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Retirement -- living and enjoying 24/7/365
Retirement is often one of the most traumatic times of a person's life. Seldom is it considered as such at the time, but, in retrospect, many recognize it's unanticipated positive and negative effects.
Retirement is easier for the self employed to slide into. They start by reducing their working hours on Fridays, then by taking Friday off, then possibly Mondays as well. When the DAY arrives, they may have already cut down their visits to the office to three or four times a month.
The situation is different for most retirees. They either worked a full day, or had a farewell party Friday afternoon. Monday morning provides a momentary shock. But then it's "whoppee!".
Statistically, more divorces occur in the first three years after retirement than any other period in a marriage.
Check the "for sale" ads and garage sales around retirement villages. For sale, like new, seldom used: mountain homes, vacation condos, hunting cabins, fishing cabins, golf club memberships, time shares, golf clubs, motor homes, RVs, off-road vehicles, motorcycles, skiboats, speed boats, fishing boats, etc.
All the shattered retirement dreams that came face to face with reality are now for sale.
Retirement plans MUST consider 24/7/365, or they are doomed to failure. There is a BIG difference between a weekend adventure, a two week vacation, and living 24/7/365.
And the biggest failure was not taking into consideration the WIFE's post retirement plans. I doubt if she was dreaming about hunting clubs, fishing cabins, etc. etc. etc.
Our statistic is now single, living on half rations, and trying to make the most of what his wife has left him with.
The eligible women he meets want to talk to him about their operations, and show him pictures of their grandchildren.
If he is lucky, he hears about, reads about, is told about, or remembers a time long ago, in the Fountain of Youth in the Garden of Eden called the Philippines.
Perhaps it's a pen-pal magazine, or maybe an Internet chat group. Or he found a website about retiring to the Philippines.
It could be that one Friday evening, on his way to the Senior Citizen's Weekly Bingo Party, Square Dance and Shuffleboard Contest, he sees a contemporary with a Filipina wife 30 years his junior, heading for the local disco and karaoke bar.
Whatever. Our hero arrives in Manila, and onward to his chosen destination. By his attire, demeanor, and his turkey neck gawking, he might as well be wearing a a sign around his neck saying "Available", because it's obvious what he is looking for.
He credits the coy smiles he receives from the young ladies he passes as a tribute to his held-in stomach, puffed-out chest, and slicked down hair which covers up his bald spot.
Enough smiles, and he pictures himself as a 30 year old Adonis, regardless of what his reflection in that damn mirror shows.
He found Paradise, and he is ready to enjoy the pleasures of retirement his nagging bitch of a first wife cheated him out of.
But, IS he ready? One definition of insanity is doing the same things over and over again, and expecting different results each time.
Has he taken into consideration what she sees in him? What she wants from him? Is he prepared to give it? Has he considered her as a person at all?
Does she want to stay in the Philippines, or to immigrate? Does she have/want children? Is she looking to raise only her standard of living, or her whole family's?
Is she looking to be a lady of leisure, or a partner in farming or whatever lifestyle he selects for them?
How much of a friend and companion will she be? How much of a friend and companion will he be to her?
Is SHE marrying the "foreigner", or is the "foreigner" marrying HER? (Whose culture predominates?)
How much time will be spent together? How much time spent independently? Will she mix with his "foreigner" friends? Will he mix with her Filipino family?
And has he learned the most important lesson of all? Retirement is not a long weekend, or a two week vacation, but living and enjoying. 24/7/365.
Mike Farrell Cagayan de Oro
Often see articles on retirement. I guess with lots of baby boomers starting to retire, it is natural to try to sell the idea of living in exotic lands.
I have not seen any Mayan ruins in the Philippines. I have not seen any big pyramids or any large temples. I have seen a few large churches built by the Spanish centuries ago, but other buildings and seem to me a thing of books and not reality for the Philippines.
There is the lure of the beautiful Pacific coast, pristine rainforests, and the view of tall coconut palms swaying in the warm tropical sun. The Philippines main attraction is not what but who you see. The islands are full of people with a unique blend of Asian and Spanish Cultures. The charm is really in the people, more than the place.
In the Philippines as in much of Central America, you can pick your climate by the location of the property the choose to call home.
While much of the Philippines is hot, large areas at higher altitudes are quite cool and enjoyable. The highlands offer cooler nights and cool breezes during the day. Although never high enough to grow apples, plums and peaches, you will find oranges, limes, bananas, and other tropical fruit in abundance.
Along the Pacific coast you can find temperatures in the 80 to 95 degree range. There is usually high humidity around the coastal areas, but heat and humidity quickly disappear as you ascend the Philippine Highlands. Vegetation changes and it's more comfortable.
Hills of the interior are cooler and nightly temperatures often fall into the 60s. You can sleep with an open window and a small electric fan. Some islands get a lot of rain, some are much dryer.
Just as the United States has become a multilingual country, the Philippines has been a multilingual country for centuries. Travelers often talk about island natives who speak English. In Latin America you need to communicate in Spanish. Signs are written in Spanish, and people speak Spanish to a large extent. As you travel inner Latin America, English becomes more of a disadvantage. Belize alone has a population that speaks English. Often countries such as Guatemala require some knowledge of a Mayan language as Spanish is not the dominant language of the ''real people''. In the Philippines, no matter where you travel, you find signs in English, and people who speak English. The locals may not be comfortable using English, but they will provide basic information and assistance in English, often their second or third language.
The Philippines also has another great asset, Filipino food, plentiful and cheap. Filipino food can be found that is bland, hot or spicy, sweet or sour, or any way to placate the discriminating palate. American fast food is available in many areas of the country, especially in the areas well traveled by expats and foreigners.
Health care is a different matter altogether. In cities health care is good and easy to obtain. But in the less traveled interior, finding good health care can be a problem. Most doctors and nurses speak English, like most of the populace, but state of the art equipment and well trained staff are not as well funded and therefore not as readily available. Good health care has come a long way in the cities, but has a long way to go in the interior. Sadly the Philippines lacks well equipped medical care in most rural areas.
Transportation is another problem. My island Marinduque has good roads and highways for the most part. Public transportation is readily available, cheap and reasonably comfortable. Finding a set of wheels heading your way is not hard most of the time.
Tricycles, jeepneys, and local vehicles are available in most areas. Buses run often in the larger islands, and private cars can often be hired at very reasonable rates for the day or week.
Crime is an area of concern. Crime is not a problem for me.... but I avoid the big cities like the plague. I stick to the rural, far less traveled areas, and remain just as happy. When I travel in big cities, I remove my watch and wear loose clothing. I keep my money and wallet in my front pocket, and remain aware of those around me.
I stay toward the edge of the crowd, constantly alert for those that approach, especially small children. The U.S. Embassy can often offer sound advice on avoiding petty crime. Major crime is much less in the islands than in other countries. I have traveled all over the country and have never felt uncomfortable, but I have never let my guard down either. There are plenty of safe areas in the Philippines which provide rewarding travel and living experiences. There are many places one can consider for travel and retirement. For me, the ease of travel and communication in the Philippines beats all the other places in the world where I've traveled.
People here are friendly and will try, for the most part, to make your visit special and memorable. Costs of travel, visiting, and living in the islands are far cheaper than what you will pay in other areas of Asia or the rest of the world.
This poor country has its share of problems, but for me and 240,000 other expats, the Philippines is still paradise.