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REP_007 Minimalism in the Philippines

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Author: Reekay V.

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

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


  1. Interesting synchronicity: “…money is a tool”. I’ve been working on my credit score, strategically, so I can have sufficient credit resources for emergencies. I’m the kind of guy who never spent beyond what he could pay for in cash, which meant a very minimalist approach to living, and no worries about unpaid bills.

    However, if you’re going to be living in a land where you don’t have immediate access to rich friends and family to ‘bail you out’ of a financial bump, it helps to have the tools to do so at hand.

    1. Agreed. Money is a GOOD thing. Perhaps the sole, biggest lie I was ever told growing up was that, “Money is the root of all evil.” And the supposition from that was, “The less money you have, the less evil you are.” Bullcrap.

      For one thing, it’s a misquote from the bible. It actually reads, “The LOVE of money is the root of all evil.” It’s the attachment to and lust for money that stirs up evil deeds. Not the money itself. As an analogy, it’s not the woman who inspires rape. It’s the lust of the rapist that instigates rape.

      To do good often requires money. Money to donate medicines, books, construct an orphanage, feed the hungry.. that all takes money. In fact, (to refer to the bible again).. a man who makes no money is not pulling his own weight and deserves to go hungry. His hunger is supposed to motivate him to work… to have money.

      If I had my western life to do over again, I’d have done like many (smarter) people I knew did with credit cards. I’d buy all my groceries and pay all my utilities with my CCard and then pay it off at the end of the month. But have a card that gives reward or travel points. This way I was not only showing a good payment history, I’d be getting a free flight to somewhere every now and then. 🙂

  2. Well, money can’t solve two present issues I see over there. I’m really curious, (since no expat I follow so far has talked about them), if now you guys over there are looking hard at two current issues that put you at risk:

    1. China grabbing territory from The Philippines using force, regardless of international law or opinion.
    2. The new drug war, where only a mere ‘accusation’ of drug use or trafficking can get you shot dead now by the police. For example, an expat breaks up with his Philippine’s girlfriend for legitimate reasons and she decides to ‘get even’ by sending the cops after him by saying he uses drugs. Or, you piss off the wrong guy over there and he does the same thing to you and a swat team shows up at your place.

    I have followed you for a long time and learned a lot from you. (Thanks man! 🙂 I really want to go over there, but these two things are serious concerns now. It would be cool if you could share your thoughts and concerns about these for guys wanting to go over there now.

    I understand you have to be ‘discreet’ with these two things a bit, so not to upset the locals, but it’s important for foreigners to really understand the potential risks now. Maybe also, nobody really knows yet, cause it’s too new a situation. Take care sir! 🙂

    1. I’ve expressed my ‘concern’ since November of 2015, but even still I have a “wait and see” mindset on the issues you mentioned. While those are the main news points that people look at, my actual focus has been the answer to the question, “Do I still feel safe in the Philippines?”. Currently, yes. The Philippines has a lot on it’s plate right now between China, a drug war, terrorism in souther Mindanao, unemployment and corruption. Expats aren’t even on the radar right now. In my personal opinion, the Philippines is still a great place to vacation and live.. so long as there is no growing anti-American sentiment at the street-level.

      I don’t blame many expats I’ve spoken with who decided to either post-pone or cancel their vacations, retirement plans or move their family back to their home country for a while. ‘Better safe than sorry” can be a good axiom practice once in a while. But me, for now I feel safe and have no immediate plans to leave the Philippines. I may do a tour of Asia later in 2017, but it’s mostly to see what else is out here, experience it for myself. Then I’d likely return to the Philippines so long as all looked well.

      I post related news items at the following link, however it is not visible in some parts of the world;

      1. Thank you sir. 🙂 I seriously doubt the gov. there will allow anti-American sentiment to ever be a problem there because many of the people there as well as the gov. realize that they desperately need America’s military to protect them from China. The Philippines has the weakest military in all of south Asia. They almost have no air force and a very weak navy. They now realize that kicking the U.S. out of those bases many years ago was a huge mistake.

        I would love to see them be able to have the ability to protect themselves, but it’s just not economically possible for them right now. It might take them 10 – 20 years to get to that point.

        I think the average person on the street likes American’s because they will spend lots of money there, and of course the women there usually love American’s too. I hope it remains a good place to visit and live for expats for years to come. Take care sir and thanks for your response. 🙂

  3. Totally a reflection upon life.upon losing my wife from cancer many years ago at young age everything we worked for and accomplished was just material things which can be replaced,downsizing is very hard too do when it once meant something.the thing such as,boat,ect…just seems to mean much less.I mean that from taking care maintenance,repairs…little by little been finding what is meaningful to me and not to be the people pleaser I’ve always been.In other words what matters the most…and not put emphasis on material things..what matters most is health.good job retirement benefits.and have real good circle of family and friends.the rest will be revealed eventually.thanks for your podcast Mr reekey take care.

    1. The few things I have in storage are mostly sentimental value. I still have the seashells and coins from when I was 9 years old. Just knowing it’s stored away is good enough, no need to lug it around. Having that good circle of friends and family is important. I don’t miss the maintenance I used to do. But then I never was the gardener that my parents are. They loved working in the garden so that was the source of their bliss. A few guys I know are minimalists because they are into sailing most of the year. Only so much room on a boat and once on the open waters they are detached from most everything.

  4. Very interesting info from your blog/ipodcast.!
    I am a newbie here but no without life in the Philippines or life with a Filipina(s)
    I have travelled to most of the places you have talked about and shown in your videos…great job!
    I am been back and forth from Philippines and Canada at least a dozen times over the last 10 years.
    I have married a Filipina girl on two occasions..! .. and the brought my current wife to Canada two years ago.But we decided to move back to Bohol and live there rather than in Canada !
    We built a house near Inabanga Bohol…and will be moving in shortly..
    I have a lot of experiences to share…now that I found you guys here.

    Talk to you all soon

    BirdFoo (RichardPK)

    1. I can tell you that, as of last summer, in Tagbilaran, I wasn’t able to hold a reliable Skype voice call, let alone a video call, over either DSL or 4G mobile. And 4G coverage was almost nonexistent.

      Things might have changed since then on the 4G front, but it was unacceptable at that time.

      Hope that helps.

  5. Hello,

    I’ve saw your video on youtube, your apartment Dumaguete city Philippines which you pay 8,000 pecos a month.

    I was wondering can you give me the apartment contact info? Also what was your utilities bill? Do you have stable good internet or is it dail up slow? I own a teaching online school for kids and looking for good quaility internet that can do example GoToMeeting and Skype.

    Also have you bought a scooter motorcycle of some sort or car? If so, can you recommend a place to buy?

    Thanks this will be a great help to any information you can provide. I’ll be moving from USA to Philippines in the next 8-12 months.

  6. Hello Reekay,
    Following u for a while, and will do some face time with u soon, I am in Thailand.

    Having also spent my life as a minimalist: I will say that minimalism is strictly… a state of mind. Attachment to the material world, sits within one’s personality makeup. I have owned a lot of things and owned nothing but one suitcase full, with no attachment to either.

    Minimalism can also lead to attachment: a behavioral habit; neither state of “healthy” is better than the other. Always live in balance: moderation is key when in doubt. To each his own.

    Technology, superb marketing and advertising feeds desire to wanting. We all want more fullness or fulfillment in life. The material world provides us with a quick fix, but we find after a lifetime of living, that’s not enough. Too much enough… may bog you down. Minimalist behavior is a key tool, for simplifying the living process. Most are stuck on wanting more, as we project this desire onto relative, short time fulfillment.

    It’s natural and healthy to: wanting more. Center your desire away from change by living through heart. You can’t buy heart, but heart may be planted, nurtured, expanded. Live and love without expectation and attachment will fall off on its own.

    Ask yourself :Why do the poorest people around the world smile so much? Why do they seem happier than us rich people? They have more dis-ease, and so called huge problems; and still we seek, what they seem to own.
    Struggling poor people are living out of balance with worry and pain, as rich westerners seek, those poor peoples smiles of simple, inner joy.

  7. I really enjoyed hearing your podcast! “Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” – Matthew 6:19-21

  8. Good stuff! That is exactly how I plan on living when I retire in Southeast Asia. I want to be able to move around with ease.

    You always give great info.

  9. I think that as an expat as long as you have some cash flow coming in and you can pay your bills, invest some, and save some $$ for an emergency you can live a simple life in the Philippines. Depending on the person though minimalism varies greatly. What my Filipino boyfriend considers great “minimal” living in 300 square feet of space in Manila with family coming in and out all the time doesn’t fly with me at all (and I am an American).

    What I consider simple living is very different to him. No, I don’t need a luxurious place in Makati with a brand new car or shopping sprees and expensive furniture I still need my personal space, time for myself, and to find a place where I really want to live where I will be happy.

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