Marinduque-my Island Paradise
The following article was written by Celina Macaisa and posted by www.myphilippineretirement.com dated January 2, 2010. It was titled Retiring Half-a-Year in the US and the Philippines.
When a Global Filipino Retires, which country does he choose for the next part of his life? Will he need to leave home, friends, and family (a second time)?
For decades, due to lack of well-paying jobs in the Philippines, Filipinos have been leaving their country and families behind to improve their own and their families’ standard of living.
And after decades of working hard in a highly-competitive, fast-paced business environment, and ‘you are on your own culture’ of a 1st world country; these (former) Filipinos are now prioritizing how to increase the quality of their retirement years.
Ironically, the Philippines which may not have been a great country to make a living in during their younger years is an excellent country for retirement: warm climate and culture, relaxed pace of life, and lower living expenses.
Hence, the ‘snowbird lifestyle’ of having two residences in different parts of the world, which has been practiced by Europeans and North Americans for centuries, is now gaining more acceptance by Filipinos who immigrated abroad.
The Rise of the Filipino Snowbird
“I know of another person who is doing the same lifestyle we have, 6 months in PI [Philippine Islands] and 6 months in the US. We call ourselves snow birds. A lot of our friends are envious of us.” - David B. Katague
However, although many Filipinos living abroad are aware of the ‘snowbird’ retirement lifestyle, many are not quite sure about the planning and costs needed to make it work.
Hence, this article is written to give a look on how one Filipino couple, David and Macrine Katague was able to put into reality their wish to live their retirement years both in the U.S. and the Philippines—-two countries they think of as home and where key family members live.
David B. Katague is a retired Chemistry Team Leader of the Food and Drug Administration in Silver Spring, Maryland USA. He is also currently a proprietor of Chateau Du Mer Beach Resort, in Boac, Marinduque, Philippines.And one of the most interesting things you will learn from this interview is that beyond harsh winters and cost, ‘family’ is the driving reason and support factor for making this retirement lifestyle work.
Here is our interview with David B. Katague:
1) How many years have you spent in the US?
“[We] have lived in US since 1960 to the present.”
2) What were your top reasons for choosing your retirement lifestyle of living half-a year in the Philippines and half-a-year in the States?
“[Our reasons were] climate (even though the winters of Northern California are much milder than that of Chicago or Toronto), relatives, and cheaper standard of living.”
3) Before making this decision, did you know of another former Filipino retiree who practiced this ‘snowbird lifestyle’ that influenced you?
“[Yes], my sister-in-law”
4) Did you re-acquire your Filipino citizenship or retired in the Philippines under the Special Resident’s Retirement Visa (SRRV)?
“My wife reacquired her Filipino citizenship 2 yrs ago. I will consider applying for dual citizenship if I decide to live in Philippines permanently.”
5) How do you spend your time here in the Philippines? What makes retiring in the Philippines interesting and inspiring in terms of activities, new experiences, and living with other Filipinos?
”Setting up a small business (a beach resort and conference center (www.chateaudumer.com), keeps me busy while I am in Marinduque.
In addition since my favorite hobby is gardening, the tropical climate is conducive to growing orchids, fruits, and vegetables and other tropical ornamentals. This gives me plenty of exercise both physical and mental, an antidote to developing AZ disease.”
Also the presence of relatives makes life masaya lalo na [happy especially] during the Christmas and Easter Season. I do miss my grandchildren during Christmas while we are in PI [Philippine Islands].”
6) Practical concerns on this retirement lifestyle:
a) Are you receiving pension? How is this retirement way of life feasible?
“I have SS, private and federal pension. Since I am maintaining 2 households, it is a very expensive proposition. Luckily, I have a son, who takes care of our house here in NC [Northern California] while we are in PI.
When we are in US, I have a full time caretaker who takes care of the house and the beach resort.”
b) In articles discussing retiring in the Philippines, an allowance of US$1,000 to $1,500 a month is often quoted as enough for a retiring couple to live on. Is this still true in your experience?
“Yes, $1500 a month is still adequate in the provinces. In Manila, this amount will be probably too tight.”
c) Did you need to have a trial-run first? Or did you stay in the Phil with a tourist visa first before making the final decision?
“[No.] I know life in PI as I grew up there until I was 21 years old. The only question is where in the Philippines, we should retire, my home province or my wife's home province. Marinduque was the winner.”
7) Medical Insurance and Healthcare: In living half-a-year in the Philippines, what plans did you make for medical emergencies since U.S. Medicare/Medicaid does not cover for treatment in the Philippines?
“I have Blue Cross under the Federal Insurance Plan. My wife has Phil Health. I recommend a minimum of $2000 for medical emergency.”
8) Are there any individuals and organizations who were a big help to you in setting-up your retirement life in the Philippines? What do you think the government can improve on to attract more former Filipino retirees?
“Yes, my sister-in law helped us built our retirement home, while we were still working here in US.”
“To encourage Filipinos expatriate, the government should help in relocation by exempting them of taxes for their household goods and car. Also, there should be someone in the Philippines to help them settle and facilitate their move.”
Note: Currently, one-time tax exemptions for importing personal goods (except for cars) to the Philippine is only provided to former Filipino retirees who applied for the Special Resident Retirees Visa (SRRV), within 90 days of SRRV issuance and not exceeding $7,000. These tax exemptions are not accorded to former Filipinos who are retiring in the Philippines through re-acquisition of Filipino citizenship. - myphilippineretirement.com
9) Advice on doing it right:
a) Any suggestion/advice for other Former Filipinos who are still evaluating their decision in living part of their retirement life in the Philippines?
“Always plan ahead. Choose a location, where you have relatives and friends [emphasis mine]. Get health insurance accepted in PI, but reserve cash for medical emergency.”
b) Last question: Are there some common pitfalls to avoid?
“Do not engage in business if you can not personally manage it or have a trusted relative or employee to do it.
Keep your mouth shut in local politics. [Get] acculturated again to the Filipino lifestyle of [being] easy going, no value of time [or different regard for time as compared to N. America] to avoid the rat race again, thus preventing a heart stroke.
Keep always busy both in mind and body, thus enjoying your retirement, and hopefully a long life.”
To summarize this interview, a global Filipino can enjoy his retirement years both in his country of birth and new home country through adequate financial preparation and family support.
Why make a tough choice of permanently leaving your new home, new friends, and family in North America; or forego the warmth of the climate and culture of your country of birth when you can be a Filipino snowbird?
Personal Update:Since last year after my wife was diagnosed with Parkinson Disease, we have limited our stay in the Philippines only for 3 months. Her illness requires more medical attention that is not available in the island of Marinduque. One of her PD drugs is not available in the Philippines and currently we can purchase only in advance a 90-day supply of the drug.
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If this is your first time in this site, welcome. It has been my dream that my province, Marinduque, Philippines becomes a world tourist destination not only during Easter Week but also whole year round. You can help me achieve my dream by telling your friends about this site. The photo above is your own private beach at The Chateau Du Mer Beach Resort. The sand is not as white as Boracay, but it is only a few steps from your front yard and away from the mayhem and crowds of Boracay. Please do not forget to read the latest national, international, and technology news in this site . I have posted some of my favorite Filipino and American dishes and recipes on this site also. Some of the photos and videos on this site, I do not own. However, I have no intention on infringement of your copyrights. Cheers!