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I would like to tell you a bit about Marinduque is anyone is interested.


I am sure we would all like to hear your stories of life in Marinduque. Type away.

DONE!! :)  JJ

The Philippine Islands are still a bargain to live on and in.  Marinduque is perhaps one of the best bargains still available in the islands of paradise.
We build a home for about $7500.  We got the home up and running and furnished with borrowed furniture.  We then replaced the furniture and
made many changed, [ie improvements], to a small home that we built from the bricks up.  We built the home by bringing in bags of cement, and truckloads of gravel and sand.  We built the home on land that mama got from her father, and he from his father.  The land has been in her family for a long time.  Needless to say we knew, [know], that the title is good.  Land can be rented for 25 years or more and the lease renewed a second 25 years if one is not a citizen.  Few of us will live beyond 90 or so, so what is 50 years of rent.  I will not speak of luxury apartments or rentals as I do not plan to exercise that option of providing a roof over my head and that of my family.  Full time house keepers used to be $20 or so a month.  With the increase of wages inside the islands and the devaluation of the US dollar, we no pay our housekeeper about $50 a month.  He watches our property when we are not in the country and we have been blessed with his services.  He is mama\'s nephew and we  are proud of the way he manages to maintain the property when we are not there.  The costs of land for native citizens varies with the location of the land.  The land in good areas seems to be cheaper than in Houston, where we still have cheap land.  Land back in the interior is even cheaper.  Land in the bigger cities, to my understanding is still more expensive than land in the province.  We feel that we can live well on a minimal cost by living in the Philippines.  We, mama and I, employ a houseboy and a gardener most of the year.  My nephew is given money to employ the housekeeper.  He can either do that work also or pay someone to do the outside maintenance.  He has it tough when I am there, easier when we are in Houston.  Soon, we plan to retire to the islands full time.  Bye the way, most folks in the islands speak at least some English.  Mariduque lags the bigger cities in the production of students that are fluent in English, but still we are usually able to get our point across in English, on our island.  Most employees, if treated well, will perfer to work for a KANO than a Filipino as we often pay higher and often treat them as well or better than local standards.  Most citizens I have employed have been hard working and honest.  Folks that do not fit this bill or that need lots of supervision, are not kept on long term.

Mama and I can eat in a first class eatery in Manila, Lucena City or most big towns for $3 to $10 a person.  We can eat far cheaper if we eat in local eateries, often at less than a dollar for a three or four course meal.  Some folks will find that local meals do not meet internation expectations, but for mama and I, we enjoy local food to the up most.  If I want internation cuisine, i often cook it myself, using local ingredients or purchasing imports as needed to perpare the dish desired.

The Philippines offers colorful traditions.  We find that each region has its own traditions and way of doing things.  We have enjoyed most of the places we have visited.  Rural areas will offer a great deal of native artwork, from furniture to tapestries. Large cities will often have a market that will sell handicrafts to both locals and the international set for what I find is dirt cheap prices.  I let mama do the bargaining and things seems to be cheaper than with me buying and paying the Kano tax.  Life in the interior has improved a great deal since I first lived in the islands in the early 1970\'s.

Of course you will not find frigid conditions in the tropics, but in the tropics, the higher up the mountains you go, the cooler it gets.  As you move to different areas you will find cultural diversity in most cases.  We find a small place at the cost to be fine for us.  Perhaps it is because mama grew up in the area and is well connected.  Perhaps we will buy a second place.  One will know as we return soon for full time living in the islands of paradise.

As I mentioned, English is spoken in most areas of the Philippines.  English is the second official language.  Filipino is spoken in many areas, but English will get you by in most areas as well as Tagalog.  Most of the people are Christian, the largest percentage of our islands population are Roman Catholic and one will find some Muslims, and almost any Christian group they would want to find.

There are many areas in the Philippines where you should not drink the tap water, and should find a good source of filtered or distilled water. In most areas, even small rural areas have  filtered, distilled, or mineral water is bottled and inexpensive.   We buy 20 liters of water at a time for about 40 pesos or about a dollar per bottle.  Small bottles of water are available about every place where you will find a vendor selling any type of food, which is about every public place in the islands.  Vegetables should be well washed before cooking, and in many areas, iodine or chlorine bleach should be used to soak the vegetables and fruits before the items are eaten.  I eat salads, but mama often passes.  She does eat cucumbers though and we both eat some types of raw vegetables, but not as much as in the USA.

Most areas of the country are safe. Political stability is always in question, but never have I in 35 years question in my safety or that of my family. Despite what you hear, the Philippines is a safe place to live and enjoy.

Cities are generations ahead of many rural areas. Some rural areas, such as Cayagan de Oro are light years ahead of other rural areas, like my island province of Marinduque. You will find malls and fast food restaurants in most cities, but these are unheard of in Marinduque. Our area does not have the fine mega malls, the multi-screened cinema houses, or the fine eateries of the big cities. This is all a matter of taste and settling in an area to accomodate your needs and desires.  We often go to the mainland, [Lucena City], and purchase the latest movies already on CD.  Most CD\'s are of decent quality that they are a joy to view.  Some are horrible and I return them the next trip to the mainland and get a replacement.

We have no \'Sam\'s Club\'  in Marinduque. We are two hours by boat from ACE hardware and many other brand name outlets. More sizeable towns in the Philippines offer much of what is found on the average American sales shelf. Some rural areas offer more, some less, but always you see smiling sales persons ready to help.

The local infrastructure in some areas is quite modern. In other areas it is a turn back in time. Highways can be two to four lane concrete or a single lane of gravel and mud. You wait for one car to pass, so that you can use the same lane to continue. Cell phones are popular. Land lines and DSL may be less common. Hospitals in the city can be modern and up to date. Hospitals in rural areas often leave much to be desired. High speed internet is hit and miss.  We have been pleased over all with our DSL, but we occasionally do have brownouts and problems.  A brownout in either Manila or Marinduque will disrupe our connection.  Above Cagayan de Oro there no land lines and no internet services. Folks text by cell phone. On our tropical island of Marinduque we enjoy the benefits of DSL almost every day.

Food and alcohol are almost everywhere in the islands.  Most areas offer cheap food, and very cheap beer, brandy, rum, and gin. Other drinks are often available. Soft drinks are everywhere and offered in different sizes. Foreign fare is available in the large cities.  I was taken by a relative to a nice Mexican on a trip to the islands. We were taken by another relative to a Chinese eatery during the same trip. Filipino fare is still by far, the cheapest and most available in the country. The quality of San Miguel Beer will spoil you, distilled spirits can leave you lacking in smoothness and taste. I wish tequila was as available as whiskey and vodka.

As I mentioned, English is an official language of the islands. English is spoken as a second language, there are few native speakers of English in the Philippines. The Philippines is also a long way from the United States. Doing business at home can require that you stay up half the night to make a phone call to a company in American. The USA follows the islands by 12 to 16 time zones. Like any country that has a foreign language, learning at least some of the local language can be fun and rewarding. It will also gain a lot or respect from most of the natives if you do make this
attempt. In an emergency however, you will almost always be able to make your self understood in English.

In recent months, the peso that floats against the US dollar has been worth more, and the dollar worth less. The peso has also gained against the British Pound, the Euro, the Australian Dollar, and the Canadian Dollar. Don\'t forget, a strong peso makes for a strong host country.

In rural areas the dollar will go farther, but services available are often less.  Almost allservices, with the exception of the Internet, are cheaper than in the USA. Some areas of Cagayan de Oro have Internet cafes charging 10 pesos an hour. Some areas of Manila have DSL for about PHP 1000 a month. I pay PHP 1995 per month for decent Internet and feel the price is well worth the cost.   I find this far better than waiting to use the internet at a local cafe in the town proper.  The cost of the cafe would be far less than the p1005, but we would not have the convenience and enjoyment of being on line 24 hours a day.  I now use VOIP at $25 a month and find the service for domestic calls and faxes in the USA to be excellent. In most areas housing costs are far lower than in the USA.  Some areas will take more getting used to than other areas.  Gated communities, like in the USA, are available, but another writer will have to clue you in on those. I live in a small house with two baths, warm water showers, three bedrooms, a sala, a dining area, a kitchen and a dirty kitchen for almost no cost at all. AS I already noted, I built the home mortgage free for about $7500 or less, and have upgraded almost monthly since. Mama owns the land, the home sits on a little over 3 acres of paradise. Property taxes are about PHP 2000 a year, about $50.00 a year.  Insurance is nill, driving costs even cheaper. Our neighbors envy our little bungalow, but there are many large, fine mansions in the country that would make my home look like a salt box.

Buses, jeepneys, and tricycles can get you just about anywhere, be it across the road or across the country. Many areas have good airline service. Mass transportation is cheap. I recently took a bus from Manila, near a cousin\'s home, reserved the two front seats, and was dropped off at my door in the province. The bus was barged on a boat from Lucena to the port in Marinduque. The cost was php 500, or about $11 each. The bus was clean, comfortable, and air conditioned. The boat had bunks and was air conditioned. The a/c worked so well I caught a nasty cold.

Will any of the islands be right for you? This is hard to say. You will not be able to drive here to find out. The country has 7,107 islands; the ten largest islands contain 90% of the population. We are the 13th island in size. We island hop, and travel. We enjoy domestic help and rural family life to the fullest. The Philippines offers me everything any country could even attempt to promise. I enjoy more cool areas, but mama has land here, as well as family, so we opted for this tiny remote island, about 40 % larger than Guam. We have a diversified climate on the island. I may investigate a plot of land on the mountain soon. For landslides, we are on the warning list. For now I am staying on the coastal plain, but as I mentioned, I may look for a second home in either Marinduque, Manila or one of the southern islands. We have occasional electric brownouts, but we can also drink the tap water. We made tradeoffs with needs vs. desires and stuck it out here on our tropical island. We are not alone, as our 960 square kilometer island is home to an additional 218,000 people in 6 towns.

Would we have enjoyed Mexico, Central America, South America or another area more? We will never know as we have found paradise here in Marinduque. Now if I can just find a trucker to bring in 20 loads of fill, get a fish pond dug, build a piggery, drill a well, and find a man with a carabao and a plow willing to plow my upper field for corn and peas, I will indeed be a happy foreigner. Also, mama will be a happy \'\'wife of the foreigner\'\'.

Come, take a look, take a real look, and stay a while if you can. We were forced from our retired life style in December of 2006.  We had seen
earthquakes and lots of typhoons and rain.  We left when over 90 percent of our islands natives woke up without a roof over their heads due to a cat 5 typhoon.  We have since returned to work and have enjoyed Houston and our home here.  We do caution folks that life there will now cost more both because of the increased costs in the islands and because of the rise of the peso agains our US dollar.  We will soon be old enough for SS.  Mama and I will also sell our home in Houston and head for the islands and use the islands as our base, instead of using Houston as our current base.  We can travel to most areas of Asia with miminal cost.  Travel to the USA for an occasional visit is not out of our range of expences.  We feel that living a western lifestyle in Marinduque will cost us about $1100 to $1300 a month.  My SS will be able to cover than.  We hope this post has been of benefit to readers.  It is an update of a post I made a year or so ago that appears on the LinP3 home site.  Blessings to all...


I have returned to my island.  My dog reconized me and I spent a few minutes coming her.  She acts as if I had never been gone.  Truely forgiving animal.
My grand nephew and a grandson of a cousin, both about 3 1/2 to 4, returned with us.  the govenor was on the boat with us, as well a a well know actor,
a senator and a few other dignataries.  A cousin, a ranking member of the PNP, was assigned to protect the officials on their trip.
It is good to be home.


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