[Ask Henry] – Running A Business in the Philippines

starting a business in the philippinesQuestion 1:  “My Filipina wife and I love your stories … we live north of Seattle… anyway I was interested in your previous piggery and now your land in Bohol… we realize there is no way you can purchase property there in the Philippines … are you leasing or what ?” — From Brian

Question 2:  “Hi Henry, now you’ve been in Philippines and have got to know the place better, what have been your experiences or you’ve heard from others about owning a business or starting a business in Philippines? what’s been the pro’s and the cons?
From Rob



Henry:  I’ve been running a bit behind in answering my reader mail so I figured I’d respond to two questions on the same topic here; business in the Philippines.  I’ll share my thoughts, for better or worse and leave it up to you to decide what you want to do when you get here.  I’ve spoken with both expats and local Filipinos about business here and these are the things that I will share here.

Honestly, the first thought that comes to mind when I think about starting a business here is, “Bad idea.”  I’d say that ever since I turned an important corner in my life back in 1985 I have been a huge supporter in running one’s own business.  Prior to 1985 I had always believed that security was found in finding a big company and working as an employee.  I won’t go into all the details of what changed my mind but suffice it to say that for the last three decades I’ve been a full-fledged believer in owning your own business.  I don’t think it’s for everyone.  But I do believe that the challenges and rewards make it a noble pursuit to make a mark in the free market exchanging goods or services for a net profit.

Now, that being said.. I still believe that for most people, starting a business here is not a good idea.  For one thing, running a business in any country is full of challenges.  You have the local competition to deal with, creating demand, marketing, cost of staff, inventory and all the basics that make running a business not for the faint of heart.  That’s just coming out the gate in any business in any country.

Now.. add to that the fact that many people who come to the Philippines to either retire or semi-retire have never run a successful business in their home country.  Here, you better be ready or you will get eaten alive.  Because not only do you have the issues to deal with that I just mentioned, you have cultural paradigms at work here that you will not see coming and which can literally cripple even the best-laid business plan.

So why do so many expats get the idea to start a business here, only to learn this lesson the hard way?  Well, I kind of imagine it a lot like this.  Let’s call the expat, ‘Bill’.  Bill is a savvy, good natured guy who decides to make a new life for himself in the Philippines.  After finding a wonderful young Filipina wife and having a few kids.. life is good.  He’s got plenty coming in from his social security, retirement or pension funds and has lots and lots of time on his hands to enjoy his family and home life.

But then one day Bill gets kinda bored.  He looks around and sees so much opportunity here in the Philippines.  He sees that many people here are running a small business with no formal education and on a shoe-string budget.  Surely, with his extra dough and creative mind he could start up a small business that would occupy some of his time while making him some extra dough on the side.  He starts to think even larger and figures he will fund a business and employ some of his wife’s relatives who always seem to be in need of some cash.  It all seems to make such perfect sense.  On paper.

It is true, there is a lot of opportunity here.  And the path for starting a business here is fairly straightforward.  There are less obstructions than you would run into than say, starting a business in the U.S.  Very little regulation except when it comes to the BIR.  The Bureau of Internal Revenue.  Very much the same thing as the U.S. IRS department.  Onlythetaxman much, much more interested in grabbing every last taxed peso it can get it’s hands on.  One rule for instance is that if you make a certain amount of revenue in the previous year, but then the following year.. business is not so good; well the BIR likes the higher amount you first got taxed on and if you make less this year the only way you’re going to pay a lesser tax is if you go through a process to request for an Audit.  Otherwise, it’s assumed you earned at least as much as last year if not more and your tax remains level.  They are not interested in you ever paying less tax.  And if you ask for an audit, they will want a receipt for LITERALLY every.. single.. peso you took in.

Another thing about the BIR is that they are not so keen on the idea of deductions.  It costs money to make money, we all know that.  I’m sure there are some things you can deduct.  But a Filipino friend of mine has a hell of a time getting any deductions because the system is not oriented to reduce taxes.  It really is a tax-hungry beast that demands it’s pound of flesh.  And not once a year.. but every Quarter.

When you look at the big picture it makes sense that the Philippines is so incredibly focused on monitoring every peso made.  In most countries much of the tax revenue is carried by property tax.  But here, even though everyone pays property tax who owns land.. it isn’t much because there is a very small middle-class.  A minority are ‘rich’ and a vast majority are living 2nd or 3rd World lifestyles.  So that puts a lot of demand on taxes from the business sector.   And that’s not even factoring in many people who are locally called ‘Squatters’ who live in rural areas or government land with no record of title and pay zero taxes.  They simply live on unclaimed land.  And there are lots of them.  Entire business projects have been placed on hold for years in order to find a resolution to relocating Squaters from a given area that they’ve claimed in mass numbers.

And that’s just the tax scene.

The next big killer for expats when running a business here is probably the most frustrating of all; The Culture.  I don’t know that I could pinpoint exactly where it stems from but here in the Philippines it is easy to find workers who do what they are told, but extremely difficult to find people who make good ‘Managers’ of a business.  What I’ve observed is that Filipinos are very creative, very resourceful and very enthusiastic.  But all that business savvy that you take for granted?.. good luck finding someone you can trust to run the store.  Yes, you could run things yourself.  But is that why you came to the Philippines?.. to personally run a store 10+ hours a day, six or seven days a week to cut a profit?

One example of this is in the simple concept of Gross versus Net receipts.  You and I both understand that there is no profit unless the operating costs are paid and there is a surplus profit-lossafter that.  One expat was telling me of how he set up his wife’s family with a water-filtration business.. trained them how to operate it and left it in their hands.  Money came in, but nothing was set aside for maintenance, utilities or general operating costs.  All money coming in was seen as ‘profit’ and spent in quick order on a daily basis.  The business that was supposed to give them a way to make an earning became a subsidized money-pit at the expat’s expense.  It would have been less trouble to simply cut them a check every month in all reality.

Another issue is the cultural concept of what I will politely call, “comparative valuation“.  You might know it more as Theft but, ‘tomato’-‘tomahto’ when you’re here in the Philippines.  I’m not saying all Filipinos are thieves, that’s not what I’m saying.  In fact the huge Catholic culture here is in large part what gives the people here such a strong work ethic and salt-of-the-earth, friendly experience here.  But there is a rampant thought process here which holds to this rationalization;  “It’s not stealing if they have so much to spare.”  And yes, they are talking about you.. the expat.

And so unless you take some serious security measures do not be surprised if your tally of the inventory does not match either what’s on the shelves or what supposedly sold that month.   Your goods and services seem to little by little disappear into thin air.  It may be from your workers figuring there are so many bottles of soda in the store.. a few every week to family and friends and taking some home is not a big deal.  Or perhaps some free online time in your internet cafe to certain kids because, after all, the computer wasn’t being used and they need it to study.  A Filipina friend of mine ran a Sari-Sari store from her home and had to watch inventory like a hawk down to each last bottle of rum and bag of rice.  When she took a one month vacation she returned to find the shelves almost empty and zero profits because the workers somehow spent it on ‘store related expenses’.  But this was little compared to an expat who told me of a pig farm he owned out in the province.

He had bought a truck for use on the farm and visited the farm every few weeks to see how things were going with the Filipino caretaker he’d hired.  On one visit he noticed the truck was gone and asked if it was in the shop for repairs.  Nope.  The caretaker had sold it, without any approval or notification to the owner.  When asked, “Why?” his caretaker’s only response was, “I needed some money.”

This brings me to an update on my own Piggy-Farm experiment over in Bogo, as asked about in the above question by a reader.

Back in April of 2012, prior to my arriving in the Philippines, I decided to invest in some Momma Piggies to make some extra income on a piggy-farm in Bogo owned by a good friend of mine.  I worked out the numbers and they looked good.  A litter of piggies was My piggies in Bogousually anywhere from 7 to 14 piggies and each one could be fed and sold at market in three months for the equivalent of $120 each.  That adds up to a lot of pesos.  So I bought three at first and a fourth one later.

Now, in any business I know it takes a year or more to turn a profit due to fixed investment costs.  My partner paid for the land, electric and water as well as the initial stalls for the piggies to breed and live in.   It has now been a year and there is still no profit in sight.  For one thing, once again.. we had problems with our caretakers we’d hired.  We initially only needed one person to handle the five pigs aside from the vet and occasional breeder.  He was a man in his 30’s with a heart condition looking for easier work than the sugar cane fields he’d been working.  We offered him triple what he’d been making in the cane fields and he readily took the job.

Skip forward about three months and now we were paying both him and his wife, again, triple what anyone in the province was getting paid for a very light workload.  Plus we gave them free rent on the property.  My partner then decided to buy a female cow that was pregnant.  Naturally the caretakers convinced my partner that it was ‘customary’ that the first calf always belongs to the caretakers.  Customary or not, I was against the idea.  On top of this, the caretakers then began asking for more money on the basis that, “We already spent the money you gave us.”  Yah, try giving that line to your employer back home.  Pretty soon the money we wired for pig-feed was never enough.  Mostly because, the kept spending it.  We fixed that by setting up a credit with the feed store and paying them directly each month.

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And then we had our first litter of piggies.  Well, wouldn’t you know it?.. half of them died a month later.  The farm was about a 2 hour’s drive from where we were at so we took their word for it.  I’ve been to the farm several times and haven’t seen a piggy graveyard anywhere.  But that was just the beginning.  Every litter we’ve had, one way or another at least 40% of the piggies end up ‘disappearing’.  I guess Aliens from other planets fly in at night and beam them up.  Aliens just love that pork lechon, y’know.

Then the day came we got the big news.. the 30 year old caretaker with the heart problem fell down dead one morning on his way to feed the pigs.  Sad news.  But that same afternoon we were already getting threats from the new widow that we needed to compensate her “in a large way” for her husband’s demise.  She basically believed the farm now belonged to her because.. he died on the farm, therefore.. the farm belongs to her now.  I know, totally insane logic but out here she had no problem convincing the whole barangay that she had a valid claim.  And this was aside from (a) paying them both great wages for the area (b) his heart condition was long-standing (c) they were embezzling money and (d) they had already gotten over two month’s advances on both their paychecks.  Not to mention they wanted a free baby cow.

It was a nightmare but eventually we paid her some money to move off the property and brought in a friend of my partner to be the new caretaker.  We’re still losing piggies despite switching to a supposedly ‘healthier’ hybrid Piggy.  Well, that bionic-hybrid-piggy up and died on Piggies-Update_Oct2012 (111)us after two months.  And this was despite the fact that since we began the piggery we’ve had a veterinarian make monthly trips to monitor the farm vaccinations, housing and feed.  In fact, it was the veterinarian who sold us the hybrid piggy.  (He finally agreed to refund half the money when my Filipina partner went totally ape-sh*t on him.  Never piss off a Filipina, by the way.)

I also think the relatives of the widow sneak in and poison the pigs late at night out of sheer spite and envy.  All the pigs have the same food and conditions so it strikes me as suspicious that a completely healthy pig just dies over night for no apparent reason.

Now, here we are at a full year and I’ve lost track of how many piggies we have.  Last tally I got was somewhere around 10 Momma piggies and about 40 to 50 baby piggies with still more on the way.  That means any profits from selling the previous piggies went to the Feed bill (these animals eat like pigs) and paying for construction of more pig stalls to Piggies-Update_Oct2012 (112)house them properly.   My partner still believes we’ll see some profit once all the stalls are built and if we can get past our high mortality rate losses.  Me, I’m still convinced the new caretaker is making a little extra on the side selling out bootleg piggies from our farm.  Call me cynical and suspicious, but like I said.. where’s the massive Piggy Cemetery where all these dozens and dozens of pigs are getting buried?  The ground out there is hard as a rock and nobody’s been complaining about having to dig holes every week.  It just don’t add up.

The trips to the piggy farm in Bogo are a nice get-away to the province and my partner is not only a blast to hang out with but is willing to shoulder the costs of this experiment.  I’ve told her that our ‘Plan B’ if this turns out to be a total bust is to liquidate all the piggies (and there are a lot of them) and convert the land into a produce farm of some kind.  Find out what there’s a demand for.. coconuts, bananas, mango, corn, whatever and grow that instead.

CONCLUSION

Just in case you figure you’d struck upon an idea for a business here that is totally original, you may want to check it with my little list of ones that seem to keep popping whenever I’m discussing business ideas with locals or expats;  Laundry biz, Net Cafe, Piggery, Massage Parlor  Sari-Sari Store, High Interest Lending Biz, Filtered Water, Chinese Import Goods (99-cent Store Items), Coconut (Buko) Juice Stand, Hot Dogs, Cantina, Clothing Store, Laptop Repair, BBQ Resto and any of these ‘booth’ vendor ideas that are run inside the mall traffic areas; Fried Chicken, Potato Snacks, Squid Balls, Siomai, Cell Phones, Donuts, Hamburgers, Tempura, Fresh Fruit Smoothies, Meat-filled Waffles, Mini-Pizzas.. and let’s not forget either the big franchises such as Jollibee, McDonald’s, KFC, etc. or last, but not least.. opening up your own restaurant serving up great food such as American, Mexican, Greek, Irish, Indian, Korean or Chinese dishes.

All of these can be found literally on and between every street corner and mall by the dozens.  Competition is fierce in these markets and the only way you’ll make a go of it is if you can afford to match the local prices.  So, before you do pull the trigger on a business.. run the numbers!!  See what your competition is charging.  Ask yourself how much of their bukojuicelocal market you can expect to gain.  Better yet, go where there is no competition such as out near the province areas on the edge of town.  Be the only laundry or pizza place for miles and that will help.

Can an expat run a small business here and make a profit?  I’m sure they can.  I just wish I had some examples to give you.  Perhaps you, the readers are expats running a profitable business here in the Philippines and can give some balance to the challenges I’ve presented here.  I’m not trying to be negative, like I said.. I’m a big believer and supporter of the entrepreneur.  And that’s why I want to share with you what to expect before you blow your nest egg making the same mistakes others made.

Personally, for my own 2 pesos.. here is one of two suggestions for making money here.  The first is;  “Do it online.”  Now, making money online is no walk in the park either and there are a lot of scams out there waiting to take your money with some ‘sure-fire’ method.  But to me, doing a brick-and-mortar business here introduces all sorts of issues.  Aside from the BIR, you have the issue that as a foreigner you can only own and finance 40% of any business you run here.  That’s right, you need to be a minority-shareholder, essentially a silent partner in your own business.  A Filipino citizen has to have the 60% majority ownership of your business.  Most smart expats get around that by naming their Filipina wife as their partner of course.  But if you’re either not married or don’t trust your wife (which is bad news already).. all I can say is ‘Good Luck’ finding a partner who doesn’t end up screwing you over legally since they have the 60% ownership on the biz.  You can set up a Corporation and go that route.  Which introduces more filings and bureaucracy so.. good luck with that too.

Or.. there’s one second suggestion I have which is the smartest way to go.  And that idea is; LAND.

Presuming you have a Filipina wife, in my estimation the only business I would even think of doing out here would be land development.  You can’t purchase land, but your Filipina wife can.  You can be on title, but you have no controlling rights.  If you love her and planned on leaving her something for after you’re gone then it’s all good.   Land is extremely inexpensive here and there are several routes you can take.

One is to build a series of studio/apartments just big enough for 3 or 4 people.  Keep it small, simple.  If you build a huge house your market to rent to will largely be foreigners to keep it cost effective, but your tax rates will be higher and their expectations of living conditions higher as well.  But smaller studio-apartments like I rented in Mactan.. there’s a waiting list for both locals and expats wanting a clean, secure place to live.

Another route is building a multi-story business suite building.  I would prefer it was medical and law oriented and let businesses rent each suite out each month.  Another idea is to make it a generic, single-operation place of business for rental and collect on the lease as one business after another makes a go of it.  Because there’s no shortage of foreigners looking to start up a killer business idea so.. you might as well be the one selling the picks and shovels while they focus on finding the gold.

And I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention every man’s dream job; Owning Your Own Bar.

There is at least one guy I know who is really “living the dream” and his name is Joe.  He’s on the island of Mactan and he along with his brothers in the last few years have built the most awesome of party-central locations I’ve ever seen.  You can check out a video I did of his place here; Chicago Joe’s Bump And Grind Disco Dance Club.  That place has everything, you gotta see the video if you haven’t already.  All the booze, money and pretty girls he can handle while owning his own bar in the Philippines.  But Joe and his partners are a rare bird.  There’s a place in Mango Square, I believe it’s called the ‘Cobra Bar’.  That place changes hands about every 3 years from what I’ve heard and always gets bought back by the same Filipino owner.

Story goes that it sells for about $45,000 USD.  I mean, think about it.. 45K to own your own rocking bar in the Philippines already licensed, with massage, pretty girls, booze stocked, karaoke and a prime spot in town?  Expats are on that like white on rice.  And then reality sets in.  Every challenge I’ve mention plus.. some issues with what it costs to avoid being raided that I won’t go into much detail here.  They say when you own a truck you never lack for friends.  Well, here.. when you own a bar you never lack for people who need their cut.  Next thing you know, the expat is begging someone to buy him out.  And wouldn’t you know it?.. it’s always been the same guy who sold it to him in the first place.

The Philippines is kinda like the Wild West in some ways.  Full of opportunity.. seems like the sky is the limit.  But you better have some solid business experience under your belt and have some trusted, local connections who can help smooth the path for you if you plan to succeed.

Update:  The day after posting this article.. the cow died.  Stopped eating, wouldn’t drink water and then just gave it up after a day despite a visit from the Vet.  That’s at least a 12,000 Peso loss right there.  Such is life on the farm.

Henry “Reekay” V.
www.lifegoeson.net

 

Author: Reekay

After 49 years living in Southern California, USA, I decided to move to the Philippines despite never having been here before. In July, 2012, I took a leap of faith and transplanted myself to the amazing Philippines. I am a single man taking an honest look at all that the islands here have to offer, one day at a time. I hope you find my LBTSea site informative, entertaining and hopefully a bit of each. 🙂 Be sure to visit the Forum and other parts of what the site has to offer. Browse around and be sure to sign up for updates via email. Enjoy!
— Reekay

173 comments

      1. hi henry in 21 and im looking at moving to the Philippines for a few years if u have any tips to get there id love the help hit me up on my email jaccab93 @ hotmail.com

    1. Ha! No kidding.. they actually have fried squid balls here. I keep meaning to try them but if I don’t like ’em I wouldn’t want to just throw them away or carry them around. The last thing I need is to be carrying around an extra set of balls. ha!

  1. Sorry, but I’m coming to retire! Not work. If I get bored, there is kayaking, bike riding, fishing, and beer drinking to do! I can also stay busy looking for ways not to work on the honeydo list! Walang problema Henry!

    1. I hear ya, Randy. When I moved to Bohol some people told me, “Oh!.. you should get a vehicle and do tours of Bohol once you learn the island. Foreigners would want someone with good English to show them around.” Well, thanks but.. no. For one thing, if I went to Japan for a tour, I’d want a Japanese tour guide. For another, I didn’t come all this way to spend my afternoon in the hot sun hustling up work at the pier. Too many beaches to visit and books I plan to write. Grab me a cold San Miguel and some hammock time.. I’m good for the day. 🙂

    2. Good idea Randy, leave all your money in your original western economies, buy rental properties in Australia, rent them out for $400/week and use a property manager. rent a condo in Philippines anywhere…Boracay is great. Then just watch the world go by as you live like a king spending Aussie dollars, without any stress or getting ripped off. Maybe buy an F150 V8 strap on some kayaks and surfboards and go to cloud 9in Sarigao or even buy a dirtbike. Even if you lost your car and toys your real estate is still in Australia, and you’re about 20 grand out of pocket but you have had an awesome time.Ive been married to a filipina for 4 years and shes an aussie resident.
      IF CONSIDERING BUYING REAL ESTATE OR A BUSINESS IN PHILIPPINES……………………….DONT. WHO WANTS ANY STRESS AFTER AGE 50 LOL, WHEN THERES SO MUCH BEEN TO DRINK.

      MY 50 PESOS WORTH

  2. Where do I start? If you have money to burn give business a go here in the Philippines. Heed the words of the wise Reekay, he has done his research.

    My experience with business here? A Piggery 3 sows, a sari sari store and internet cafe run by family members for their benefit and gave my wife something to do. At the end if the day they All failed, they were making a decent and good profit but over time lost money. Why? Too easy, capital is viewed as profit and my family thinks the foreigner will reinvest the capital while they spend it all. Skimming and pure theft was a huge problem, credit and giving stock away to friends was considered humanitarian. See the foreigner supposedly can afford it and it is customary for the family to take more than they are intitled to. For the life of me I could not understand why the piggery could not turn a profit, piglets were healthy but most were dying and the dead piglets given to family members for their celebrations??? WTH? I canned the business idea and gave my family a monthly wage to leave me alone. The idea I liked the most if I could trust anyone here but I can’t, is boarding houses. Demand is huge with limited amount on the market. I know they work.

    In the case of other foreigners running business here? Yes, four that I knew, 3 of them were bars and two of them were modern up to date bars. The two modern bars were screamers packed to the rafters night after night. The other two were packed as well. Yet after a few months ( between 3 to 9 months) in operation all four businesses closed down. Two were girlfriend scams involving the Pinay boyfriending ( read having sex with ) powerful cohorts and trying to have the foreigner boyfriend deported in order to own the business outright. Of the two screamers, one of the modern bars, some powerful locals wanted to have their finger in the pie and when the fireigner resisted, they drove the foreigner out. The fourth bar had landlord problems, the foreigner negotiated a very cheap rent as the property was second level. As with much dealings here most of the legal paperwork is worth jack. The landlord demanded higher rent and get this….a 30% share of the business???Cut a long story short, he closed down also.

    1. Update, all the sites that closed down are still empty two years later.
      The moral of the story, don’t trust anyone here unless you got your hand on the handle.
      Oh just a short story about our maid, i bought 5 kilos of buscuits. I entrusted our maid to distribute these over a period of time to my children and some for herself. I did expect the buscuits to last more than two days. Alas they didn’t and then neither did she. Moral of the story, don’t cut them any slack, they will fleece you.

      1. My friend has the same maid issues right now. She just fired another one two weeks ago who was totally useless. A 20 something year old girl who basically lived at the house, watched tv until told what to do and did a half-assed job on top of that. My friend gave her two months to get her act together, more time than I would have given her that’s for sure. Meanwhile, she has another maid she’s had for over 14 years. That older woman does an excellent job cleaning, cooking, etc. but the problem is that she’s gotten so familiar that now she takes extra days off at random (still expects to get paid), brings her teenage kids to eat up the food for days, raids the fridge and takes home bags of groceries before her days off and expects a salary four times the going-rate. My friend feels sorry for her and keeps her on. I tell her that if the maid really needs the money, she’d work within the rules of the job to keep her job. But, point being.. the maid’s mentality is, “She’s rich so she can afford it.” : /

    2. It’s a travesty that, much like other banana republics, the country itself is it’s own undoing. Racketeering and police corruption not only make the rich foreigner looking to start a business to be a target.. but it leaves him without much recourse when he tries to use the court system for his defense. And the women.. the expat business guy never sees it coming. They think this girl is nothing but a slice of heaven until suddenly he’s being deported or leaving his business behind to catch a plane out because now she’s claiming she’s underage or was abused.. all because she was working for the 60% partner the whole time. Like I said, if a person wants to come here and run a business.. better have your radar finely tuned and keep your wits about you.. or you’re toast. And if a person is a newbie who has never run a business before, Vegas odds say he will be out of business and out of money in six months or less.

      But as I also said, LAND.. that’s where the slow, sure money is. You just gotta have a Filipina wife you trust who is vested in for the long run. Some rentals here and there and you’re only customer is your tenant. That can have issues too, but at least they are defined and limited. Here you can buy and build a few studios for less than $40K, including the land and all the rents from then out are profit apart from maintenance and taxes.

    3. I dont understand the filipino way of thinking. they just grab all they can get with no thought of the future. not a good mindset and after their tricks I wouldnt give them anything. definetly not pay for doing nothing. I used to be a kind hearted generous person but the pinays have ruined it for me and i will turn deaf ears to their sob stories.

      1. I’ve mentioned this very same reaction to several Filipinos, that the ones who cheat and lie to expats to con them out of money end up souring the experience to the point that expats don’t know who to believe and just give up on helping altogether. As I’ve mentioned in a previous article, my first two months here I got scammed by some ‘friendly faces’ who followed up with bogus hard-luck stories and had to learn the hard way that not everyone is on the up and up, here or anywhere else really.. but here it’s simply more aggressive and targeted to foreigners. Some go for the short, 2,000P con while others go for the big 40,000P+ business con and bleed it for all it’s worth. As I keep repeating, the first and only obligation a person has is to their parents and children. Everyone else after that is on a case-by-case basis. And if the facts don’t stand up against even minor scrutiny, no dice. http://lifebeyondthesea.com/who-do-you-trust-scams-in-the-philippines/

      2. Sorry to hear that donna, im a filipina and not all pinays are the same, im not saying this to disagree with you, i am sad that you encounter those kind of people, and even sad to say they are my countrywoman, i still believe that there are lots of pinays who are trustworthy. I still encourage you to visit our country. Dont lose faith. 🙂

        1. yeah you’re right tina,not everybody’s thesame. some people are hungry in the philippines so they can do such things but please as tina said there still a lot of pinoy you can trust..

        2. Your right tina not all pinays or pinoys are cheaters.you should be a little choosy.dont date women in the bars or interner.

      3. hi! donna i think no all pinays are gold digger. though some did but most of them or us are loyal and trustworthy… i think you should your mind smartly.

        1. really pinay in baguio? trust and loyal? I think not when it comes to money hungry; they suck you dry…majority! Best thing to do, DO NOT TRUST NO ONE IN PINAS WITH YOUR MONEY!

          1. Aside from a few nephews/nieces who were put through college by friends of mine, I cannot think of any expats who have funded a business for a Filipina wife’s family member and seen the business succeed. It’s a sad reality but, they often just don’t put in the effort when it’s not their own money invested into it. What they really wanted all along was ‘free money’ in most cases.

    4. This is why long-lived clubs in the Developing World are run mostly by gangsters. If looting’s not curtailed by the threat of violence, the threat of violence gets used for looting.

      1. True. I’ve heard from other expats who visit Thailand that many of the clubs in Bangkok are being bought up by the Russians. If that trend continues, along with the political unrest and violence, Thailand’s tourism will suffer greatly.

    5. The BIR and the Filipino’s all think alike whatever the sales price is the profit, especially if it wasn’t there money that started it, corruption is accepted in the PH, the only difference with the US government is they try to hide it. I think you may be onto something though about the rentals, the problem is collecting the rent and eviction, you might be paying some tong, do your due diligence with your prospectus, then deduct another 40% and you might be close to your goal, that’s my 2 pesos. And remember there are 2 times, your time and Filipino time, the laid back culture was created by the filipino

      1. Of the people I know doing rentals.. ‘squatters’ always become an issue, whether the landlord is Filipino or Foreigner. The contracted rent might be 3,000P but with time the renters begin paying only 2,000P and then 1,000P.. always with ‘promises’ to catch up but it never materializes. Once the long eviction process starts, it drops down to zero payments. Me, I recommend higher end rentals to either Foreigners or professional suites for doctors, dentists, attorneys, etc. Residential rentals is a pain even in the US, but much more so in the PH with low-income renters.

  3. Also you must have the correct visa to be able to work or start a business. A foreigner cannot work or own a business while on a 9a tourist visa. The tourist visa means just that, you are a tourist. For business purposes a foreigner must have a permanent residence visa, either a 13a (often referred to as a spousal visa) or an SRRV (Special Resident Retiree’s Visa). The SRRV requires a deposit into a government approved bank of $20,000. A foreigner may also use an SIRV (Special Investor’s Resident Visa) which requires investment of a minimum of $75,000. There are other investor visa’s but they require amounts of $100,000 to $200,000 or more.

    You cannot “partner” with your wife. The Philippine Family Code defines a husband and wife as one legal entity and therefore cannot enter into contract with each other.

    Most foreigners that “own” businesses take the “silent partner” route. In other words the wife is the legal owner, but they provide the funding and management “advice”,

    To form a corporation a foreigner must have a minimum of five Philippine citizens on the board. None of these citizens can be their wife or immediate family. A foreigner can then have no more than a 40% interest in the corporation. If one goes this route keep in mind that your fate will lie in the hands of others. Many foreigners have schemes where they can “control” the corporation, such as making themselves the only one authorized to do the banking. This is not allowed and is in violation of the “Anti-Dummy” act as regards dummy corporations. Violating this will lead to forfeiture of all monies, imprisonment, deportation and possible blacklisting.

    Also be aware that you don’t p*** anyone off, such as competing with someone who’s “connected” as the locals have their ways of getting even. Beware and tread lightly.

    If someone needs to work to live in the Philippines then they shouldn’t move. If you must work, then work online in a business founded in your home country.

    1. Excellent comment, Goyo. The wife, as you said, cannot be a legal partner but can act as owner who is funded by her husband. Which is why I always stress that if an expat is going to go this route.. TAKE THE TIME to build a real relationship with a Filipina before getting married. The whole ‘whirlwind romance’ scenario where an expat is marrying his exotic beauty after only knowing her 3 months is the perfect setting for huge heartache later, both emotional and financial. The only expats I know of who have succeeded here have a strong, real relationship of trust with their wives that has been proven over time.

      And your comment of cutting into someone else’s marketshare is dead-on. Envy over your success in someone else’s area can lead to more than just dirty-looks and gossip. And just in case a person dodges that bullet, there is another thing one can count on; If you come up with a profitable idea.. others will flood your market. This happened to my neighbor who had a very successful little BBQ-Resto. He was the only one in the area and so he got all the business. It was a boom for about 9 months. Then, one by one, others started pitching up their own make-shift, half-baked bbq stands right next to his in an open field, sort of swap-meet style. He lost so much business that he finally had to shut it down and now works as a cook at a local resort.

    2. This makes no sense, every single large usa corporation has operation in the phils. You think J.P. Morgan is giving up 60% to a pack of philippinos? yeah right never gonna happen, they aren’t giving up even 0.06% we all know that, so what you said are limitations, obviously are not hard limitations.

      So how are they doing it? There is obviously a way, Mcdonalds, KFC, all the rest certainly are not giving up 60% of the decision making in running of their brands either, nor their profits. Hell not a single foreign corporation would EVER invest a single dollar if there was a 40% limit, EXCEPT for buying shares of successful phillipine companies passively in the stock market. Zero possibility at management whatsoever of any phillipine company? BullSHIT. Of course its not true.

  4. Hi Henry, great site you have and enjoy reading all your articles, I learned many years ago to tread very carefully if you want to open any business in nearly any south east asian country whether it be Thailand, Vietnam or Bali, the locals have a completly different mindset to westerners. Had a brother open a business in Thailand many years ago and he wasn’t a slouch when it came to business, lasted 2 years and broke, came home with his tail between his legs, he had all the problems you have mentioned and more, never again he said.I think as everyone has mentioned have an online business or enough money to live on, coming for a visit in June, buy you a beer.

    1. Sorry to hear about your brother’s experience. I’m hoping to give a head’s-up so future expats don’t fall into the same trap. And if they do decide to take on a business here, at least know what they are dealing with. It’d be great to meet up in June. I’m living on Bohol as you know but I’m always itching for an excuse to catch a boat to my stomping grounds in Cebu & Mactan for a beer. 🙂 Just drop me a line anytime you arrive.

  5. I like the idea of cutting a monthly check (or twice a month in my case), instead of getting involved in any wild-eyed schemes of making money. Twice a month so it stretches out over the month. And part of this is to make sure Lola is taken care of, plus the homestead is looked after. P12M to supplement Lola’s ssn, plus bro-in-law’s pension makes for fairly comfortable filipino lifestyle. I just expense it to HOA fees.

    Also, good to get the detail about:

    “To form a corporation a foreigner must have a minimum of five Philippine citizens on the board. None of these citizens can be their wife or immediate family.”

    Definitely something about which I will be speaking with knowledgeable sources. Thanks for the tip!

    1. That’s good you help her out. It’s my belief that the only obligation a person has is to their parents, husband or wife’s side. The bro and sis-in-laws, cousins, neighbors, friends.. all that is on a case by case basis. But taking care of the parents and one’s own children (family) are first priority. Otherwise the line outside the door for free-money just gets longer and longer until you’re flat broke. : /

  6. Update: The day after posting this article.. the cow died. Stopped eating, wouldn’t drink water and then just gave it up after a day despite a visit from the Vet. That’s at least a 12,000 Peso loss right there. Such is life on the farm.

    1. I heared a story about a caretaker inserting wire inside the animals behind so it will have internal bleeding , So they can feed the whole hungry family.

    1. The Vet says there’s no sign of disease and that it was safe to butcher. The caretaker is having someone do that. What meat can’t be frozen will be dried out. From there it’ll be sold (but mostly given away) to the locals in the barangay. Even so, poor Moo-cow. 🙁

    1. Thanks for the offer, but right now we’ve got a full crew at the farm already. Plus, it’s pretty much isolated about an hour’s walk away from the nearest town.. and not too much excitement going on in Bogo once you do get there. haha!

      1. I stumbled on your blog when I was researching about starting up a business and I just wanted to say kudos to you! Thanks for the helpful tips. I feel bad about what you’ve been through. I’d probably quit for good if it were me. Why don’t you fire your caretaker. Just fake that business isn’t doing well and you have to lay off some workers, good and bad ones.

        1. Despite the losses the piggy farm is still viable. My partner is now shouldering the majority of stake in it since I’ve always been more of a hands-off partner. If I had it to do all over again, I’d either live on the property and do it myself (not my cup of tea) or not do it at all. That is my recommendation.

  7. You may want to consider your business venture into manufacturing real products that can be exported to other countries like Japan, Korea or China.

    I know one Japanese guy making coconut charcoal briquettes and coconut fiber in General Santos, Philippines. Raw materials for such products is abundant in Bohol and are basically free.

    1. I read also of a group of Japanese men who are growing in the PH a type of nut tree, which those nuts are a huge seller in Japan. My forecast? When it comes time to export them on a large scale.. someone at customs or the postal service is going to want their palms greased or else suddenly it’s a banned item for export. That’s the Philippines.. in a nutshell, if you will.

  8. (This is my opinion about starting a business in the Philippines)

    “The Investment Banker and The Mexican Fisherman”

    Some of you have probably heard this story before. It contains a lesson well worth considering.

    An investment banker stood at the pier of a small coastal Mexican village when a small boat with just one fisherman docked. Inside the small boat were several large yellow-fin tuna. The banker complimented the fisherman on the quality of his fish and asked how long it took to catch them.

    The fisherman replied, “Only a little while.”

    The banker then asked why didn’t he stay out longer and catch more fish?

    The fisherman said he had enough to support his family’s immediate needs.

    The banker then asked, “But what do you do with the rest of your time?”

    The fisherman said, “I sleep late, fish a little, play with my children, take siestas with my wife, stroll into the village each evening where I sip wine, and play guitar with my amigos. I have a full and busy life.”

    The investor scoffed, “I am an Ivy League MBA and could help you. You should spend more time fishing and with the proceeds, buy a bigger boat. With the proceeds from the bigger boat, you could buy several boats, and eventually you would have a fleet of fishing boats.
    “The investor continued, “And instead of selling your catch to a middleman you would then sell directly to the processor, eventually opening your own cannery. You would control the product, processing, and distribution! You would need to leave this small coastal fishing village and move to Mexico City, then Los Angeles and eventually New York City, where you will run your expanding enterprise.”

    The fisherman asked, “But how long will this all take?”

    To which the banker replied, “Perhaps 15 to 20 years.”

    “But what then?” asked the fisherman.

    The banker laughed and said, “That’s the best part. When the time is right you would announce an IPO and sell your company stock to the public and become very rich. You would make millions!”

    “Millions. Okay, then what?” wondered the fisherman.

    To which the investment banker replied, “Then you would retire. You could move to a small coastal fishing village where you would sleep late, fish a little, play with your kids, take siestas with your wife, and stroll to the village in the evenings where you could sip wine and play your guitar with your amigos.”

    1. Funny!.. and yet very poignant. In fact, even though my life here is basically a permanent vacation.. this particular weekend was off the charts amazing. My bodily senses could not have been any more satisfied on every level. Great food, siestas, great conversation and eh, some indoor sports until I was sore. Life is good here and I’m so glad finishing out another 15 years in the lab back home never appealed to me. 🙂

      1. I can certainly relate to that. While I’m thankful to have a good job and profession, I have no intention of doing any sort of biz or work for hire when I retire. By the time I can move back to the PH, I’ll have logged somewhere around 80,000 hours working for someone else when I’d rather be sleeping in, fishing…

    2. i like the story ! yes its so so true ! the fisherman has sense !
      like myself , i want a business in the Cebu area , but also want to enjoy life , sleep a little , drink a little , enjoy the weather , relax by the beach ,
      i only want to do a business to keep myself occupied , to make a bit of money so i dont dip into my savings all the time , and to leave the business if it lasts to my wife and daughter !

      i am new to this site ! but well done to Henry for all the work he has done to get this site going and to share his and others experiences

      regards len

  9. I never stopped referring to this story whenever I get the urge to try to conquer the world by starting my own business. Life is too short and you will never make enough money. However, the siestas (especially the cold beer) will only last so long.

  10. My BIL had a piggery on his farm in Danao. Same problems as you. Pigs disappearing , bad help. He switched over to goats but I don't know if he is making any money or just as a hobby.

    1. When you look at the overall.. what shall we call it?.. ‘mindset’ that is prevalent here, unless a person is hands-on watching the inventory it seems a constant result is that the inventory disappears. After all, “foreigners are rich, they can afford it”, right? Despite our losses we’re still doing ‘ok’ with our piggie farm but if I had it all to do over again, I’d seriously reconsider.

  11. Have a doctor friend here in California who started a medical billing service for doctors here in California. All the medical billing is done in Manila vs. here in California. Some of the major players such as United Health Care are doing the same. Why pay a medical biller 50k here in California along with out of this world square footage for office space.

    Just an idea he had.

    1. Yah, outsourcing is the quiet wave that’s becoming a big trend. Sad though since it puts people out of work in the US. But when businesses are getting hammered with taxation, they gotta cut their overhead somehow and outsourcing is a way to do it.

      1. Oh boy, I could go on and on. I better not, lest I delve into a heavy political discussion. That being said, and US job losses aside, I work with a major corporate computer supplier who’s name starts with a D and the call center is in Cebu, and a major network infrastructure supplier who’s name happens to begin with C, and has their support engineers in India, and I have to say, both are excellent resources. 90% of my calls or chats to the D company in Cebu are resolved right away. The engineers at the C company are very very well versed in networking and very helpful. I wish I had half the engineers talent.

        I should say if you deal with the D company for home computers, it will be a different world, and I do not recommend the D company for home computers.

  12. amazing conversations you guys have here…very informative for a beginning entrepreneur like me. I especially love what your Gramma said…about enjoying good things, not just work all the time…very tru.

  13. very informative Henry…one question..seeing you have all these strange happening with the livestock…how do you go about boars…does the caretaker stand in??

  14. very good info over here kuya henry 🙂 I’m so happy that I read your article I was planning to move to PH and start a water filtration business but now I’m a bit worried about hiring people that I can trust when I’m gone.. but I’m gonna take your advice and be very careful about it. my question is, do u think renting out an apartment building would be the BEST and Safest way to earn monthly income?? Please help!

    1. I’ll give you my two pesos on it, based on my ex/gf being in the rental and land development business for years here in Cebu. She is Filipina and because she is ‘rich’ even she has been stiffed for full rent from her tenants. I do believe it’s a good business to get into, but just like in the States you get your share of hard-luck stories when rent-time is due. “Piece-mealing”, as they call it here.. where instead of getting the full rent they end up paying maybe 40% of the agreed rent with promises to catch up.. this turns into the 40% becoming the new rent sometimes. Now, this is when renting out a residence to lower-income Filipinos.

      To me, a much better route is renting out decent accommodations marketed to visiting Expats. Secure, clean places at a reasonable rate, to me, is the way to go. Another good angle (in my opinion) is building and renting out business suites strictly for either medical, dental or legal offices. You get less wear and tear on the structure than with residential and a better quality renter who is more likely to be able to pay the lease agreement. So.. that’s my suggestion; either Expat rental studios/apartment or business suites. But not Mom-n-Pop business suites like the laundry service, pizza, eatery type places.. chances are with those you’ll get a hard-luck story at the end of the month.

  15. Interesting read. Im 35 married a Filipina at 30 still together. Bored with my desk job which Ive done for the past 15 years. And now thought about moving to Phills. Mixed thoughts and scared of being done over if I set up a business. I keep hearing online is the best source of income as you avoid tax in Phills but pay tax in your home land sounds great… but what online work is there? Ebay is done to death, outsource work maybe, but theres no stable income. Owning land is too expensive for me. Though the one thing I have is that I can trust my wifes family. They’ve never asked for anything from me which is great. Id like to open a bar but after reading what happened in a few comments here I’ll skip. Back to brainstorming it is.

  16. Hi Henry, im an Australian of Filipino descent. When I retired in 2007, I decided to do business in the Philippines taking advantage of my multilingual background. Since I am an engineer and have many years of experience in office businesss equipments, thats the business i have started with. I buy used laser printers, photocopiers, computers, facsimilies, etc and resell it there.
    It is true that starting a business in this country is not easy fit. The red tapes are tremendous and the attitudes of the locals are something to be reckoned. I also made the serious mistake of hiring relatives in my business. They turn out to be the biggest thieves and source of headaches too.I learned my lessons and my business becomes stable with ZERO relatives on board.
    I was also victimized by filipino scammers in my 1st year of business. Though i lost almost 200,000 pesos worth of goods, luckily i survived that one. I learn my lessons the hardway but those lessons taught me heaps. Now i am much wiser.
    Few precautions to those expats who is planning to come here to start a business:
    1. Do not hire relatives. You will be sorry for it.
    2. Select a good manager to run your business. Yes there are heaps of thieves out there but eventually you will get a good one. I got a good manager. I am lucky so you can be too.
    3. Hire a good accountant. This professional is a very important part of your business.
    5. Look after your employees well. Be kind to them but draw a clear boundary between you and them.
    6. Be streetwise when dealing with your clients and dealers. Respect them but NEVER trust them.
    7. Never show your softness or else they will take advantage of you.
    8. Remember that every filipino you will meet in your business is a potential thief. Exercise pre caution all the time.
    9. In the west where i used to work and the kind of people i dealt with in the past, word is honor. But never with filipinos. Very very few of them honor their words. So beware.
    And finally…..never ever trust them. Even to those filipinos who shows extra friendships to you are potential thieves.

      1. Just an observation foreigners like us are exactly that to the pinay, we are foreigners and we are open and free to choose if we go live in the PH or any other country if you have the ,money. I have been travelling to the PH for many years normally 2 times each year for 2 or 3 months at a time. and know many ex pats living there for 20 years or more, and it comes down to one single issue they love it, it is cheap and it is warm and by and far the people are super friendly. if you go there and treat the women like dirt or for your sexual pleasure then be expected to be consumed with the same detest in response. i have read many comments on this site and watched many henry’s videos and while some good informative videos to be watched the main theme is how to avoid being scammed by the “cheeky pinay bride” or her family.

        Firstly did you ever stop to consider the hardship these girls endure, most girls if not at school are hard working normally 10 to 12 hours per day, they are the natural breadwinners of the family. family is more important to them than life itself. they will do absolutely anything to provide for their family especially their parents. don’t try to change this nation of the family first, by trying to introduce western culture and expectations. its simple you are going to a foreign country with an alien culture accept it or don’t go. secondly, almost 24 million people travel through manila airport each year and that is only 1 there are many other international airports like cebu and davao, so in total almost 30 million visitors per year 75 percent of them men. so ask your self this, how many times do you think those poor hard working girls have heard a foreigner say to them i love you i want you to be my wife and i will take care of you forever and your family. yes thats right they have heard it so many times form foreigners they have lost count, and then wether its the first night or the second night or week or month as soon as the foreigner has got what he wants he moves of to the next girl in a different island or different part of the city or if he is really cheeky he moves on to a cousin or a sister. now replicate this each year after year and you will start to get a small understanding of what the lies and the abuse and the degrading treatment the foreigners have installed in the minds of these beautiful people. is it any wonder they want to make a few quick bucks at any given opportunity.

        because its like as henry says with the opposite effect , like las vegas in a casino you only see the 1 time the jackpot throwing out the money you never pay attention to the thousands that don’t win. for the pinay girl she has to be very lucky to find that one true guy, in amongst the millions who visit each year and lie their ass of to her. Thirdly no one is making or forcing you to up stakes and move to the philippines, ist your choice, and it mostly likely to meet a beautiful young girl that you want to marry or be in a relationship with. sure you can lie to me or to the forum or to this site but we all know the truth. so respect her support her family and accept the culture or quite simply don’t go. stay in the states or canada or europe and find an 18 or 20 year old gf, highly unlikely i might think. like the advice of the forum says, don’t start a business and properly date and court a girl as if you were in your own town then after time if its right get married, but always understand this no matter how clever you think you are you will always have to support her family there is no escape no escape. or to them your simply just another sex tourist looking for easy rides. “bangon philippines”

        1. I’m not sure if you were addressing me or just those who are the ‘sexpats’. For myself, I have been very vocal and specific about the cultural expectations upon Filipinas to support their parents.. and that expats need to be prepared for this. I’ll include a link here to a video on this subject specifically.

          Aside from that, there is abuse going on from both sides. Some expats and some filipinas make targets of the unsuspecting and either use them for sex or money. It happens both ways. Married Filipinas pretending to be single only to steal an expat’s wallet or get money from him under the false pretense of being a single woman. And expats who pretend to be interested in marriage, knowing they are only there for a few weeks with no intention of marriage. It happens from both sides and both are to blame. For this reason I try to educate both Filipinas and Foreigners about the dangers involved when seeking a life-mate in the PH. I encourage patience, knowing a person for at least a year before making any big decisions. Verifying what a person says about themselves, etc.

          Now, all that being said, not every Filipina wants to get married nor every Foreigner. For those, I encourage and advise.. simply be honest up front. If all they want is a girlfriend/boyfriend for 3 weeks with no promises.. then both parties agree to it and be adult about it. There is no need for lying and playing upon someone else’s good intentions, whether they are Filipina or Foreigner. link; http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bG3tO7VMpQ8

        2. Excellent comment on what the Pinay has to endure. Too often we forget their side. Your many trips over the years have given you great insight.

          1. please, give me a break…that’s doesn’t meant that a man have to support the entire family? TRUST NO ONE, anywhere, especially in the Philippines! Endured the poverty but that’s not give a pilipina a right to steal or corrupt anyone. Paul – you have listening to a good sour story of poverty that these pilipina endured telling you. I feel them, but excuses to steal due poverty is getting old!

            1. I’ll only speak for myself, but I do not advocate supporting the entire family of in-laws. As I’ve covered in video, supporting the Parents (Mother/Father) of one’s wife is the only true moral obligation. It is her obligation and upon marriage becomes a shared obligation. But the rest of the siblings, neighbors and cousins.. they’re on their own. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bG3tO7VMpQ8

  17. As an add on to what I said above, yes, small residential development is a very promising business. In fact, thats what I was thinking of doing it as an add on to my existing office equipments sales and rentals. Small residential housing not exceeding P2M is the way to go. In excess of P2M is a hard sell in my opinion. A small decently constructed house in the price range of between 1.5M and 2M will be easier to sell. If you have a knock in a small construction business, this is worth a try. Again thievery is the issue so you should be very active in controlling the purchases of construction materials and you must be handy in managing the construction yourself.

  18. Business in the Philippines made by a Foreigner will fail by 99 %. I tried to make several times some business there. Sari Sari, Pigs , 40day chicken, eatery.
    All this is good for fun but never for profit.

    I am still in my home country and have sent every month money to the relatives to run the business. But the requests for money were never ending and month by month rising up.

    By all these I have always the average family income in the Philippines in my mind. That´s for Metro Manila about 15 K PHP in a month.(last update September 2013). That´s about 300 USD a MONTH !!
    It seems that a family can live with that amount, while others have to survive with 3 USD a DAY !!

    A house building worker has 6 to 8 K PHP a month on income for a 6 days working week with 12 hours work a day.

    Nevertheless, I`m feeling chased, because I was sending sometimes up to 50 K PHP a month over years with no suceed or profit.

    So now I have stopped every support and every payment and I will start also my “one mans journey”.
    Single, without any business in my mind and without planning getting in any relationship anymore.
    If ever a relationship, then with people with jobs and education.
    No big decisions, no trusting,no housemaids,never telling where I`m living..

    However, it is a little bit sad, because the Philippines are really a paradise..but the pinoy thinking goes like this: “If there´s food for the day and a place to sleep and some clean clothes…why thinking what´s tomorrow”, and “when there´s a money, why dont spend it away”

    This “easy way of living” is one of the reasons why foreigner want´s to live there but it´s also one of the biggest problems. When someone is retired and have a big cash it´s no problem at all but for others in an age of 50 or something it becomes a problem.

    But why waiting until retired and go to the Philippines when the party is already over ?

    1. My own 2 cents on this is that as Americans we look way down the road (in general) and hope to save for our retirement. When that time comes, the only thing that catches the Filipino eye is the abundance of money. They don’t see that preparations were made years ago to get to that point, whether through investments, pensions, savings or an ongoing business venture. The thinking here is very short-sighted, perhaps due to the lack of opportunity.

      1. Hi Henry, I am very interested in trying to get a group of expats together draw up a partnership and look into investing together as a corporation. I have dual citizenship and currently am working on a couple of properties that can be used for business. Why am I looking for partners? Well, two things. As a group and done legally, we can form the corporation. As a group and pooling capital together, we can have a larger investment capital to own good franchises like Jolibee or a McDonald’s as an example. I have a property in Baguio which is about 2000 sq meters that I am currently working on getting a clean title on it, it can be developed into a small to medium sized building for offices, rental property for University students, a call centre or a condo and it is very close to Saint Louis University as well as a major highway (Marcos Highway). It is also near Burnham Park and downtown Baguio. It has a lot of potential. Growing the capital from the profit can then lead to other further investments as I mentioned as a group the corporation will be able to afford more solid fail proof investments. Hell, I have seen all these Chinese, Korean and Japanese investors here and I am wondering if they could do it why can’t the expats do it (me included as I am also an expat). Every corner I see a Japanese, Korean or Chinese establishment that seems to be making lots of money. I’ve heard also that some of these places like you mentioned like Jolibee, Greenwich pizza, Chow King, all owned by one person, yes however, a lot of these places are also individually owned by Franchise owners that are foreigners like the Chinese, Koreans or even Germans and Americans. Just saying that I am very interested if I could get some partners so we can be serious and get a fair shot at owning and running a business that is fail-proof. Most of these Jolibees are challengers if you notice them. They strategically place their fast food restaurants beside a McDonald’s or any other restaurant and it is always packed with people. In my street alone where I live is a KFC, it packs so many people every single day. It’s been in the same location for the past 10 years and is still packing it in and that’s not including the deliveries that they have. In my area, there are two McDonald’s Restaurant within 2 to 4 kilometres of each other. I can walk to both of them in 10 mins. They are so close to each other and yet, they are always full of people. There’s also a Burger King nearby as well as a Jolibee place in the area. There are also Pizza places like a Papa John’s Pizza, a Shakey’s Pizza place, Amici’s Pizza, Brooklyn’s Pizza, Stevenson’s Gourmet Pizza and a variety of other places including a Chow Kings, two Starbucks, Figaro’s Coffee, Seattle’s Best and others. Every weekend all these places are packed with people. On holidays or special occasions like Valentines, Mother’s day or Father’s day. these places are always packed. I ordered pizza one time on Valentines day at Papa John’s and I have a 30 minute wait for my pizza due to the volume of orders and people that night. Imagine? I live on Roces Ave in Quezon City and am very close to Tomas Morato Street and Timog Avenue. These streets are lined with restaurants, bars, clubs and spas and shops. My father’s house is in Roces and I was told that the value of the land is going up. I intend to later either sell it or if I find the right partners, have it developed in a business centre or commercial venue with a restaurant, a coffee shop, maybe a lawyers office or medical office on top or a call centre office. A couple of developers are in the area already (DMCI and Eton Properties) and they are already building condominium units in my area within walking distance from my house. So the potential is there for big business as there is a huge client base already aside from the various apartments, residential houses and townhomes already in the area. The area is already undergoing gentrification and the property values are going up so I am very interested in looking to get partners with me so we could financially prosper as well help each other out. If we help each other out, we are stronger in numbers and can be more effective in achieving a successful venture. I prefer to partner with American / Canadian / Australian expats because I just don’t know if I can trust other Filipinos especially from my past experience and as you mentioned in your story above, it is hard to find someone to trust in the Philippines. I arrived here in 2012 and did not expect to be a victim of unscrupulous people but I have. Currently working on the papers now but will hope to be in touch with some expats to purpose this goal of forming this partnership in a corporation. Thanks.

  19. Hi Henry and guys here
    Many stories being told here , thanks for sharing and I have learned a lot. Henry you done a marvelous job having this website. I am not a expat per se, I am a Singaporean happened to know a Filipino g/f but we did not legally married.
    I am planning to start a pig farm too in Danao , in the mountains 50km from your place (hahaha).

    The stories that not to trust Pinoys etc is true to some extent, and I do agree I do sending allowances and paying to the family seems getting more as months go by. If you want to do business, golden rule you must be there , no need all the time, periodically go down and check what’s happening.
    If you can’t , get them send you pictures/video of the pig-farm.

    My idea having the pig farm is that my home is still in Singapore, but my g/f I like her to have some business to generate some income to self sustained. I can’t be sending money and my pay here is not much.

    Meanwhile I pay lot of cash for the feeds, maintenance and land and I don’t know if I have rights on it if one day our relationship ends but from what it looks now she is committed. So I am looking for a lawyer to help me draft a document that make me “investor” who have rights over the assets.
    I can share with you all later once is done, at least our interest as a investor or businessman is protected in some extent. In a way, should I one day gone, I like to leave a will so she can be inherit it. At least she knows whatever we both have , is protected as well.

    As for Henry , if I have read your website early I could have visited you . I just came back from Cebu yesterday night.

    Next trip, will meet you at Cebu for a drink…probably exchanging notes.

    Henry,
    My farm is harvesting the pigs soon , maybe in Nov so i am working out my SP and break-even price.

    Each piglet required about 2 x sack of feeds per month to grow ? I am paying somewhere like P1400 per sack. So that workout to be P1400x 2x 40 pigs = P112,000 per month. If I include vitamins and medicine for the all the pigs , that may end up P120,000.
    So 40 piglets will cost P360,000 for 3 months before it is harvest, right ?

    I asked the market, the selling price is about P130/kg – P160/kg , depending on the feeds we buy.
    Does selling to local market any difference if I sell direct to Government ?

    So based on P 360,000 break even will be around ( 360k/40/80kg ) = P113/kg .
    If I were to sell at P130/kg then my P/L will be (130-113)x 40 pigsx 80 kg each = P 54,400 (US$1,236 @44)

    Hope you can give an idea, I just want to know so my wife don’t get cheated.

    Best Regards
    James

    1. It sounds like you’ve got a good handle on the numbers. What I would suggest is have your wife verify the cost of the feed, vet expenses, etc. Or verify them yourself on your next trip. I don’t remember off-hand the numbers for my piggy farm since my partner handles that end of things. All I really do is invest in the Sows and do occasional visits on the farm. But knowing your running costs and piggy casualties should give you a better picture of what’s happening over there.

      As for an investor contract, here are my thoughts. You can do that if it makes you feel covered, but in my opinion it won’t make much difference. For one thing you seem to have a solid relationship with your wife, so it may be a non-issue. For another, having that document won’t mean much if things go south. If things fall apart, just expect to lose everything. Even with the document, it wouldn’t take long for her to sell off everything, or call the police to have you removed from the farm, police bribery and not to mention the extremely and painfully slow court system here.. it would take months and by then the pigs will be gone, guaranteed. So, a better plan is to keep tabs as best you can and have a trustworthy wife to keep things under control while you’re away.

  20. Hey, im thinking about grabbing some land to develop and rent out later on.
    My plan is for a boarding house, preferably near a college of some sort and with my wife over it.
    I trust her enough to think she can handle it without me around because i am in the us navy. She dosent ask for money and i dont send any to her family either. She and i have an agreement as far as what we want and where we want it. I have been talking to a real estate agent in Cebu for the lot and things are going smoothly so far. Aside from those mentioned above,what other pitfalls should i be wary of?

    1. I’d say keeping close tabs on the costs and agreements made with a contractor to do construction will be the biggest area to keep an eye on. Don’t hire someone because they are “in the family”. Hire someone referred by fellow expats who have had a positive experience with that contractor, someone with some credibility. Otherwise, expect cost overages, tools that keep disappearing, lost materials, etc.

      1. Yeah ill keep that in mind. I have no intention of allowing her to hire family or friends, just fairly local licensed contractors. I want to atleast TRY to avoid the “He can afford it” by letting my wife appear to be the one over the construction. Even though i expect some tools, ect to go missing because they will think she is a rich filipina (which she is because i own 2 vending machines and make about 1000-3000$ a month off that alone) i hope that those costs will be low since she isnt the kind, giving type of woman.

      2. I intend to move to Phil in a few months, same story , Filipina girlfriend who i trust impecably.I too like the boarding house/student rental idea. I would have around 5 million pesos to invest and thought of Condos near to universities with high rental demands and no land title to worry about , brand new, little maintenance , passive income , would welcome any ideas…… why not think of selling the pig food instead !!!! seems a more straightforward option.

        1. Condos I would rent to other foreigners. A small boarding house with about 8-12 units near a university or mall are good locations. As for selling the pig feed, technically it’s a good idea. Especially if in a rural area where there is only one or two other feed stores. One caution there is that some of these people get really dangerous when you cut into their little monopoly. They will lose business and you’ll be no friend of theirs. In other countries, that’s business. In the PH province area, that’s reason for violence sometimes. People have been murdered outright simply over land deals that weren’t paid, title issues, squatters. It can get kinda nuts so.. just something to keep in mind.

          Another issue with selling feed is that Everyone will want to buy their feed on Credit. They’ll say they’ll pay off their balance in 3 months with the current piglets are ready for market. Problem is, there is no such thing as ‘loaning’ in the PH unless you take collateral. Loaning or Credit without collateral simply means you’re giving money away you’ll never see again. Odds are you simply will not get paid and have all this feed out the door with nothing but a red ledger to show for it. So, you’d have to be extremely firm and either expect cash upon purchase or at the very most a one-week credit policy. But even then, if they can’t pay today, chances are good they won’t have the money at the end of the week either. Taking them to small claims court is a waste of time. A judgment in your favor won’t do you any good. (Can’t squeeze blood from a turnip, as they say.) So, while the customers and demand is there, getting payment is a big, ongoing issue for that business.

  21. Hi Henry. I read your story on doing business in the Philippines, and I laughed loud and often. I wasn’t laughing at your expense, pardon the pun, I was laughing at the similarities to my own experiences. I met a Filipina 10 years ago, I was 44 and she was 20, I brought her to Australia and we married. Built 4 apartments in Laguna, bought the B-I-L a tricycle, paid for the S-I-L to work as a domestic in Macau, bought 3 lots in Laguna, paid to bury the Grandfather, paid the hospital expenses of one tita etc, etc, etc 🙂 Divorced after 7 years, but only because she wanted her own children, I already had children and wanted no more.
    Anyway, on one of my bi-annual holidays in the Phils, I met a lovely Filipina and eventually she agreed to join me at Alona beach. She slept fully clothed so your readers can discount what they may have been thinking ;-). I returned to Aus and she returned home to, wait for it….Bogo City. I sent her some money and she bought some, wait for it…..piggies! After the recent super typhoon, I sent money to re-roof the small piggery. Just last week she sold 4 of the 5 piggies and earnt around 27,000 pesos. She has never asked for money, but in that devilishly sweet Filipina way, I felt compelled to offer 🙂 She reluctantly accepted my offers 🙂
    So, yes, I really do understand what you have written. And you know what, I still love the place and the people. I shall return for another 2 week holiday in February. I may catch up with my Filipina friend, I may even take her to Alona Beach once again. But it is still my wish to retire early and live there, as a single man. I too loved Bohol and you seem to be living the life I envisaged for myself. Good luck to you Henry, and please keep us updated.
    Regards, Alex.

    1. Hi Alex.. ha!, sound like you’ve been experiencing the PH alright. The girl that I’m getting serious about when I return to Bohol lives on Panglao and, if things go well for a year or so, I can see myself settling down either on Panglao or Baclayon area. Either way Alona beach and the other beaches are just a short ride away. Sorry I won’t return until March, but have fun! 🙂

      1. Hello from northern wisconsin.
        great info , easy viewing vids ,,,thank you .
        im aware of the 60/40 rule , owning property .
        my question would be … for henry and his readers .
        buying existing 10 door units , priced at apx 70-75,000usd.
        or building new ? if new ..stick with studio or a combination -studio-1-2 bedrooms .
        second question….where & why ?
        im a small general contractor , my business is based on remodeling lake front homes. looking out my windows i see deer daily , occasional bear or wolf .
        given all the above , where might anyone suggest , i set my base camp , in philippine’s .
        having two or three , 10 door rental units , within easy reach of nature or rural ,
        area’s . as ive never lived in a town..but in wooded / semi rural .
        thanks to all , in advance .

      2. Ha, Panglao and Bacloyan areas are just the same I envision as great retirement areas. I have a great American expat friend living a stones throw from the beach in Panglao. His place would be a little pricey now, six years since he bought. He says prices are still cheap in the center of the island and of course that is still close to the sea and Tag. I much prefer Bohol to other places that are overrun with expats like Dumaguete. I liked Siquijor but, my filipina wife tells me she will never go there again, for sure!! haha

        1. Funny you should mention it, I am right now at the center of Panglao typing this and I love it! Green trees everywhere and beaches are only 15 minutes away. Baclayon, up near the cemetery area.. those small barangays there are just like heaven. I could really see myself setting roots down there.. someday. For now, I’m still a wandering gypsy. 🙂

  22. Hi Henry

    Just found your site and have been reading your articles about your experience in the Philippines as I am planning a 4 month trip to Cebu this spring.

    As I read this article and other similar ones I keep thinking of that saying “GIVE a man a fish and he can live for the day. TEACH a man how to fish and he can live for a lifetime”.

    Seems like Filipinos think like the former (short term), where us westerners think like the latter (long term). I guess growing up in that collective mentality of just thinking about the needs of each day as they come is hard for them to overcome which is unfortunate as it will continue to keep them in poverty until they change their thinking.

    I am certainly convinced from all I have read that it doesn’t make sense to start a business there unless it was a farm and I had a Filipina wife I trusted to put in her name. I guess the only business that I like is the rubber tree farms since I know a Canadian who I work with in the Alberta oilfields that has a Rubber tree farm in Thailand and makes $1000 every 6 days (4000 trees he planted 7 years ago) and takes a 40/60 cut with the tree tappers and they get tapped 8-10 months of the year and last for 30+ years. Don’t have to worry about people stealing the latex sap as that involves work and really you just need to be patient for the first 5 years after planting them.

    Anyways, great site.

    Cheers
    Kevin

  23. KEVEN , rubber trees ? now that is interesting .
    really love to learn more about this , any way we could private message ?
    thanks too all on this site .

    1. Hi kevin. How are you. I am a Canadian living in the Niagara Falls area. This farming idea is something that’s been in the back of my mind.
      I’m involved with a philipinas girl. We plan to marry when her annulment goes through. I have visited the phils 2 x in the past 14 months since starting to talk to her. I would love to do something to make money and grow a business for future retirement in the philipines.
      I’m a country boy and grew up on a chicken farm. The farming sides appeals to me and the rubber tree idea is very interesting. Do you think you friend would talk to a fellow Canadian about ideas. I’m assuming he’s Canadian but I know there are alot of philipines in the Canadian oilfield as I have a friend that works inthe oilfields with many philipino co workers.
      If you or a friend would like to chat about business ideas and maybe working together please contact me.
      Email is proventgus@gmail.com
      Phone # 1(905)641-5906
      Thanks for you time and consideration.
      I hope to chat again
      Regards: Gus.

  24. Me, personally, I wouldn’t do business in the Philippines. I’ve tried twice and failed. Not due to my part or finances; it’s the short-term (instead of long-term) thinking of my employees. They (employees) always end up “biting the hands that feed them.”

  25. A big problem is that of expectations of how much profit you can make. A filipino who lives in an area where wages are equal to 6 dollars a day would love to have a sari sari business that he profits 8 dollars a day in.

    Consider how hard it is to earn profits from people earning that 6 dollars a day. The majority of their money goes for food, which isn't that much cheaper than USA.

  26. Iam sorry but I have to comment I can get in Illinois 250 pound pigs for $150.00 all day long you can buy 500 at a time every 2 weeks you pick up ready for the slaughter house.Here you lose about 15% of every litter heat gets theme like dogs don't sweat.i asked a question on visas maybe I can help you with your pig adventure.I have raised a few a friend has a pig farm more like a pig empire 4000 at any given time makes good money at it.and at those prices there you should be banking pigs are like rabbits and rats they do the boom boom hell I come over and take a shot pay for my flight if I make it work cut me in realy hit me up on facebook

  27. Hey Chuck:

    Great idea and question; however, as per my research a foreigner cannot buy land in the Phils. Further, here is some info I got from the government sites:

    1. A foreigner can buy condos/developments but can only own up to 40% of the shares.
    2. A foreigner can buy an old house on land tear it down and build 1 house which the foreigner owns. The obvious problem is the land owner can reclaim his land and it may prove to be a pain in the rear to fight a citizen in court.
    3. A foreigner can do a lease option on the land for 25 years renewable for another 25 years.
    4. As Reekay said, marry a Filipina but since there is no divorce in the Phils then for sure she will have to be the one.
    Hope this helps

  28. Hey James:

    Great assumptions on the P/L however, the market price for pig in the Phlis has never gone above 115 PhP/kg. If you are in the province, then prices for kilo would be 100 PhP/kg or less. There is no such thing as price because of feed. I am not trying to kill your dream or discourage you,or your ideas but the reality is reality 🙂

    There are many websites, like indexmundi that will give you the pork price for any region on the planet. Right now the price per kilo is 115PHP, when you wrote this is was 104PHP/kg.

    The selling price is always the same in any country the lower price wins. 🙂
    Right now the going rate (average) is 153 PhP per kilo depending on the buyer/agent who wants to sell your pigs at market. After some haggling it might sell for 149PhP to 150 PhP. Hope this helps and good luck on your venture. Please let me say I am not trying to knock you down or anything of the sort, I am just saying that I too am planning to live there and am researching a piggery, as well as, other business ideas.

    Further, I agree 1000% with Reekay, that making money in the Phils is not like the USA etal., it is a make the bare minimum and you will get to your goal. Too many businesses fail because the numbers people calculate are based on Western standards and not Phils standards.

    All the Best,

    Ric

  29. Correction on the going rate it is 105PhP. Sorry for that my fingers miss certain places on the keyboard. Anyways, 105 Php is Province prices: Iloilo, Cebu, etc. (*/- 5-7PhP). Again, sorry for the typos.

    Ric

  30. Hi
    I am selling my piggies for P120/kg in Cebu.
    I am Singaporean ..my Filippino wife is helping running the farm. Yes you are right prices fluctuate
    and I could have sold P130-140/kg if not of the typhoon.
    No choice my piggies are ready for harvest and I have to sell them ..luckily I still make some decent money.
    The P300k I got back I used it to rebuild my farm which was slightly damaged and my provision shop also.
    It was emptied during the typhoon.
    Pig farming can still earn decent money, don’t expect millions or get rich.

    Maybe we can exchange more details on how to improve the marketing and get better prices .

    Regards James

    1. I would love to talk to you about farming in the phils. I’m Canadian and marrying a philipina girl as soon as she gets her annulment.
      She wants to come here but eventually I would like to retire there.
      I love the people and the country despite its downfalls is paradise. A diamond in the rough.
      If you’d like to chat please contact me
      I’m located in Niagara Falls , Canada
      Email. Proventgus@gmail.com
      Phone 1(905)641-5906
      Regards : gus

      1. Hi Gus. Feel free to contact me via Facebook as it is the only way I can keep up with anyone. I get so far behind with email. Just search me on Facebook at; ‘Reekay’, same icon as I have here. 🙂

  31. Hi Henry,
    This is the 2nd time I am posting my question to you. Dont know what happened to my previous post, but cannot find it.

    Anyway, Like you Henry, I have worked as a technician for more than 25 years. First as a medical device technician for a major company in Minnesota for 18 years, then a telecommunications technician, then to finally being a PC computer technician for over 12 years, service all aspects of computer hardware from desktops to laptops and pads. Presently working for a school district as a certified Apple tech, and servicing on the side sometimes full time working 80 hours a week. The last few years however, because of the change in technology, I dont get the repair work on the side I use to.

    Married 25 years to a wonderful Pilipino girl, we are planning an early retirement (semi retired) to Valencia, Bukidnon on Mindano late next year if everything goes as planned. After we sold our house here in MN, we purchased her parents home in Valencia for a bargain price, so our expenses will be very minimal when we go.

    My question to you, is since you already were a former PC tech, do you see that a computer service shop would be a good business opportunity there? My wife is already somewhat of a celebrity there already from winning the Queen of Valencia last year when they opened up the contest to overseas women. She also has become good friends to several radio station owners there. So we could get some good advertising. I have been toying with the idea of either a service shop, a cybercafe or both, but I know already that cybercafes are already plentiful there, and may not be a good choice. A might be better to just to try and get the service work from the other cybercafes there already. I am 56 and still want to work for a while, because we will be on a shoestring budjet when we are there until my social security kicks in at 62 or so.

    Provide me some feedback on this subject. Look forward to a reply, and Keep up the good work.

    Scott

    1. My best answer on that is.. it “could” be done. The first idea, opening either a PC repair shop in a mini-mall booth or a net-cafe.. you’d be competing side-by-side with guys who repaired my PC for 400P. At local wages, you’d be hard-pressed to make ‘good’ money. I’d say $300 USD/month at best, depending on location, amount of clientele, etc.

      The second idea, doing mobile home-to-home PC work.. I consider that a more viable idea. But your clients would be other expats in the nicer subdivisions. Once you establish a good reputation you’d be earning good local money. Especially doing all the work at their home because, let’s face it.. we get kinda skittish about just handing our laptop over to a local wondering if we’ll see it again. But an expat with good referrals could make a good living. The only thing you’d have to contend with is transportation, but if you have your own scooter you’d save on that in the long run and be more flexible. Without it you’ll have issues walking to where the jeepneys don’t visit.

  32. To all,
    Why do you think the Filipino acts this way? May it’s a human thing? May be, like Henry said, “Desperate people do desperate things”?

    Here are some facts that no one can dispute with…

    This is a country with 7000+ islands inhabited by 100+ Million people. A nightmare to govern!
    These islands get hammered every year with rain, typhoons, hurricanes, etc. such that whatever one builds just gets leveled the next year or so.

    This happens every year and every decade. It’s the norm in the Philippines!

    So, these over crowded people there will live a destitute and helpless life.
    It’s to the point that nothing there get thrown away. Anything is consumed and in many ways too.
    This will harden them!

    Now, all these people will start feeling some sense of having the same agony with each other, even if the were strangers. As long as the person is Filipino then he/she has the exact same needs so helping him/her is the sensible thing to do? Being a comrade with each-other comes to the picture now. They have no choice if their common survival is at stake!

    Ever noticed that hardly any Filipino will give up the other? It’s kind of us against the world!

    Here comes the foreigner strolling …

    He’s rich (no matter how you cut it) and with lots of money … In short, foreigner = ATM.

    What do you expect these people to do?

    I bet you they will swarm around him with all kinds of tricks and scams just to separate him from his money. He’s a very fair game to them. He walked into their din by choice 🙂 And if you add to this that some of those foreigners just came in to have some fun at their late age in life, then all the power!

    If he tries a business, they will gang up on him in many ways. Remember, any business and it would have to interact with Filipinos!

    Laws? What laws? Ever noticed that the Philippine GOVERNMENT itself stops anything that could lead to a foreigner controlling anything? The government itself is made of Filipinos so it’s natural for it (them) to not give this ‘who don’t belong’ a chance to make it?

    For example… They keep these foreigners on tourist a bi-monthly renewed visa to control them but also to give the Filipino population a chance to milk them. And whenever they renew, bang them with fees too 🙂

    As a man .. have you ever tried the online scams dating websites? I tried one… I had 70+ women trying to scam me! Some try it in first or second meeting and others take their time…

    Foreigners mean money and the whole country just has goes after nothing but money!

    Coz the typhoon is coming again and it will devastate the region, like it did last year!

    Most foreigners go to the Philippines for two reasons. Either for sex or to find a good woman to marry. My advice is, stick to just these two. Don’t do anything else or you will be eaten alive. That’s if you are lucky!

    1. There is truth to what you point out, no doubt about it. There is also the flip side of the coin.. that such mentality among Filipinos is not overall. Because they are a very proud people, the majority of Filipinos I’ve met despise the practices of those who take advantage of Foreigners. For one, they take it as a shame upon their image globally. For another, it would result in less tourism which is a huge part of their economy. Yes, the majority of women online are scammers, but not all. I’d say about 10% online are honestly just looking for a good man to marry. But, offline.. out in the Philippines just walking around on smaller islands, the scammer level drops way down. It’s still high in the big cities, but the provinces and smaller cities seem to have a greater sense of mutual respect and have gone out of their way to be both honest and hospitable with me. In the big cities.. not so much. It’s more like a dog-eat-dog mentality in the rough parts of the big city.

    2. TRUE! They even steal from their own family and people….I say 2% you find some good pilipino out there to be friends truly without money involved. Once money get between you, watch out!

      1. Wow, somebody got up this morning only to find out they were out of Cheerios and had to eat Rice Chex instead. Your comment that only 2% of the population in the Philippines are honest and trustworthy equals 98% dishonest and untrustworthy. I find that statement to be grossly untrue, bigoted and racist. If you intend to live in the Philippines you’d better change your attitude.

        1. People with that sort of outlook remind me of the guys who come to the PH, fall in love with a bargirl who later rips them off and then label ALL Filipinas as scammers. It’s unfair to label an entire country based on bad choices. All of the USA is not like downtown Los Angeles and all of the PH is not like Angeles city either. I’ve been in the PH coming up on 2 years now and it’s been the greatest, most exciting time of my life. 🙂

  33. Hi Henry,

    Thanks for the reply.

    Well, we really wont know how it will go until we get settled in there. The feedback I have already received from family and friends is that it should be a good business and there is a need for shops in many areas and since we will be out in the province does look a little promising; we will see what will happen. The plan is to start small shop at home first and see where it will go. I have been doing this already for years here in MN, but it will be a a lot different there, so I am not sure what to expect.

    Scott

  34. Hey there, I just wanted to say that i will be in bohol. in less than two weeks. for about three days before moving to Imus. i’m going to go pick up my potential wife and have to chill with me until school stars. i’m trying to figure whats the best way to get to bohol. i heard something about a boat

    1. You’ll need to catch a ferry, most people catch it at Cebu (Pier 1) if they are near Cebu. I prefer Oceanjet since they have lots of departures. LiTE Shipping is cheaper, but takes longer and only has 2 departures a day.

    2. Since you’re close to Manila why don’t you fly to Tagbilaran instead of the boat? Cebu Pacific has flights and I would imagine that PAL Express (Air Philippines) probably flies there as well.

  35. Hi Henry, I wish to connect with the expats in Bohol and in entire Philippines when I luckily found your blog. We wish to assist anyone who are interested in doing business in Bohol and in any province in the Philippines. our company is PHILIPPINES INTERNATIONAL CORPORATE ADVISORY SERVICES, INC. this company is 40% foreign owned as such we understand the concern of foreigners. appreciate if you can share the info. here is my email address: aleth@indinointerior.com

  36. Very informative. By the way Henry and anyone interested to do business in Philippines especially Bohol, Philippines International Corporate Advisory Services, Inc. (PICASI) is operating in Bohol serving cross-border clients. the company is 40% foreign owned.

  37. On Brian’s question: If you wish to have a land for your business, you can form a corporation. The corporation has a legal personality and it can buy and own a land.

    aleth@indinointerior.com

    Philippines International Corporate Advisory Services, Inc.

    1. Yes, but the corporation must have 5 Pilipino citizens on the board and Brian can own only 40% of the corporation anyway. If he’s married his wife cannot be a corporate officer and he also may not have a partnership with his spouse. He will not be able to influence any land decisions of the corporation or exercise control over the land per the Philippine Supreme Court who have held that that is a right that is reserved for citizens only. Unless someone naturalizes as a citizen there should just give up trying to own land. It’s all in vain.

        1. Most apartments, studios, hotels and boarding houses here are for rent. As a foreigner, you can own a Condo but not the actual land it sits on. Same with a house.. you can own the house while only having a 25+ year lease on the land. In simpler terms.. you cannot own real estate, but you can own what sits on it. (home, condo, apartment, etc.; the structure).

      1. Just wanna share as our corporation is partly foreign owned.
        the 5 directors need not be “all” filipino.
        the quorum article in the standard by-laws can be amended to state that the quorum should always include the foreigner.
        and you give the foreigner the highest position that is Chairman of the Board…….and more…..everything should be stated in the Articles and By-laws and the shareholders should execute a shareholders’ agreement. that is how we do in our own corporation and for our cross-border clients. we ensure as much as we can legally do that the interest of our foreign client is protected. thank you.

  38. Loved your article. .its so true….I had to comment to put my 2 cents worth….lol.

    You have been too kind and allowed the crooks to play you.

    I am also American and live here in Bohol, as well…When your “gut” says “you are getting played” most likely you are.. then act on it and be smart about it.

    If you go to make excuses such as its a cultural and disrespect, etc, etc…. ..then you letting them “play you”.

    Stand your ground…”Dishonesty is also disrespect” in any culture.

    Be smart and enjoy the beautiful Philippines and its people.

  39. Some friends and I are looking to start a business in the Philippines and we were wondering about the regional profits a person working for me can make 'over' the general wages allowed to other workers of a neighboring business of the same job. A big problem is that of expectations regarding how much profit I can make as well as in competing with other businesses in a certain area. Would we have any problems if Filipinos who lives in an area where wages are equal to $6.00 a day would profit $8.00 a day from us? We are considering investing there to give our workers higher profit by being competitive without doing anything illegal. The majority of money earned in some regions goes for food to feed their families so are inquiring of increasing that potential without hurting a region set to a certain salary cap. Thanks in advance.

    1. If you’re close to one of the larger cities in Florida they will undoubtedly have a Pilipino store. Check with them and ask which travel agent they use. To find a store just Google “Balikbayan Box Florida” or “Filipino Store Florida” and you’ll probably come up with a few addresses. Hopefully one will be near to you. In my experience they offer the cheapest fares. For one thing they specialize in travel to the Philippines and are used to doing what you ask. Give one a try and see what you find out.

  40. Sad to say It is very hard to do business here in the Philippines when it comes to livestock.very rare you can find an honest and faithful caretaker.we also have a farm and with 60 piglets our caretaker is a relative but after several weeks our piglets dies with no apparent reasons while his pigs were all alive.moral of the story never go into a business where you cant personally supervise.but there are lots opportunities here like build and sell business to which iam engaged now.any body who wants to invest.just contact me@ idesign31660@yahoo.com

  41. Hi Henry, love your website and articles!! I came here many months ago (spent time in Bohol–Alona Beach), and fell in love in and with Bantayan Island. Just across the pond from Bogo. Been “courting” a traditional island girl last 9 weeks here. This gal is a hard worker (70 hours a week at her job, plus raising cows, goats & pigs for extra cash) and she has a grown sow ready to breed. I’d really like to come visit your piggery in Bogo next time you are there. Thinking about leasing some land for 2 years to “see” if I’d enjoy doing a piggery on a small scale. Since she has a very large family, my thinking is that if I do marry her, I marry them all, so have her do the work in the piggery for her own money for family, and I’ll build it initially. Let me know if we can meet in Bogo. I’m 48 & from Oregon. erickaufman33 at yahoo dot com

  42. Been looking to venture in this hog-raising business and your blog has been insightful. Thanks! Been looking ways on how to get my dad’s idle lands to be productive. Just a girl wanting to create a sustaining business someday. Other businesses are just way too costly. I would still need to save up for this venture but this was a great read.

    Have you ever tried using organic feeds as opposed to commercial ones? I heard this would cut down your costs drastically but would require some added labor on your part.

    If you have any advice to give on a starter like me please do so: fauve.axelle@gmail.com

  43. i know there are some bad apples out there.. but there’s a huge cultural component we shouldn’t overlook.. the american entrepreneurial spirit..it is a significant part of american life even as a youngster.. when you were a kid did you have a paper route?.. babysitting gig?.. planning out and realizing how many hours you need to work to afford toys/games/clothes?.. it’s not surprising to me those exercises nurture and develop some natural business know-how.. also, a little off topic.. being around money or affluence can be a new experince for some.. and just like any new experience boundaries are unfamiliar/culturally different.. if i took my brother in law out shopping for new flip flops, he might ask for a new shirt as well.. ok sure.. then he’d ask for new cargo shorts.. then sneakers.. now i’d be angry.. but he doesn’t know that it’s impolite to keep asking for stuff (where i’m from) and just say thanks.. learning to set boundaries is important.. so, no, were here to just get some replacement flip flops.. maybe next time.. understanding good communication is paramount to navigating cultural challenges.. my wife and i try to make sure we proactively communicate culturally unique situations so we know what to expect.. and it has worked very well so far..

  44. Henry, I would love to know what ever happened to the “piggy” farm and if you still have a stake in it.

  45. Im planning to build a business and i bumped into this article, I have read all your comments and its sad to say that majority of your experience in philippines are not good. I feel so sorry for that, its shameful and really a bad impression for filipinos. I also experience the same thing to my fellow filipinos but i think its just normal not to trust anyone wherever you go, you will meet a lot of opportunist anywhere. In the first place, you must be aware of that, you were not asked to come here to do business and failed. The lesson here is “dont be too nice to anyone, set your limits and before you hire a caretaker, you must set your rules first, they must know how far they can go and then once they break the rule they’ll know where they will end up? If they love their job, they wont do anything stupid.The only thing that made me sad is the idea of marrying a filipina as a tool to build your own business here for your own interest. just excuse my words but i cant resist not to comment. Dont generalize all the filipina, i know a lot of opportunist but i also know a lot of good and descent filipina. I hate how you look down and judge people just because you had bad experience on some of them. Im a filipina too and i never thought of depending my success to other people but with my own sweats and perseverance. Its hurting my pride and my principle.

  46. I was searching for articles about starting a business and business strategies that I bumped into this page. I love the stories and comments here.. sad to say but its true :(.. by the way, I am a Filipina ^_^ it is really very hard to trust people especially on money matters.

    Anyway, there are still good people out there that you can trust.

  47. Hi Henry, Can I ask how you manage the property while in the PI? I want to move to PI now as well and rent out my home in Las Vegas. I know homes in LV do not fetch the $2k-$3k they do in LA, but I think I can get about $1,300 with expenses $300/month, (Prop Taxes, HOA, Misc.) How do you manage your property and collect the rent reliably from so far away? What happens when renters damage the house, refuse to pay rent and you need to evict, or something major breaks or needs repair?

  48. Please try Barista Choi coffee vending machine business
    Total initial investment that will be needed in order to start this business is 12,720.00 Php
    Expenses involved in operating and maintaining the business:
    Coffee – Barista Choi Powder Mix @ 170/kilo (85 to 90 kilos cups)
    Water – 5 gallon
    Barista Choi Paper Cups @ 0.65/pc
    Electricity – to run the machine
    Rental – if needed

    Website Link http://coffeevendingmachinebusiness.com

  49. Hi everyone I’ve read each and every post in this thread and totally respect all your questions and Henry’s responses. I’ve been married to a Filipina for 4 years in Australia and shes a perm resident, plus I’ve had 5 trips back and forth during this time to various places in the Philippines.Unless you’re a total moron why would you risk your retirement funds on a business where you work more hours for less money than you did when you worked in Australia. Retirement=more beer and less work lol. As i posted before keep your real estate in whatever western country you come from and rent them out using a property manager, sure they get a commission but you get income every month. This income is in Aussie dollars so it goes a long way even at 37PHP/AUD, then rent a beachfront unit in Boracay for example at 50000 pesos a month. Pension plus rental income from Australia is about 40 000 PHP per week at the very least. Then learn how to kite surf, or go scuba diving, then have a feed of lobster washed down with san miguel beers, perhaps a round of golf in the afternoon. Tell your new pinoy family “walay kwarta” (i have no money that’s why we rent) and they leave you alone. I’ve helped out my Filipino family members from time to time but no more than i have with my own Australian family, its all considered reasonable. Sure there are gold diggers in PH but we have them in Australia also except they get fetter and crankier the older they get lol.
    Bottom line if it smells like sh#@ it probably is.

  50. Henry, thank you for all the advise that you shared with us! I am a hybrid who is wanting to go back to Cebu and try to stay there until i reach full retirement age. I just turned 49. I was born in Cebu and was fortunate enough to be able to migrate to the US when i was about 17. I went to college and eventually finished my MBA a few years later.

    I have spent most of my career in Healthcare Administration and involved in a few start-ups lately. Bad luck strikes in the form of separation then divorce.

    Last year,
    I travelled home to Cebu to be with my father as he moved on. It was at this point when I realized that everything I had, that I worked hard for, could just all of a sudden be taken away…

    I met a wonderful filipina who makes me very happy. I made sure that I got to know her as much as I could. I have spent 6 of the last 12 months doing just that in Cebu. I, like many, see a lot of opportunity in Cebu. And I have decided to start something up with her so that I can stay in Cebu, help out in the rebuilding of a Yolanda devastated island up north, and enjoy life until Social Security catches up to me.

    I am a dual Citizen which places me in a different situation and I haved learned so much over the years especially from my failed start-ups in the US.

    I am opening one of the many biz ideas that you have mentioned, massage studio, a “real” massage studio. I will be the only one in this island, which also makes me wonder why.. i guess a not so wholesome studio existed once but went out of business.

    I am also moving my healthcare consulting business and will pursue a few IT projects that I have placed on hold. The proximity to talent in the IT Park of Cebu will allow me to hopefully finish developing my App for the US market.

    Perfectly a hybrid, I am going against your advise of starting a brick and mortar (but going into it with both eyes open) and at the same time also heeding the advise on doing something online. I also like your beta on land development.

    I am back in the US right now to take care of my affairs and to set up my transition from 6300 ft in Jackson Hole to sea level in Bantayan Island in a few months.

    I would love to meet you for a beer in a couple of months. Your straightforward advice, I know, would help me become successful in my ventures. If not, I will learn from them, move back to the US, regroup and try again. I’ll be sure to buy you another beer on my way out! Cheers!
    .
    Redeem

  51. To Henry: I have a question to ask of you and I want to get a resource similar to what you do on your youtube channel and website.

    I have a friend who is a current subscriber of yours and he watches your videos often for information about the Philippines because he wants to take a visit there and most definitely live there.

    Now I want to know if you know anyone who lives in Russia and or possibly the Ukraine who can give me all the information about the ins and outs of living in any of those 2 country’s that I have mentioned who can cover everything that a person needs to know about the two country’s? I don’t know if you know anything about Russia and Ukraine. you may not be an expert of those two country’s because you most likely haven’t been there but what can you tell me about those two country’s? do you have any information about how to live in any of those two countries above and the things to do while in Russia?

    I wanted to send you a personal email message to you but I could not find it on your website so I had to comment here so please send me a personal email message about a persons youtube channel similar to yours. something related to your “Lifebeyondthesea-phillippines” channel. I would like something similar that is a “lifebeyondthesea-russia and ukraine”. or if you know a resource that covers everything i need to know while traveling and or living in russia. I also could not message you on youtube because google has decided to be a complete @$$hole and get rid of the inbox so no one could message each other.

    I would really appreciate it if you could assist me to the best of your ability,
    thank you

  52. For those looking for other classified ads site, try http://www.mybenta.com. I am actively selling there myself, since it does not have any approval process and the site is pretty much growing fast. I am doing this so I can help other sellers find a new marketplace without too much restrictions imposed to them.

  53. I'm a Phil fanatic and married to a Pinay, and have inquired a lot about doing biz in the Phils. Here's the interesting thing. When I ask a Filipino about setting up a biz, they say success depends on what I plan on doing. When I ask an expat in the Phils, the nearly universal answer is a resounding NO. That speaks volumes but I haven't given up on my Philippine dream, though I'm not gonna do a bar or resto. I'm thinking more BPO stuff like a call center or transcribing, and my wife has ideas for online business that I hope to capitalize on.

  54. Reekay
    I've been reading your posts and viewing your videos for a little while and I agree with all of the advice you have given, especially about the wait for a year before making commitments. But I have to admit I have done it all wrong according to your advice. I came to the Philippines the first time 8 years ago after chatting with a girl on line that had been introduced to me by a mutual friend from Church. I wasn't looking to get married again especially to a girl so young but after corresponding for almost a year, I decided to come visit with the intention of getting married. I have lived in other 3rd world countries so the Philippines was not that great of a shock. We married but did not sign any papers so as to not make it official so I could apply for a fiancee visa for her. First mistake per your advice but no regrets. Six months later she was able to come to the States and we were married at or local Church. She is from the Island of Mindanao, Kabacan, on the edge of the Autonomous region. 2nd mistake according to ALL advice on all sites. On our next visit we bought a 10 hectare coconut farm north of Kidapawan still in the Autonomous region, 3rd and 4th mistakes. My father-in-law manages the farm and has added coffee and cacao to the farm. We ran into a lot of legal problems as there were squatters and former residents that didn't want to move. It took 5 years to get it all sorted out through the courts all the while I had to send money to keep the farm going as expenses were greater than income. Much of the same problems you talk about in full detail in your blog.

    Am I sorry? No. I wouldn't change a thing. I have yet to earn a single peso from the farm, but my personal expenses have decreased. I have been there 4 or 5 time and always feel safe, though Papa is very protective and restrictive of where I go. Basically no problems going East, but South or West must be accompanied by guard. I have never been further west than Cotabato and then only with the Mayor of Kabacan and Chief of police but have been to Gensan several times. As far as earning money from the farm, I don't really care. I want an income for my in-laws and a place to live once I retire, one more year or less.

    So yes, I agree with your advice, but for me it has worked out beautifully so far and I have a beautiful place to live and keep very busy. I love farming and have live in the country all my life. I would die in the city. I might even try the pig thing once I get there. I used to raise hogs when my kids were growing up.

    I had considered working part time fixing things, I love mechanical work, but I am afraid the it might cause problems with the local villagers and I don't need any enemies. Gen Roxas where I'm at is a very small village and I am sure any competition with the local villagers would not go well. But I will still do my own work.

    Nate

  55. Hello! everybody I’m filipina by profession i’m a nurse and have a lot of experienced in buisness in the phillippines.Doing buisness in the Philippines a lot of advantage to the foreigners compare to other countries.Success depends on you how you managed your buisness.To tell you even a filipino buisness starts to fail because lack of knowledge, experienced in running the buisness.

    Grace

  56. Hi! I like Henry’s article the information helps a lot who wants to start their own buisness in the Phillippines and it’s a good idea.I’m a nurse but also a business minded woman which I’ve experienced a lot of doing business in the Phillippines.There’s a lot of opportunity here than other countries and foreigner are more advantage.

  57. Call center would probably a good idea, but please hire staff from your own western country, if that would be possible, if not then don’t do it cause that is a call for troubles and not good business experiences.

  58. Henry; I have been to the P H 3 times and I am married to a Philippina but I still have a question. I see the roadside stalls where everything from food to trinkets sell. I love chicken on a stick but I have never tried it from any thing roadside. They have a lot of flies and the chicken is cooked already. This leaves (in my opinion) a great health hazard for the american since I may get sick. So do you ever eat at them or do you just skip and go to a regular resturant? My Lonely Planet Health guide said to always eat where it is busy, that way the food is cooked in the last few minutes and is then sterile. Thanks in advance for the info maybe I’ll see you on my next, and hopefully to stay forever, trip to the PH.

  59. I agree on the premise that your goal is to get "American " rich, in that case yes this is correct. But if you want to live simple and stretch your dollar its very much possible. Why go to Philippines to try and live like your back in the US?
    As for the men marrying filipinas, many do for the wrong reason and they get whats coming to them.

  60. Thanks for the excellent info Reekay, me and my wife of 11 years have a condo in Mobolo City Cebu. that will be completed in 2016. My sister in law sold us the condo and is a manager for the developers. I’m considering paying off my home here in Vegas in the next seven years and renting it out, or possibly selling it outright or taking money out and purchasing more one bedroom condos in the PI and using that as cash flow, renting to Filipino’s possibly Asian and European students or visitors, expats etc, even boarding if allowed in units, as they are located close to Doctors Universities, hospitals, malls, food courts and shops. I miss the Philippines and haven’t been back in decade but would give anything to be back there living. We have family in nearby Leyte we can visit and would love some feed back. Had a very successful boarding business in California before moving to Vegas. Any input would be useful, best, Karsten.

    1. my first filipina g/f owns a rental in mobolo. she owns about 10 other properties as well. one issue she’s had is that the local, filipino, tenants defaulting on the full rental amount agreed upon in the lease. the tenant in mobolo is down to paying only 40% of the rental amount. the courts have been useless to evict them.

      as for condo rentals, there is currently a glut of condos. the positive is that it keeps the purchase price down. but for renting, it keeps the rent price low as well.

      my suggestioni would be to get a decent condo in a very good location and primarily rent to expats. expats understand the seriousness of a contract and seem to be the better tenants to rent to.

  61. Love you brother, thanks for taking the time to respond and may your life be bountiful and prosperous always! You have a gift and I can imagine your laid back (Honorary Filipino, as my Filipino friends call a good hearted person) personality just from the way you respond, interact and thoughtfully conduct yourself on your forum. Keep up the good work and hopefully we can repay you for your sagacious advice!

  62. I like the fisherman story. Im a Filipino and I just turned 37 and currently operates a design and build company. Im planning to work abroad to explore and learn more about architectural international practice and dreaming of getting international project someday (like Aedas). and then the fisherman story hit me. 🙂 . Thanks to this blog, now i have to rethink stuff. 🙂

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