Why do so many expats fail in the Philippines?

Good question and i will act as Mr stereotype as most expats start from this position. They meet miss right on the internet who loves them with all their heart, they travel to the Philippines not sure if its right for them but want to meet the girl and suddenly everything drops into place. A beautiful woman loves them more than the 200lb woman did back home there is no back chat or expectation but a woman willing to follow where you lead and happy to just be with you.

So far so good? Then you hear about opportunities or help the family could do with in very subtle ways without conflict, your not rich but it sounds a cheap deal to help out and start to trickle cash to the family in some form. Your happy you have a woman that you wouldn’t find in the West and she’s more than happy with you and often jelous of competition from other women. Your 10ft tall since arriving and taking the family out to dinner and splashing cash having a laugh to yourself that it isn’t a lot of money. Hiring a car is cheap, dinner for the entire family is cheap, hell even booking into a hotel for everyone is a break and cheap.

But here is the odd thing from the other perspective they are seeing a gravy train. Your in holiday mode and also in the “I love you” mode keeping the girlfriend soon to be wife happy. Want a new mobile phone? “sure no problem its only P5000” jewellery, etc,etc. But your sending completely the wrong message. This is why many foreigners blame Filipinos for things going wrong here. This is the truth, look at a Filipino in the same boat locally what do they do? see money pouring out of every hole? Lets put it this way I know a very wealthy Filipino literally in the millions of dollars but when you look at him he looks almost homeless and doesn’t buy his own lunch if he can help it. Top of the tree want a free ride not paying! so your actually offering everything up on a platter which makes you look like a charity and people start to think your stupid or have money to burn being a rich foreigner. Rich Filipinos don’t give anything for free but expect it!

You should be coming off the plane with a completely different mentality your here to meet the girl not buy the family. I am in year 4 here and its long term expats I mainly talk to (i don’t discuss individuals btw!) but there are stereotypes we see all the time and its not sitting laughing at other people but the fact nobody listens. I am here 4 years because I am business minded, I set a few things in motion when I first moved here to see if I got burned and I did. At the same time I was expecting it in some form, and its this that makes things different. I lost a small percentage but I see others here riddling themselves with debt from the West to accommodate a woman they “Think!” loves them. The truth Asia is not short of women, China itself is finding its educated women seek Western guys same as most other countries in Asia. Your a prize specimen in many cases so why let yourself be abused?

Set a test, trap whatever you want to call it snare is probably the best word I would use as it will set the ground rules. If the money stops and the interest from the woman stops you know she values you as an ATM. On the other hand if she helps you out and also the family your probably into a good family as many do exist here! often the problem is the guys not the girls.

Now here is the crunch to why many expats fail in the Philippines they trust too many people. Most arrive with a fixed amount or a fixed monthly pension. Both need to be taken care of very carefully. Expecting someone else to take care of it you only met in the last few months is crazy. You have to control it all yourself, there is no other easy way. If you talk to people who know me well they want to invest in me and my projects because they know I can turn nothing into something very easily. At the same time they will also tell you I refuse to take the investment. Am I mad? no its simply down to if I want them to invest I want to help them develop a venture not control it 100% and the reason being is they need to learn and understand the local market as it can change at short notice. Even if the potential is there the corruption is high in the Philippines making any investment risky. People trust me because they know I am above board and honest, but if something happened to me everything would fall apart like dominos. People put the same trust in other people though unaware of the weakness that others are there for exploitation, offering up risky investments or even disappearing on the next flight.

Then we get to the family business, sad to say but the most regular thief is the ones closest to you so far I have seen a Japanese guy all loved up and bought a P1million lot for the new home with his fiancee to find out she was already married (she kept the lot and sold it as she had full control of land). Several food businesses where the family bring food to the business every day while selling that ahead of the guys fresh chicken then selling the chicken and stealing those profits aswell or maybe even the fake robberies that have left several people dead.

May sound all doom and gloom but everything above can be prevented. Me what am I worth on the ground? invested around P3million, if dead regular income is around P30,000+ per month alive?? can easily double it. I have very few risks to my health but many expats offer up a widows pension here and your putting yourself at risk as to many of the women people marry your offering more than they could earn. Lets face it most expats marry girls of lower castes (yes caste system exists in the Philippines). A factory worker from Alabama isn’t going to be so fussy marrying a girl out of some slum. Yet she may be fantastic but the excess baggage isn’t.

Best advice is come here for a year if your retired, don’t buy a house,condo,apartment or anything else. Don’t invest in a business just sit your butt down and learn. The golden rule is “nobody says you have to get married”. So just spend time learning the language and culture and ease into it. Most people arrive and do things that took them 30 years in the West in 18 months then grumble its all gone wrong.

0 comments for “Why do so many expats fail in the Philippines?

  1. Zeke Axlerod
    August 10, 2011 at 6:58 pm

    Well I think its all luck of the draw. I married a Filipina about 40 years ago and am still married to her today,I think she might stick around. If she had not run the household finances I would be broke today. She came from a poor but hard working family of Rice Farmers.Her Dad ruled with an iron hand, no nonsense, you will work, you will go to college. Her Mother was shy quiet and hard working. Similar things happen here in the US also, marry into a crap family you might just get crap. In my opinion Americans should not be involved in business in the Philippines, let the Filipinos run the business. American retirees should be looking for a Nipa house and a hammock under a palm tree, maybe a little chicken adobo and a cold Magoo that’s the only business an American needs to stick his nose into in the Philippines.