Planning to Retire Soon!

If you are planning to retire in the Philippines soon, I suggest you visit several excellent websites on pro's and cons of retiring in the Philippines. However if you want to retire in the provinces, where life is simple, standard of living cheaper, less traffic congestion and pollution, availability of fresh seafood and vegetables compared to the big cities, my island province is the place for you! If this is your first time in my site, welcome. Please do not forget to read the latest national and international news in the right side bar of this blog. Some of the photos and videos on this site, I do not own. However, I have no intention on the infringement of your copyrights. The photo above is the front yard of Chateau Du Mer-Our Retirement Home in Boac, Marinduque, Philippines

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Cost of Living in the Philippines-Cheap and Affordable

Cost of Living in Asia, 2008

My neighbors ( who are all retirees,like me) often asked me, whether it is really cheaper to live in the Philippines than here in US. My answer is: It depends on your lifestyle and where in the Philippines you will be residing. There are several articles in the web about cost of living in the Philippines, but here is an article that simply described the current situation in the Philippies.
( Currently, the US dollar to pesos exchange rate varies daily ( $1 to P44-45).

This article is from www.philippine-travel-guide.com. The cost of living in Marinduque-my island Paradise is much much cheaper compared to the big cities like Manila, Cebu, Davao or Iloilo. However, if your plan to retire in the Philippines is based only on the cheaper standard of living, you may be disillusioned and disappointed. Remember, there are other things to be consicered such as the hot/tropical climate, the different culture and politics and other considerations such as relatives and social support system, health amenities etc...Here's the article for your reading pleasure. Comments will be appreciated!

"Cost of living in the Philippines is cheap and affordable. The cost of living in the Philippines can vary widely. Not only must you consider where you want to live, but also what you’re comfortable standard of living in the Philippines maybe.

Trying to live as cheap as you can, because that is all you can afford, is destined for an unhappy outcome. Your motive for living in the Philippines must be more than it just being cheap. Although cheap and affordable are high considerations. The last place you want to be, is the Philippines if you have run out of money.

Work is not easy if not impossible to find for a foreigner, there are plenty of Filipino graduates pumping gas and working in retail. Your chances of finding employment are less than minimal and let’s face it could you work for $3.00 a day and survive, probably not. It would be best if you have a back up plan that allowed you an airfare back home, far easier to get a job there. Keep enough money for an airfare back home.

In giving estimated cost of living in the Philippines, I will use Pesos rather than any other denomination, you can always convert to your own currency to get a comparison between the two currencies.

Other measurements you should become familiar with in the Philippines are Kilometers, Meters, Kilograms, and Litres. It is not always easy to change a lifetime of thinking but it will be helpful.

How far will my money go?
How long is a piece of string….

Not really trying to be silly but you have to understand that your money can go as far as you want it to go, or if you are frugal not far at all.

I will break down the cost of living in the Philippines into different categories starting with the big ticket item, rent.

Rent

Not surprising, how much you pay for rent is going to vary from place to place. Rentals in Manila are by far the highest in the country. Regional areas can be significantly cheaper.

Another determining factor is what type of dwelling you decide to rent. A one bedroom apartment will be more affordable than a fully furnished five bedroom house in an expat village.

Cost of rent in the Philippines can range from P10,000 per month in regional cities to upwards in excess of P50,000 per month in Manila. For P15,000 a month you will be able to find something pretty decent.

Being a foreigner can make it a bit easier to rent as most landlords will view you to be a better long term prospect who will have money to pay the rent. Whether this it the case is not necessarily important, so long as the perception is there it will always help. The only negative is that you will be charged a bit more than a local Filipino family, but it will still be substantially cheaper than at home.

Utilities

Utilities include electricity, water and telephone. When you include electricity I mean running air-conditioning day and night, television, CD and DVD and all your kitchen appliances. The electricity is 220 volts so if you coming from the US you will need an adapter. There are three ways which you can receive you water. Either through the mains, which is available in most major cities, via wells in the provinces, here you will need a small pump to drive the water into your home. The final way to get water is to have it bulk delivered.

The Philippine Long Distance Telephone Company (PLDT) provides phone services throughout the Philippine islands and they supply both local and long distance phone calls. Calls are not expensive and line rental will vary depending on where you are. Anything from P700 to P1,000 per month. All up for all utilities the cost per month will be around P7,000 to P10,000.

Transportation

If you do not own your own vehicle, you will end being very familiar with taxis or jeepneys. If you are going to use taxis you should demand that the taxi uses his meter and not provide a fixed cost for your journey, if the taxi refuses jump out, trust me there are plenty of other taxis keen for you business.

If you want to save more money catch the jeepney, they are very frequent in all cities and are user friendly. For longer distances you have the choice of planes, ferries or buses. Depending on your time frame or budget all are reliable and will take you everywhere you need to go. Have look here for information on getting around the Philippines. Either way you should budget about P3,000 per month.

Drivers anyone?

The cost of living in the Philippines can increase dramatically if you get yourself a driver. In some cases it is better than driving yourself, but that is really a personal judgment. If you are not a confident driver then forget about driving in the Philippines. For starters it is pretty chaotic with most drivers ignoring the road rules, how there is not more accidents is anyone’s guess, I suppose they just don’t go fast enough in the cities to cause to much damage to body or vehicle. If you do decide to drive yourself remember than even if you are not at fault in an accident you will pay. The foreigner will always pay for an accident. Drivers will cost anywhere from P3,000 up to P5,000 per month, plus you will have to feed him during the day as well. I prefer to use taxis and jeepneys for short trips and hire a driver with a van for longer trips other than where I may need a ferry or a plane.

Food & Groceries

Food and groceries are not expensive to purchase in the Philippines. If you are prepared to eat local foods then your food and groceries will be quite cheap. Even if you allow for a fixture of western style foods the cost will not be enormous compared with what you would pay back home.

It is not easy to determine how much food and groceries will cost you in the Philippines as every family varies in size and wants. Obviously if you want to eat out every second or third day your monthly budget will be high.

You do have a number of good quality supermarkets in the Philippines where purchasing food is a breeze, but do remember imported goods will attract a premium price compared with locally or home grown goods. To give you an idea of costs in the Philippines you should budget between P25,000 to P40,000 per month.

Bottled Water

Being a humid tropical location, you need to keep your fluids up. When I drink water I only ever drink bottled water, I never drink the water from the tap or in the shower. You can purchase bottled water just about everywhere from your street vendors through to the supermarkets. Water bottle sizes range from 6 litres down to your handheld 320 ml. Budget about P1,000 a month.

Maid in the Philippines.

The cost of living in the Philippines would not be complete unless you had a maid. Maids are fantastic for doing and arranging all the jobs around the house that you do not have the time for or could not be bothered doing. She will do the cleaning, laundry, cooking, run small jobs and pay bills. Make sure you have a set of rules and an understanding of what is expected of your maid or domestic helper. Now finding the right one is the hard part but once you have the right one don’t let her go. Some maids can take advantage of your generosity, racking up phone calls instead of doing the household chores or watching HBO instead of cooking dinner. You will need to keep an eye on them during the initial stages of your employee – employer relationship. However the best thing about Philippine maids is they are cheap. In order to avail yourself of the services of a Philippine maid, you will be looking at roughly P2,000 per month. In some areas you can pay a lot more, but it really is not necessary.

Summary

The cost of living in the Philippines is considerably cheaper than in western countries. How frugally you want to live is entirely up to you, as the options are many. No matter what you end up deciding, make sure you have an income source to sustain you during your retirement years, yes the cost of living in the Philippines is cheap but if you run out of money, the Philippines is not where you want to be".

Latest News from Bellarocca Resort in Marinduque


From Hongkong, Quintessentially, dated May 13, 2010. The Promo Package of P14,500(3 days 2 nights double occupancy )till the end of this month is reasonable. I paid about the same amount in a 4 star hotel in Manila for our 4 days stay last month in Makati which included breakfast. Someone informed me that during "off season" the rates goes down to $140 per night. Is this true or this person is just hallucinating? I did checked the website and I did not see $140. What I read in the published rates for 2010 is that the cheapest hotel room is $440 per person/double occupancy and no food. This person probably read $440 as $140. When I visited the website last week, and I almost read "440" as "140". Heres the article for your reading pleasure:

(Note: if you are from US and do not want to fly to the Philippines and wants a reasonable vacation, go to Las Vegas. The hotel rooms are on bargains now. The new "ARIA" Resort and Casino is offering rooms for as low as $109 on week days)Other 4 and 5 stars casino hotels offer as low as $89 per night on week days. Las Vegas must be really hurting now, too many casinos and the economy is down.

"Don’t let the white buildings and squared-off, Greco-inspired design fool you – Bellarocca Island Resort and Spa isn’t a Mediterranean island fantasy but a European-style hideaway just a short plane ride away from Manila, located on its own island (the aptly-named beautiful rock, of course!).

You’ll be whisked around the petite and very picturesque resort on your private golf cart. The whole place is very new – just over a year old – and the perfect retreat for those who just want to lie back and read a book, catch some rays or chill out. It’s not at all stuffy though…you’re free to play the house piano if you like, but our favourite pastime is gazing out over the infinity pool to the azure sea and mainland beyond.

Rooms and suites are, of course, top notch. Sleeping beauties are catered for as well – there’s a comprehensive bedding and pillow menu that’ll ensure you get a good night’s kip. Their nine hole, par 36 golf course gives you a chance to practice that swing and take in the spectacular cliffside views.

There’s even more reason to book soon – their three-day, two-night Dolce Vita package includes roundtrip land and sea transfers from Marinduque Airport to the hotel, welcome refreshments, two brunches, two afternoon teas, complimentary internet, full use of the resort’s facilities and government taxes and service charge.

From PHP 14,500 per person on a twin/double sharing basis (approximately HKD 2,500), valid until the end of May.

Recommended by QUINTESSENTIALLY, the world’s leading private members’ club with a global concierge service. Committed to the notion that quality matters, whether it be music, art, travel, food or – most importantly – service, they aim to bring Members and clients.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Chronic Absentism in House of Representatives ( Philippines) 14th Congress, 2009


My heartfelt congratulations to Mr. Allan Velasco as the newly elected Congressman for the lone district of Marinduque.

The following article attracted my attention because Marinduque just elected a new congressman who is not a professional politician. So, I hope Mr Velasco attends the session in congress during his term regularly and represents our province to the best of his ability.

I am shock to learn that only 20% of the congress members attend the session regularly and the rest are practioners of "chronic absentism".

This article is titled, Is Congress Worth Running for? and written by Walden Bello, published by INQUIRER.net on April 25,2010.

As a retired scientist, I enjoyed the details and comments on the Bataan Nuclear Power Plant discussions. Thank you, Mr Bello for a well-written and informative article.

I wonder how many Filipino voters know that only 20% of their elected representatives attend the congressional sessions regularly! The rest are just waiting for their pork barrel handout from the President! What a bad, bad system!Eliminate the pork barrel system. It is major source of corruption in the Philippines. Do you know what happen to the pork barrel money alloted to your district for public works, during this 14th Congress?. Here's the article for your reading pleasure:

"As someone that comes from civil society, I am often asked this question.

I do not blame people for being so cynical. After a year in the institution, I cannot deny that all they have heard about the House of Representatives is true.

Chronic Absenteeism and other Foibles

The problem goes beyond the chronic absenteeism that forces the House leadership, for lack of a quorum, to resort to various subterfuges to conduct a modicum of business. I would say that about 50 per cent of my colleagues are there mainly to get their priority development funds or pork barrel to distribute to their constituencies. This being their sole interest, they are easily manipulated by the Executive which—no matter what the Constitution says--really holds the power of the purse.

There are members of the 14th Congress who, I am told, have never once spoken on the floor in their nine years in the House. And when members do rise to deliver privilege speeches, they usually devote these to attacking enemies in their congressional districts, which is why very few members appear to be paying attention even when a speaker is trying his bombastic best to pound his absent foe to smithereens.

The subject of a privilege speech is sometimes amusing. One member once rose to denounce a local airline for not allowing his aide to check in for him, leading to his being left behind. But while outsiders might have found devoting 45 minutes to this topic absurd, it was not at all to many members. When the congressman finished his tirade, others rose to lambast the same airline for similar experiences that wounded their sense of entitlement.

Saving Grace
Yet I would say that there are some 20 per cent of the 269 members of the 14th Congress whose ken goes beyond local concerns to encompass national and international issues. These 20 per cent are the House’s saving grace, for they are the ones that on certain days—not often, it must be admitted—raise the level of debate above that of parochial local concerns and personal and political grudges

Boying Remulla once told me that the institution houses outstanding individuals that would outclass the members of the Senate any day of the week. This may not be far from the truth. Among the people who, in my opinion, represent the best traditions of the House when it comes to discussing and debating national issues, one must include Edcel Lagman and Risa Hontiveros-Baraquel, the co-authors of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Extension Law (Carper) and the Reproductive Health Bill. One can always rely on Caloy Padilla, Edno Joson, Jonathan de la Cruz, and Magi Gunigundo for thoughtful interpellation. The same can be said of the mercurial Teddyboy Locsin, though the latter’s tongue sometimes gets the better of him. For impassioned manifestations of concern on burning issues, one can always count on, among others, Joel Maglunsod, Janet Garin, and Luz Ilagan.

Yet the cast of people who can argue a good case are not only on my side of the fence, that is, on the progressive or liberal side. Pabling Garcia of Cebu is an opponent on the question of land reform, but few can surpass him in his knowledge of the legal history of agrarian reform, and his skilled advocacy of the contra position certainly pushed most of us land reform advocates to sharpen our arguments and make them unassailable in the end, even to Garcia.

The Party-list Factor

Caloy Padilla once asserted that it is the party-list representatives that, with their advocacy based on issues, have transformed the discourse in the House, introducing advocacy of the interests of the marginalized that is both skilled and impassioned. There is a lot of truth to this statement, but it must be qualified. The party list groups are a diverse lot, a significant number of them being simply administration fronts that can be rolled out to deliver a yes vote on issues dear to the heart of Malacanang, like constitutional change. But I would agree with Padilla that the genuine party-list groups have, in fact, contributed significantly to transforming congressional discourse. Of course, one can still hear brazen statements made in plenary such as the complaint of one congressman from the national capital region that, “What else are we allied with the administration for if not to be able to get priority development funds.” Such statements of naked interest are, however, rare these days and advancing individual interest must now be couched in terms of promoting the “common interest.”

The Nuclear Power Faceoff

Interestingly, the measure that probably took up the most number of hours of plenary debate devoted to a single bill during the House sessions of 2009 was the bill to activate the Bataan nuclear power plant proposed by Mark Cojuangco. What many observers found unique in the debate was its being conducted at such a detailed technical level that members could be forgiven for thinking they had wandered into a graduate school seminar on the pros and cons of nuclear power. Like a number of my colleagues, I found myself opposing Cojuangco on the bill, and over nine hours our duel—complete with powerpoints--ranged from the volcanic and seismic characteristics of the Bataan peninsula to the storage of hazardous waste, the construction of nuclear containment structures, the cost of nuclear power compared to solar, wind, and other renewable energy sources, and the impact of different kinds of energy sources on climate change.

At the end of these exhausting marathon debates, with the clock striking 9 pm, Cojuangco and his opponents would often count only 20 to 25 congressmen remaining on the floor. But that such a “graduate seminar” could take place over several weeks on the floor of the House was a sign of the ongoing transformation of the institution’s discourse and culture.

For the most part, conservative interests still rule Congress. Yet change is not absent. Change is most prominent at the level of discourse, and one cannot discount the positive impact a change in discourse has in terms of making the atmosphere more congenial for a substantive program of reform. The pace of change of the institution may strike many as glacial now, but there will be times, I am convinced, when the pace of change, will quicken.
So is Congress worth running for? Yes, because it is not at all hopeless as a platform for change.

But I could, of course, be wrong".

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Joke of the Day-Don't Touch Me


Don't Touch Me!
From Sandee of Comedy Plus

"An older couple is lying in bed one morning. They had just awakened from a good night's sleep.

He takes her hand and she responds, 'Don't touch me.'

'Why not?' he asked.

She answered, 'Because I'm dead.'

The husband asked...'What are you talking about? We're both lying here in bed together and talking to one another!'

She said, 'No, I'm definitely dead.'

He insisted, 'You are not dead. What in the world makes you think you're dead?'

'Because I woke up this morning and nothing hurts."

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

A Filipino Snowbird Shares His Views and Advice

Marinduque-my Island Paradise
The following article was written by Celina Macaisa and posted by www.myphilippineretirement.com dated January 2, 2010. It was titled Retiring Half-a-Year in the US and the Philippines.

When a Global Filipino Retires, which country does he choose for the next part of his life? Will he need to leave home, friends, and family (a second time)?

For decades, due to lack of well-paying jobs in the Philippines, Filipinos have been leaving their country and families behind to improve their own and their families’ standard of living.

And after decades of working hard in a highly-competitive, fast-paced business environment, and ‘you are on your own culture’ of a 1st world country; these (former) Filipinos are now prioritizing how to increase the quality of their retirement years.

Ironically, the Philippines which may not have been a great country to make a living in during their younger years is an excellent country for retirement: warm climate and culture, relaxed pace of life, and lower living expenses.

Hence, the ‘snowbird lifestyle’ of having two residences in different parts of the world, which has been practiced by Europeans and North Americans for centuries, is now gaining more acceptance by Filipinos who immigrated abroad.

The Rise of the Filipino Snowbird

“I know of another person who is doing the same lifestyle we have, 6 months in PI [Philippine Islands] and 6 months in the US. We call ourselves snow birds. A lot of our friends are envious of us.” - David B. Katague

However, although many Filipinos living abroad are aware of the ‘snowbird’ retirement lifestyle, many are not quite sure about the planning and costs needed to make it work.

Hence, this article is written to give a look on how one Filipino couple, David and Macrine Katague was able to put into reality their wish to live their retirement years both in the U.S. and the Philippines—-two countries they think of as home and where key family members live.

David B. Katague is a retired Chemistry Team Leader of the Food and Drug Administration in Silver Spring, Maryland USA. He is also currently a proprietor of Chateau Du Mer Beach Resort, in Boac, Marinduque, Philippines.And one of the most interesting things you will learn from this interview is that beyond harsh winters and cost, ‘family’ is the driving reason and support factor for making this retirement lifestyle work.

Here is our interview with David B. Katague:

1) How many years have you spent in the US?
“[We] have lived in US since 1960 to the present.”

2) What were your top reasons for choosing your retirement lifestyle of living half-a year in the Philippines and half-a-year in the States?

“[Our reasons were] climate (even though the winters of Northern California are much milder than that of Chicago or Toronto), relatives, and cheaper standard of living.”

3) Before making this decision, did you know of another former Filipino retiree who practiced this ‘snowbird lifestyle’ that influenced you?
“[Yes], my sister-in-law”

4) Did you re-acquire your Filipino citizenship or retired in the Philippines under the Special Resident’s Retirement Visa (SRRV)?

“My wife reacquired her Filipino citizenship 2 yrs ago. I will consider applying for dual citizenship if I decide to live in Philippines permanently.”

5) How do you spend your time here in the Philippines? What makes retiring in the Philippines interesting and inspiring in terms of activities, new experiences, and living with other Filipinos?

”Setting up a small business (a beach resort and conference center (www.chateaudumer.com), keeps me busy while I am in Marinduque.

In addition since my favorite hobby is gardening, the tropical climate is conducive to growing orchids, fruits, and vegetables and other tropical ornamentals. This gives me plenty of exercise both physical and mental, an antidote to developing AZ disease.”

Also the presence of relatives makes life masaya lalo na [happy especially] during the Christmas and Easter Season. I do miss my grandchildren during Christmas while we are in PI [Philippine Islands].”

6) Practical concerns on this retirement lifestyle:
a) Are you receiving pension? How is this retirement way of life feasible?

“I have SS, private and federal pension. Since I am maintaining 2 households, it is a very expensive proposition. Luckily, I have a son, who takes care of our house here in NC [Northern California] while we are in PI.

When we are in US, I have a full time caretaker who takes care of the house and the beach resort.”

b) In articles discussing retiring in the Philippines, an allowance of US$1,000 to $1,500 a month is often quoted as enough for a retiring couple to live on. Is this still true in your experience?
“Yes, $1500 a month is still adequate in the provinces. In Manila, this amount will be probably too tight.”

c) Did you need to have a trial-run first? Or did you stay in the Phil with a tourist visa first before making the final decision?

“[No.] I know life in PI as I grew up there until I was 21 years old. The only question is where in the Philippines, we should retire, my home province or my wife's home province. Marinduque was the winner.”

7) Medical Insurance and Healthcare: In living half-a-year in the Philippines, what plans did you make for medical emergencies since U.S. Medicare/Medicaid does not cover for treatment in the Philippines?

“I have Blue Cross under the Federal Insurance Plan. My wife has Phil Health. I recommend a minimum of $2000 for medical emergency.”

8) Are there any individuals and organizations who were a big help to you in setting-up your retirement life in the Philippines? What do you think the government can improve on to attract more former Filipino retirees?
“Yes, my sister-in law helped us built our retirement home, while we were still working here in US.”

“To encourage Filipinos expatriate, the government should help in relocation by exempting them of taxes for their household goods and car. Also, there should be someone in the Philippines to help them settle and facilitate their move.”

Note: Currently, one-time tax exemptions for importing personal goods (except for cars) to the Philippine is only provided to former Filipino retirees who applied for the Special Resident Retirees Visa (SRRV), within 90 days of SRRV issuance and not exceeding $7,000. These tax exemptions are not accorded to former Filipinos who are retiring in the Philippines through re-acquisition of Filipino citizenship. - myphilippineretirement.com

9) Advice on doing it right:

a) Any suggestion/advice for other Former Filipinos who are still evaluating their decision in living part of their retirement life in the Philippines?
“Always plan ahead. Choose a location, where you have relatives and friends [emphasis mine]. Get health insurance accepted in PI, but reserve cash for medical emergency.”
b) Last question: Are there some common pitfalls to avoid?

“Do not engage in business if you can not personally manage it or have a trusted relative or employee to do it.

Keep your mouth shut in local politics. [Get] acculturated again to the Filipino lifestyle of [being] easy going, no value of time [or different regard for time as compared to N. America] to avoid the rat race again, thus preventing a heart stroke.

Keep always busy both in mind and body, thus enjoying your retirement, and hopefully a long life.”

To summarize this interview, a global Filipino can enjoy his retirement years both in his country of birth and new home country through adequate financial preparation and family support.Why make a tough choice of permanently leaving your new home, new friends, and family in North America; or forego the warmth of the climate and culture of your country of birth when you can be a Filipino snowbird?
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