Leaving The Volcano

The first time I was caught up in a natural disaster in the Philippines was in September 2009 in the flood known locally as Ondoy. At the time I was so unhappy with the domestic situation I found myself in that I was repeating over and over, “Is this going to be the rest of my life now?” Then one morning I woke up to a lot of rain, and soon the refrigerator was floating a meter high in the kitchen. I told my housemate to turn off the electricity, and not too long after that we were out of … Read More

From Metro Manila to Cavite Province, Part 2

Lately I’ve been getting questions from Americans about what it’s like retiring in the Philippines, also from Manila friends wanting to know about my experience out in the province. As an answer to assorted questions I’m going into my own experience in some detail.

Living in the subdivision hasn’t meant I’ve made friends here, although I did go to some homeowners’ meetings and a party, which I hadn’t done in Quezon City. People have been friendly in terms of greetings and introductions—more than in the old subdivisions, but so far it’s been neighborliness which hasn’t developed into friendships. There’s little … Read More

From Metro Manila to Cavite Province, Part 1

Lately I’ve been getting questions from Americans about what it’s like retiring in the Philippines. As an answer to assorted questions I’m going into my own experience in some detail.

In the early months of 2015, I’d wake up in the morning, leave my air-conditioned bedroom and swear at the heat. It was too hot, too crowded and polluted to walk my usual route from the gated subdivision in Quezon City to the University of the Philippines campus. So I’d have breakfast in front of the computer while listening to National Public Radio, and somehow I’d end up being there … Read More

From Japan to North America, Reverse Culture Shock

 Nik is a Canadian who had three stints working in Japan for a total of twelve years: 1992-94, 1997-2003 and 2007-11. He is now living just outside New York City, where he’s working in IT. It’s a two-hour flight from his childhood home in Nova Scotia. I reached him from the Philippines via Skype. (Thanks to Nik for the photos.)

Nik’s story

In 1992, I went to Japan on a working holiday visa. The idea with this international exchange program was that young people could work abroad for a year in order to supplement travel costs and experience the … Read More

International Kids, Part 2

Andrew Dougherty and Crystal Dougherty are 13 and 15; they attend Yongsan International School of Seoul, an American-based private school which is both Christian and broad-minded. I was particularly interested in their stories because when I was a child my family spent a year in Europe every five years, first in Luxembourg then Germany, where I attended public schools and university; it turned out there were some similarities.

Crystal’s story

I’ve lived in Korea for almost half of my entire life. I was born here then I was raised in Seguin,  Texas in Las Brisas. It was a pretty good … Read More