We didn’t know much about the Philippines until my brother decided to retire there. He has lived abroad virtually all his life and was looking for somewhere to retire that ticked various boxes for him, the most important being that it had a tropical climate and he could afford to retire there on a limited pension.

Eighteen months after he had bought a house and settled there, we spent a month with him. He lives in a very under developed part of the country, in the province of Luzon, miles away from Manila and the big cities. The view from his balcony is absolutely stunning. Most of the time we were there, the sea and sky were the most gorgeous blues.


View from balcony

Our days started early and finished early. We worked out that we probably got up about 2 hours earlier than we do at home (so 6.00 instead of 8.00) and went to bed two hours earlier as well. So we got used to having lunch around 11.00 and dinner around 5.30.

Living like a local meant we had a maid who did all our washing up, housework and laundry - normally something that we only have on holiday!

Raquel lives on site with her husband in a Nipa Hut. Her husband is also on the payroll and does odd jobs around the property, fetches and carries to the market and other local shops and does a bit of gardening. They use a trike or motorbike.


 Raquel & Bob’s outdoor kitchen


A family on a trike

So called foreigners in the Philippines, in other words anyone who isn’t a local Filipino usually have a girlfriend or wife who is a Filipino and my brother is no exception. This lady acts as interpreter, house manager, cook and chief of staff! Vicky is an excellent cook so we enjoyed some tasty local food - lots of bbq’d fish, salad and rice as well as local dishes such as pork adobo (a sort of light stew), pork afritada (pork in tomato based sauce), pork pancit (noodles with stir fry pork and veg). Lots of stir fries as well with pork belly. Most dishes were served with salad and rice. We did have chicken a few times, but that was from the local take away - Chooks to Go!

Vicky also makes the best potato salad we’ve ever eaten!


Chooks to go

And of course lots of tropical fruits - papaya, mango, lychee, coconut, apples, pears, grapes and David’s favourite - watermelon. Food was bought either from the local market on Sundays or Thursdays, or from one of the big shops in the city that import food from elsewhere. Once a month my brother tends to go to one of two cities that are both an hour and half away by car for the imported food he wants.



We did do one or two touristy things during our month’s stay. We visited some local waterfalls which we got to with a lift on a cart pulled by a water buffalo. And we took a trip out to a beautiful lake, but the area isn’t set up for tourists at all. We also did a bit of island hopping one day.


 Vicky and me island hopping




A buffalo ride!


Superb view

So we enjoyed our days by working on the laptop in the mornings and swimming in the afternoons in the South China/West Philippines Sea. We asked ourselves if we’d like to live there too or did we prefer life in the cold and expense of the UK. For us, its a no-brainer - give us the UK. But would we like to come back to the Philippines during the UK’s winter - yes please!

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