Close enough to heaven in my retirement haven.
There are certain important considerations to identifying a retirement haven; affordability, climate, food supply, native hospitality, availability of consumer products and entertainment. I found all this and more in the Sunny Philippines and more particularly in Angeles City, Pampanga. An income of 15 to 20 thousand dollars a year will provide all your necessities and more.
Angeles City is the home of the former Clark Airbase, which was the largest U.S. Airbase outside the continental USA. The Philippine economy is presently one of the faster growing in the world. Much of the development is in Angeles city and much of that in the Special Economic Zone of the former Clark Field. There are basically two seasons: a dry season from December to April and a wet from May to November. Mean daily temperature is somewhere in the nineties, with cooler evenings. The best overall weather is December through February. For those seeking a cooler climate the Cordillera Mountains are spring like most of the year with very crisp evenings. Baguio City is the most sought after area for cool loving ex-pats, and only three and one half hours away.
The environs of Baguio also provide much of Luzon and especially Angeles with a year round supply of cool weather crops. Lettuce, Celery, Broccoli, cauliflower, beets and seasonally strawberries are commonly found in Angeles markets, much fresher than their counterparts found in the USA. Angeles has adequate supplies of fish, chicken, pork and beef as well as milk, eggs and cheese. Most of the cattle is range fed and has more nutritional value than grain fed. Tropical fruit from all over the country are inexpensive and plentiful. Angeles also features a fair share of imported foods from around the world. Foreign restaurants abound in Angeles although the quality is spotty.
Filipinos are well noted for legendary hospitality. Unlike Thailand where foreigners are culturally scorned but welcomed for their money, Filipinos genuinely love and welcome foreigners and especially Americans. American pop culture is widely imitated and admired. English is an official language and widely spoken along with a myriad of local languages and dialects. Up until the Cory Aquino administration, English was the medium of instruction.
Consumer products are widely available in Angeles City. There are three popular shopping malls with cinemas much like you might find in the USA as well as countless other shopping opportunities. Building supplies and hardware are also commonly available. Housing is very affordable, and much of it recently constructed. A boom in housing construction of all kinds continues to supply the market. Hotels and Condos lead the charge. Tourists will find adequate hotel rooms for as little as $20 or higher end accommodations for around $100.
The entertainment scene is adequate. There are four or five golf courses, many tennis courts, as well as swimming pools, parks and health clubs. Angeles has an active flying club and hot rod association. Veterans will find a warm welcome at two American Legion Posts as well as a well-appointed VFW. Pool players will find free or cheap pool in many bars and restaurants. One of the best ways to get acquainted in the EX-Pat community is to join a pool team in one of the many pool leagues for which Angeles is famous.
Angeles night life has much to offer. There are many affordable music and comedy bars. Lonely men might also enjoy the company of the many dancers and hostesses working the Girly Bars. Drinks and companionship are both reasonably priced and widely available.
Single men looking for love are sure to find it here. Angeles attracts ladies from all over the Philippines looking for love and support from that special foreigner. A popular saying with the young ladies is “Age doesn’t matter.” You might find a man of eighty with a lady of twenty. Everybody makes their own choices. Veterans with disabilities may especially find a haven here. The ladies are not only very understanding about such problems, but they are also very caring. The infirm may find professional care at bargain prices.
Adequate medical and dental care is widely available and more affordable than in the USA. People from around the world often vacation here while receiving complex dental procedures at affordable prices. The saying is “First world dentistry at third world prices. I recently underwent hernia surgery and found my surgeon to be highly skilled and the hospital stay pleasant.
I must end this with a caveat. Already married couples may not find this to be their cup of tea. The male temptation to stray is irresistible for many. Marriages could suffer a lot of stress from jealousy and suspicion. Most retired men come here as divorcees looking for a new start. In any case Angeles City is a gateway to a new country and a new life. I wouldn’t consider living anywhere else.
ADDENDUM FOR YOUNGER VETS
Recent veterans may find additional opportunity in Angeles City as well as other cities of the Philippines. Veterans with time remaining on their G.I. Bill of Rights educational benefits could enroll in one of the many Colleges and Universities offering quality education at bargain prices. All classes are taught in English. Being native speakers offer several advantages. The most obvious is that your English is likely to be superior to the natives. That gives you a leg up in pursuit of good grades. Secondly your superiority in English may provide opportunity to mentor those for whom English is a second language.
For those on disability benefits you may supplement your income by teaching English in one of the many English as a Second Language (ESL) schools popular with Koreans here. The pay is small, but so are living expenses. There are also a lot of jobs at phone banks, many of which are located in the Clark Special Economic Zone. Native speakers often get the best jobs.
For many the sweetest thing might be finding yourself popular with so many wonderful young ladies. The older guys do very well here; but young guys have the pick if the litter and can also choose from a wider variety of social classes. Lady veterans looking for education or love can do equally well, if not better. Upper income Filipino men jump at the chance to court American girls.
(Side note: once in Manila while eating dinner at the German Club I suggested to my German companion that we could approach one of the many German ladies in the next dining room. His response was that they were all in Manila looking to hook up with Filipino Men.)
It is my opinion that the many veterans suffering from PTSD may have the most to gain here. I find the Filipino People to be the most compassionate people in the world. For all of my adult life I knew I was emotionally stunted. I rarely felt joyful, loving or affectionate. I tried some pop psychology to become more human with only limited results. My first trip to the Philippines provided a remedy. There is something about the Filipino persona and culture that expelled my demons. I found my inner humanity here. If the rigors of war and multiple deployments have left you scarred and confused this may be the place to heal your wounds and become whole again. In any case the Philippine Islands is one of the last true paradises on earth and well worth a visit.