RT Cunningham

10 Years of Living in the Philippines

Driftwood Beach Pier - the Philippines Today is the 10-year mark, the 10th anniversary of living in the Philippines. It’s been a bumpy ride, but only a few of the bumps were specifically Filipino. Of course, I had to go back to the United States on four different occasions, but I never moved back to the United States and I don’t have any intention of doing so in the future.

Typhoons and Earthquakes, Expected Natural Disasters of the Philippines

Every time we have one of these natural disasters, I’m reminded of a cartoon I watched on Saturday mornings in the 1960s — Super Chicken. The theme song included a line something like “you knew the job was dangerous when you took it”.

It was my choice (ultimately) to live in the Philippines, knowing full well what was ahead of me. The Philippines has suffered through more typhoons than I can remember and I’ve personally suffered through at least three earthquakes. On the bright side, I love the rainy season. Filipinos seem to dislike it or even hate it, but not me. I’m well-prepared for the upcoming rainy season.

Every rivet on the roof has been sealed with Vulcaseal (the grommets corrode over time) and painted over. The son of a cousin on one side of my Josie’s (my wife’s) relatives did the sealing and then a cousin from the other side did the painting. I’m too old and clumsy to do it myself, something I would have done 10 or 15 years ago. In fact, I did some roofing repairs on the house I sold in 2006. Anyway… this is something we’ll be doing every year from now on. The house won’t even be 10-years old until the end of August, but we’ve had to do more repairs than I care to remember.

All of the walls of the house are plastered cement over hollow blocks (concrete masonry units) filled with cement and reinforcement bars. The only damage to the walls from the earthquakes were cracks in the plastering. We’ve fixed one bedroom where the damage was the worst, but we still have cracks to repair in other parts of the house. Some of the plumbing, put in by amateurs outside the house, was damaged by collapsing dirt.

Injuries and Illnesses

One of the times I had to return to the United States was to be with Josie when she had her tonsils removed. A fish bone was stuck in one of them and the doctor decided it was a good idea to take out both.

I’ve paid for most of the medicine and so forth for the relatives living in my compound over the years. In fact, I spent nearly a million pesos (more than $20,000) when my mother-in-law had to have surgery done on her head. I even sold my earlier car to cover what I couldn’t come up with otherwise. To be fair, both of my sons contributed what they could.

I don’t really want to think about the negative aspects of the last 10 years in the Philippines. There were way more good times than bad times even if I can’t remember them all. I’ve watched several children grow up, some born before I arrived and some born later. The youngest is under two and some are already adults.

Is Moving Away an Option?

I don’t intend to live anywhere else but I have a partner to consider (Josie). Every year, she likes living here less and less. It’s because of her brothers and sisters and that’s really all I can say about it.

We’ve been invited to live with either of our sons’ families but both families aren’t settled down, being involved with the military and all that. If things get worse, and I hope they don’t, we may consider living with one family or the other, or rotating between families.

I like living in the Philippines. I like the people and I like the food. There are things that could be better, but I’ve been back to America a few times and I don’t like it there at all.


RT Cunningham
April 3, 2016