Finding Your Bliss in the Philippines

contentment

I have mentioned before that, while I’m no Buddhist… I am a minimalist. My comfort level can handle not going to Starbucks every morning or waking up in a 5 bedroom home with a heated pool beside the deck. I’m not against such things and enjoy them on occasion when the opportunity presents itself. I don’t fault anyone else for having such things, luxury is good.. so long as you own it and it doesn’t own you.

It’s now been 9 months I’ve been living here in the Philippines and.. still loving it! Some of my friends back home said I’d be on a plane back home in six weeks once I encountered the big bugs and humidity. But, nope.. it feels more like home every day. If anything my resolve to spend the rest of my life here is even more firm than when I first arrived. Not that it hasn’t presented some challenges along the way, of course. Anyone who has been living here can attest to the fact that life here is not like life back home. But then, if it were, what would the point have been in coming to begin with?

contentmentMy first seven months I spent living on Mactan in the area of Basak, just a few blocks from the Grand Mall at the center of the island. Those first seven months were an experience you only get in a semi-urban area. I imagine living in downtown Cebu is similar but much more amplified so Basak was a good way to ‘break in’ to the semi-city lifestyle on a small island. I met lots of interesting people. Many of them from small communities not too different from the province area but with a city-ambiance to it that brought more than one not-so-honest face to my door. All part of the learning experience though.

However now I have relocated to the island of Bohol. Ahh.. yes, Bohol. The very mention of the name conjures up locally a nearly pristine tropical island without the urban blight of Manila, Angeles or Cebu. I fell in love with it on my first visit back in December. I was only here 4 hours and I loudly proclaimed to those with me, “I have GOT to live here!” And I meant it. I made a second trip back during Christmas and by January I had secured a plan that would allow me to get myself transplanted here by March. Before I knew it I was clearing mosquitoes out of my new place and getting settled into a one-bedroom home with two fenced yards and double the space I had at my previous studio. In addition I had the entire jungle around me on all sides.. for miles. And miles. Trees. Nothing but endless trees, shrubs, ferns, vines and.. more trees.

Which brings me to the topic at hand; finding one’s ‘Bliss’. I was content with my previous arrangement and originally saw myself living there for another year prior to seeing how nice Bohol is. I had friends in the area. Shopping was easy with town only three blocks away from my studio. I had a high brick wall around the yard to block out the city noise. There was even a hammock swinging lazily under the mango tree that shaded my entire front yard for anytime I wanted a peaceful respite from my laptop. To me, bliss is simply ‘contentment’. Nothing more, nothing less than being happy with the current state of life. I was happy in Mactan and now I wanted to move myself to Bohol. So off I went and it’s been great.

Back when I was in the States, I was sitting in a large, downtown pool-hall with a few friends of mine. To be more specific, I was having a drink with a female friend of mine when a certain not-so-favorite acquaintance of ours came through the door and disturbed our bliss. He was one of these Napoleonic, chip-on-the-shoulder, type-A sort of young guys who tend to stink up the place with thinly veiled expressions of how ‘awesome’ his business ventures are going. As if that weren’t enough, he was usually in some semi state of drunkenness no matter what the hour of the day. So, after he attempted to regale us with unsolicited tales of semi-celebrities he’d had a drink with that week and how his life was on the verge of catapulting him into millionaire status with his new energy drink idea he finally took a moment to ask us little people how life was with us. My friend just said, “Busy working, you see me at the office every day.” as she reached for a drink from her wine glass and looked away. Turning his attention to me he then asked, “And what about you, Henry? What are you doing to ensure your future happiness in life?”

I finished my cold drink from my Pina Colada, set it down on the table and as I reached for another hot-wing I calmly told him, “I’m already happy now.”

You could see the gears in his head come to a complete stop. He fumbled about in his head for a response. One finally came to him after a few moments, “Well.. that’s why you’ll never succeed in life. You’re too content with the way things are.” Okay.. he wanted to dance.. fine, I was ready for him. I finished my chicken wing, and as I wiped the not-so-great sauce from my fingers I gave him my detailed reply;

“Well, you’re making a conclusion based on definitions which you and I don’t see eye to eye on. The first being ‘success’. What you call success is hardly what I’m shooting for. I don’t need a ton of money to be happy. I’m pretty happy right now just enjoying the afternoon with Araceli here having a few drinks and some good conversation. Secondly, you seem to think ‘contentment’ involves a lack of ambition. In my reality, being content frees me from pursuing something to working on the ambitious projects which are important to me right now, such as writing and self-publishing. But most importantly, you are chasing for something in the future that you only hope will make you happy and.. until you obtain it, you’re missing what’s important and happy about the present. As for me, I’m happy right now.”

With that I hailed over the absolutely cute, blonde waitress and asked for another Pina Colada. Araceli just gave me one of those smiles. Meanwhile, he sat there, digesting what I said for awhile. He was pretty far along on the drunk scale so the old gears weren’t turning as fast as they should be. It wasn’t for a while until he finally exclaimed, “You are SO right! I was just kidding you, I totally believe.. that thing what you believe. I was.. I was just testing you!” Araceli and I looked at each other with that bored, “Is he for real?” look and dug through the hot wings with no comment for him from either of us.

Bliss.. being content with your current state of being. It doesn’t mean anything apart from the fact that no matter what luxuries you currently have or don’t have.. you find joy in the day. Me.. I have the same ambitions I’ve had for much of my life. I want to continue writing, do some novels and short stories, sell them online. In fact this week I’m announcing a new website I’ve built specifically for this purpose.. something of a labor of love you might say. Who knows, it might even bring in some beer money over the month. But now, living here in the province of Bohol as I kick back at the end of the day with a small bonfire going to ward off the mosquitoes, the sharp, clear stars and moon overhead with the chorus of crickets in full surround sound.. I have my bliss. I am happy. Is everything the way I want it? No. Will I take measures to improve the things I want changed? Yes.

But in the meanwhile.. right here, right now; I will be happy and content. Bliss is not something we find, it’s something we take with us to the places we go.

Henry ‘Reekay’
www.lifebeyondthesea.com


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

26 comments

  1. I just love the picture you paint of Bohol, not quite perfection but pretty darned close, I mean, a bit of adversity and change is what keeps us thirsting for more…:)

  2. As in Asian cultures, it’s about developing a balance, the Ying and the Yang. I realize that the Philippines is mostly Roman Catholic but with the spice of Asian influence…

  3. My happiness at this moment is to read your story of Bohol! I did visist there 2008 and liked a lot of that green island! How about Basak!? My wive`s nephew and his family lives near Grand Mall too in Deca 5. We have our house near Crossing on the way to Cordova in a subdivision which is very small, quiet place. At the end of March we have a flight back home where the average popularity is about 4-5 people/km2..150000 lakes, forests and 4 seasons every year… I`m not bliss….I`m blessed!

    1. I began my first 9 months in Basak and went to Cordova for the floating resto, the Lantaw. Great place to eat. 🙂 Also the Maringondon resto across from the resort is fantastic as well. Mactan is booming now. On the one hand it’s good there will be more jobs for my friends there. But I kinda liked the smallness and simplicity of Mactan. Meanwhile, I’m currently in California counting another 24 days until I’m back on Bohol. 🙂

      1. We were going to eat in Lantaw..but due the low pressure weather decited to eat Alfredo`s Swiss Italian restaurant in Gabi Cordova! Great snitzels and pastas! Also Alkaline water is absolutely best water with important minerals on it! People water station, also owned by Alfredo Honecker 09174779045, 0324968024

      2. Henry,

        Your comments about being content really hit home for me. I’m origionally from Venice Beach and I’ve been living in the Philippines for 5 years. Like you, I started my journey in Basak, Lapu Lapu. I lived my first nine months residing in Collenwood Subdivision directly across from the Grand Mall. But unlike you I began my Philippine adventure living to large. I rented a four bedroom house but discovered I preferred the minimalist lifestyle I had lived in California.

        The only reason I had chosen to live on Mactan Island was because of a local woman who had come into my life. When that relationship went sour, I got the hell out of Dodge and headed for my origional choice, Dumaguete. The city of gentile people, as Dumaguete is often called, has most of what I need to be content. It’s a lively college town with a lot of expats and well educated Philippinos to keep me busy socializing. From great restaurants, to great hiking, to great snorkeling, there is plenty to do here. Nearby is the mountain community of Valencia. So if it’s cooler temperatures you seek for lunch or to live, Valencia is only 15-20 minutes away by Trike.

        Is the Dumaguete-Valencia area perfect? Hell no! But is there enough here to keep me contented? Hell yes! I rent a great little newly built house for $260 per month, have a great GF who loves me dearly, and whom I love with all my heart. I’m more CONTENTED then I’ve ever been in my life.

  4. Love this article.. but the picture of Bohol, as peaceful and serene as it is, was not the key element of happiness that Reekay was trying to emphasize in this piece… It is more the about his demeanor and his state of mind that gives him “contentment”. I truly believe Reekay could be happy anywhere… Panama? Costa Rica? Phuket? Malaysia?

  5. In one of your posts, Reekay, you mentioned that you’ve been reading avidly on various subjects. I don’t doubt it one bit – your writing style, diction, clarity, and precision speak for those years of personal enrichment through books, good films, and literature. If these blog posts are chapters in your books, they’d be “unputdownable,” if there is such a words. Your website makes the existence of the internet truly worthy of people’s gratitude. I can hardly wait for each fresh installment, Sir. I’m sure your subscribers and readers feel the same way I do.

    1. Thank you. It’s my belief that most people have a natural set of ‘gifts’ and/or desires that motivate them along a certain field. I am so bad with hand tools I never did manage to hang the towel rack I bought years ago. But I do love to communicate and it’s my hope to relay what I see and hear during my travels in order to assist others.

          1. Hi Henry my plans have changed I’m coming on December would you be around to Cebu in December if not can you recommend someone to meet me at the airport and show me aroundi’m staying six months I was thinking Dumaguete 00 Siebel

  6. henry… enjoyed your description of the philippines vs. the US. i’ve live in thailand for 10 years… you are right on about the differences… here, in thailand, there is no word for “no”. they say “not yes”…

    direct answers to any question are very rare, indeed.

    bruce

  7. Henry,

    Your comments about being content really hit home for me. I’m origionally from Venice Beach and I’ve been living in the Philippines for 5 years. Like you, I started my journey in Basak, Lapu Lapu. I lived my first nine months residing in Collenwood Subdivision directly across from the Grand Mall. But unlike you I began my Philippine adventure living to large. I rented a four bedroom house but discovered I preferred the minimalist lifestyle I had lived in California.

    The only reason I had chosen to live on Mactan Island was because of a local woman who had come into my life. When that relationship went sour, I got the hell out of Dodge and headed for my origional choice, Dumaguete. The city of gentile people, as Dumaguete is often called, has most of what I need to be content. It’s a lively college town with a lot of expats and well educated Philippinos to keep me busy socializing. From great restaurants, to great hiking, to great snorkeling, there is plenty to do here. Nearby is the mountain community of Valencia. So if it’s cooler temperatures you seek for lunch or to live, Valencia is only 15-20 minutes away by Trike.

    Is the Dumaguete-Valencia area perfect? Hell no! But is there enough here to keep me contented? Hell yes! I rent a great little newly built house for $260 per month, have a great GF who loves me dearly, and whom I love with all my heart. I’m more CONTENTED then I’ve ever been in my life.

  8. i like your input Scott , im hoping i have a better relationship with the pina i have falling for. she is currently in dumaguete but is from the mountains. i am praying this is a god send , and so far she has been.. wish me luck and lots of prayers. and one day i imagine we will run into each other as friends, or fellow expats. i also enjoy watching henry's encounters and how he is doing , so forth. all input is welcomed in my mind, for even I want to be ready for the cultural change. I thank you all for your time and your experiences .

  9. I find myself in the article. The simple life. We are very similar mindsetted. I also always think and anlayse the things around and try to find the roots for the habits of other people.
    The question I´m thinking about a long time is: Why are we running always into the same start in a dating process and the same ending up.
    That happened to me the same way, to much times and I always thought “giving up” is the better way.
    I talk about some of your new video updates.
    So why other Expats come, getting married, pay the bills and they seems to be happy ?
    And why, some guys running always into the bad things ? Never find the last unicorn.
    For my opinion that depends mainly on the values someone has, about what a exclusive relationship means.
    What we looking for, including me, ist a kinda relationship without conditions , especially in the material belongings and trust. Whom can trust ? No one, in fact until knowing in person a long time.
    The ideal unicorn for me: Maybe a widowed women, middle aged, not to much pretty, no kids and the family is living on another island.Educated and having an OWN MONEY willing to bring in 50/50 into a relationship.
    Honest and loyal…the ideal match.
    To good to be true and frankly, a foreigner will not find someone in the Philippines without making much compromise.
    They dream still the american way of life and wealth while we already know what´s to pay for such luxury.
    One of the reasons why foreigner comes to the Philippines. They want escape from that useless materialism because wealth DONT equals happiness. To try to explain such thing to a Filipina is useless. They don´t understand and don´t want understand.
    I think what we are looking for is kinda soulmate, understanding and into a real relationship.
    Someday I met 2 OFWs, working in VAE. They have understand these things and said, that working abroad is the hell, stressfull and bad paid and better living in the Philippines with less than there in Dubai.
    I´m comming from Germany and usually I stay there in Dubai a few days or also Abu Dhabi.
    There are many Filipino workers, working in the night 12 hours each day, living in kinda cages with 20 persons in a room and what they get is so less that they just able to send 5K to 8 K Pesos back home in a month.About 120 USD.
    Also many girls in the shops.This ones are understanding, longing going back home.
    Then there in the Philippines are also many decent women, middle class, upper class. But these are not the ones a foreigner can easily get.
    These are just a few reasons why we running always into the same dating process but what we expect from each other is mostly different.

    Thank you very much for your videos and this site and hopefully we meet in person one time.

    Ralph

  10. Scott
    For America Califonia is pretty cool (sans the cost of living) but man that girl on your bike is as hot as any girl walking around Burbank at night but with no bitch shield like many young American hotties.

    What does it cost you to live in Dumaguete/month in USD for everything man?

    Henry-
    Are you a native Californian too man? What’s the total cost of living where you’re at in the Phil’s? The Cebu region is the main beach/water sports area? Is the nightlife fun too?

    Thanks for the feedback guys. I’m loving this site and line of thinking.

  11. Hi reekay,I have been following your journey for 7 months and it has been so interesting and entertaining.you gave me the desire to explore the Philippines which I joined date in Asia dating site and met a lovely filipina.
    On April 29 2015 I departed from Melbourne Australia and arrived in manilla.
    I thank-you kindly for your knowledge you share with us and I am always waiting for your next segment.
    God bless you and all of the Philippines.

  12. I had the same reaction to Bohol after briefly staying in Cebu City. Suddenly there was no traffic, no constant beeping of horns, much less crowded and, to me, cooler and less hurried. My long term goal us to live there.

  13. I would like to retire in Cebu how do you open a bank account with hbsc bank.first in the USA?what kind of documents do you need there?

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