Five Reasons To Move To the Philippines Right Now- Panagsama Beach, Moalboal, Philippines
We always say, “This time we won’t fall in love,” or “This time we won’t leave a chunk of our hearts behind,” and, again, we know we’re just lying. No matter how much I study Buddhism’s renunciation, and no matter how much practice we all get in saying goodbye, it still always sideswipes us, and out of nowhere, we feel that ‘gotcha again’ familiar pang of our hearts sighing really deeply.
Yes, it is better. Measurably so. The depth, length, and intensity of that heart-pinch is less. We have grown and learned how to fall in love and move on, and now, we do more appreciate and feel joy than anything else. We’re not sure we’re ready to admit it but yes, here we go… we all believe that just maybe, possibly, there is that little chance that life in Panagsama Beach, Moalboal, Cebu, Philippines has been our very best home yet. (There, it’s out there now.) Now in month 30, 3 continents, and 12 countries later, we have found that one spot that filled all five of us with the most joy. We all strongly feel that we will be back. We must.
And so, here are our five reasons to move to the Philippines right now.
Reason Number Five: The Rhythms of Cebuano
The 7,107 islands of the Philippines boasts between 120 and 175 languages. Our family spent all of our heavenly time on the island of Cebu, while I ventured off alone to both Negro Oriental and Siquijor. On all three islands, the locals spoke primarily Cebuano- a lovely mix of Spanish and Filipino. Our Spanish helped us pick up random words here and there, and made locals laugh when we called out for silverware in Spanish, counted with them, or cheerily coaxed our tricycle drivers to go with our Spanish “daleh, daleh!” (let’s go, let’s go!). The soap operas and commercials, though in Filipino, interject English phrases freely throughout. So endearing!
In addition to their spoken tongue, which mesmerizes with it’s Latino rhythm and lively intonation, there is the body language. When we first arrived in Cebu City, I told Kobi I didn’t trust the Filipino men. Why? Cuz everyone googled their eyes at me, and where I’m from raising your eyebrows while widening your eyes translates to Joey [Friends] saying, “How you doin?” But not here. Raising the eyebrows is their way of saying ‘hi’ and ‘yes’ so that if you see a vendor and do so, he assumes you want to buy. If you ask “Is the ferry to Siquijor this way?” you’ll get an “auh” (sounds sort of like a grunt) and raised eyebrows. It’s their way, and now ours. We no longer say ‘yes’ to each other, we’re googling and ‘augh’ing instead.
Reason Number Four: A Walk in The Park
Unlike most of South East Asia’s other countries, the Philippines makes life really easy for the English-speaking traveler. The Philippines uses English tons. You don’t take it for granted that suddenly you can read all the signs and advertisements around you. Suddenly, you know what’s up and can casually absorb information without having to try so hard. The majority of the people speak English too, and if you happen upon someone who does not, just count to tres (three) , and they’ll find a friend or neighbor who does.
Immigration gives you a 29-day free visa (or 59 days if you are from Brazil or Israel-sweet!). You can easily renew by getting an extension and then an I-card (costly but worth it) or by hopping out the the country for a day and coming back. (Here, we don’t call it a ‘border run’ like we did in the other South East Asia countries. The borders all run into water. ) So, the Philippines make it easy for you to travel around. Even when island hopping, in which you have to negotiate through buses, tricycles, ferries, and speed boats, there is no stress and the people are super helpful in helping out the tourist. The weather is great, the sea breeze is wonderful, the beaches are inviting, and cost of living is relatively low. A true walk in the park.
Reason Number Three: The Filipino People
They laugh. All the time. They love foreigners and love sharing their lives with them. As we usually do, in the Philippines we settled, grew roots, and became a part of a community. In Panagsama Beach, Moalboal, we saw our lives like a rated-R Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood, or an impoverished island version of Sesame Street– everything that mattered to us was on one little village block. Yes, a few bars too and a bit, OK, well a lot of reason number two (below), but it was ours. Our lives with the Filipinos was a great mix of street-smart local kids, divers, expats, and travelers all inter-meshed into one small strip of land.
And so it is in the Philippines. You’ve got Terry from Germany (pictured below at Casa De La Playa on Siguijor Island) who feel in love 19 years ago and hasn’t left since, Carl at Savedra Dive Center who has been here for 25 years, and countless young ladies living in the Philippines or abroad with foreigner partners. You’ve got locals who believe in the old ways, the way of the land; and locals with Facebook and Skype who jam to Gangnam Style and Fun. For us, all of these ‘locals’ (written more about below) drew us to the Philippines and made us know, without a doubt, that we absolutely must return.
Reason Number Two: The Rawness of the Philippines
We’ve been in South East Asia for well over a year now. And from May 2012 until now, August 2013, we’ve seen it all. But I mean ALL. But here in Asia and even more so in the Philippines, it is here without the typical shame and “let’s hide it under the rug so the neighbor’s will think we’re perfect” Western-ism that we’re all so accustomed to. In Moalboal, we saw the totally insane guy laughing hysterical in the streets, the drunk and drugged, the very old expats with their very young Filipino girlfriend, the lady boy, the prostitute, the backpackers, the mentally challenged, the expats, the Deaf, the tourist, and the old, the divers, the poor, and the ill all just there. Unlike us Westerners that institutionalize, separate, apologize for, and distance ourselves from pain, illness, difference, and irregularity, we have had the total eye-opening joy of seeing all of these dance and prance before us, and be seamlessly interwoven into the fabrics of our daily lives.
I believe this sort of education, one that sees things as they really are, with no shame, is priceless. Yes, we are all, but all of us a part of reality, and all of those non-picture-perfect, Barbie characters are precisely what makes us world citizens and connects us to the universality of it all. All of us want to be happy, all of us want to dance and laugh, all of us want to connect with others, all of us want to be listened to, all of us want to get by financially and just a little bit more. Thank you Philippines for bringing that rainbow reality into our sphere of knowledge. We deeply appreciate it.
Reason Number One: The Turtle Effect
The diving is unreal! The Philippines’ 7,107 islands offers endless underwater adventures, and for a family of divers, that is awesome. In addition to the lovely coral, beautiful fish of strange, unique, and colorful glory, and schools of sardines that darken the ocean with their sheer mass, there is the issue of the sea turtle. I call it an ‘issue’ for they create huge problems, namely ‘the turtle effect’. I first noticed the turtle effect when working on navigation skills for my Advanced Open Water Course. It was Daniel’s turn to navigate via compass from point A to point B. A turtle innocently swam by his path, and there goes Daniel. Mesmerized by her beauty and grace, he totally forgot any navigational mombo-jumbo and followed the our lovely green lady instead. They are the ocean’s piped pipers and yes, when they envelope you in their silent grace, you have no choice but to follow.
Of our two months in Panagsama Beach, Moalboal, with a very full dive schedule, we agree that sea turtles honored our adventures, at least 75% of the time. Here’s a wonderful diving with sea turtles movie Kobi posted from our dive with Savedra Dive Center.
And these are just five reasons. There are so many, many more.
How To Make It Happen
The Philippines are filled with expats, the understandably so. But, in order to make any dream a reality you have to make it happen. You need to figure out your life, figure out your finances, and figure out how to make it happen. Some of us have sold everything we own to live like nomads, others have rented off their homes and other property, some have taken loans to make it happen, and some have figured out how to earn money as they travel.
If you’re dying to live in the Philippines, do it. Save your money to make your dreams come true. Take a loan to make it happen. Start looking into online income to make your dreams come true. Do it, do it, do it. We’re firm believers that if you want it, you can make it happen. We were never rich and we found our way. So can you. Find the way. Make it become your next reality.
As I said before, we’ll be back to our Philippines again. We will. We will.
Have you had an amazing Philippines experience? Have you fallen in love with it’s people, it’s beaches, it’s rawness? Do tell. We’d love to hear it and share that Filipino love with you.
If you liked this, you’ll love these (some spiritual, some tough, some cool) posts about life in the Philippines:
OUR MAGICAL LIFE WITH RAFFY-
THE HARDER STUFF TO HANDLE-
Reality of Life on the Road- Rain for the Limping Soul (before we got to Savedra)
LIFE WITH SAVEDRA AND THE STREET GANG:
(debatably my favorite Philippines post)- Street Smartology
The reason we stayed in the Philippines for two and a half month was solely because of Savedra Dive Center. They are responsible for Gabi becoming Advanced Open Water Certified, for Kobi earning his Dive Master, for our kids dancing underwater with sea turtles and for Kobi and I getting lost in waterfalls and avalanches of sardines. Because of Savedra Dive Center we laughed tons, Kobi drank more than he usually does, and we made and our kids made friends who will remain in our hearts forever. Should you plan a trip to Philippines and have any desire to dive, with all of our hearts, we recommend diving with a professional super-fun staff and high quality equipment at Savedra. We felt safe enough to put our kids underwater with Savedra and that just about says it all. And if you go, tell Lee that Gabi is always, always, always right and that he sucks! On the other hand, tell Hermann that he is a God.