[Diary] – Feb, 2014; (Finally) Returning to Bohol, Philippines!

my life in the philippinesFebruary – 2014  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.
—  Reekay’

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

[02/26/2014] —   Finally.. less than 48 hours until I’ll be flying back to my ‘home’, the Philippines.  I’ve been out the last two days getting a variety of items for both myself and a select circle of friends in the PH.  I don’t know how other expats do it.. the ‘pasalubong‘ for so many family members when they return to the islands.  In my case it’s just a few close friends.  I’ve heard of other expats practically doubling their luggage with boxes of souvenirs, requested items, clothes, gifts and of course, American Chocolate.  Apart from Toblerone, most of the chocolate I’ve had overseas leaves a bit to be desired.  Kinda tastes like that chocolate easter bunny you find under your bed in November.  Sorta like wax with a chalky, chemical taste to it.  

So I went to the local Walmart and got a few bags of mini-Snickers, some American sized polo shirts for me, my favorite hair gel, cargo shorts, etc.  Over a hundred dollars of ‘stuff’ today plus another two hundred spent during my stay on even more gifts.  When I arrived in California I had a large suitcase with me.  In it I had about 3 days of clothes, that’s it.  The rest was filled with gifts going the other direction, to my family.  It’ll be the same story going back but I’m pretty sure I can fit it all in the one giant suitcase, including the stuff I bought during my weekend trip to Rosarito, Mexico.  Aside from that, a backpack and I’m good-to-go.

I wrote before on how bizarre it felt to arrive back in the U.S. after being gone so long.  Now, I am even more aware of how ‘detached’ I am from what I was once so intricately a part of here in Southern California.  I suppose the ‘easy’ thing would be to have a somewhat bitter attitude about all the things I don’t miss about American life.. but I gotta say that for all the weirdness of living in SoCal, it was a nice run while it lasted.  It’s not for me, but it made for an interesting first chunk of my life for almost five decades.  As I evaluate it all the one thing that sticks out most clearly is that the only value this north american continent has for me is primarily wrapped up in the friends and family I have here.  All the other stuff, I really don’t miss it.  I’ve been to Disneyland, Hollywood, San Diego, Solvang, Palm Springs, the San Diego gaslamp distgrict, wandering the streets of San Francisco at 3a.m., backpacked Yosemite, driven the Pacific Coast Highway at sunset, road trips to Vegas and into Mexico.  

I’ve done Sea World, Knott’s, flew kites at the park, watched the sun set at Belmont Park, done the Sanhollywood sign Diego Zoo, gone skydiving, rode horses, spent a summer in the mountains as a counselor at a Dude Ranch, seen the L.A. museums, loved the planetariums, gone to the Ahmanson Theater for a live play, been there live for a t.v. show taping, swam in a lake during a lightning storm, run through the forest during a rainstorm in nothing but shorts and shoes, drank tequila in Mexico until I was sweating it out of my pores, walked Hollywood boulevard and Sunset at 2a.m., done the Garment District, Chinatown and Alvaro street.  I’ve eaten from vendors on the street, got lucky as a teenager with a girl in an orange field at midnight, went to the prom, took over a mic on impulse to address over a thousand people for five minutes and seen Seinfeld perform at a banquet under the Spruce Goose, enjoyed Joan Jett in concert, been to the circus (hated it), perused the galleries of La Jolla, bummed around Rodeo drive in Beverly Hills, met some celebrities, known some producers, sat in at a recording studio as a blues record was being done, gone to Hollywood strip-clubs (boring), been to the casinos and Pow-Wows at the Indian reservations, eaten at (just about) every food franchise America has to offer and gained/lost weight in the process.

In short.. over 50 years I pretty much satisfied my wanderlust for Southern California.  My next goal?  To explore the entire Visayan region of the Philippines, Thailand, Florence Italy and the Monkey Temple in Malaysia.

Suffice it to say that I am extremely excited to be getting on that plane and starting my new adventures again overseas.  The last year and a half has far exceeded all that I’d hoped to encounter.  There has been joy, risk, loss, heartbreak, rapture, amazement, laughter and everything in between during my stay so far in the Philippines.  I’ve made so many connections with other travelers and thanks to the Net keep in touch with quite a few as they find their own path across SouthEast Asia and the PH islands.

But it’s been something of an eye-opener for me as well.  It’s kinda like going behind the curtain and seeing the reality of this world’s stage.  I’ve seen some gritty hardships that I could do nothing about.  And I’ve discovered to a greater degree things about myself.  Some were good and some not so good.  I’ve found that my resolve to travel light and focus more on experiences and people, rather than ‘things’, is definitely what brings the most satisfaction to my soul.  The last year and a half has been a feast for my mind, heart, body and soul.

But don’t get me wrong.  I will tell you this much very clearly, “The Philippines is NOT for everybody.”

The Philippines is a place of high contrast.  It is an adventure and to some degree your very survival can hinge on joy or tragedy at any given moment.  I have found myself physically outnumbered and fighting with thieves one night, and only a few months later.. sitting in a fine hotel attending a wedding announcement party just a few blocks away for an evening of fine food and revelry.  The Philippines is no place for the faint of heart or thin of skin.  It will test your will, your patience and most of all.. it will test your heart.  If you haven’t much in the way of street-smarts, and have never been overseas before.. you better start boning up on the realities of human nature.

San-Remigio-Warrens-ResortSo why would I be so anxious to go back for more?  Good question.  But like I said, the Philippines is a place of high contrast.  You will also encounter some genuinely good people, many of them, just walking down the street.  I’ve walked under the stars, knee-deep in the warm waters of the ocean without a care in the world.  I’ve sat by my bonfire at midnight out in the province surrounded by nothing but miles and miles of jungle and peaceful tranquility beneath a moon that shone like a spotlight on the earth.   I’ve checked out jungle trails in the province under the hot, humid sun and come across some of the biggest spiders I’ve ever seen in my life.

The Philippines has to be experienced to be believed.  Not in a rush.  Not just in the big city.  But out on the streets, where the people and the food and the daily hustle of life is happening.  That is where, I believe, a person has one of two gut reactions.  Either they are scared and inconvenienced to such a degree they practically run to the nearest airport to fly out.. or, like me, they breathe in the warm air of the night.. stretch out their arms and say quietly within.. “I am home.”


philippines survival guide advice expats

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. Safe travels, Henry!

    We’ll be back in California mid-month taking care of immigration, making our own Costco runs and taking care of a little business shortly after you arrive back here. We hope to wrap up a long-term rental in Tagaytay this weekend, so our stuff will have somewhere to go. While we are looking forward to being done with the move, I suspect the “in between” will be a bumpy ride – not to mention expensive!

    Breathe in… breathe out….

      1. Hello there Henry,
        I am David, we met in Duma across the boardwalk last October 2014, I am the expat from Japan that seemingly stood you up the day before our meet
        hope we can be connected

  2. Welcome home Henry! At the endn of the next month have to pack our luggages back to Finland…but I shall return to Lapu-Lapu! Hope I can bear all the things what my wife will be packing….dried fish etc. 🙂 Do you stay in Cebu before going to Tagbilaran…? You don`t have to go to Mercedes as can rest in our place after a flight if you want?! Take care!
    Great story of homecoming! Salamat!

  3. You continue to amaze me and I smile every time I read your journal. I am a severe cronic advance planner and after 3 yrs. of online dating and one trip in 2013 to Cebu & Bohol, I am now planning my Dec. 25th, 2014 trip for 25 days back to Cebu, Bohol, Dumaguete, & Siquijor to expand my knowledge of that region. My first trip was wonderful inspite of meeting a gf who was less than sincere. For a lifetime 64 yr. old bachelor like me, I still think like a 20 yr. old and thus the younger filipinas are hard to resist, and I quickly forget how immature I was at that age. I have met a new filipina online who may be a bit more mature, and if we continue to chat regularly online between now and Christmas, then we will see what happens…I am so cautious and in no rush at my age to make that commitment until my head and heart are OK with that big step. I must say that she is actually employed….wow..thats unusual for a 26 yr. old filipina..and a graduate of Manila University and works in Manila…a place I hope to not stay in for more than a day if I have to. I can fly her to Cebu for our stay there before flying to Clark AFB and then take a 3 hr. bus ride to meet her family in northern Luzon province. We chat on skype and she actually could be a good telemarketer with her good English skills. It is so important to see and get the full expression of ones face while they speak. Gee, we actually have intelligent conversations so unlike most of the girls I’ve chatted with who always just ask if I had my breakfast yet. I started keeping a personal journal in 1989 at the ripe old age of 39. I’ve continued ever since and it has served me well as a reminder of all things good and bad in life…mostly good. Your videos remind me of the modern day version of that and thus your journal began a few years ago in earnest. Can you share more about your cam and make model and accessories?

    1. Thanks, and I’m sure you’re excited about your next visit. As for my camera, it is an LG cam-phone.. nothing too exotic. It’s basic but I can have it with me always. A handicam is too bulky to take with me everywhere.

      1. tnx Henry…an LG cam phone…..I would never have guessed…it seems to do great…keep it up…my favorite videos & stories so far of what I’ve seen is the ladyboy interview and the story about the chickens ur neighbor left in ur yard….lol..very good

        1. ha!, thanks! Yah, I was on my way into the mall and did the ladyboy interview just on a chance. I wish I’d done a better interview but I was winging it the whole time. I hope to be interviewing local Filipinas soon as a new project I’ll be starting. More details on that soon to come.

          1. I think I read somewhere that you were planning on writing a book. Sounds like you should do well with it. By the way you did a great job winging it in that interview. In different videos you have touched on the subject of fear….fear of getting mugged, fear of relationships, or scammed, or of stepping out into the unknown, etc. I think it would be an interesting topic for you to address in more detail…”FEAR”……I also am wondering what your life there would be like now without your website and journalistic efforts to communicate via the internet to ex-pats, and other adventurers. I know you followed your heart especially with the Filipina you met in southern Cal and that the relationship did not work out once you got to PH. I know that for myself, the younger Filipinas are a big reason I want to keep returning there and I ask myself how interested would I really be in the PH culture and country if it were not for the draw of the nice Filipinas. I think you also mentioned that “relationships” are a big part of what life is all about. I agree, but I have had the hardest time in my life finding any real meaningful ones that last. Maybe it’s my own fault for being such a loner and cautious in relationships, but I am certainly glad that I finally found wonderful Filipina women to be part of my final years here in this world in which we live.

            1. I’ll try to cover that in a video soon, good idea. While I’m taking my time about a life-mate relationship, in the meanwhile I’m enjoying all the relationships I’m encountering. From locals to expats and women I meet or have known.. it’s been a very robust experience here. The only slight ‘down-side’ is that I am slowly losing my anonymity here. I’m accustomed to walking about in a crowd just doing me own thing. But more and more people are recognizing me at places I go. They are very polite and nice, that is not a problem. But I feel I’m losing just a bit of my privacy. I guess it comes with the territory. I’ll eventually settle down and get married, but I don’t see that happening this year. I have too many islands to explore and places to see first. 🙂

              1. Reekay –

                I’m sorry to hear you are beginning to lose your anonymity and sacrificing your privacy because of your website and videos. But, please know there are a multitude of regular Joes out here living vicariously through you and your adventures. If its any consolation, you are carrying the flag for more of us than you will know who will never have the opportunity to experience the warm breezes, turquoise waters, and good people of the Philippines. So, as for as long as you feel the desire to include us on your travels, we are right there with you. Every step of the way!

                1. Thanks for the encouragement. I enjoy what I do and have plans to go beyond Bohol this year. I’ll be sharing my travels as I wander about like a gypsy over the upcoming months. 🙂

                  1. Henry,,hello how are you? I have been watching your videos and surfing your website. I have to ask you, where in Bohol do you live? My wife and I own land in Baclayon,Bohol. Watching your video of walking on your jungle road going to ICM, looks very similar to the provincial road our land is on. I have been to the Phils, 9 times, visited quite a few places. I can remember cebu in 2001 and how it has changed since then. Would have to say bohol and cagayan de oro city would be my 2 favorite places. My wife and I both have enjoyed your videos. I highly recommend visiting the hot springs in Camiguin,,,,,awesome and so peaceful.

                2. I totally agree! I am counting the days until I move there. I have 5 years left then I will move there. Love the vids!!!! They are VERY much appreciated!!!

              2. I can relate only a little to the fact that you now have to deal with a bit of “fame” and lack of privacy. Fame & or wealth ( perceived by others whether true or not) is usually a big hurdle in order to determine what the motives of others might be in truth. A common Filipina saying is..”I just want to find a man who will accept me for who I am”…I think we can all say that we want to be accepted for who we are deep inside…….that presents several issues….not the least of which is …Do we even know who we really are deep inside? and if we don’t know our true inner self then how can we expect someone else to know and accept us for who we are??? I’ve spent my entire life trying to figure out who I really am inside at times and I can’t say I am totally happy with all that I see even though I think I am a pretty nice easy going sincere guy.

                For you…..now that you have lost that “normal guy” look around town, it adds one more barrier to you determining the motives of others when they buddy up to you. I hope you can find the balance you seek between helping others (as you obviously do well) with your website, and having the good trusting friendships that last through the storms and valleys in life. I know you understand what I am talking about, and all of us watching and listening to you out here in this world will certainly understand if at some point you need to pull back from such a public persona. take care…

                1. For this and other reasons I think it will be a long time before I get married. Just as women don’t want to be loved ‘solely’ for their beauty, a man doesn’t want to be loved ‘solely’ for his perceived financial stability either. (Some people are the exception to this, of course.) But I’m fine with taking my time. I’d rather be single than in a bad relationship, had too many of those in one lifetime already. Meanwhile, I will enjoy life and drink deeply from it. Sharing a bit of it as I go along hoping it will help others in some way on their own travels. 🙂

              3. I thought about doing exactly what you are doing by creating a website when I move to the Philippines. However, I’m a private person and really don’t want people knowing my personal business. This reminds about that old tv show called the Andy Griffith show where everybody knows who you are and your business in the small town of Mayberry. If you keep a low profile then people get very suspicious and then strange rumors start. I remember many years ago while staying with my friend for 4 months in Tanza, Cavite. People really go out of their way to find out as much information about you as possible. Sometimes it can get crazy for example. Most of the time they are trying to be friendly, but some really want to know what you are financially worth and have hidden motives in order to use you for money. My friend was married to a filipina and the locals knew everything about him, but not me. The town mayor approached my friend while he was buying food at the market asking questions about me. People would even go to my friends house trying to play match maker bringing girls to his house to introduce me to them. Of course that didn’t go very well with his wife at the time. It amazes me that even while eating at public places, The locals would even ask very personal questions like my income,immigration status. Some would even be bold enough to ask about barrowing money and try to get me to invest in a business. Are you looking for a girlfriend or wife. I really didn’t like that feeling, but after time you get kinda of used to it. If they asked me questions like that I would try to pretend that I didn’t understand the question or avoid answering it. Sometimes I would just try to be polite and say secret and smile. Some were very hard headed people and were persistent and I would also say, don’t you think that is a very personal question to ask a stranger? I also enjoy letting them wonder who I am and keep them guessing. For safety reasons, I don’t want local Filipinos to know evertyhing about me.

              4. Hi Henry ,, my name is Dave and I’m soon to be retiring ,, there in Phil. Tell me how you handle the visa thing ,, I know you can stay for I think it’s 21 days then you must extend your visa ?? Tell me how that works,, also did you say you had a house made from concrete bricks I think I saw that video ,, before the 3 pigs ,, I thought forigners could not own land or property unless they marry a pilapina and then it would be in her name not yours,,

      2. Hello Henry 🙂 What a great site you have here! I’ll surely refer this site to my foreign friends online who want to visit and know more about my country, the Philippines.

        I have been to Bohol once in 2011, together with officemates and some of our family members. We really had a great time there. And your posts about Bohol just made me miss the place more. I hope I get to fly there again this year, if my schedule permits. I really need a break! Work and life here in Manila are just too stressful for a fiftyish woman like me 🙁

        Thanks for having this site. It really is a joy to read your articles. Ingat ka palagi and God bless!

        1. Thanks for your kind words. I intend to spend 2014 traveling around the Visayas out of a backpack in order to report on more of the area. But my intent is to return back to either Bohol or Cebu as my base. Moalboal will be my first stop next month, I’ve heard good things about there as well. 🙂 I hope you find yourself stepping off the plane soon and feeling the warmth here.

  4. I have your website under my ‘favorites’ in my computer. Always looking forward to reading your posts. I live and work in SD. I try to go home to Negros Oriental at least every year. Nothing compares to the excitement I get every time I get to go home. I heard a lot of stories of ‘balikbayans’ not being able to get used to the life in the Philippines anymore but for me after I stepped off the plane, I feel like I haven’t even left the country.

  5. Great Post Henry! There are things good and bad in my Philippines experience, but I'm pretty sure the good far outweigh the bad. I'm a very simple person and don't place much stock in material possessions. Its all about experiences.

    Being there sure made me more aware of the plight of the third world working class people. Americans are spoiled by comparison. I think that most filipinos are happy with the simple things in life. Every holiday or occasion means time for a big get together meal with friends and family.

    I'll never forget fiesta in my wife's barangay. Family and friends from all over the area came by. Was probably a lot of people that came by to see the kano in the family and so more than normal turnout. My nanay's humble home was literally wall-to-wall people in every room at sleep time. People shinning their cellphones to give light to those tiptoeing threw to go pee. Singing Karaoke even if you couldn't sing…..Definitely a great time in my life.

    I wish we could move there now, but it will be years before we can. Theres children needing to go to school, my wife's mother needs a bit of help, etc… I'm pretty sure if I have internet and aircon I'd be right at home. The food is better there thats for sure!

  6. thanks for your generosity. i've already made plans since i'll be arriving around midnight and catching the first ferry back to bohol the next morning. so much to do when i get back! 🙂

  7. there's a time and season for everything. for me, i waited until my children were on their own, living their own lives. we keep in touch online since they are all on the net. i'm glad you are putting your children first in priority. 🙂

  8. Bohol will be happy to have you back. And remember, when you begin exploring the rest of the Visayas, don’t forget to visit us here in Beautiful Samar. We’ll keep the light on for you.

    1. I’ve been to Bohol several times, and it is, so far, my favorite place to be. However, Samar is on my radar! I have a few contacts there and it sounds like a fabulous place! I’ll be back in Bohol in about 10 weeks and hope to squeeze a long weekend visit to Samar if I can.

  9. Well not my children, I don't have any, but we are sending my wife's niece to school in Philippines. I'm a minimalist in many ways and could probably liquidate my condo and rental unit and we could get by until my SS, but It wouldn't be enough to help out too.

    I'm 55.5 and intend to get my SS at 62, by then my wife will have dual citizenship and qualify for her SS when she reaches 62 (11 years after me). Then if I sell out my condos here and have my SS it will be enough…

  10. Glad you’re getting back to “the islands” Henry. I’ve sure missed your video adventures there.

  11. Henry Velez, Have a great trip man, you paint an interesting picture as always. Even as a kid, living at Clark Air Base, near Angeles City, I know what you mean about contrast. Wow, things were so different from the states, mutated insects 2 to 3 times larger than normal,ie, Praying Mantis, nearly the size of my hand and Lady Bugs the size of a nickel. Pythons 25 to 30 feet long, Earthquakes, Typhoons, gregarious Filipino workers, goats roaming free, firecrackers that could blow fingers off, fiery sunsets, massive rains, street flooding common, rats the size of small dogs, awesome food, ie, Lumpia and white rice with colorful vegetables. Green Pastures, Jungles and rolling hills, surgar cane 10 feet tall but most of all I remember the land of a million smiles…:)

  12. What a delight to read your post!!! I look forward to reading more about your adventures…. I agree not everyone can live there in the PI. but those that chose to stay seem to happy … and isn't that what life is all about .. !!

  13. great to see you are “going home”. I only have one comment about your article. you are planning to travel to thailand malaysia but you wont step foot on mindanao island philippines. well i plan to live on the beautiful island of mindanao so i guess i am not amongst the faint of heart living in the Philippines

    1. I do eventually want to get to Thailand and Malaysia, mostly for the monkey temple in Malaysia and the food/night-life in Thailand. But Mindanao is off my list. Too many other fine islands to visit north of there for me to explore. 🙂

  14. Hello henry velez omg im so happy to have read what u have done there in the Philippines I would love to talk to you because I am married to a filipina and we want to strat a piggy farm my email is [email protected] could you please reply thank you so much..

  15. Henry, Are you flying directly to Cebu or going threw Manila? I have tried many times to see if tickets can be found that are reasonable to fly into Cebu, or Davao then buy tickets separately to my wife's province.

    I have never seen a trip to either city from the east coast US that was not at least 400 dollars more than going thru Manila. I have spent time in Manila twice for about a week each time and I do not like it at all. Its dirty, dangerous,crowded, and more expensive.

    I have not been to Davao, but I did spend some time in Liloan Cebu. Its less than an hour from the airport or ferry port and I really liked it there. We have some good friends there.

    1. I always fly directly to Cebu since the Visayas is kinda my ‘home base’ in the PH. Plus, I’m no big fan of either Manila or the ‘big city’. Except for Cebu which I am fond of since it’s smaller than Manila.

  16. Hello Henry, I’m happy to hear you’re going back home. I should be leaving for Cebu sometime in April, God willing. I’ve been to the Philippines as a young man while in the U.S. Navy about 40 years ago and fell in love with the women and the culture. I’m sure the country has changed a lot since then. The ship I was stationed on made a stop in Cebu and we all had a great time, played basketball and softball against the locals. I remember the city being very clean and not crowded most likely the opposite now, that was back in 1971. Anyway, I’m very excited going there again. Got Rustys e-book “Basic Expatriate Training Manual”

    1. That is awesome. It’s my belief that the PH has what a person is looking for, if they are patient enough to find it. There is so much variety between the islands, the cities.. it really is a special place to me.

  17. It’s only my opinion of course, but based on the experience of others, flying into Manila should be avoided if at possible.

  18. Henry, I echo the sentiments of the posters in this forum! Welcome back!! You were missed. It’s funny how you never met anyone; yet, feel like you know them. You become a part of our life because you have a God given gift to reach out to people. People gravitate towards you. The information you provide is so helpful and so real. You tell it with a kid-like honesty; yet, so intellectually. Great stuff!

    Now the question. I met a wonderful woman over the internet. Okay, back-up – I met what I perceive to be a wonderful woman on the internet. We’ve been corresponding for several months now. I’m getting close to making my move to the Philippines. I’ve been overseas in the Military. However, I always had Uncle Sam’s Base to run back to as my safe haven. Henry, my worries are real. However, my desire and passion for the adventure in my new life is amazing. It’s like being born again!

    I was originally headed to Cebu City. You might remember me – I’ve tried contacting you a few times and received a response or two, but with so many people I’m just another face in the crowd! lol Henry, I was going to relocate my girl and I to Cebu City, but the more I thought about it I feel as though she would be most happy being near her family and friends. I didn’t think it was fair or even right for me to come into her country and into her life and dictate where we will live. If I’m to marry this person – I want to put her in a position to where she will experience happiness. I don’t want her to feel pulled between two forces of love.

    Here’s my concern. She lives in Tupi South Cotabato. Yup! Mindanao Island. A part of me say’s go for it! After all, Mindanao Bob lives there and nobody appears to have dragged him off. lol I was wondering what your thoughts about living in TSC with Crystal are? She say’s there is no violence in her area and her circle of family and friends will have my back. That’s my first question. I need a little reassurance before I do this. Can I REALLY live on $1,700.00 /mo? Plus I’ll have 20 grand in the bank as savings. Please respond! My heart is ticking fast and I’m not getting any younger! lol



    1. Bill,

      I am not Henry who you wanted a response from, but I will chime in here just from my perspective. I am 64 and never married. I have been on ph dating site since 2009, and met many online and finally visited my first real filipina gf in person in 2013. I thought I knew her pretty well after 2 yrs. of chatting online, but there were always doubts I had about her sincerity in the back of my mind After all she was 26 and pretty. She also was from Mindinao, but up north in Iligan. Well we met in Cebu and after 3 days she made an excuse to return home. My trip was for 3 weeks not 3 days. Obviously I was very hurt but I made up for it by finding another companion to be with and make my trip less painful. My advice is to go check things out with this girl, but not to throw caution to the wind. Take a vacation over there and take your time making any decision. At my age time is short, but the last thing I want to do is to make a foolish mistake at this point in my life. Best of luck.

      1. I wish to thank you even though you’re not Henry. Perhaps, that’s why he doesn’t write me back most of the time. I’m writing to the wrong people. In this case I’m glad I did. The story you share is very sad. I’m very sorry this happened to you. I appreciate your sharing of your story and your advice. I will go over with a back-up plan.

        God Bless you!


        1. Sorry I haven’t been able to keep up with everyone lately. It’s been super-hectic between flying and getting moved to a new place since I arrived. Things should ‘kinda’ calm down in a week or so. 🙂

      2. Good advice.. take things slow. I personally believe in taking a year (in person) to know someone before marriage, but I know not everyone has that luxury, or patience. But rushing into a marriage is a huge gamble with one’s finances. Losing 50% (or more) to an untrustworthy relationship can be very hard to recover from. Always keep that in mind.

    2. Hi Bill, good to hear from you. 🙂 Well, I’ll give you my 2 pesos on the items you mentioned. With the Filipina, I’m a big believer in the idea that a ‘real’ relationship Begins when the two people are spending time together in person. Everything online is at best ‘communication’. The scary part is that online it is the most natural thing to do, making promises, assumptions and plans without knowing the ‘real’ person on the other end. During our offline time we fill the gaps in the best possible scenarios, hoping for the best. It’s natural. But it’s also risky.

      So my thoughts on this Filipina are, you ‘kinda’ know her but you really don’t. It’s way too early to make any long-term plans with her. If she were a woman in your own area that you only knew online, you’d still take some time in person with her before making any plans. Here, it’s even more important to do that.

      On the Mindanao location/element. It’s your call, of course. I’ll tell you this much; Nobody who lives on Mindanao is going to admit to any dangers there, whether locals or expats. Either out of local pride or because they are already neck-deep invested into living there. The best way to ‘stay under the radar’ in Mindanao is to keep your mouth shut, especially if you’re a foreigner and especially if you’re a Westerner. So, take any of those “the water’s fine” comments with a grain of salt.

      If you really feel compelled to get to know this woman in person, I do suggest you do it on Mindanao though. For one thing, if you bring her to live with you somewhere else, it immediately implies something of a commitment living together. She’ll be dependent on you away from her family. Much better to rent out a place (short lease) near her family.. my suggestion; do NOT move her in with you, but live close enough the two of you can date and spend time together while she lives with her family. This way, if things don’t work out (and her family is bound to become an issue), you can just pack up, get on the first ferry outta Mindanao and carry-on where it’s safer.

      As for your $1,700/month budget.. two things; first, yes!, you will do just fine and live somewhat luxuriously on that budget in the PH. And number two; do NOT tell anyone local how much money you live on! If they ask, have an answer like, “I don’t discuss personal finances, in my country that is considered private.”, or “I live on a very small pension.” If they won’t drop it, leave. It’s none of their business and if you tell them how much, nothing good will come of it, I assure you.

      Hope that helps. Personally, I’ve been contacted by innumerable women from Mindanao and I always politely tell them Mindanao is not in my travel or romance plans. Me.. I’d cut tackle now and find a new romance anywhere North of Mindanao.. and there are 100,000’s of Filipinas just waiting for you. But then, I don’t have the same emotional connection you may have allowed to happen online. Just consider it, though. It may be better to cut your losses now than to double-down and have to bail from Mindanao. Because if you did get serious with her and decided to marry her, moving her away from Mindanao and her family will be your next challenge to deal with.

      1. Thank you for your reply and suggestions! I will seriously think about the things you mentioned. Originally, I was thinking about Cebu City, but like you said, I’m a bit caught up in that emotional vacuum that’s pulling me to Mindanao. That inner voice tells me not to go, but I do feel compelled to find out what this girl is all about. I’ve watched all your videos and read a lot of your material.

        It all makes sense to me and it’s so real and so honest, but I’m breaking every rule you warned me against. Curiosity killed the cat so I know I must tread lightly. On another matter, I was told PNB is not a good bank.

        I was in the process of getting my Savings Account set-uip so the State of Wisconsin can direct deposit it over there. To be honest – I’m totally lost in what’s the best method and more hassle-free arrangement to get access to my money.

        Hey Chief, don’t forget that video about things to bring and things not to even waste our time with bringing over there. I’m so excited about moving there, but I admit – I’ve got a big headache because there’s so much to get in order. Not even sure what kind of Visa to get. Maybe, I just need to step away from it for about a week and come back at it refreshed.

        My concerns are the money aspect and visa. Of course finding a place to live. It would be much easier if I had connections or boots on ground to help assist me. I’ll find my way through it though. Maybe, I’m just making it more complicated than it needs to be. Anyway, I wish you good health and truly appreciate everything you do for us on this end!

        1. If you have your USA passport and it does not expire within 6 months, there is no other Visa needed to enter the PH. When you exit the plane, PH Immigration will stamp your passport, good for a 21 day stay on a Tourist Visa. Within those 21 days you can then go to either the Immigration (BI) office in Cebu or the satellite office at Island Mall on Mactan to pay about $75 for a 2-month extension on your Tourist Visa. You can continue renewing every 2 months for up to 3 years now. After 3 years you need to exit the country for 24 hours, and then you can re-enter to repeat the renewals.

          1. HENRY, check me out on this, but I think the PH gov. recently changed to a 30 day tourist visa stay with normal passport. instead of the 21 day period.

            1. I just double checked myself on this 21 day vs. 30 day initial tourist stay, because I was afraid I had prematurely got it wrong. When I visited in Jan. 2013 it was 21 days as I stayed 20 days and was concerned about it. Since then according to all the online PH passport sites I’ve looked at……………. it was changed to “up to 30” days for the tourist. I know Henry came to PH before Jan. 2013 or right about then, so that’s why he thought it was 21 days. It probably does not matter much if you plan on really living there anyway. Correct me if I am wrong because I already booked my next flight for 25 days there this Christmas 2014.

              1. I don’t wait until the final days to do a renewal because, around here, it could be some holiday they are closed.. so I give myself about a week advance to do the renewal. Either way it extends to the same amount, no time is lost by renewing early.

                1. Gotcha………..I did not realize you were discussing the renewel date issue. I just thought you mentioned that a tourist has only 21 days visit on their passport when it is now 30 days. Thanks for clarifying. and thanks for being good at responding to all of us….Take care Henry.

                  1. I am certain the tourist visa is for 30 days now. PI immigration changed that around July/2013.

                    However, never ever go to PI with just a one way ticket. You will need a return ticket dated withing those 30 days. Expats here call it a throw-away ticket. Just to any where would be fine.

                    Once in the country on a tourist visa, you can go to a BI office, like Henry said, and renew for another 2 months but pay a fee. You can actually renew now for 6 months right away but then pay 3 times the fees of 2 months.

                    As for bank, the best bank is PBI. You open a US and Peso accounts. You tell your US bank to wire your pension to the US account and you can transfer to the Peso there, for personal expenses.

                    Online wise, my experience, it never pays! You will be scammed left and right. Might as well be on the grounds and face-to-face!

                    Also, regarding living close to her family, don’t!! Why? Coz her family and her million relatives will dump all of their problems on you. Mostly will be financial. Kano=ATM here!

                    In whatever you do, like Henry said, don’t buy and don’t fall for so many scams around there…

                    Other than that .. it’s all fun in the jungle. Ask Henry 🙂


                    1. All very good points you make. I use Xoom once a month and then get it in pesos when I use the atm. Otherwise I use my debit card if I’m at the mall so I don’t carry so much cash or end up with a pocket of peso coins.

                    2. Okay, Jerry’s kid in the back of the room. I need clarification on two issues. 1) It’s my understanding I don’t need a visa to enter the country so long as I don’t exceed 30 days. Once I get there that’s when I get the tourist visa? Correct? And I can do this right at the Airport before checking through customs?

                      2) I plan on keeping my direct deposit to to my life long bank. I will funnel money into a PNB bank overseas. I can transfer at no cost from my keyboard. I was going to set-up a Dollar Account (Savings) w/PNB. I funnel money as needed and then convert it to pesos. Is this better than setting up a Peso Account (Savings)? Thoughts?

    1. Thanks Roselyn. 🙂 I am so.. SO very happy to be back in the PH again. It’s like my soul has found it’s center here. Not because life is perfect, there are always challenges here. But for some reason the PH just resonates deeply within me, as if everything else in my life was meant for preparing me for this life here.

      1. Reekay –

        I’m glad you are back safely. Looking forward to more articles and videos. To a 50 y/o stuck in the doldrums, you are truly an inspiration. Your zest for life is remarkable. Please keep up the good work!

      2. “….resonates deeply within me..” Then you are certainly in the right place, Henry. Good for you, and keep up the excellent no BS blog. Thanks!
        George L

  19. I live in Visayas on $900 US per month. I have no running water, I go to the well. The CR is not in my room, but only ten feet away, I go there with a bucket or two of water. No A/C, but my electric fan does the trick. No fridge, but my neighbor keeps my butter cold for me in his fridge. No bed, but a comfortable mat on the floor. I have a laptop with USB internet modem, a flourescent bulb up high, the electric fan and a dimmered 40W incandescent on my table. All just fine for me, training in minimalism at its very best and most real.

    1. That is awesomeness in my book! Kudos to you, man. I too am a minimalist, though I do love a little luxury every so often. Upon my return to Bohol this week, I consolidated all my belongings down to 2 suitcases, 1 carry-on, 1 backpack and laptop bag. 🙂 Next month I ‘hit the road’ across the Visayas and will be travelling with just a packpack and carry-on bag. Some people find comfort in excess. Me, I find freedom in having a small footprint. I suppose if/when I eventually do get married I will (once again) amass more ‘stuff’ for her comfort. But for now.. I enjoy living light.

  20. Great post as always Henry. I've been reading you for a few months and I must say that your observations are always spot on.

    In total I've spent a month in PI and it was literally the best month of my life. In December I married my wife who is from Carcar Cebu. We live in the Pacific Northwest now and I couldn't be happier. Like you, I'm also a Latino (51 yo) but originally from Northern California, so I identify with a great deal of your comments.

    I found PI to be a thing of beauty and wonder and a place you must also be on your toes. As you've stated this is not a place to learn to be street smart; you need to have those tools already.

    That being said, I've met the most amazing giving and thoughtful people as well. After meeting my wife's family I was simply astounded with their closeness and duty to each other. They've welcomed me into their homes and hearts since day one and have never asked for anything. The same can be said for a vast majority of people I have met in Carcar. Yet if you go to a bigger city like Cebu, your experience might be different.

    I've been to Manila, Cebu, Camotes and Bohol while in PI. Except for Manila, I really enjoyed all the islands very much, especially Camotes which is on the San Francisco island.

    I plan on retiring in PI as soon as that's financially possible. Of course I'll miss the US for a lot of the things we tend to take for granted like social services and driving laws. But hey it's a trade off I can live with. 😉

    Welcome back and I hope to hear more of your adventure.

    1. Hello Roman! Nice to hear your comments about your family in CarCar! Filipinos really are strongly tied in family values. I also have many relatives here in Cebu island. On the way to Toledo, Casoy we travel through CarCar quite often. In Minglanilla, Talisay and Lapu-Lapu where we have our home in PI we can have some more relatives and especially Camotes Islands which is the birthplace of my mahal asawa Eva. She was born in Poro island where her tatay and nanay they have their house and also sister, brother, uncles, cousins …. By the way! Have to mention Camotes (potato) is the name for these 4 islands which makes Camotes Islands! San Francisco is a town in Pacijan island!Going tomorrow to Camotes, where I visited first time about 7 years ago. Still can find the same peace and pure nature there as it was when first time did see and loved this place!

    2. Yes, I am a big fan of the smaller islands and I favor the province towns more than the big cities. I do enjoy Cebu because there is much to do, but in the big city you gotta be aware of your surroundings. But on the smaller islands, people have been more the salt-of-the-earth type who in general have a firmer grip on family values. I am so glad to be back in the PH after my 3 month visit to SoCal. Feels SO good!

  21. So has anyone heard from Henry? I know it’s a pretty long flight, even from the West Coast. But surely he should be back by now!

  22. SOMEONE PLEASE HELP: I wish to move to the Philippines this year. I’m taking an Accelerated Retirement. I need to figure out how I’m going to gain access to my money from the Philippines. Living on an ATM Card alone I wouldn’t think is the smartest things to do.

    Therefore, If anyone is living there and their main source of Income is a Government check (non-military) – how do i go about setting up an Account and with whom to get my money? I have a small town local bank, but they said I could set-up a bank through them in the Philippines, but each time I transfer money they’ll charge me a 100 bucks. Can someone help me out here?

    Thank you!


    1. Good news, Bill. 🙂 I will be doing a video on this topic soon, but here is some info so you can access your money. First thing to know is, you can only travel with a maximum of $10,000 in cash or you must declare it as you change planes. I do not recommend carrying more than $2,000 on you. But take cash, not traveller’s checks to the PH as those can be inconvenient to convert. With $2,000 you can easily function in the PH for over a month as you get your affairs in order. First would be to get a bank account. I have found BDO (Banco de Oro) to work out just fine over the last 2 years. BPI (Bank of the PH) is good as well. Once you have a bank account in the PH open, you can transfer money for about $4-$8 through the link at the end here, via Xoom. Most expats I know use them. Some use their own bank to wire funds and others use Western Union, but my price comparison says Xoom is the way to move money. In the PH there are Xoom and Western Union offices at every mall.

      Basically, move large amounts electronically.. account to account. If you need just a few hundred for some reason and need to pick it up at a Xoom or WU office in person.. do so at a major mall, not the small offices along the street for safety reasons. http://www.xoom.com

      1. Henry, thank you for the response. I know your travels must have been exciting; yet, exhausting. Flying kind of takes it out of a person for awhile. Have you heard any reviews on The Philippines National Bank (PNB)? I contacted the PNB in Chicago, IL and they told me to fill-out some paperwork, go to there office in Chicago (which I don’t mind the drive) and sign the paperwork in their presence for verification. In addition, I would need $500.00 to start the Account and another $45.00 for processing fee. Chicago then sends the papers to PNB in N.Y. New York will then contact PNB in Generals City and they will prepare my Passbook and mail it to me.

        In short, the State of Wi will direct deposit my monthly checks into PNB NY and they will be available to me at PNB in Generals. Does this sound like a good idea to you and is PNB a good bank?

        I have a local bank too and I was thinking of keeping a little money in that one and continue to have my ATM Card as back-up; thus, giving me two options to get to funds. Thoughts?

        Thanks Henry and welcome (Home)!!!!!


        1. For ATM free of charge, I use a Charles Schwab account. No fees and no foreign transaction fee any where in the world!

          For Credit Card, I use Capital One bank. No foreign transaction fees. They email your transaction even every time you use it.

          For bank, you could use PBI as I mentioned above. Wells Fargo has a branch in Manila too, incase. You could use xoom.com to wire money from your US account to the PI. PBI even has online bill pay.

          1. I’m sure you must mean BPI, right? Bank of the Philippine Islands. I’ve never heard of PBI.

  23. Thank you for sharing your experiences, Henry. As usual, your articles are inspiring.

  24. P.S. Don’t forget that list of things that may be a good idea to bring to the Phils when moving there. And the stuff not to even bother bringing!

    God Bless!


  25. Bill,
    Customer service frequently seems to be an alien concept in the Philippines, and banks are a primary example of businesses with policies designed to limit workload while making as money as possible. PNB is one the worst. My wife has fiduciary control of a dollar trust fund set up for her mother. It was, unfortunately, established with PNB. She relates firsthand knowledge of their particularly sorry hide-bound centralized management and the frustration of dealing with them in two currencies.

    Some of the other, larger banks, are better but each seem to have an implausible flaw or two. BPI has good on-line service, but can’t seem to work out how to give customers ATM cards tied into the Visa/MasterCard network. BDO seems not to understand the hardship customers experience because it won’t tweak it’s computers to permit tellers to record dollar deposits submitted after 11AM, and on and on in some strange way in each and every one of what I would consider “safe” banks in the country.

    What’s particularly interesting is the way branch managers adhere to or walk around “Manila” policy based on whim or their relationship with the customer. No branch of any bank has uniform across the board policies. Voluminous paperwork and 2×2 ID photos are the basic requirement to open an account in any bank in the Philippines. Some banks will refuse to give foreigners accounts if they are not certified permanent residents. For savings accounts, banks still issue the and record transactions in passbooks. Some of the largest banks will not assume the expense of mailing statements. Customers have to go to the bank and stand in line for 30 minutes to pick them up.

    Going to any bank, anywhere, is not something people do for fun, but it can painfully exasperating in the Philippines, so it’s best to work out ways not to have to do that very often.

    Were I you, I would not choose a bank until I was resident in the Philippines. I would continue to let my pension(s) go to the bank of my choice in the U.S. That bank would have a strong online presence and not charge for overseas ATM and credit card transactions. Upon my arrival here I would figure out what bank in my area of residence came closest to satisfying my requirements and open one each peso (ATM associated) and dollar account in a bank that permits online transfer between accounts.

    Once settled, I would deposit a dollar check large enough to keep me from having to make another deposit for quite some time, because a visit to a Philippine bank is usually an exasperating experience. Also, the larger the check, the easier it will be to negotiate a higher daily ATM withdrawal limit. It will take five weeks to come back, but a U.S. ATM card would keep me rolling until the money showed up and I was able to make an online transfer to my peso account.

    1. Very good observations, Ralph. And good advice. I have been banking with BDO and thus far never used my passbook to stand in line.. I do everything online. I only do deposits as transfers from my US bank, never in person.. too time consuming. And a deposited check from a US bank (your own) can take up to 6 weeks to clear at just about any major bank, so I never do that either. I do all my withdrawals in local Pesos from my dollar account for daily needs and use my debit card for businesses that have paypoint on the Megalink system. All in all, I don’t expect much from a bank here other than ATM use and transfers.

      I was able to open my account with photos, ACR card, passport but had trouble finding a reference who HAD to have a landline (not mobile) phone #. It was so pointless because in the end I got a friend of a friend’s sister who I’d never met to share her number. The bank wrote it down and approved my account. Just one more needless spot on the form that HAD to be filled for no real purpose. But, that’s how it’s done here. 🙂

  26. Hi Henry,
    . My name is Tim, im from New Zealand and am coming to the Philippines in a few months. I am a big fan of your YouTube channel! (keep the videos coming) It is an inspiration to me. Thanks and maybe I'll see "that Hispanic guy" around cebu

    1. haha! Stay in touch via my facebook, search me under ‘Reekay’. I’ll be island bouncing this year so let me know when you’re in the Visayan area and we could meet up for lunch.

  27. I have been watching Henry’s videos from the time he was in the studio apartment. You do a great job pointing out how to avoid getting into all sorts of problems. It seems like it is very difficult to know who to trust there. Your pig farm hassles seems to illustrate that well and a good example of why doing business there can be very unpredictable. It seems that expats are real targets that really have to be extremely careful. I’m wondering if moving to a tropical paradise like the Philippines has lost enough of its initial appeal for you that you might be considering moving on to another country after a while?

    1. From the beginning I looked at the PH as a place with pros/cons, just like my life in the States. I expected ‘weirdness’ so I wasn’t all that surprised at the opportunism expats have to deal with here. But by and large it hasn’t affected my joyful experience here. I’ve learned to keep alert to certain situations and the rest of the time I just enjoy the country at face value. I plan to explore as much of the Visayas this year as I can. I would like to visit Thailand after all the current craziness settles down, but not until next year. But to answer your question, no loss of appeal for the PH despite having to keep an eye out for certain elements of life here. 🙂

  28. Mabuhay, Reekay! My Mom, a fan of your Youtube channel and blogposts, strongly recommended your website to me. She told me that in your comments, analyses, observations, and depictions of Philippine lifestyle, culture, and social mores, you’re so much better than those who have earned their PhDs in Philippine Studies, and what a great bonus yet, you write so much better in a literary style that is very accessible to all your readers. Mom said we could expect some literary gems from your pen any day now. Dad and Mom also invited me to watch some of your youtube videos and we all laughed at how you zeroed in on a number of Filipino eccentricities that you essayed in each blog and video posting. You must have a laser eye for cultural studies. And what a great mentor you are to foreigners who are contemplating to do what you bravely did a couple of years ago. Kudos to you for your commitment to mentoring, honest appraisals (no sugar-coating there), and for being such a great friend to your mentorees and readers, and yes, to Filipinos who should be grateful for your humanity, compassion, and non-judgmental approach to cross-cultural enrichments and encounters.

    1. Thank you. I always strive to give my best without compromising what I see. I do love the land and people here. I suppose it helps that all my life I’ve had one burning question that guides my observations, “Why do people do what they do?” I want to know what goes on beyond the visible. Beyond the public, beyond the tangible. I want to know what the motives are. Is it cultural? Is it personal? Is it gender based? Is it from a moral or an ego base? If I am awake, I am likely analyzing such things. ha! I guess it’s just what my mind and heart are centered on.

  29. Henry / Ralph, I’ve got my Banking situation figured out. I’m going to keep my small town local bank as my primary bank. My retirement checks will be deposited into that bank (been banking there all my life) and I have direct deposit there now from the State. I then can do transfers on line from my bank to PNB, thus, keeping small amounts of money in PNB and the brunt of my income in a bank I grew up with. There is no fee for the wire transfer I do from my keyboard. Then I’m going to get 2 Debit Cards from my bank with different numbers (should one get swallowed or lost). Both will be activated. On top of it I’m going to get a debit card from PNB. I’ve listened to all suggestions, including, Ralphs and have decided to keep my bank in the loop of things.

    Once I get set-up with PNB (branch in NY) my bank is going to sit down with me and run a series of three tests to make sure my money posts over there. We’re talking just cents. Just to see if I can see the amounts. My money will arrive to the Philippines before I do which is a comforting feeling.

    Henry? Ralph? Anyone? Thoughts on this arrangement?

  30. Hey Henry, have you moved to another house since back from Ca.? Somehow looks different. Just curious.

    1. I’ll be covering that in an upcoming article, but yes.. the latest video is from Dauis on Panglao, not my usual place over in Libertad, Bohol. Long, weird story but it all worked out okay. I am now over in Cebu for awhile and then making my way south in a few weeks.

  31. Mr. Reekay: Glad you’re finally back in your “jungle” in Bohol. I’m happy to note that your loved ones there, especially your sons, have all found their individual niches, just like you who found yours in Bohol and in your current role as a valuable online mentor to the growing number of expats and future expats in the Philippines. I would guess that the detachment you felt and experienced while you were in your California hometown wasn’t a mere figure of speech. It implies that you’ve actually fallen in love with the country that you might someday call your adopted land, and falling in love with both eyes wide open, with all senses keen and constantly gauging, measuring, observing, analyzing, engaging, and interpreting events, people, and insights through your rich and varied plethora of learning experiences in America, Mexico, and all the places you’d been in the past.

    I’m glad that your process of falling in love with the country and its culture is becoming more and more profound, and it’s happening while you fully retain your wits, objectivity, and openness. This will turn you into a more effective mentor and guide. Nothing is romanticized, nothing is swept under the rug, nothing is sugarcoated for some devious purposes. It helps, too, that you’re very eloquent and matter-of-fact in both tone, diction, and style. While watching those first youtube videos I encountered, I thought you were reading some pre-edited texts onscreen. Then I realized that you were doing each one impromptu, no notes, no screen devices that even some topnotch politicians giving speeches on television couldn’t do away with. You said you were winging it, and yes, you actually did! and so I was amazed at how spontaneous the whole process was from your end there. I had the chance to read some of those expat guidebooks being sold through Amazon Kindle store. I wish they’d asked you to edit them first before uploading and selling them there. Frankly, a couple of them were quite cringe-worthy, to say the least. Again, thank you for untiringly posting your blogs and videos.

    1. Thank you for your kind words and detailed observations. While I’m a hopeless romantic in affairs of the heart, I’m also a realist. I’ve taken in the Philippines as my new home. But I see it and accept it as it is. I caught a ferry from Bohol to Cebu yesterday and while walking the streets of the Colon district this morning it was somewhat hearbreaking the conditions for people living in the inner city. Too many people, not enough money/resources for those at the bottom. At least in the province they’d have a cleaner environment and some natural food around. But the inner city can be a cold and cruel place for the less fortunate.

      I will be doing a tour of the Visayas this year and am already packed light so I can be mobile on a moment’s notice. I hope to share the whole experience here on the site and the youtube channel, covering more ground beyond Cebu/Bohol for those interested in life here. Stay tuned.. much more to come. 🙂

      1. I noticed how you seem to return to the downtown, Colon district each time you stay in Cebu. I do the same thing myself, for no apparent reason except familiarity, I guess. For me it’s the Osmena Fuente area. I stay at the Diplomat Hotel on F. Ramos St. Clean attractive and always familiar to me when I get there. Also, next door to the left, facing, is probably the best Thai restaurant in the city. I love the city there, but has it’s hard, depressing edges and always good to get back out to the province.

        Will you be going to Panay? I have heard there are untapped beautiful beaches on it’s west coast.

        1. My itinerary is totally open to new routes and places. I have all year and my own scooter. Or I’ll bus in if it’s too treacherous a route. I’ve been to the Fuente area during Sinulog.. lots of food there in the circle area. I was tempted to stay awake all night but with all the walking I did the next day for the parade, glad I didn’t. ha!

          1. Good luck and Godspeed in your next year. May you find all the best places and experiences. Remember to be careful!

            I’m jealous! But, I have my new filipina bride with me here in the states (Maine). Long hard road to get her here, and now her daughter on the way from Mindanao. I found my wonderful lady and now looking forward to our next journey to Phils and perhaps retirement there.

            Hey, let us all know any “Jewels” as locations for retirement that somehow have escaped the mainstream media. My wife boasts Davao as one of those. Clean, safe and under good leadership with the new mayor.


  32. Hello looking forward to my first trip to the Philippines, Thought to travel directly to Cebu and take some island tours in the area. a month before I go back. I envision the possibility to stay in the Philippines all year round .. Do you have some tips on how I should go the first week?

  33. Sorry to hear of your troubles on arriving home. Talking with landlord before you left didn’t settle anything? Anyway, I firmly believe everything happens for some purpose and as you state, this seems to be one of opportunity. You have the time, the money, the temperament so go for it. Few have died wishing they spent more time sitting in their room. Look forward to your travel log of adventures. Keep safe on the road. Sure that little scooter is up to the task? Need to upgrade?

    1. Thanks for the well-wishes. I have a brand new Honday Beat scooter I just bought 8 months ago. It’s not the fastest thing on the road, but sure beats walking. ha! Besides, I’m in no hurry.

  34. I came across your Youtube channel while searching for things to do in Bohol on my next visit to Bohol. I was born in the Philippines and spent most of my childhood years before moving to the states (Hawaii). Your videos brought me back to those days when I was a little girl and how blessed I was to have experienced the beauty of nature at its finest. Yes, Hawaii is also beautiful but the Philippines in general has so much more to offer with a wide array of places to explore, healthy food to indulge in, and just so many to even mention… It’s been a long 10 years or more since I last visited the island and I am very excited for my next trip to the Philippines and maybe Chiang Mai, Thailand this coming December! Thank you again for the amazing videos!Keep the adventures goin! 🙂

  35. Hi. I have been interested to read about your adventures in PH, comparing them to my own experience there over the last four years. You picked a good time to be away from Bohol after Yolanda. I live in Baclayon near the beach, and we had no power and almost no water until mid December. LIke you shared, the people of Bohol are amazing and willing to help each other in times like that. Back in the states there would probably be a revolution. I also enjoy riding my motorbike around Bohol. If you have a chance to visit Anda, I recommend it highly.
    Most of my time in PH has been spent in Baguio City, since I have a close friend living there with his filipina wife. It is a wonderful city, with virtually perfect weather, even though Filipinos describe it as ‘cold’. I’ve traveled many different places by bus, plane, and boat, mostly in Luzon and Visayas. I’ve had mostly good experiences, but I remind myself constantly not to get complacent regarding my personal safety. I wonder if being Hispanic helps you blend just a bit more in PH, instead of being glaring white like me?
    I know we can all go on and on about our individual experiences, but it’s awesome that we also share in the magic of being there. The incredible part of PH is undoubtedly the people!
    If you are ever bored on an early Sunday morning in Tagbilaran, I’m usually at Dunkin Donuts across from the park, and I will buy. Be safe and ingat!

    1. Hi Dave, today is March 28th and I’ll be over at Olliwood’s (up the street from the Tropics) for some live music tonight around 8p if you care to join me and a few others there. or get there at 7 to get a table, it fills up from what I hear.

  36. I spent like 3 hours on your blog, I’m really impresed now, after I read about the life style in Ph. I’m from some place in Europe, I don’t know you but after reading some of your posts i feel like you are one of my friends. You have a good way of writing things down. Keep on writing 🙂 and wish you good luck in your small heaven.

  37. Henry,

    Are you on Bohol still? I've seen your site a couple times while browsing… I've lived in Bohol since 05 and loved every minute of it. If you have some time lets catch up somewhere around the city.

    Why not make it a meet and greet for all of your readers while we are at it! Feel free to contact me privately if you prefer…

  38. yes your right. I have a big heart and some of the sites will surely test you. MY wife family lives in Bohol and yes Ive been their a few time also. she is there now and I will b there on the 19 . family is one of the biggest parts of there life I believe. her parents are having the 50 anniversary and what a big event its going to be. the island is so full of life and the streets are full of adventure if u know what I mean. In a few years we plan on moving there and may start up some business . I like your blogs and seem like your a great guy with a good heart. keep up the blogs and may be we may meet in bohol some day . God bless David

  39. Just browsing youtube and come across your channel.. Very entertaining,especially watching you beating back you part of the jungle with your new bolo!! Haha.

    We live in Dauis near Hinagdanan cave BTW..
    Hope you continue to keep enjoying living here as much as we do!!

  40. Hi Henry.

    I contacted you twice on Facebook as requested and after a week I still didnt get any reply? Are you busy or is there a reason I am not getting a response from you as I would like to linkup with you for advise and guidance?

    1. I’ll double-check my facebook but my messages seem current. Did you put in an Add request? I usually approve those. But I’ll check it again in the morning.

  41. Hi Henry:
    Hope you are well. I have noticed there are no further entries from you since late February and I missed them . Hopefully is nothing serious and you are just juggling too many beautiful chicks at the same time 🙂 Keep up with great reporting you always do. Cheers,

  42. Hi Henry,

    Impressive work all your video’s and article’s!! I find it very entertaining, specifically the “Just thinking out loud” sessions. Also courageous and I think very helpful for many people to share your thoughts, experiences and personal situation with such a large audience.
    I am about your age and fantasizing of having a life in SouthEast Asia. I am still working (in Europe) and I already having an apartment in Malaysia near the coast (where I currently spend part of my holidays), but at sometime I would like to stay for a longer period in Thailand and/or the Philippines.
    Anyway thanks a lot for sharing your insights and thoughts. Very much appreciated!!

    Maybe we will come across in the coming days, while I will be staying in Moalboal with a friend of me from this Saturday until Wednesday. I am planning to swim with the Whale sharks and probably staying some evenings at the Chili bar.

    I wish you all the best and it would be nice to meet!!!

    Regards, Erik.

  43. Hi Henry, My fiancée and I have a small online business here in the Philippines and we currently have 4 computers used in said business, not an Internet café and not cyber-sex business, completely legitimate operation. We had two desktops built by two different shops in Surigao City in the past 4 months. First desktop we’re satisfied with, sort of(pirate W7,etc), but not happy with the second desktop. We are anticipating growth and the need for adding more desktops as we grow. Would you be interested in building desktops for us on a “as needed basis”? I am not a “geek”, but I know what I like and what I want, mainly. I would like our future desktops to be identical or nearly so as they are added.
    If you would like to discuss this possibility please give us a shout back via email. We live on Siargao Island(home of the almost world-famous Cloud 9 surf break at General Luna, a beautiful location). We go to Cebu for any real buying opportunities, as not much (of quality) can be had in Surigao City and nearly nothing on Siargao Island.
    Looking forward to receiving a reply if you are not completely “snowed-under”, take care!

    Bill & Wooyin

  44. This is my first time on here gosh I wish I’d of found this site earlier! I think I might of been scammed! I’d tell you about it but it’s along story can anyone have Henry contact Me? [email protected]
    Any help would be wonderful!

  45. Hello Henry-
    Look forward to some new stories. Any idea when you’ll be updating your blog?

  46. hey Henry,,I really enjoy your video's and advice.You have good common sense advice.Now all i need to do is follow it.I'v been to the Philippines a couple of times.I really like it there.When I watch ur video's and hear the sounds of motor bikes and rooster's,,really makes me miss that place.That was a pretty bold move on ur part to move to the philippines without a visit first.I think ur advice would be to visit first,haha,,Ok Henry,,take care dude..Maybe I will meet you someday..oh yeah,,my name is Johnny,,and that beautiful girl in my picture is my daughter,Gina.I just turned 57 in August

  47. Hey henry I just registered here on your site I been watching your videos for a long time love them all I have learned a lot so far and hope to learn more,I think you are living my dream,thanks 🙂

  48. I'm New to your site but like your articles. The Best advise is time will tell with matters of the heart. Especially if you want on true love for the rest of your life.

  49. My friend Allen my spiritual see son wanted me tov read your blog. I am from Flowery Branch Georgia. God be with you Wendy.

  50. Somebody recomended your site. Very funny. Trying it myself been here 4 months mostly in Cebu city and enjoyed it. Hated Manilla.
    Now that I’m properly situated discovery im going to betaking discovery trips to Bantayan island, maybe malapasqua,
    BalMoal,Dumagete and maybe a couple of more places.
    I’m looking for the right place to live before I go stateside for a few months. Cebu is ok but hot now in Jan. And it’ll get worse im told. So, a bit cooler would be nice. Bohol and Palawan I also have to check out.
    Any suggestions from any one?

  51. Hank, never ever put me in your match maker site like you did before when I asked a simple question about paying USA bills online, my pinoy wife was so mad of this..you caused a very big Problem for myself and wife, maybe marriage will be your payback my friend

    1. i have no idea what you’re talking about. perhaps someone else added you to some site, but i don’t make profiles for anyone, anywhere.

  52. Hey Henry I love your site and I know from experience that that Philippines is a great place. I have been there 3 times and love it. In addition to this my wife of 5 years is from Badian, Cebu. Just down the road from Moal Boal. She has been very good to me and for me.
    I do wonder about something that I haven’t heard you address. The street vendors selling the chicken on a stick. I have never tried one even though it really smells good. I worry about picking up a bug of some sort due to the flies that are everywhere around them. I have eaten in many reasturants and had no problem. I make sure that I go where they are busy so the food is freshly cooked. I learned this from the Lonely Planet Guide.

    Best wishes to you and your loved ones.
    Paul Price

  53. hello i am glad there is website like this i am sure foreigners have idea before moving to our country.keep up the good work thumbs up!!!

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