a bittersweet experience

[Diary] – Dec, 2013; Bittersweet Holidays & Homesick

my life in the philippinesDecember – 2013  This is one page per month devoted to the more personal experiences related to my life in the Philippines.  I’ll toss in some photos & video links as needed for emphasis so.. no telling what you’ll encounter here.
—  Henry ‘Reekay’ V.

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(in reverse chronological order.. that means, most recent stuff is here on top.

[12/26/2013] —   You wouldn’t think that something as simple as moving from one side of the earth to the other would play games on your mind, but it does.  Now that I’ve been back in Southern California for about 6 weeks to enjoy the holidays and time with my Mom and my sons, it has come with some bitter-sweet realizations in the process.

One thing that I anticipated before I even left for the Philippines was that I knew every time I returned to California, ‘home’ and the people I knew would be just a bit different than from when I left.  Time waits for no one and so as expected, my Mom is older upon my return and my children’s lives have progressed forward during my absence.  As anticipated, this is exactly what I encountered upon my arrival.  It’s been a very sobering reality.  Nothing can be done about it so, as the old adage goes; “Where there is no solution, there is no problem.”  My desire and resolve is to keep the Philippines as my new home.  The plan remains the same.  I just have to accept and make the best of each re-visit the States.

I’ve discussed already some of the strangeness to be experienced upon my return here after 16 months a bittersweet experiencein the Philippines.  I have heard of other expats describing what they loosely called a ‘repat depression’ upon returning to their home country after being abroad for a long period.  Here I can only share my own experience.  I wouldn’t really describe it so much as a ‘depression’.. but more like an overwhelming sense of detachment.  This became especially and most strongly felt by myself today when I decided to spend some time alone at a mall in nearby Temecula, California to catch a movie and get some dinner.

Up until today I’ve spent most of my time either at home or visiting with friends over lunch.  That along with Thanksgiving and shopping for gifts kept me pretty busy and local to my area.  However today was totally different as I went to the mall that I’ve been to so many times over the last 15 years or so in Temecula.

I’ve been to that mall countless times over the years.  For 20 years I worked just across the street from that location.  So today I arrived there and all was fine until I was inside the mall.  Then, like a ton of promenade mall in temecula californiabricks I was thrown into the strangest, most surreal of situations that it had me walking around in a dreamlike daze for over an hour.  As I walked into the mall, immediately I knew something was different.. not with the mall, but with me.

I knew my way around, that was no problem.  Even about 90% of the businesses were in the same location as I expected.  The mall itself looked as it always has apart from the usual Christmas decorations.  But at first I was totally disoriented.  Not with navigation, but with how out of place I was there.  And then, as I walked about, I started to panic because no matter where I went into the mall.. I couldn’t remember anything.  No matter where I walked, I had no memories attached to any of the places.  Normally, as I go about town places remind me of years ago and events that occurred there.  Dates I took to certain restaurants.  Places I took my kids.  Parks I spent time reading, that sort of thing.  But today, I tried very hard to remember ANY event that had occurred in the past in that mall and I was drawing a complete blank!  It was like I had amnesia.  In all effect.. I did experience a limited form of amnesia.

The first 20 minutes I kept telling myself, “I’ll remember something.. maybe from this place or that store or the food court..”.  But I couldn’t remember even the faintest memory of walking there before or being there with anyone despite over a decade of visiting there with countless people over the years.  After a half hour I was really starting to panic and was staring at EVERYTHING around me to try and jog my memory to come up with something.  But it was like my memory had been erased.  I was truly walking around in a surreal fog.  I noticed I was being a bit obvious, like a person lost in an airport, to those around me but that was the least of my concerns.  Maybe I was paranoid but a security person followed me halfway across the mall staying about 20 feet behind me because I wasn’t walking in any particular direction.  I was looking for anything to jog any memory and nothing came.  It was really starting to freak me out.

I finally had one faint memory sort of come to mind, like a dream.  I hoped that would open the floodgates and the rest of the memories would all rush back but.. nothing.  At some points I thought I was in a different mall, over in Riverside, and had to correct myself.

The odd thing is that once I exited the mall, that feeling went away.  I still couldn’t bring up any past memories but at least I knew where I was.

In general, as I mentioned, the word that best describes my overall reaction to being back is that of ‘detachment’.  There is nothing in the stores that I want, only a few items that maybe I’d need.  There is no system or plans going on that I care to be a part of.  It’s been a very strange experience so far and hasn’t changed much these six weeks.

On the more positive end of things, it has been good to re-touch base with my family and friends.  Time is a very fleeting commodity and even more so knowing that my time here is limited.  Several of my extended family members have passed away since I left and others are likewise facing a terminal situation even now.  My dog, who remained with my ex-wife, even he is now 13 years old.. blind and deaf and he took a while before he recognized me.  Everything is moving forward during my absence, both good and not so good.  My children are doing very well in their ambitions with family, school and business.  For that I am very thankful.

I heard a song a few days ago that I’d not heard since I left the Philippines titled; ‘Photograph’.   It very succinctly expressed a portion of what I’ve been experiencing during my stay here.  No matter where you live, every moment is ‘magic’ in its own way.  It is fleeting, like a small gust of wind and then it’s gone.. existing only as a memory after that.   The places we go, the people we meet, the loves we’ve lost, the pains we’ve known, the joys we’ve exalted in.. all of it, it is Life and is more precious than we realize at the present moment.

In my own case, this whole experience has only strengthened my desire to return to the Philippines.  I suppose I could relate what I feel in this manner;  it is like turning a corner in the grocery store and running into an ex-girlfriend from 20 years ago.  You’ve each moved on.  There is no anger or love anymore.. just an awkward, melancholy memory that demands no solution or response.  That is how I feel geographically with the places I spent my whole life growing up and living in.  The only elements of value are the people that I care about.  Only they motivate me enough to travel across the ocean to be physically back in the States.  But the objects, the places and inanimate ‘things’.. they have no claim on me anymore.  It’s not a sad thing or a tragedy that needs fixing in any way.  It simply is what it is.  Like the ex-girlfriend who you speak with only long enough to find out she’s re-married, has a few new kids and a new job.  After a few gentle pleasantries.. you wish each other well and part ways once again.

What I gain from this whole experience is that it’s all about the people in our lives.  That is what matters.  That is where life happens.  Good or bad, life is about relationships.  Places and things just sort of pale by comparison.

Henry ‘Reekay’ V.


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Author: Reekay V.

Since 2012 I’ve been traveling through various islands of the Philippines as a full-time Expat and spent 1999 living in Vietnam.

Share with me my ongoing adventures of life in the Philippines. Hopefully you find my observations helpful in your own adventures.
— Reekay


  1. You CAN go home again, but the house won’t remember you. Neither will the streets, the stores, the traffic lights, the trees, etc. I visited my childhood home back in October, 2010. It was the same color, but the refurb made it look foreign, alien. I liked it andI didn’t miss the old homestead at all.

  2. Henry…you really bless me with your candor and openness. Your not a song writer or a poet , but sort of a modern internet age story teller, putting words and thoughts together in a most honest from the heart kind of way. Thanks

  3. i know the feeling Henry. my first trip to the Philippines was in 1965 out of V.Nam. now i can only stay away for a year or two with out being home sick.

    1. I was in cubic point or subic bay 1962 until 1964 in the navy and then in Vietnam on iwojima ship and back to the ph in subic. I,m returning for the first time in March 2015 in Cebu. I think we were in ph same time!


  4. you are the most beautiful writer Henry when your feelings are heartfelt and indeplth. I have moved around a lot in my life but never out of America yet.I have returned to some of the places I have lived or spent time at and there are no feelings there……sometimes fleeting memories but nothing that touches my heart unless it is memories of a person, time spent with them or words shared with them. I have suffered a lot of sad times in my life, I guess you would call it depression from stress. I have felt what you felt there in the mall. a scary like feeling of detachment, not only from the place I was but from all feelings of reality. it never lasted long and I usually got over the feeling quickly once I moved from one place to another, as you did when you exited the mall. I know at my age and with the emotional problems I have encountered throughout my life, coming back home to America will be too hard on me and may take its toll on me. So when I board that plane to make my journey to the Philippines it will be the only one way flight to my new life with no return to the country I was born in and spent the last 67 years of my life. there wont be a return to the sons or grandchildren or the rest of the family and friends I am leaving behind. It has taken me 4 and a half years to emotionally detach myself to this place and these people I love to be able to walk away knowing my only way to share my life with them is through online communication. good luck to you Henry. Godspeed you back home to the Phils soon.

  5. Enjoy life whit your family while you can because you never know how life can throw a curve ball and you will never know its coming. See you when you return to the Philippines

  6. Henry,

    Your condition is known as location related amnesia syndrome.

    Seriously, though, I can speak to feelings of detachment. Of course those feelings impact everyone on a more or less basis. My wife and I lived, worked and viewed things from a foreigner’s perspective in 9 different countries during a period spanning 30 plus years. In each of our ventures, the new cultural norm generated feelings of being disconnected or detached. We learned, however, that those feeling were the normal symptoms of anxiety and stress brought on by a change of environment.

    Lighten-up and stay out of that mall.


  7. Beautifully said, Henry.

    It’s true. After a certain point in life, you can’t go home again. Home won’t allow it.

    I too felt the same type of surreal shock and disorientation on returning to Los Angeles under circumstances similar to yours. Despite spending the first 27 years of my life there, I felt like the proverbial stranger in a strange land during the entire four-month stay. Unfortunately, my only option at its end was going back to heartless San Francisco, which I’ve never liked.

    Anyway, best wishes for 2014 and a safe return to the PI.

  8. I know what your saying Henry, It's been two years since we been in the Philippines and it feels like 10 . I wonder why it's like that and I only stay three weeks at a time..Explain this Henry, and I'll start beleaveing in Santa Clause again. JC Florida.

  9. What a wonderful and touching Christmas story, Henry. I’m still here in Belgium, Europe, but planning to move to the Philippines. But even when i return to the village where i grew up, some 20 kilometers from here, there’s always the feeling, the houses and streets are still there, but the filelds where i used to play are gone.
    Take care, hope to meet you one day in Tagbilaran,
    My home in the Philippines is Siquijor and Dumaguete,
    Ronny Dehens

  10. i think and i say this becuz ive never been to phillapines ..but i think its becuz people ther are not fake.they have nothing to hide or fake ..and they always happy ,they are true people ….go back henry .be happy be free be alive .

      1. I already experience a sense of, “this isn’t where I belong/detachment” here in the US and I haven’t even visited PH yet, let alone moved there! lol… Although I can’t yet claim to feel that I DO belong in the PH, I guess I’m already “ready” for an adventure and change?

        My plan is to spend two weeks in the PH next year and check it out (and buy Henry a beer to thank him for this amazing blog) and then start to seriously plan for THE move – assuming it’s a FIT!

        One of the best things about Henry’s blog is that he speaks to me; we seem to share so many things – like a spirit of adventure and general philosophy. This feeling of connection really helps me start to understand what to expect over there. The humility, humanity and outlook on life really comes across in Henry’s writing – and no, I’m not on his payroll! Keep up the good work and I’ll see you next year.

  11. Henry – Thanks for this piece (and the last)! I’m sitting in the ATL Airport on my way back to Manila after an emergency flight home to be with my family after my father took a fall and died of his injuries. For the past two weeks – aside from the obvious grief – it’s struck me hard as well. I’d call it a ‘detached melancholy and sense of no longer belonging’. Seeing your own family look at you in a way that says ‘I don’t get you anymore’ is a sad but oddly empowering experience at the same time.

    My life too is now firmly on the other side of the date line – and very much tied to the family, friends, and the day-to-day relationships there that make up the wonderful co-dependent social nature of life in the Philippines.

    Hang in there and get “home” safely.

    1. I’m sorry about your loss. What you describe helps me feel a bit more ‘normal’ about my reaction to re-visiting the U.S., that it’s not just me feeling this way. I guess it comes with the whole expat experience.

  12. Hey Henry, I know how you feel but I have burned so many bridges, in this lifetime that it seems like several lifetimes to me. I am not proud necessarily of things I have done, in this life but on the other hand, at some point you have to let go of the past. It's sometimes difficult but that's just the way it is. As we approach our sunset years, we have to find new dreams, otherwise we begin the wilting process faster than we should. At some point you'll have to get your kids to come visit you, otherwise everytime you go back, you will grow more and more distant, if they don't share in your new life. If I were you, I would say, it's time to turn inward a bit, put even more time between visits to the states and live life to the fullest. That's not to say you should never visit but make the visits shorter, it makes letting go quite a bit easier and eventually, you'll be a peace…Thanks for sharing Henry, your friend Pat

  13. Another good entry Henry,

    I felt for you whilst reading your article but it also demonstrated to me quite clearly that that move you made in late 2011 was the right one. If the only regret you have is related to your family (as it should be) then you’ve made the right move. As someone else has already said, invite them to visit you in your new home, the ‘lifebeyondhesea’. I leave for my visit to Cebu in 6 days and I’m like a young kid with excitement. My only regret is that I won’t be able to meet you, however perhaps another time. I wish you well for the remainder of your visit to the States and look forward to more posts from you when you return home.

    John S

      1. Henry….I am coming to the Phil. March myself….When do you plan on getting back? I would really like to meet you in Bohol….I really enjoy your site….would like to meet you in person…..
        Thanks Carl.

  14. What really feels strange to me is walking in a mall in the states when visiting and feeling out of place. I “notice” the lack of those that I feel kinship with, ie that lovely sea of smiling faces and brown skin. even though I am as white as they come, after spending time in far off lands I always feel odd when I am around my so called “own kind” THAT might be part of the feeling you have as well.

  15. Thanks Henry,..I can’t wait to get to Bohol…I will try to kept in touch…..Hope to be there middle of March.

  16. I know how you feel. It’s been 3 years since I’ve seen my parents on the mainland, and it’s has always been a bittersweet experience of seeing loved ones and friends when I go back to visit; but, the detached feeling you talked about in your article is probably the most surreal experience of all. The feeling I get whenever I go back is I know this place was once my home, but I could never consider it home again even with all the familiar faces and places jogging my memory. This realization comes within hours or days of being back. After having divide my time between the Philippines and Guam in the last 3 years, I would much rather live this exciting—even at times unpredictable–lifestyle than living the complacencies of my old life. Perhaps somewhere in the recesses of my own mind, or even in the minds of the people I knew back home, the Philippines, and Guam–I continue to live the adventurous life.

  17. Some sobering thoughts here as I daydream about retiring to the Philippines with my new filipina wife someday. Love it there… love it here. I guess I can relate to the feeling of detachment in my own experience of trying to live in New Jersey again after many years in Maine. I am back in Maine again. Hmmm, it could be Philippines in a few years if we decide.

  18. As I said in another post, Philippines needs a good expat writer. Thailand has several expats writing good books. The Philippines has none.

    1. It’s hard to get good expat writers for the Philippines. Most of the online expats writers (or blogs) are always trying to depict the country through “rose-colored glasses.” A good example of this over-inflated writing, by highlighting only the good points and undermining the bad points, is the blog “Live in the Philippines.” You’re welcome to comment on that blog, without oppositions from the publisher and other commenters, as long as you’re comments appeal to the popular view. But as soon as you say anything contrary–even if true—your welcome mat will be quickly pulled from under you.

      1. Aside from the question: “What good will come of it?” when it comes to complaining in general, you have to consider that there is a real downside for expats in particular in expressing an overly critical view of life here – especially when it come to specific people or government institutions.

        There is the real threat of jail and deportation and even ticking someone off can set off a chain of unfair events with the authorities as well. If you read these blogs, you’ll have heard of the examples. Maybe it isn’t fair, but it’s the situation here. So again – what good comes from it when you include such content?

        Change has to come from within and those who live here as expats learn to deal with the trade-offs and many will choose to focus on the positives, so that life doesn’t turn into one long bitch session. I commend Bob for keeping his blog on that side of the argument, as I commend Henry for keeping his writings on a personal level.

        1. I understand your point of protecting yourself as an expat by not making negative comments about the country, and this is the reason why there is no objective expat writers coming out of the Philippines. But the criticisms that I’m talking about is coming from Filipinos (and some expats) themselves who are not afraid of telling it the way it really is. Why would these expat bloggers throw that observation out the window and expel the commenters from sharing those observations and experiences? In a sense, the publisher or the supporters of these blogs are keeping the truth from the public, and are only thinking of their own personal interests or whatever products and services they’re trying to push. These one-sided blogs are really not doing the country a favor by painting rosy portraits of the Philippines, when the stark reality of the life in the country is already being thrown like a bucket of cold water on the public’s face. If the expats writers and commenters genuinely want to initiate a change for the country, they need to start telling the truth or allowing others to do it for them.

          1. Since you cite Mindanao Bob’s blog (LiveInThePhilipines.com) as your example, I would imagine that Bob (an expat himself) is responsible for all content on the site – regardless of the authorship – and would be held accountable for it by the authorities. It’s a blog – not a news site – and has a specific mission and target audience. I see it as Bob’s prerogative to manage the content as he sees fit. Given the site’s longevity, it seems to be working for him – and it’s readers (who also know “what’s what” for the most part).

            Take a look around and you’ll find other sites to serve as examples of what you believe should be available instead. I think you’ll find that they also serve as a cautionary tale for us all.

            Just my opinion of course and we are all entitled to that much. Again – I love what Henry is doing here as well!

            1. I, too, love Henry’s “Life Beyond the Sea” blog for his personal account and objectivity, and, more specifically, his acceptance of the different viewpoints of the commenters. I’m only posting my reply to Brianmark’s post on why the Philippines doesn’t have a good expat writers.

              Bob’s site started this way back in 2006 or 2007 when he was just starting off and in need of writers. In fact, I was one of his earlier writers. He (Bob) and his earlier followers were accommodating of different viewpoints from writers and commenters alike. Now that his blog is established and has an ample staff and steady following, he has become more selective towards those comments that stroke his blog community’s beliefs and egos, while sticking their noses up in the air on anyone that challenges their homogenous views.

              These lop-sided blogs are not only sad to see, but it gives the public a fairy tale perception of the country, and polishes the alter-ego of the existing status quo that could use the much-needed change you’re talking about.

              1. Sorry, I don’t share your perception. Just looking at the most recent contributions this week (seriously, take a look), I see authors on that site highlighting all sorts of real-world frustrations with life here. But that doesn’t mean they can’t take a more positive spin when they describe their experiences.

                I find their attitude more constructive and instructive than anything. Finding a way to come to terms with the challenges here – and even embrace them – is the key to a happy life. And doing so without adding insult to injury leaves the door open to more dialog in a country where “saving face” is a big part of moving things forward.

                I myself came from the old school and “called a spade a spade” for many years – but only suffered for it, while having my legitimate message get lost in the process. I’ve learned there are other ways to get the job done, but it requires a certain “grace” to see them and make them work for you.

                Good luck!

                1. Calling “Cancer” any other name, other than what it, doesn’t make you address the problem head on. The government and media already does a good job of that and we, as outsiders, do not need to add more fuel to that over-inflated attitude.

                  You can still come to term with the situation in the Philippines by “calling spade as spade.” Just look around and talk to the average Filipino on the streets and around the world. They’ll tell you how the Philippines really is from the ground up and not the other way around. Expats tends speak from the opposite directions because they see the Philippines as an exotic, a playground for our suppressed fantasies that their own country accommodate for whatever reasons.

                  This stereo-typed perception and image of the Philippines need to change if we’re going to initiate a positive change–in action and not in words.

  19. I’m sorry we don’t see things eye-to-eye; however, I do understand and respect where you’re coming from even though we can’t agree on the same thing about the viewpoints expressed on the Live in the Philippines blog. I think this blog (Life Beyond the Sea) is objectively accommodating the different perspectives about the Philippines, without dubbing them positive nor negative, right nor wrong, or expulsing the commenters’ viewpoints just because they’re in contrast with the publishers point-of-view. This is the best way to run a blog: hear the comments from all sides without the fear of getting backlashed.

  20. (I was on my way out the door when I hastily wrote this reply. Please forgive me for the grammatical errors and let me try again)

    Calling “Cancer” another name, other than what it really is, does not cure the disease nor address the problem head on. The Philippine government and media are already doing a good job of bluffing their way through about the reality of life in the country. As outsiders (Expats), we don’t need to add fuel to the fire by contributing to the already over-inflated attitude (and ego) about the country. You can still come to terms with the situation in the Philippines by “calling spade as spade.” Just look around you and talk to the average Filipino on the streets and around the world about how they feel about their own country. These people will tell you exactly what the Philippines is really like from the ground up and not the other way around. Expats tends speak from the opposite (euphoric) directions because they see the Philippines as an exotic place, an outlet for their suppressed fantasies that their own country couldn’t fulfill for whatever reasons.This stereo-typed perception and image of the Philippines as a Dirty Old Man’s playground need to change if we’re going to initiate any type of “positive change”–in action and not in words–towards the future.

    1. Your intent is sincere but IMHO, xpats are guests out to experience and enjoy the culture and not purposely influencing or wanting to introduce change.You may have found a niche that you may be able to blog about, if you haven’t done that yet. Cheers!

      1. Being in a foreign country, we are actually prohibited, legally, from affecting change as it pertains to politics, society, laws, etc. Yes, we are guests in the PH. And as such we have no vote in elections. We cannot speak in favor of one candidate over another. If we want to help out with charitable functions, we’re allowed to do that. But anything beyond that, our hands are very much tied.

        1. thank you henry.

          anyway, i am here to enjoy your blogs. i can particularly relate to this one when i temporarily moved to another country and separatingme from everything familiar to me.

          i am quite impressed at your guts moving to the phils just like you did.

          goodluck and more power to you.

          ps: have you been to the chocolate hills yet?

  21. Please don’t misunderstand me. The comment I made on the LIP blog was intended to be just a mold on the ground, which other commenters managed to turn into an ant hill in a short period time. My comment was in response to the article the publisher’s son wrote about the government proposal to change the school schedule from June through March to August through May to match the United States, which a lot of people in the Philippines supported and is now going to be tried this upcoming school year. I agreed to this change as a parent whose children went to school in the Philippines and having to fight the torrential rain and flooding from June through August. I was met with harsh criticism from the followers of that blog, which I’m sure were mostly expats, along with some expats wannabees.

    This homogenous group accused me of trying to impose my westernized view of pushing for the Philippines to change its school schedule to accommodate the school schedule of the United States, and why don’t I just leave well enough alone. The publisher even chimed in by questioning me of why should the Philippines adjust its school to accommodate the United States. I couldn’t help but wonder, ‘what part of the life in the Philippines was not mimicked or adjusted to accommodate the United States, and why did all of these LIP followers instantly became completely independent of influence from the United States just because the publisher differed with my opinion about the school schedule change?’ Talk about “the kettle calling the other kettles black.”

    As it turned out, it was me against the publisher and his followers throwing stick and stones at each other. All the harsh remarks from the followers thrown in my direction managed to stay on the comment section, while the ones I threw back at them were conveniently thrown out and deleted. This is the whole point of my argument. I though these people are supposed to be cautious about what they say, especially against the government decisions and affairs. It doesn’t sound like it to me.

    1. ohh, i see.Sounds like a big disconnect.

      Anyway, no worries as there are plenty others who would listen to you regardless. I have to read up on that subject (shift in philippine school year) although i can think of a few advantages (and disadvantages).

      i hope to see more posts from you here and elsewhere.

  22. Hi Nemo. Thank you for your open-mindedness and hearing my side of the story before forming your opinion. And I do respect your point-of-view on the “shift in Philippine school year” whatever it may be. I think what happened on the LiP blog was the head honcho heartily disagreed with my opinion because his son wrote the article that opposed the school schedule change, while the rest of the clan followed suit with their comments.

    I’m sure there were other followers who felt the same way I did–and one actually spoke up to support my view, while another waited for clarification on why I felt the way I did about the school schedule–but the publisher already let loose his “Dogs of War” and had me for lunch. Up to that point, I considered the publisher a good friend and a mentor(even if we’ve never met in person). We started blogging at about the same time, and he welcomed and appreciated my writing as I shared my experience of being a Filipino-American growing up in the United States, and then going back to the Philippines to raise my family.

    Oh well, I guess I’ve learned from that experience and I will look forward to making more comments on this blog. I hope Henry’s Life Beyond the Sea does not change and he remains impartial and humble about the different points-of-view that will scale the pages of his blog. This is the best way to stay grounded. Take Care. JPB

    1. thanks jpb for your kind words. i like LBTS in that henry’s posts seem to emanate from the heart. i only saw maybe a couple of henry’s videos and i like the candidness.

      i find your decision to raise your family in the phils fascinating. your family especially your parents and relatives have to be proud of your decision. cheers to you!

    2. I have a very different approach to life in general than.. well, let’s just say ‘some bloggers’ who come to the PH. For one thing, I’m one of the few single men who blogs on the PH. The reason that makes a difference is that for one thing, I’m out learning and exploring all the time. I don’t have to be home for dinner or make time for a wife.. the usual things you must do when married. Aside from that, my goal and motivation is to share with others the information I had trouble finding back when I was doing my research before moving. I see the PH as it is, not some ‘travel brochure’ version. Let’s face it, it’s not all sandy beaches and umbrella drinks under the palms. There’s a gritty side to life as well.

      Finally, I don’t write as an ‘expert’ who positions as if knowing everything. My whole reason for having a Forum was not to shape other people’s ideas or opinions, but rather to pool together the experiences and knowledge OTHER expats have. I’m not the expert here. I’m just a guy from California who tries to keep his eyes and ears open, and then share what I see. If someone disagrees with me, fine.. to each their own opinion. But some facts are just plain facts and I try to be as fair on a topic as possible. I did a short video on this topic here..

      1. LOL! Hope you still keep blogging if and when you find lucky mrs henry v. I suppose your blog fans can relate more easier with you due to your approach.

        More power!

        1. I agree with you, nemo. Henry’s selfless writing style is different from other blogs because of his “Minimalist” approach (in his own word on one of his previous articles)in life. Although he’s not a Buddhist (in his own words again) like me, there’s a lot of similarities between Buddhism and living a simple, humble life. We’re both conscious of this self-manifested idea of Self, Pride, and Ego–which often get the best of a person if not taken into account at every moment of his or her own life. One of my favorite quote from a popular Buddhist book, “Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind (Shunryu Suzuki),” describes accurately the mindset of the LBTS blog: “In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities, but in the expert’s there are few.”

          1. Thank you for sharing jpb. Sounds like i have some reading and lots of learning and meditation to do. (Side note: I was an expat in Kanagawa Prefecture for at least a couple or so years. Gotta love it!)

      2. Henry i really do enjoy your insight on things there in PH. some things make me worry, but that’s only because i am involved with a pina online in Face Book. i have tested her some what on certain conversation. she has passed my test and i feel guilty for having to be so careful. but I don’t want to get hurt or caught up in a scam either. i have weighed the facts presented and I have considered visiting the PH and actually physically dating her for a month then return here to the U.S.A.to work. now my new business may provide enough income to visit for a month every 3 months. i ask for your opinion and input on this idea , to include how healthy of a venture this would be for both her and I.

        thank you for your time and advice …John W Rodgers

  23. A question for those who made the decision to seek a different life in the Philippines… why the Philippines? Why not Thailand, Indonesia, etc., or China for that matter?

    1. Anonymous, I can probably answer that question on “why the Philippines?” with one simple answer: familiarity. Most American and some European expats have a long-standing history with this country, through marriages and other relations, than other Asian countries in the Far East. The Philippines is also the most westernized country in the region.

  24. That may have something to do with the Philippines being more predominantly english speaking(?). I haven’t been to these nearby countries yet but I thought I read some people write about that.

  25. I’m temporarily visiting my home state of Florida after living on Guam for the past 3 years, and experienced the same surreal feelings that you’ve experienced when you went back home to visit your place in California. It felt as I if I was a stranger…a visitor…a mere observer separated by a thin, invisible wall from the people and place I knew and recognized. This transparent partition has somewhat prevented–or perhaps protected me–from trying to find and replace the lost pieces of the life I had with these people and this place.

    I knew deep down I’ll never be able to relive the past. Perhaps I can hope to pick up where I left off for old time sake, or perhaps not since so much has happened and I have grown apart my the very same people and place of my past. Whether by choice or by fate or a combination of both, my life no longer parallels the lives of the people I once had something in common with and, even if i try to believe otherwise, things are never going be the same. Just like each moment of my life changes over time, so will I.

  26. (Please delete the previous post for grammar error. Thank you)

    I’m temporarily visiting my home state of Florida after living on Guam for the past 3 years, and experienced the same surreal feelings that you’ve experienced when you went back home to visit your place in California. It felt as I if I was a stranger…a visitor…a mere observer separated by an invisible wall from the people and place I knew and recognized. This transparent partition has somewhat prevented–or perhaps protected me–from trying to find and replace the lost pieces of the life I had with these people and this place.

    I knew deep down I’ll never be able to relive the past. Perhaps I can hope to pick up where I left off for old time sake, or perhaps not since so much has happened and I have grown apart from the very same people and place of my past. Whether by choice or by fate or a combination of both, my life no longer parallels the lives of the people I once had something in common with and, even if i try to believe otherwise, things are never going be the same. Just like each moment of my life changes over time, so will I.

  27. I think it this particular blog by henry (and your comment above) that i can relate well. i have been away from home most of my working life. it has always been this “strange” feeling whenever i returned home. Everybody’s changed from the last time i was with them… or … was it me who’s changed?

    At times it felt that i do not belong any longer but this is my home, my family. Maybe each one has learned to live life independent of each other and to our own liking. It seemed to be easier to be alone. I wanted to be sad about it but i do not know.

    I always thought it was just me but it seems like the feeling and experience is somewhat similar for people who live away from home.

  28. Home will always be home, at least that’s how I feel about my hometown, especially when I reminisce with other expats or brag to local residents of our respective origins. Each of us has to belong or originate somewhere in order to get our bearings in life, but home and the people who we left behind are never going to be the same as we remember them; they change like the rest of us. A small part of me still feel sad about not being able to find that feeling of belonging anymore, but as soon as the complacency, familiarity, and boredom set in, I’m ready to move on again. I still miss the old life in my hometown, but there’s more living to be lived out there in this short life to stay put. So the journey continues.

  29. Nice post…I really know what you mean. I retired from the US Military after 28 years of active duty, so I was already far removed from my life back home as I was traveling the world. Met a nice girl and moved here to the Philippines after retirement…and that was 19 months ago. Now I know how I will feel when I visit the US soon…

    1. I’d say the main thing is to expect it and take it in stride. I had a few moments where I wanted to panic, but you acclimate enough to maintain after awhile. But I still feel more ‘at home’ in the PH, even though it’s nice to be around family and ‘familiar’ surroundings.

  30. That is life my friend…but the good news is, You can always start to build new bridges, it is never too late. good luck!

  31. A tale of two minds it seems. Though no expert on brain science, I understand the human mind to be the most amazing thing…a super computer on steroids you might say, yet so much more than that and little understood by most if not all, including myself. Many would equate the brain, not the mind to a computer. After all, it receives sensory input from the outside world which often leads to some action or inaction on our part. You smell barbecue chicken at a roadside vendor that awakens your hunger or cravings and you react. But your reaction is not based on what your brain is telling you, it's based on the programming in your subconscious and conscious minds.

    Your conscious mind may be perplexed by the fact that your recall of what was once familiar was no longer such. However, it was your subconscious mind working quietly behind the scene, carrying out it's program that had wiped out your familiarity with that Temeculah mall. Your mind was just doing what it does naturally based on the programming you wrote and downloaded to it by either assigning a value to all the information about the mall or from disuse of that information over a period of time.

    If that experience as you say,"strengthened your desire to return to the Philippines," it's likely because it helped your conscious mind make a connection with what had already been programmed into your subconscious mind. I would say that when the two are congruous, that's a beautiful thing.

  32. I get many grins from reading your articles, watching your videos and also pause… my Asawa took this journey… in reverse. And now as we finally reach our goals here we can finally look toward the Philippines.

  33. What an excellent post. I have been travelling in Asia for four years with many trips back home. I spent 10 of the last 12 months in Cambodia. I have experienced that detachment so eloquently described, on almost every return. This time I was ready for it and it was not as bad. Last year when I came home, people were worried about me and suggested I needed a Shrink, that is how bad it was. I, like many frequent travellers to Asia, I am sure, have given up trying to explain the pull Asian life has on those of us who have been fortunate enough to go there. I am afraid that indescribable allure makes life back in America surreal. I have been back two months and I continue to struggle with a sense of family attachment here in America with my want to travel. Fortunately or unfortunately the time has come to make a choice.

  34. As for me it is the making new memories and forgetting the old that adds the attraction of moving to the Philippines. I really do not have very good memories here in the states and my best memories (other than my children related topics) have all been in other countries. There is nothing that I like in the USA right now because it is going down the shitter in a hurry and the new generation is not going to help it at all. Not getting into politics or anything but it is hard cold truth when you look at the job market now and try to for see it i the future. When you go to any other country and to see that the people there would KILL for the opportunities that our youth throw away on a minute by minute instance it is amazing. I am from Louisiana so the infrastructure and corruption is nothing new to me, so when I went visit PH I just saw how wonderful and friendly the people were. I have about 15 more years before I can retire but I have already told my fiance' that that is where I will be.

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