As of yesterday, February the 8th I have lived in the Philippines nine eight years.  Even with life’s problems it has been the best nine years of my life. Jessie has been a big part of that and things are better between us. Though this morning, I was really stressed out because her kids need to be here and that’s just not possible due to financial constraints that I will go into later. Like I said, life has problems to conquer no matter where you are.

Recent Months while Living in the Philippines

Recently I started having some trouble getting my money from my USA bank account.

I wrote about the bank suddenly closing my account. I think that the new reportingBDO Cebu Philippines requirements to the USA had something to do with that. I forget what it is called but foreign banks are required to report to the USA if a foreigner has a bank account here. The bank said it was because I failed to keep a minimum balance of 10,000 peso but the last time I had heard there was no such requirement. They said it had changed a few years ago.

I finally got my money after it died in transit for a couple of weeks. I was worried the entire month until the next payday. Next month I had another problem. Using Xoom, I sent the money to the Philippines. I tried to pick it up at Palawan Pawn Shop but with the amount being large they wanted two IDs and I have only one valid ID. That was an issue with Palawan Pawn Shop as Xoom requires only one. I tried another transfer agent and got my money but I was worried and tense until I got it. Since then I’ve been sending it in two transactions and there have been no issues except it doubles my cost. It’s not a lot but at close to 500 pesos that is significant here. That’s about what I spend per day, not counting my hotel.

Expat and FilipinaJessie and I are doing well as a couple. I couldn’t ask for anything more from her. She’s been perfect. At my suggestion, she went home for Christmas. That was hard but she needed to see her boys and wanted too. That left me feeling sad just before Christmas. Then I saw a teenage boy sleeping on the sidewalk and realized once more that I really did not have it so bad at all. It is something I think of a lot but there it was, once again, right in my face. Compared to that, I’m not alone and I have it very good.

While it hasn’t always been so, money has become an issue recently. That is having enough money to live the good life in the Philippines. I will go into why later in this article.

My health continues to decline also making it harder, if not impossible, to enjoy much of what the Philippines has to offer, even close to home.

My Life in the Philippines through the Years

I arrived in the Philippines on February 8th, I think. It might have been the 6th. Like Jessie said, “I don’t remember, it was a long time ago.”  It was so exciting because it was new. It was also scary. The poverty translated to danger to me, serious and common danger. That’s just not the case here. There are dangers of course but they are not common.

I was able to do many things here I could never afford in the USA. I remember sitting by the

Child Sleeping on Sidewalk during Christmas

Street Child sleeping on the sidewalk 2 days before Christmas.

sea at Tristan’s Beach resort smoking a huge Filipino made cigar and feeling like a billion dollar playboy. HAHA I wish I could travel more, I would be a very happy man if that was possible. I do need to work on websites more that will help, eventually.

Things I’d love to do is learn to scuba dive and jump out of an airplane. I don’t know if they would let me jump, probably not. I might be too big. Doesn’t matter, I can’t do it. I could even learn to fly here but not enough cash for that. The cost to learn here is so much less and in the early years was not completely out of my reach.

I really want to go to Bohol, Manila, Mount Mayon before it blows it perfectly shaped cone top and several other places in the Philippines. Bohol would be the easiest there just is no money for something like that. No point on dwelling on that. I’d like to visit Palawan again and take Jessie’s boys to some of the places. There is a water park in Manila they would love to go to. I thought that was going to happen at one point. I had a plan to go there. Then things changed drastically because I lost most of my website traffic. That kind of took the wind out of my sails and never have been as active working on it since then. I do plan on writing more often we’ll see if I stick with it. Feeling bad really doesn’t help.

Living on a Retirement Income in the Philippines

So where did the money issues come from? With the Financial crises of 2008 the problemsExpat Feeling Great in Cebu started. Federal retirees had not seen many cost of living adjustments (COLA) over the last 9 years. It is based on inflation in the USA which was near zero in some years.  I think this was the third year with no COLA. While inflation in the USA is low it is not low in the Philippines. It’s under control around 5 percent overall but that is cumulative over 9 years and has significantly cut into my income.  Cost has not gone up 5 percent but 5 percent to a year.  That doesn’t work out to 45 percent but it does add up.  My COLAs that I did get were quite small but they did help.

The dollar has seen its ups and downs. It was rising again but the fall in oil prices has caused stocks to fall which is causing the dollar to fall. That really does not make sense to me yet. When stocks are doing poorly, people usually invest in bonds more which takes cash out of circulation. Also, when oil prices fall, that usually puts upward pressure on the dollar.  When the dollar falls that puts upward pressure on the price of oil but right now we have both, a falling dollar and falling oil prices. I have not yet learned why that is happening.

I was earning a good income from my old website for part of a year, then Google penalized it for link building. That is something all webmasters were doing and most are still doing but a few years ago, Google added a new way to detect that and over one million websites were hit with that. The effect on the industry has been massive. Web hosting providers appear to have cut back on services as they are not making as much since so many people shut their websites down and went away. I got to know one man that owns a company that provides people to write for websites, he agreed with me that it hurt the entire industry. Google now favors massive websites owned by corporations and if you are unable to rank high on Google, your website traffic will be small. Not all websites go hurt as badly as I did but from my looking around on Google, all small websites have been hurt some. One of my fellow webmasters still has a number one listing but it isn’t as prominent as it was. My site doesn’t appear at all on the first page which is very bad. Still, I try but it has taken a lot out of me.

I have been losing money and lots of it. At some point, I will have no choice but to pull the plug. This server is one my biggest expenses. First I need to try once more.

I do not like to write about things I am not doing. I am not doing much. I tried to go to Sinulog this year. I did go but I did not stay long enough for the parade to start. It was obvious I would be sick for days if not weeks if I stayed. Jessie finally said I shouldn’t stay “It’s not worth it.” If I had stayed much longer, I would have been trapped there until the parade was over as you cannot cross the street. So, after about 45 minutes I returned to the hotel.

There is a church not far from Cebu that I would like to visit and take pictures.  Going up the stairs might kill me though. I would try but my illness is made worse by the sun and just a little sun these days makes me feel like I have been poisoned.

I do think doctors in the USA could help me more and get this back under control but I would rather stay here. Life has been good here even with these troubles. My money will go further. I hear people say all the time it is more expensive here. If that is true for them, it is because they have the money to make it that way. Without a doubt, you can live cheaper in the Philippines than in the USA. Trying to live in the USA on my income and no family support would be extremely difficult.

I hope it will not be so long before you hear from me again. I do have some things I have thought of to write about. Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.

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