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Expats in Davao

Here is another article from Rob, also known as m60man. He is very good at expressing his views and I thank him for assisting me in keeping this site with writings about Davao. Thank you Jon.

I just read Tom Martin’s post and his last comment rang true to me as well. Bruce met my wife and me for lunch before he left for Vegas. We chatted about many things. He was a little upset due to some expats comments, and rightfully so. I do believe we would have become good friends if he had stayed here.

I have been here in Davao for almost a year now. I have not done a lot of socializing because I have been working 6 to 7 days a week building a house. I have met several expat here. I have one for a neighbor, one down the road and another down the road the other way. One, I actually think might become a good friend, but school is still out on that until I transfer (move) into my house later this week.

My neighbor’s idea of friendship is a shoddy barb wire fence that looks like a 10 year old put up, with grow sticks laced in between the strands and native thorn bushes he transplanted down the fence row, in my front yard! Not to mention three coconut trees he planted specifically to block my view of Mt Apo. That will take a few years, if they don’t die. Did I mention I bought my property from him. Nice guy till he saw he was not going to get any more money out of me.

Another foreigner with a bad plan. I would tell him what I think, but he hides or turns his back and goes inside if I get within shouting distance. He always waits until we are not there to do his deeds, early morning or after dark. My wife and I laugh and wonder when he will find the time once we move there. However, given that, the real sad part of it all is the fact that my wife and his wife grew up together, been friends most of their lives. I think his wife has came back to visit my wife one time in 6 months. Such a shame, but fear not, I believe in Karma…….we reap what we sow.

As for the other expats I have met, I put them into three categories. The ones that have little and want to be a King and the ones that have a lot and think they are Kings. Then there are the ones like me that came here because they love the culture and the challenge of a third world country. These seem to be far and few between. I do have several expat friends in Cebu who we visit and are waiting to come here when my house is finished. Yes, there are many inconviences here, downright frustrating at times. However, you got to love the people. Most have nothing but they are always smiling and full of hope. I do have several Filipino friends. All I have to do is mention I need this, or need someone to help me. They always come through and are there to help whenever I have a need. They expect nothing in return.

Well it seems that Tom Martin and I may have a few things in common. Maybe he will read this and who knows, maybe we will become friends. However, I do empathize with him no matter the outcome.

I have had people that are coming here for the first time; ask me about being taken advantage of by the Filipino’s. They are concerned and worried that they will have to pay more than they should. I have to laugh. But it’s true, you may get the white guy price or a Taxi driver may try to get away without setting the meter, (but we know Bruce would never do that). But it’s usually only a few peso’s more. The only way to really combat this is to learn some of the language. More times than not I get a better price then the Filipino’s. I always ask the price of something in English. Once they tell me, I then tell them in their language it’s too high and I want a discount. They are usually so shocked they get a big smile on their face and start lowering the price. As for as being taken advantage of, well my advice is to beware of other foreigners. They will more likely dent your wallet much harder the any Filipino. Sad but true.

36 Responses to “Expats in Davao”

  1. paul says:

    hay bruce

    this is paul

    im in california

    lets talk sometime bro


  2. Anthony says:

    Well maybe better to say that people are people everywhere and that there really is no trust when it comes down to it. A little harsh but thats my life experience. your point is respected as well though!!!!

  3. Greg says:

    I visited Davao only a short time, but agree: there were times I was charged extra, but at least a few times I got a lower price than a filipina was offered.

    My fiance was shopping for sandals, and we went to the Market Basket across from my hotel. She found a pair she liked, asked the price, and was told 125 pesos. She looked at me, and said “they are too expensive”. I responded to her that she should offer less. She asked if a discount was available, and was told no. I opened my haggling American mouth, and said “we’ll pay 60 pesos”. My fiance had a look on her face as if I had asked for the impossible, but I was told the best price available was 95 pesos. I then offered 75 pesos, and the deal was sealed.

    I knew haggling was very possible in the Philippines, but learned one thing that Bruce wrote an article on; my fiance has the ‘its ok’ mentality, just accepting that what she was told was fact, and that was just the way it is, and its ok because she cannot control it. I wanted to show her, that no, if you are told something that seems wrong, you do not just have to accept it.

    So yes, if a foreigner is confident, and has a knowledge of pricing practices, they can probably actually get a better price in some situations. Of course other times, the foreigner will get stuck paying a higher price. However, the high dollar rip offs are more likely to originate with another Anglo than with a Filipino.

    Just an observation from someone with a very limited experience in the Philippines.

    • Bruce says:

      Yes you got a good price and I do not think Sarah was really shocked except that maybe you were able to bargain. Many Filipinos are protective of there fellow countrymen and feel since your a “Rich American” you should pay full or higher price. Why not, you can afford it and it will help the person your buying from.

  4. Evelyn says:

    hmmmm looks like u r one unhappy camper…
    but i do hope and pray that everything will come out fine and well when u start living in your neghborhood..
    in behalf of my kababayans(countrymen )i’d like to say be happy living in my country…

    • Bruce says:


      Which country is yours now? hehehe I am in America same as you.

      • Evelyn says:

        bruce, i know..but i still love my country..
        that is why i am happy and appreciative when someone– a foreigner for that matter– would choose to live there and become a part of my native land…
        that is why i was supporting your blog by visiting it always and sometimes give some commentaries..
        and not only that ,i tried my very best to meet you and invited you to visit my hometown because it is my little way of saying thank you for being there… while i am here in your country???ironic but sooo true..hahahaha..
        anyways, i am happy living comfortably here in your country..

        • Bruce says:

          I know you love your country. You also took the advantage of being able to live and work in America to live better and help your family back home.
          You were also so gracious to come to Davao to meet me and then inviting Elena and I to Gen San to see your city. You treated us better than family and I will always have fond memories of the day we spent there. I also look forward to seeing you next time you come to Las Vegas or once Elena gets here, if we have the transportation to come visit you.

    • Steve in Davao says:

      Evelyn, I see you defend “your country” quite often and yet you have gone to the U S A to seek a better life. What’t with that?

      • Evelyn says:

        Dear Steve, I am sorry if i have offended you. Was i harsh in my commentary? I am sooo sorry but i did not meant to offend anyone..
        I was a little sad when i read his (m60man) article about Expats in Davao because it looks like he is not happy there. I was just hoping and praying that he would be as comfortable and that he would find happiness living in my country because i am also enjoying the comforts of your country. Steve, I am sooo thankful to all of you expats for choosing to live and retire over there. You are helping the Phil economy and for that I give my sincerest thanks to you and to all of your friends..Mabuhay kayo….Long live

        • m60man says:

          To the contrary Evelyn. I’m very happy right where I am. With the exception of my neighbors unusual ways things here suit me fine. I have learned to adjust my western mindset and accept the ways of the Filipino. After all 99% of my friends here are Filipino’s. A blessing to me that they have accepted me into their small community and are always here if I have a need.

          • SteveinDavao says:

            Not offended dear, just want to point out that we expats live here by choice, a little complaining comes with the territory, after all, isn’t that what this forum is about, talking things out. I live hear by choice, but still fine fault in my surroundings at times. This site has allowed me to air some of those complaints and get a new/different perspective from other expats here who comment about my gripes and complains.
            I agree with you! The Philippines is a great place to live as long as you do not put other countries values first. The P.I. is the P.I., no other place like it! Are we Cool? Hope so, I enjoy reading your comments.

  5. Anthony says:

    There are exceptions to the rule of course as far as trust. You know you are my brother, but in general, you know what i mean?

  6. Interesting topic and very true about “bitterness” here.. I recently came across people giving me personal attacks which is like water off a ducks back but another foreigner pretty much tries to do what he can to sabotage sales at a restaurant he had a falling out with the foreign owner. It pretty much shows there are too many bitter old men here with too much time on their hands. I pretty much find every day filled yet only get half of what I want to do done. I have tried more recently to mix with more expats in the area but sometimes wonder why I bother as many “know it all” already so why bother helping.. At the end of the day its better to just filter people out you get on with and leave the rest to their own devices as lets face it in the West would you mix with the ones you don’t get on with ? I pretty much doubt it.. Pity about your neighbour mind.. typically bitter over being unable to squeeze extra money out of you as if its a god given right to abuse trust..

    • SteveinDavao says:

      Tropicalpenpals, I agree.
      As with all people, some will truly be a friend and then there are ALL the others. I don’t take it personal; people have the right to pursue their own agenda’s, just wish they’d leave me out of them.
      I try to filter out those who aren’t sincere and try to practice “live and let live” with the all. It comes back to bite me sometimes, but I consider it as just “outside noise” and go on to enjoy life.
      I wish you the best. Don’t give up. There are lots of good guys here too!

    • Bruce says:

      In a place where expats should be there to help each other, they spend more time building their egos. Too bad.

  7. SteveinDavao says:

    The worst thing you can do to your nieghbor is be nice to him!
    That and live a happy life!
    Grouchy people hate it when others are happy.
    Good luck!

    • m60man says:

      Funny you should say that. That’s exactly what I do. I always wave and smile when I see them outside. He will go the other way, turn his back or pretend he don’t see me. But thats ok. I know at least I’m trying to do the right thing and that is all that counts to me. He has problems obviously, he has to leave with them not me.

  8. Anthony says:

    I guess with having a career in Law Enforcement, i see things in a different light. To me trust is earned and not assumed or given. Most give reguardless and thats great! but i have to say that i have a couple of close trusted friends and they both have have had similar careers that with the experiences we have had, we just dont experience trust all that often. I am sure it exists more than my exp has allowed me to see.

  9. Manilaboy says:

    I enjoy reading this blog, and I agree that the foreigners are the ones you should stay away from here and not the locals. The Filipinos are easy to deal with once you learn their culture and habits. And another thing I don’t like about some expats here in the Philippines, when the Filipinos are so hospitable, some expats are acting as the Philippines is their private ranch are you’re an intruder on their property. Just makes me laugh…

    • Bruce says:

      We all need to be cautious of all. Many filipinos look as a way to get extra money and foreigners are always needed to feel important and bigger and better than others.

  10. Craig aka MR1965GTO says:

    I missed something in this thread and may be moving to the PH’s soon, as I have retired early. Why did your neighbor think he was entitled to more money from you for the real estate transaction?

  11. Joe says:

    M60man-I onced belonged to the loser website living in cebu forum.Are you sure you want to lure foreigners from cebu to davao?Lets keep davao a secret and keep the whiners in living in cebu forum in cebu,ok.I saw where you have a lot of pics of your place on living in cebu forum,do you really want to bring trouble to your piece of mind where you are?Joe

  12. john says:

    i’ve been to the philipines 3 times,manilla and davao. manilla is not for me,but i really liked davao,i could drive wife is from davao and we have 2 kids,boy and girl,2and 4. i’ve been planning on moving to davao for years and i’m almost where i want to my country(u.s.) but i can give my family a better life there for sure.i’m 48 now and planning move in next 24 months. my dad was a police lt. in arlington,va. and died on the job from heart disease suddenly at 46. that’s alot of the reason i guess i’m semi-retiring at no more than 50. it would be great to get to know some expats in davao to meet and correspond with.i’ve leaned that i can’t buy property in my name for a year,true?? i figure to rent for a year.i’ll know by then if i really want to live there. realistically how much in dollars can i but a decent house there for. hope to hear from some expats in davao.take care,john

  13. I am an 64 expat from Minnesota USA who just arrived in Davao
    to join my Filipina fiance.

    My first experiences here in Davao have been ‘interesting’, but I
    must admit I am just beginning to adjust to the ‘culture shock’
    of the Philippine society. For a lifelong resident of the USA it
    is a very different culture and an extremely different monitary
    system. It takes a great amount of ‘getting used to’, at least
    for me.

    But a positive is the Philippine people I have met are quite
    wonderful even though they are living under what I would consider
    less than optimal economic circumstances.

    If it were not for my wonderful Filipina fiance I am sure I
    would not be existing here under these by USA standards less
    than optimal living conditions.

    I am still adjusting to the temperature and am sweating all day
    every day. But I don’t miss the SNOW!

    My plan is to reside here but I have yet to experience visiting
    the various ‘subdivisions’ to see what type of housing is available here.

  14. serendipity says:

    Been reading your posts for a while now and I find them all interesting. I hope you’ll find time to visit my blog too. It’s a work in progress you’ll find…

    Thanks in advance and Have a merry Christmas to you and your wife!

  15. Jake says:

    Just a quick comment for the writer. It all depends on where you live in the Philippines. Different cities and even ethnic groups have their own ups and downs. Davao is pretty decent for foreigners, but not every place in the Philippines is like Davao.

  16. Liezel says:

    hi bruce, this is liezel. ive been reading your blogs since february this just enjoying reading the comments from american foreigners as well… actually in search of an american man..any recommendation?hahaha..i just think u can give a good recommendation.

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