I have which ended up leaving me wondering for a long time. I do not want to allow that to ever happen to me again.

More money would help a lot. A lot more money would help a lot more. That is true regardless of where we live. Lupus destroyed my income. My income was at one point in the top five percent. Actually, I think it was in the top once percent. Lupus put an end to its growth and now many people make near what I made. The last ten years I worked, I got very small raises because I asked to be downgraded. I could not travel everyday any more. I was falling to sleep when I drove and the doctors had no answer for that. I know others with lupus that have that problem though. One year, I drove sixty thousand mile and about eighty percent of that was work related. That ability was gone. Then finally I retired in my mid-forties and took a sixty percent cut in pay. Those early reduction in raises were illegal but the American’s with Disability Act was new then and I got the shaft. In retirement, I should be making three times what I am making which would be a lot of money in the Philippines. That is hard to take at time. That is not my reality though.

My reality is I very much need to increase my online income. I do not get social security disability so I can earn money. The rules I am under are different. Seven years ago my income from retirement was more than enough. I could travel on that. I cannot now. It is mostly a result of the great recession. For example, my raise this year was about $35.00 a month. There were two years of zero COLA increases. That will get better but this has been going on for so long it will be hard to catch up unless the Philippines has a contraction in its economy which is highly unlikely.

Rusty Ferguson Expat Life PhilippinesYou need to keep this in mind when you plan your retirement in the Philippines. It is unlikely we will see financial conditions in the USA get as bad as the great recession any time soon. I sure hope not but this can happen and I am proof.

Many of those living here are gone because of the economic downturn in the west. They could not survive it. But few expats make it for five years. For me it has been the best thing I have done since I graduated from college as far as a positive impact on my life. It has been fantastic overall. I am so glad I decided not to waste away in the USA too poor to breath. My finances would be far worse there.

Cost of Living in the Philippines is Still Low

Think about it, I live in a hotel. It is too small but it sure is convenient for me. Try that in the USA. An apartment in the hood in Memphis is not much bigger than my hotel room was going to cost me $550 a month plus I had to pay electricity and other utilities. A car would be required. Here, I pay 24,000 pesos ($550) for a hotel room that includes everything and most taxi rides cost me right around $2.00. Keep in mind that apartment in Memphis was priced right at 10 years ago so it would be a lot more now. There would be no 24 year old loving woman in my life and there is a good chance there would be no woman at all.

In Conclusion

The Philippines is not paradise. There is no paradise on this earth. I believe earth is hell and the best we can do is make the most of what comes our way. There will be good times and there will be hard times. Moving to the Philippines has been perfect for me but not always good. I was not unhappy with the USA either, just more opportunities for me here. The USA is a nice place to live and living in the Philippines will cause you to appreciate some things you have been taking for granted. Simple things, like Walmart or Walgreens at 3am. Hot water at the tap, water you can drink at the tap. Water at all in some places or at certain times of the day. On the other hand, you can hire a live in maid in the Philippines for $50 a month, other places around $100 a month. Maybe a little more in Manila.

It is the people of the Philippines that make it special, especially the women. You might have to look for a little while to find the goodWater Monitor Lizard In  Palawan ones but they are here. You might not have too, you might find them right away. If you just want to party, not get attached to a woman that is even easier but Cebu is really not the best place for that.

Life brings pain and there will be that too. As wonderful as Jhen is, I am still dealing with some pain I added in the Philippines. I sure would like to believe that is the end of pain of this magnitude. Jhen can keep my happy but I fear she is getting bored with me. That is easy to understand. I do not let people go as easily as most do. I am actually happy about that too. I am so lucky to be living in the Philippines. Even when it gets hard, it seems like it is easier to pull myself back up from those dark holes that life will bring us. I am pretty sure, this is where I will be buried or cremated. I would say that means I like living int he Philippines.

By Rusty Ferguson

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