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Life in the Philippines versus Life in the United States

Updated on October 26, 2018
chateaudumer profile image

My wife and I are lucky to practice the snowbird lifestyle of American Retirees -Enjoying the best of the two worlds- the East and the West.

Marinduque Island-Our Second Home

Scenic, Beautiful, and Peaceful  Marinduque Island  is a Photographer's Dream and a Gardener's Paradise
Scenic, Beautiful, and Peaceful Marinduque Island is a Photographer's Dream and a Gardener's Paradise | Source

After my retirement from the Food and Drug Administration in 2002, my wife and I decided that we should divide our year between the US and in the Philippines. Our goal was to stay in the Philippines in the island of Marinduque ( my wife's ancestral province) when it starts to get chilly and cold here in Northern California. When the hot and humid summer starts in the Philippines we will fly back to US. We have achieved this goal since 2002 and to the present. Our friends and relatives call us snowbirds because of this lifestyle..

We have planned this lifestyle two years before my retirement. We started construction of our main house in 1998. It was a 3-bedroom French Style Ranch house in a 5-acre lot formerly a coconut plantation. The lot was inherited by my wife and about 7 miles from the downtown Boac. It has a beach at the back and the national road in the front.

Two years later at the urging of our kids, we build a two story beach house. We named it Chateau Du Mer.. The next year we built a conference hall big enough to accommodate 300 attendees. In 2005, we decided to open the Beach House and Hall for rent to the public. With this development, I decided to advertise the Beach house and Conference Hall via the Internet.

As of today, we have hosted more than 45 clients for the beach house from US, Australia and Europe. The hall have hosted more than a dozen wedding receptions, birthday parties, meetings, seminars and family reunions. We have hosted three garden weddings and two seaside weddings as of today.

This is the front yard of the main House built in 1998. The front is the national road and at the back is the beach.
This is the front yard of the main House built in 1998. The front is the national road and at the back is the beach.

Living Like King, a Queen or a Slave

Currently my wife and I are lucky that we have the benefits of living like a King or a Queen about 3 to 4 months every year in the Philippines. Life in Marinduque is very simple but we feel like a King and a Queen .

The benefits and advantages of our staying in the Philippines four months of the year are detailed in my blogs. It will be too verbose to repeat it here, But as a summary, the most important things I love about the Philippines. are the cheaper standard of living, availability of maids, gardeners and helpers at a reasonable expense and availability of fresh vegetables and fish and other seafood products. Personal services such as haircuts, manicure/pedicure are cheap.

Of course there is no perfect place in the world including the Philippines. The annoying things about the Philippines are the traffic congestion( not in Marinduque except during the Moriones Festival), unruly and undisciplined jeepneys,drivers, frequent brown outs and pollution in big cities like Manila or Cebu.

The availability of helpers in Marinduque makes you feel like a king or a Queen. We have two gardeners, a driver, a housekeeper and a cook. Macrine( my spouse) hires a laundry woman once a week for 300 pesos a day, plus 50 pesos tip. By hiring helpers, you are contributing to the improvement of the the local economy. The current dollar to pesos exchange at this writing date is about 46 pesos to one dollar..

Last year, I paid $ 3.00 for a haircut, $5.00 for 1 hour body massage and $4.00 for manicure and pedicure. The quoted price for the above services will vary from place to place in the Philippines and also affected by the pesos to dollar exchange rate.

Compared to life here in Northern California, I pay $12 to $15 for a haircut. I can not afford to have a manicure or pedicure every month. I do it myself.

Here in US, I am the driver, the gardener, the laundry man, and the dishwasher and the cook. So comparing our lives here in US to that in PI it is fair to say, that we live like a King or Queen in the Philippines, but like slaves in US.

However, We have adjusted to the differences in lifestyles between the Philippines and United States. We consider both places home.

Marinduque, A Gardener's Paradise

The tropical climate of Marinduque is ideal for growing not only orchids, hibiscus and bougainvillas but also euphorbias, cacti, succulents, plumerias and Ylang Ylang trees. Since I am an avid gardener this place is paradise for me.

The above plants are easy to grow and almost pest- free except for the two varieties of hibiscus ( white and yellow). My favorite orchid, a blue orchid is called "The Princess Mikasa". The Ylang Ylang flowers is the most fragrant flower in the garden. It reminds me of the perfume Channel #5. I have several varieties of hibiscus. My favorite is the canary-yellow(light orange) variety.

One of the dozens variety of orchids in my Garden
One of the dozens variety of orchids in my Garden | Source

My Gardens at Chateau Du Mer

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Marvelous Marinduque

Marinduque: A Photographer's Dream

Marinduque is a photographer's dream and delight. The province is endowed with unspoiled white sand beaches, pristine blue waters, fringing reefs, virgin coral reefs, isolated coves, limestone caves, meandering and underground rivers, mountain peaks, cascading waterfalls and streams, fabled sulfur and hot mineral springs, old churches, antique homes and of course beautiful sunsets and sunrises.

The Internet is filled with photographs of the scenic beauty of this island not only from the local amateur and professional photographers but also from photographers all over the world. The province has more than six islands popular to beach lovers, scuba divers and snorkeling enthusiasts. Among the popular islands are the Tres Reyes Islands ( Island of the Three Kings) and Maniwaya Island.

It has also Mt Malindig( an active volcano) known to mountain climbers and hikers. It has Bathala* and Tarug Caves popular to spelunkers and just curious seekers. In one of the eight caves of Bathala, there is a resident python, believed to be enchanted. If he shows himself when you visit the caves, it is supposed to bring you good luck.

One of the tourist attractions in the Island is the Bellarocca Resort and Spa-a five star resort popular to rich Filipinos, Koreans and Japanese tourists. However, just recently I heard that the resort is not doing well financially for lack of foreign clients because of the absence of air transportation from Manila and back. The good news is that by October this year the newly improved airport will be certified for air services . If this happens, this will be a boost to the tourism business in the Island and maybe save Bellarocca Resort and Spa from bankruptcy..

Both men and women wore Morion masks and headdress for the whole week of celebration
Both men and women wore Morion masks and headdress for the whole week of celebration | Source

The Moriones Festival

This hub about Marinduque-our second home is not complete if I do not add or write a paragraph about the annual Moriones Festival.

The island of Marinduque celebrates every year one of the most colorful Festival in the Philippines. Morion means "mask" or "visor," a part of the medieval Roman armor which covers the face. Moriones, on the other hand, refers to the masked and costumed penitents who march around the town for seven days searching for Longinus.

This week-long celebration starts on Holy Monday and culminates on Easter Sunday when the story of Longinus is reenacted in pantomime. Longinus, is a Roman centurion who was blind in one eye but was cured when the blood of Jesus spurted on his eye during the Crucifixion.

Here's a video for more colorful details about this world-known festival in the Philippines

Home is not a Place but in Your Heart

Our friends and relatives often asked us which abode do we prefer. Our answer is always the same, both places. Marinduque is an excellent place during wintertime and Northern California is an excellent abode during Spring, Summer and Fall. We love both places and hopefully we can continue our snowbird lifestyle in the future years to come. To continue this lifestyle requires good health and finances. I am hoping for the best and thanking the Lord for all the blessings He has given us all the previous years and the years to come.

Marinduque-The Heart Shape Island and also the Geographical Center of the Philippines


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    • chateaudumer profile imageAUTHOR

      David B Katague 

      3 years ago from Northern California and the Philippines

      Hi csmiravite, thanks for your feedback. In our Filipino-American group of Marinduquenos, we were the first couple who started this snowbird lifestyle. Today, there are more than a dozen Filipino-Americans with Marinduque roots enjoying this snowbird lifestyle. Cheers and thanks again for your comment.

    • csmiravite-blogs profile image

      Consolacion Miravite 

      3 years ago from Philippines

      There are many retired Pinoys who are doing what you have done. Retiring in the Philippines and at the same time, still enjoy the perks of being in the US. It is a lifestyle that other people can only envy. Marinduque is a beautiful place and staying there, part of the year, would be most enjoyable.

    • chateaudumer profile imageAUTHOR

      David B Katague 

      4 years ago from Northern California and the Philippines

      Hi CrisSp, it is never too early to plan on your retirement. Thanks for your feed back and I am glad you enjoy reading my hub. Have a Fantastic Day!

    • CrisSp profile image


      4 years ago from Sky Is The Limit Adventure

      I'm still far from my retirement though I'm already looking forward to it. Been working since 16 and quite tired now that I'm well beyond my legal age. :(. I like your idea of becoming a snowbird anywhere without snow would be good for my cracking joints and ailing back specially in the winter time. *smile*

      Good hub. I enjoyed it. Thank you.

    • Barbara Kay profile image

      Barbara Badder 

      4 years ago from USA

      I just need to talk my husband into going. It would be wonderful to have you as a tour guide.

    • chateaudumer profile imageAUTHOR

      David B Katague 

      4 years ago from Northern California and the Philippines

      Hi Barbara, When you are ready to visit Marindque in the future, just let me know, I volunteer to be your personal tour guide. Cheers!

    • Barbara Kay profile image

      Barbara Badder 

      4 years ago from USA

      Thanks for the answer. I haven't done a lot of travelling, so wondered.

    • chateaudumer profile imageAUTHOR

      David B Katague 

      4 years ago from Northern California and the Philippines

      Marinduque is rated as the number one most peaceful province in the Philippines. I would agree with SweetiePie that the Philippines is probably a lot safer than in many US cities except for Southern Mindanao.

    • SweetiePie profile image


      4 years ago from Southern California, USA

      My guess is the Philippines is probably a lot safer than many American cities. Americans worry about their safety abroad, but there are tourists who are killed when on trips to the US. There was a story about German tourists back in the 90's who were visiting Idylwild in the local mountains here in Southern California, and who were robbed and shot with a gun. The wife was left for dead, but the husband lived to tell his story. This kind of stuff can happen anywhere.

    • Barbara Kay profile image

      Barbara Badder 

      4 years ago from USA

      Wow! That is cheap for Marinduque. How safe is it for Americans? A man in Grand Rapids MI was robbed and murdered while on vacation there. Otherwise that is so much cheaper than living here.

    • chateaudumer profile imageAUTHOR

      David B Katague 

      4 years ago from Northern California and the Philippines

      Hi Barbara, It depends on the location. If you reside in the big cities, it is only about 80% cheaper than in similar cities in the US. However. if you retire in the provinces, $1000 to $2000 a month you can live like a Queen. In Marinduque, you can rent a whole House for around $ 200 a month. I suggest you visit various locations in the Philippines, before you decide where to retire.

    • Barbara Kay profile image

      Barbara Badder 

      4 years ago from USA

      You make me want to retire there. How much does housing cost? My husband is retiring next month.


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