How It All Started, Part 3

What to take.. what to leave behind.If you haven’t yet read them, here are the links to Part 1 and Part 2.

[Calif., USA – July 2010]   Now that I’d decided to “make the move” I had a whole lot of reality to deal with.  I could hardly sleep with both excitement and anxiety over such a great transition.  

Thankfully, as I took inventory of my life, I’ve always preferred to travel lightly through life.  I’ve been something of a minimalist, only accruing “things” during my married years.  Wives and kids need the kind of stuff that fills a household.  But as I walked around my 3 bedroom, 2 bath mobile with a new set of eyes.. I could hardly see anything at all that I wanted to keep.  It all looked like an anchor in some way or another.  Just more heavy, unnecessary useless crap that I’d accumulated along the way to make life easier in some way.

I got on Craigslist and Facebook and started selling everything in sight.  “Everything must go!”, and go it did.  By September I’d sold about 80% of anything with value.  What wasn’t useful filled my trash bins repeatedly for weeks.  I boxed up the unsold useful items and gave several van loads of clocks, lamps, furniture, vacuum cleaner, coffee maker, dishes, clothes.. all to my ex brother-in-law who would then sell it in Mexico to support his Mother.  The more stuff that went out the door the closer I felt to my goal in Cebu.  It was like a weight off my shoulders.  I felt better seeing it go than the day I’d bought all this stuff.  After selling the refrigerator I boxed up all the frozen and dry goods.  I placed an ad in Craigslist asking if anyone needed a massive amount of groceries.  Twenty minutes later I was in the car and unloaded all that as well.

I had an offer from a friend to stay with her until catching my flight.  But staying with family for the remaining six months before leaving was the best option once I got rid of my property.  This would give us time to visit before I caught my plane in July.  If it weren’t for family I probably wouldn’t even entertain the idea of coming back for another five years.  But I know that family isn’t around forever so I plan to make a return trip sometime after a year or so.  I have plans for using a Magic-Jack and sending hard-copy photos to the pharmacy near my folk’s place from online to make the distance seem not so far for them.  My kids are Net-savvy, so Skype and Facebook will be essential in keeping in touch with them and my many friends State-side.

This brings me up to March of 2012.  I’ve successfully gotten rid of 90% of my belongings with what remains now in storage.  The closer I get to my departure the less things I feel the need to take with me.  At this point it’s looking like I will be taking just one suitcase and perhaps one cardboard box.   I bought a laptop so that I can sell off my desktop.  I was planning to take along my fruit/veggie juicer but, after considering the hassles I might have either with TSA or paying some incoming tariff, I concluded it’ll be cheaper and less hassle to just buy another one once I get there.

It’s interesting the things you decide ‘must’ go with you.  Cotton swabs and fingernail clippers.. must stay civilized.  A portable fan.  I don’t want my first night in that humidity to be spent wishing I’d brought my fan.  (runs on ‘D’ batteries if needed).  Cameras.. for posterity.  Must chronicle the adventure visually as well as in words.   Some clothes, but not much.  I plan to get clothes there that are better suited for the weather.  An inflatable bed.. just in case.  Any small, non-firearm weapons I’ll have to get over there.  To have around the house, again.. just in case.  I’d rather have a small baton under the mattress than need it and not have it.  Antacids.. lots of ’em.  Some fiber as well.. no telling what a whole new diet will do to my system once I’m embedded for the long haul.

I still have a few legal items to wrap up.  Not skeletons or bodies in the desert sort of things.  Just taking care of my parent’s estate, boring stuff like that.  Then one last burst of earning up some more money before catching a flight in  July.  

Sometimes I lay in bed at night thinking to myself, “Are you insane?”  I mean, geographically it’s the OTHER SIDE OF THE PLANET.  Socially it’s a whole other beast than anything I’ve ever known.  Aside from my girlfriend who will be on a neighboring island.. I don’t know a soul.  I do know a guy who is several islands and about 24 hours by boat away.  But pretty much when I wake up in the morning over there in July.. I’ll have to find my own way.  

But then.. after the initial dose of adrenalin induced panic subsides I keep coming back to the same conclusion.. I’d have it no other way.
philippines survival guide advice expats


    1. Will do. I'm hoping to share the fun, scope and adventure as best I can. Soon I plan to go on some photo-shoots to add to the Photo section so, stay tuned.. lots more to come! 🙂

      p.s. Thanks for sharing the video, I'm hoping to make the site as viewed as possible.

    2. Dude you left me hanging. Did you marry her? Are you guys together? I am in a long distance relationship with a filipina and I am thinking of moving there too.

      1. I suppose I should finish up the tale. I’ll work on that this week. 🙂

        By the way, I was just messaging with her about an hour ago. All is good.

  1. Henry for reals I could see you doing something on the travel channel. Your videos great to watch – makes me want to come sooner, PI I'm saving up my money……

    1. It’s been wonderful to see her even if only for a few hours each week. Before, I had to wait 4-5 months to see her during her visits to the U.S. But, because I very much care for her and don’t want her life to become ‘stalked’ or interfered with, I made a decision when setting up this site to keep her identity and life confidential. I’ll put ‘my’ life out there gladly for anyone to experience with me, but there are too many crazies out there for me to feel good about sharing much about her online. Meanwhile, there is lots of other time available for adventures here and there that I can share with everyone. 🙂

  2. Yes! I can see it now "Henry Velez…. Life Beyond the Sea..I think it would make a great segment for the Travel Channel too! Loved reading it, it's kinda like talking to you…easy, entertaining and full of information!

  3. I really appreciate your good impressions on us. Thank you for sharing your wonderful and exciting experiences in the Philippines.

  4. Wonderful Journey! Thank you for sharing this with us Henry Velez.. A cute and inspiring story! Been reading your page since this morning..;) Keep it up!

  5. Well Henry, you are there and I’m still here making in rows. I’ve sold a few things, but still have an entire house full left. After selling everything that I have already, it makes me wonder if we ever even needed that stuff in the first place. Received quotes last week for moving a 20 foot container – around $10-12,000 depending on this and that. There are many things that my wife will just not part with…nick-nacks, souvenirs, an entire kitchen arsenal, some furniture, etc. Her reason for wanting to take everything is simple. Rather than sell all for .10 cents on the dollar, she will pay to keep it and give what we can’t use to her needy family members. I call it Filipina Rationale (which is much easier said in English as compared to “Makatwirang paliwanag”)! :O I will do whatever makes her happy.:D Until we do sell the house though, I can’t see getting all up in some tizzy so I will continue to pack slowly and methodically, dispose of some menial things (while she’s not looking), and keep the house in order for showings. Over there in Samar, the house construction is in the final stages with recent pictures just made available. Like you, my day will come sooner than I expect. I know one thing for sure though – the longer It takes, the older I’ll be.

    1. Yah, all part of the adventure.. just roll with it. A happy wife makes a happy life. 🙂 Eventually you’ll be sitting in your new home after the dust has settled and sip on a cold beer knowing you finally made it! Looking forward to that day for you.

  6. Am married to a Filipina and have lived in PI since 2001. Inherited a large family and although it has its moments would not change it for the world. Have a very caring asawa who is of the best in my opinion. Good luck to all who take the plunge. I have no regrets. Bill

    1. That is awesome! I guess when my time comes I’ll find just the right Filipina.. for now, I’ve got a lot of traveling and adventures that keep me a moving target. Glad to hear married life in the Philippines has been good to you! 🙂

  7. I love this story Henry. I just knew feelings of the heart led you there. I hope you will find romance again someday soon. I believe we are all given a path to follow and you didnt realize it until you were thrown onto it that night in the restaurant. you big romantic you. Ha! I like the path you are on towards building yourself a literary future there because many people, like me, really enjoy and appreciate sharing your life there. Enjoy the adventures, Henry, but dont forget to bring us along. enjoy your articles so much…..videos too……keep up the good work.

  8. Read your story Henry and realized that we all have stories of how we discovered or became aware of the Philippines. All have our own spin on them but the final results bring us here at least for a visit and as in your case relocation. You may have been repairing PC's but your pretty talented at writing also. I can also see that it must take up lots of your time putting out new articles and keeping up on comments with what you already have established. Good Luck to you and keep doing what you enjoy. Most don't find that passion in life…

  9. So how did you handle the situation with your kids? How do you handle the child support and visiting them? I am also divorced with a seven year old. I wouldn’t be able to feel comfortable being away from her to make sure she has it all together till at least 18. That means I may not be 55 years old by then. 🙁 What advice would you give me?

    1. I’ll speak straight from my own experience. From the time my ex and I even separated, before divorce was even filed.. that following weekend I began with child support and spending time with my three sons. And I continued to do so. When they were 15 they came of their own choice to live with me and so I was able to spend even more time with them. By the time I left for the Philippines my youngest son was already 23 years old. I never got a dime of child support from their Mother while my sons were with me, yet I always gave them child support while they lived with her. That’s just the breaks, I guess. But at least my conscience is clear on that.

      My advice to you, honestly.. stay in your child’s life. The Philippines will still be here after she’s 18, 19 and off starting her own life. These years, while she is young is such a precious, valuable time and you gotta relish it because.. one day it will be you hoping to get some of her time with her busy schedule. These days while they are young pass so incredibly fast. It seems like only a few years ago I was wrestling with my sons or taking them camping. Now they’re in college, having a family of their own and running a business. Don’t miss out on time with your daughter. The Philippines can wait. See it from her view of things.. right now is when she needs you more to have you nearby, not far away.

      1. Henry I like your advise. Family first. Philippines can wait. God bless you. Hope to see you someday in the Philippines! By the way, I lived in Orange County, California but planning to spend more time there in the future.

  10. your tale sounds somewhat similar to mine and I am leaving California on September 10, I will end up in Jagna, Bohol. I have about 38 days left here and it is getting difficult to sleep now from the anticipation of the move. This is not a visit, I have been to the airport in Manila many years ago, in the service on our way to Viet Nam. Couldn't get off the plane, so that is my only exposure to PI. Maybe we will meet up after I get there and get settled and have a talk.

  11. I will be arriving on Bohol on September 12. Maybe after getting somewhat settled we can meet up and talk a bit, your videos are great

  12. No I have never been there before, and where I will be living will be right across the highway from the ocean, so excited about this move of a lifetime, for sure need some relaxation…hahaha

    1. I’ve been to Jagna, last December and stayed overnight. It’s a very small town with a church, small park plaza and there is a small port there. The marketplace is sort of the main hub of the town. Lots of province area there for a quieter lifestyle, away from the city of Tagbilaran.

      1. Jagna looks nice on google earth. I like how it’s tucked back in a cove, which might help block larger waves during a storm. Who knows, we have years to decide where to land, so we might go to bohol instead of negros, and poor Reekays paradice with be crowded with ugly gringos! 😀

        1. I’m gonna make a prediction and guess you’ll be exploring what’s beyond Jagna within.. three weeks. ha! It’s a nice little ‘town’. By little I mean it’s about six blocks long, the rest is province. The cove has other portions of Jagna ‘town’ stretched along it, which will take maybe a week to explore. But for a big mall, movie theater, that kind of thing you’ll need to go about 30 minutes south to Tagbilaran. Unless you really love the province life as much as I do. But then again, I’m only 3km outside of the city limits so if I go a little nutty talking to the coconuts I know it’s time to see the pretty women in the city. 🙂

  13. Just read your story and I commend you. I have done similar stuff, in my life, many years ago when I went back to Germany for awhile. I lived in the PI, back when I was a kid, at Clark Air Base. I was hoping when I was in the Military myself that I would get to live there again, as I had put the Philippines on my assignment "Dream Sheet", but instead they sent me to Germany. Anyway, I hope someday to get back there…

  14. Very interesting read and enjoyed watching your videos. I will be following your page and channel as I too am on a journey here in the Philippines trying to sort out some sort of life. Good luck.

    1. I believe the key to really making the most of your life in the PH is taking time to know exactly.. exactly what you want. It’s all here and it’s within grasp. There is so much to choose from in regards to lifestyle, women, being single, married, rural, city.. it can be kinda overwhelming all the choices. But once you know exactly how you want to live your life out (‘x’ many years single, then get married, etc.).. you will have the time of your life.

  15. damn..I was 15 when I left the Philippines, return there in 2006 to get proper documentation (Baguio city) for my retirement here in the states and I didn't know half of what you know bro! I do plan to retire there very soon myself and thanks for all your heads up on your videos..might meet you there soon..

  16. Hi Henry- I read a lot of your stuff on here, and
    also watched your Youtube videos. I thought everything
    you’ve done was very well done, and most entertaining.
    I tried to leave a comment on some of your videos but
    it doesn’t allow me to??-why is that?? says opening or
    something, and nothing happens??

    I was a little confused by one thing here, regarding
    your adventure? I noticed the spark that sent you on
    this adventure was meeting a beautiful girl in California,
    which you decided to follow to the Phils. In 2012 you
    referred to her as your girlfriend in some of your posts,
    but on your videos there is no mention of her–my question
    is-what happened to her?? Do you still see her?? I’m trying
    to find out why a guy would make such a drastic change in
    his life??-is it for adventure, or for the women. I know
    you could probably find adventure in Mexico, or Brazil, and
    go off and live in the jungle. So, I wonder what is the real
    motive??- I would think it’s the abundance of young girls,
    willing to go out with older men-right??

    I think this area really should be covered a lot more, as in North America, it
    just does not happen like that. You just don’t see a 60 year
    old man with a 24 year old woman. Reason why I’m asking is I’m
    60 myself, and just not attracted to 35, 45, or 50 year old
    women here, and most have kids, and also want to see your
    financial statement. ( just about) I hope on some of your videos
    you go into this a little more. Is this kind of thing common
    there?? If it is, and I believe this is the case, I’d like to
    know first hand from a guy like you.

    1. The Filipina that I originally met in California, she and I stayed together a total of 3.5 years before breaking up last March of 2013. Since then we remain friends and have tried to work things out but we just could not. I won’t really go into it in more detail than that. However we do each with the best for each other. Since then I did date around a bit and in August of 2013 I met a Filipina who became a good friend, but not a girlfriend. In March of 2014 we intend to explore whether we can work out as a relationship or not. Currently that is still a month away so, who knows what the future will bring.

      But I don’t include my girlfriend or women I date in either my videos, articles or photos except on very, very rare occasions. This is for several reasons, including their own safety as there is a very disturbed minority of people in this world who may try to hurt them, so I keep them out of the spotlight. Perhaps if/when I get married my adventures will include her since at that point it will be ‘our’ adventures, not just my own. Until then, I keep my dating life as private as possible.

      When I made my decision to move to the Philippines, I considered for a long time the possibility that I should account for a possible break-up. Making such a big move ONLY based on a relationship carries a lot of risk. So I decided that whether that relationship lasted or not, either way the Philippines was to be my new home. As for dating women under 29, that is not a problem here at all. In my case, however, since I do not plan to have more children, I am preferring a woman in her late 30’s who has decided she too can live without children. Younger women will 99% of the time want kids, and the other 1% will likely change their mind with time. But for those willing to start a new family, younger women marry older men here all the time.. it is very common.

  17. Hey Henry- I was a bit surprised you replied to my post so quickly,
    and I appreciate your honest answer. ( I guess that’s what attracted
    me to your site–your down to earth manner.)
    My name is Grant, and I’m from Canada, and I’ve been thinking of
    moving to the Phils, at least 4 months out of the year. It’s just
    to cold up here, and I gave up playing hockey a long time ago. I
    would primarily do this, for the younger women- just being honest,
    and take the adventure part for what it is. I guess I don’t have the
    kind of guts you have to just pack up and go. ( like to be in control)
    Just want to say I was riveted by your great videos on Youtube, and
    after I watched 1, I sat there for 6 hours and watched about 25 more,
    and they were all so well done and very informative. You do that very
    well, and most importantly it’s believable, so it gives the viewer a
    realistic expectation of what life is like, should they want to move
    there. I hope you do some more of these videos, as I will surely watch
    them. I wonder what happened to that girl who tried to rip you off on
    the motor scooter deal??- did she spend time in jail?? Good story there.
    It would be very interesting to see you do some videos on things like:
    1) You say you take showers ??- does that mean you have a normal shower??
    like with a pressurized system ?? or do you have “buckets of water” saved
    that you just manually pour over your head. ( wonder about that??)
    2) also wonder- are the houses there all filled with holes, so that
    mosquitos can get in?? I notice you and other guys continually bring up
    the topic of mosquitos. One guy said he has to be totally covered when
    he sleeps, or he’ll have bumps all over his exposed skin.
    3) Also- one guy was saying that the toilets don’t have tanks on them ??
    Is that also the case with you in Bohol?? If so, then I guess you have
    to pour water down the toilet, to flush away waste.( is this correct)
    I know these are “small things”- but lot’s of small things add up to
    “big things” and thus a huge lifestyle change. Maye you can do some videos
    on these everyday things Henry– be great to see. Your videos are fun to
    watch. You never know– maybe you’ll get a TV series offer like that guy
    Anthony Bourdain, that travels the world.I do think you have the talent
    for that kind of thing.
    In closing, it was great that you answered my post so quickly, and I look
    forward to keeping up with your adventures, and will check your site. When
    I do come there–it be great to meet you and shoot the breeze, you seem like
    a very intelligent and colourful character, and we’d have a great talk, and
    have some laughs together. Keep well- take care-Grant ( in Canada)

  18. AlohaI really enjoy your work you and I are wired the same.Grew up Until 16 in Sparks Nevada then off to Atlantic City NJ..Philly,CT,Fla then Honolulu for 20 year's.Now live in London Married to a Pinay,lived in Rizal,Ilocos Norte for 6 Months.. waiting for my Retirement Visa then off to Luzon.Be safe Salamat poh for the great work..Brad

  19. Bravo Henry! Your articles and videos are an invaluable resource for me and any one else who might be interested in the philippines. I very much enjoy your work and I too have a story and have been thinking of taking the plunge. You have been a huge help and you can bet I will stay tuned to Life Beyond The Sea!

  20. Enjoy reading your journey, I am thinking of moving overseas in a few years. Was looking into Thailand but I really think the Philippines is a better choice since I have no chance of learning Thai. I will keep reading your stories and I wish you the best.

  21. Hey Henry. Just saw a few videos you posted on my hometown Valencia and was quite pleased you did good job on it 🙂 Had also the opportunity to read through your love story and hope it's all going good. You mentioned about possibility of settling down in Valencia. Just PM me and I might be able to give you some option. My Parents are currently living in Dumaguete and renting some appartments which you can find more detail in FB under CK Noble Appartment. Otherwise good luck in the Philippines 🙂 Cheers

  22. So how did you end up financing the move?? Other than selling your stuff, do you work now? I read where you were concerned about making money while over there in Part 1 or Part 2.

  23. Can I simply say what a comfort to uncover someone who genuinely understands
    what they’re discussing over the internet. You certainly understand how to bring a problem to light and make
    it important. More and more people ought to check this out and understand this side of your story.
    It’s surprising you aren’t more popular given that you certainly have the gift.

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