Why did I spend 2 years in The Philippines?

by Dave from The Longest Way Home ~ August 12th, 2010. Updated on December 11th, 2010. Published in: Travel blog » How to live overseas » Philippines.

“Have you found home in the Philippines?”

A clump of giant bamboo

Looking at life from the bottom up - (clump of giant bamboo - click to enlarge)

I’ve received a lot of email from people asking this question, mainly pertaining to the fact that I have been here so long. Let me knock one thing on the head here.

“I lived & traveled in Africa for longer.”

I’ve just written more about it from here due to enhancements in technology, having better electricity, and having access to the internet. Moreover this is not your typical travel blog. This is my life. I am not country hopping trying to rack up a “been to 200+ countries and drank Llama milk in Peru” type of travel blog.

Trekking through snow in Nepal

Nepal was the first place I got the feeling of being home, it's not something I am going to stop trying to achieve

In fact, if you add up the time vs article ratio, Nepal comes up higher.

So why if you are looking for home, have you stayed in one country for so long?

That’s answering one’s own question.

How many people have gone on two week vacations only to come home saying they’d love to move or live there? Quite a few. The reality of doing this is very, very, different.

Method to my madness:

Circle back 15-20 years ago. There was a television series about moving overseas. You’ve seen the type – host follows people to new country and watches them try to start a new life.

Now move forward to about 10 years ago –  A book came out chronicling these people. Only one couple, was still overseas. Everyone else had failed, or decided it wasn’t for them.

Reality on the ground is very different to a television series.

A television series is designed to put a positive spin on things, and hook you in. We all like this, it’s escapism.

Turn on the Travel Channel and you’ll see this in leaps and bounds. Why? Because it sells a dream scenario a lot better than the reality of a news channel.

The Longest Way Home 101:

Learn from others mistakes, and from their successes.

Learn from your own mistakes, and from your own successes.

Get it when & while you can:

Where ever I go next, I might not get the chance to go so in-depth into things such as: Culture, social integration, understanding, bureaucracy, food, living, work, business, discovery e.t.c. All of which leads to a permanent place to live.

None of this is set up to show the world in it’s best light, it’s to show the world in its real light.

“Be it visiting the stunning Alhambra in Spain, or witnessing homelessness due to flash floods in The Philippines”

It’s all a part of the real world that we all live in. I am traveling and documenting it in this way.

So, the Philippines … why so long there …

I chose the Philippines after my overland travel journey linking the Portuguese Atlantic to China’s Pacific coast for several reasons.

Back up photographs, write everything down, write a book, develop this site, see if it could be home and work out where to go next if not.

Along the way, life unfolds and you go further into the depths of discovery.

Travel is one thing, living in a place is another. Trying to find a place called home is the wild card.

I think that I am doing pretty well.

The reason why the Philippines became the de facto Asian country for this part of my journey:

Here are a few reasons why living in the Philippines was a good choice:

  • Language – everyone here speaks English. This makes life a lot easier when trying to integrate, and get things done.
  • Food – it’s a fish & rice nation, but there’s a lot of meat here too. The latter had me sold.
  • Cost – it’s gone up in the last year. But by & large, it’s cheap to live here.
  • Communication – it’s also suffered in the last year. But the internet is/was quite accessible here.
  • Immigration – it’s a lot more expensive than the rest of SEA, but visas in The Philippines are easy to get. Again, for some reason in the last year visas here have become one if the most expensive in the world.
  • Social integration – I needed to do this, I needed to push the cultural boundaries of fitting in. Here I wrote about social integration overseas. You can’t live somewhere without this.
  • The people – Filipino’s are friendly. There’s rarely a cross word spoken, and people will talk to you. Baring some areas where they clam up in fear of talking to a stranger.
  • Lack of tourists – yes, there is lack of the backpacking, group tours here. Again, remember, this is no average travel journey. I am not able to go out every night for a sit down dinner, drinks, or clubs. Many people don’t get that. Tourists are looking to move on, I am not.

Lessons learned from the past

During my time in Africa I did things differently to here. And, I learned from it. The same can be true for how living in the Philippines has helped me in this journey.

“Tell me the guide book on doing this and I’ll get it. There is none.”

The Alhambra at night

Spain came close, and was the first lesson in the necessity of language

We learn by doing things. We learn from others. And, we learn by answering our own questions.

Once I move on to a new country, I know someone will say:

“You didn’t spend enough time here” or “You didn’t visit this place …

My answer is simple:

“Even after spending two years in all but the smallest of countries you will never see everything.”

You will always miss this place, person or event. It’s a fact of life. Can a person claim to have visited a country after only spending a day there, sure.

But do they really know the place or does it just look good on paper. The latter.


What about after two years. Can you really know a country? or how to live there?

A little better than just backpacking around.

How to live in The Philippines, that’s the easy part. How to find home in The Philippines … now that’s a different story.

There may never be another opportunity like this for me. Will I be able to travel, learn, or discover Australia like this? No. Finances make that impossible. That’s the reality.

But what I’ve learned so far, can and will make a place like Australia a lot easier to figure out in a shorter time period. Get it?

As such, what I am learning now is vital to the rest of this journey.

Reality is …

Raw reality is not for the Travel Channel, and that’s okay.

If you want the both the good and bad reality of a life’s journey, or if you want to discover indepth knowledge of a place. You’re looking at the right place, right now.

This is both my, and your, passport to a world of new discovery.

The journey continues …

Coming Soon:

A Tibetan Temple … and realizing when you’ve pushed the boundaries of this journey too far

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