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Leaving Davao – What I Will Miss – and What I Will Not

I have been thinking about this subject, and how to write it. As many of you know, I have lived in Davao for over two years.  As in any place, you live, at first, it is new and over time, it is just normal to live there without much thought. Because of this, in the past, there have been times I had trouble finding topics and information to write.

So, with my leaving, I was thinking about things I will miss and things I will not miss from here. This is a hard thing to decide or even list.

I was going to say I would miss friends, but there are a few that are “True” friends. I have met many people, foreigners and Filipinos. Most do not contact me unless they need me for something and many I have given up trying to develop closer friendships since they are not interested.

Some might think I will miss being free every day without to worry about going to a job. Well, actually, I miss the regiment of working and when I was in Architecture, I enjoyed my work.  Over the two years, there were times I was bored and wished there was something to do.

I do not know if there are foods here that are not available in America. Some fruits are not available there, but there are many not available here which are in America.

Family, well I will miss Elena until I can get her the spousal visa but we will video chat and call often. This will be hard, but I know in the future that she will be with me. As for my other family here, we have never developed as tight a bond as I would have liked. Maybe over time we can sponsor some to come over since they will be licensed nurses.

Traffic and driving here I will never miss. In the states, there are laws and police to maintain traffic and we try to follow the rules. Here it is crazy, part because there are so little traffic officers to maintain the laws. As we used to joke “If there is no policeman to see you break a traffic law, is what you did illegal?”

There are items here less expensive than in the states but if, it is a garment, and you are not short and skinny, can you find it in your size? For me, with a size 12 wide shoe size, I cannot ever find athletic shoes, sneakers, in my size. As for clothes, I do not know how they measure but their number sizes and graduated sizes such as S, M, L, XL, XXL, are smaller than in the States. When I moved here, in the states I wore a 38 waist slacks, here I needed a 42. I wore a large or maybe an extra large shirt. Here I need a XXL.

Many items here are made in China and the quality is low. Also here, in most cases, if you buy something, there are not many return policies. Some malls, if you buy something and it is wrong or does not fit, you have 24 hours to return it. If it breaks, you are stuck with it.

Many people, especially when in the “golden years” prefer hotter temperatures. For me, I enjoy some change of seasonal temperatures. Here the only time it is cool is if it has rained all day and still is raining through sundown. Then the buildings and air is cool. If the rain stops while the sun is out, it gets more humid with the extra moisture evaporating in the heat.

I will also not miss the bad sanitary conditions with never ending ants, roaches or rats. I will not have to worry anymore if I get a mosquito bite that I might get dengue or malaria.
I came here as most because of the cheaper cost of living. I wonder if the conditions outweigh the cost savings.

We all make life changing decisions in our life, maybe a job, a marriage, a divorce a change of location or even a change of country. Good or bad you make the best of it. Sometimes the “Grass is not always Greener.” I made my decision to move here because I felt it was the best under the circumstances. I wanted to be with the lady I loved and this was the easiest way. I thought I would be able to find a way to make an income. Well, as throughout life, situations change and I am happy I have someone offering us a way to live in the States and have another chance.

34 Responses to “Leaving Davao – What I Will Miss – and What I Will Not”

  1. don m. says:

    Ants we have had a time with this year but with Tarro we have killed them off. My best friend from high school is not talking to me anymore. He has bad health and cant travel and was not too happy hearing about my pi trips. I hope all goes well for you in vegas. I hope to hear from you when you get there. I will send you my phone numbers when you get there. We can call you as we have all us call for not added charge on all our phones. The weather here has been wet the last few months but it is sunny today.

    Im saving money before I go to the pi–I dont plan to make a living there but retire there. I have been working on the line for my use there –no money Im retired. If I had a lot of money I would just stay here.

    • Bruce says:

      Ants can be somewhat controlled but never eliminated. Black ant nests die quickly but the red ants feed on Terro for many days. As I joke, once the nest inhabitants die, a new family move in.
      The Philippines is not for everyone. There are health concerns to inhibit moving here.
      I am glad you have enough retirement to live here. I hope you can afford to get all the imported products you need or have someone who will ship for you. Life here is cheaper than the US, Canada and/or Europe but life is different. Some can assimilate, some can accept life and some people cannot handle the differences.

  2. Riza says:

    Well, there are tough decisions we have to face sometimes, and often it’s about our livelihood. I’m sure you will be missed by many, you write lively and timely posts. But I don’t believe that you won’t have time posting here about your new adventures back home ^___^, so we’ll all be waiting for it.

    Have a nice trip back to the US, and may you be blessed always.

    • Bruce says:

      I will try to write but I think most readers are more interested in life and culture of the Philippines and not about me in America, what I will go through getting Elena to the states and then her life once she is there. That is why I would like to get some writers to keep the main reason for this site active.

  3. sandy says:


    When will you arrive in the States?

  4. Bubbles says:

    “I will also not miss the bad sanitary conditions with never ending ants, roaches or rats. I will not have to worry anymore if I get a mosquito bite that I might get dengue or malaria.”

    Most of what you have written is true, but living condition in the Philippines, specifically Davao, is relative.

    When you mentioned the above statement, I was disgusted. It’s true that there are ants, roaches, rats, and mosquitoes, but these creatures exist in this planet, even here in the US, unless you are in Antartica. However, they usually thrive in areas with poor sanitation and inadequate maintenance, and not all areas in Davao City is filthy or poorly maintained.

    You should have have convinced your fiancee to move in another house or not to go in places where these creatures abound. I am a Filipino traveler who is currently here in the US and the last time I lived in Davao, I have not experienced what u had.

    • Bruce says:

      It is true, there are all of those critters in most places in the world but in most middle and upper income areas in America you do not see rats in the streets or homes, ants are kept at bay and roaches is not a nightly visitor. In many areas most high areas of mosquito problems they have aerial spray for help.

    • Billy Escobar says:

      Well I agree with Bruce on alot of these conditions, especially if your not use to them. What is living comfortably but a series of small adjustments suited to your own needs.
      Last time i was in the PI, I had the fortune to taste both 5 Star and lower living conditions.
      Living with westernized conditions in the PI can be great and wouldn’t mind retiring that way. Living anything less than those conditions is not for the average American. There’s a reason why most Filipinos even at your age Bruce go back and forth from the PI. That’s to make that money to maintain the lifestyle. In a sense you are now a OFW, if you ever truly plan on retiring permanently in the PI. I total understand the ants, roaches and rats part and I’ve lived with those here in the states but they are on another level in the PI.
      The PI is a humbling experience to those who are not use to living on the basic necessities. If you have the cash you can live a bit better for the cost than in the States but alot of Filipinos once they make the cash don’t ever leave the States.
      Anyways before this turns into another rant. Again god speed Bruce and thanks for sharing your thoughts while you were in my motherland. It’s good to see a non stereotypical expat every once in a while.
      P.S. The albino roaches are the ones that really got me. They have no fear and will chase you down like a camel spider.

      • Bruce says:

        As I tried to show, with a good pension and money you can live a decent life in the Philippines, if you have low income, Filipino or Expat has to get used to making due with how ever you can. A Filipino needs less to be content then an expat.

    • Ms Caroline says:

      I agree with” Bubbles” I am not sure which is worse…Malaria ,Dengue or Lung Cancer
      As far as cockroaches or ants,these creatures have been around since the dawn of time and they play a big part on the balance of nature.

  5. jeff says:

    If someone living in the Philippines wanted to take an extended vacation to the USA can they do so? Can Elena do that before the marriage visa comes thru? Has to be some way around it. If her family wanted to come to America to visit you would they have to wait 9 – 17 months to do so? I know our Govt. takes forever to do anything but there has to be loop holes.

    • Seth says:

      No Loop Holes…Elana would have trouble getting a tourist visa unless she can prove she is a land owner or a business owner. Our government is worried that once they arrive that they will not return to the PI. My mother in law and sister in law were able to get multiple entry visas that are good for ten years, so there is ways for somem to come. The main thing is that have to have a reason to return to the PI, and convince the Government that they will return to the PI

      • Bruce says:

        The hard part is having and showing the US govt you have what they expect. The bad part is it is never stated, you just need to convince the interviewer.

  6. m60man says:

    I wish………..

  7. sandy says:


    This may sound like a silly question but I really don’t know so that is why I am asking. Will you be legally married in the States? S

  8. Marvin says:

    Your gonna miss the price of cigarettes Bruce.

  9. Tom Martin says:

    Bruce, I probably fit into that category that you speak of that you tried to be friends with, but they acted not interested. I am telling you the truth it was not because I was not interested in being friends with you. I just have gotten to where I do not want to get out any more. I do not want to try to have friends. It had nothing to do with you.

    I have always told you when you said or did something I did not like and been totally honest with you as you have been with me. I regret now that you are going home that I did not visit more and do more things with you.

    I to am not contacted unless they want something and I am tired of it. I tried to be friend with my neighbors on both sides. I made the mistake of helping them with small problems and it ended up that I had to stop speaking and tell them to stay away because the help turned into supporting them. One relationship I stuck close during illness and when I got sick and was in the hospital they seem to get upset that I had to take care of myself and could not visit three times a week. I do not mind helping people financially, but I want them to be friend me because they like/respect me not because of any money they might can get out of me. It seems frienships in the Philippines are based financial aid and using you .

    I hate to see you go home, but I am glad you are going because I think it is best for you. You are young and talented. There is much you can do with your life and you cannot do it here in the Philippines. The Philippines is okay for old farts like me. I do not understand why a young man with talent would waste their time here. There is a reason the talented Filipinos leave for greener pastures.

    I to wish I was back in the States. I probably will return when cannot take it here any longer and I know that time will come. In the mean time I am trying to tough it out, but my situation is quite different than yours. I am alone, older, sick, and have no family in the States. I just got through talking to Cardawe about a retired priest friend of mine in the States in a similar situation and I might be just as well off here as there.

    I have been meaning to call about that pizza place we were going to,but just kept putting it off. I know your time is short, but if you still want to do it you know my cell number.

    I wish you the best of luck and you know my prayers will go with you.

    • Bruce says:

      Thank you for your continued friendship and no, I am not asking for financial support. Just as you say, and some things I have heard recently, even many “good” Expat/Filipina marriages here turned out just financial support for their Filipinas family.
      Tom, as you know, mental outlook helps or hurts medical conditions. If life is getting so lonesome or depressing for you, maybe it is time for you to return too. If back home is not good, come to Vegas and we can continue and build our friendship. As you know, age is no boundry for friendships between us.

      • Emelina says:

        Bruce, are you still in Las Vegas? I sent you an email earlier about the differences between SSI & social security (retirement) benefits thinking you were still in Davao. I live in Las Vegas, but I’m now preparing to leave for Davao with my boyfriend soon. He is thinking of retiring in Davao, but I don’t think he’ll be able to stand the heat & the different living conditons there. Hope you can meet him here in Las Vegas to give him your insights about Davao & why you left. It’s his first time to go to the Philippines. Send me an email if you’re interested to meet us & give us your contact number. Maybe we csn meet some place at an appointed date. We don’t have much time because we are busy packing & we’ll be traveling at the end of the month to California first before we fly out of the US. Hope to hear from you soon.

        • Bruce says:

          Yes I am still in LAs Vegas. I am sorry for the delayed reply but with my hours, it is had to reply the same day as comments are made. I will email you my cell number to contact me if you like. Just make sure it is before 6pm PST since I wake for work at 2am.

  10. Rick Silberman says:

    Hi Bruce,

    I am married to a Davao lady and living in Vegas. Give me a holler when you return, and we’ll grab a beer or two.



    • Bruce says:

      Thanks for the offer. I do not drink beer, but a cold coke and a laugh would be nice. If you do not hear from me in a few weeks, drop me an email or comment to wake me up.

  11. Brad says:

    Hello Bruce,
    I’ve been following your site and articles since you started a couple of years ago. Great site and thinks for all the hard work.
    I lived in Vegas for many years and will say that your experiences as a cabbie in Vegas may make for some very interesting reading.
    I would suggest to you that you look in to driving a limo as an alternative. Better pay and much better treatment by the hotels and so forth.

    • Bruce says:

      Thanks for following my site. I will drive the taxi at first, but will keep my eyes open for better jobs. Hopefully I will be able to get back into residential architecture. It does not have to be in Vegas, I will relocate if a good position is offered.

  12. Evelyn says:

    hi bruce,been a long laptop is not working well that’s why i haven’t been going to your site..
    good luck and god bless on your trip back here..
    in behalf of your countrymen ,i’d like to say welcome back to your nativeland..hehehe
    hope we’ll be able to meet up once you’re here..
    hi to elena

    • Bruce says:

      Thanks for your good wishes and I how we can meet up in the States. You are a good friend. Say hi too all that know of me there and all I met in GenSan.

  13. Jason Mark says:

    Thanks Bruce for your article. I stumbled on this site and this was the article which I was looking for. I have a Filipino partner in Australia who does not want to go back to the Philippines,is nursing her in Australia and me, a 45 year old Aussie with a good government job here and has intensely “itchy feet” to quit my job and go and do something in the Philippines or Thailand. I have some rental money comming in from investment properties, however I am also worried about what to do and where to live in arrival. I hate pollution so Manila is out and have been a few times to the Philippines. I love asian food but for some reason have a mental block on Filipino food sorry. I love cooking myself so I will survive. I sometimes say its a pity you cant clone the Thai and Vietnamese food and the Filipino people and their English for a perfect country. sigh. Anyway, I am keen to talk to people about their experiences I am looking for a good property site with some local prices to “dream with” Thanks again for letting me have this talk. And enjoy yourselves where ever you call home. Cheers Jason

    • Bruce says:

      I am glad you enjoy my site. I hope I can get more readers to contribute articles to keep the Davao part fresh. As for what to do if you move to Davao, it all depends on your needs and hobbies. Opening a business it hard and getting a job is almost impossible.

  14. Tom says:

    Bruce –

    Wow I’ve been reading your blog for a while, really since you started it. I’m younger than you, also married to Filipina and have spent many, many hours thinking about the Philippines.

    It was actually my wifey who cautioned me that we could not live too close to family due to people coming around needing help, needing help, needing help, everyone needs help.

    It finally occurred to me that there’d be no way I’d move there unless I lived in a gated upper end luxury subdivision and I had no real monetary concerns. I hate to sound like an elitist, I’m not, I grew up in a housing project but I ain’t moving half way around the world and “going native” and neither will my wife.

    Good luck with the immigration process. We did it 10 years ago and it was 2 years of living hell. I think it much faster these days (something like 6 months.)

    Maybe you should start a blog “An ex- ExPat in Las Vegas” .. HA HA . Don’t worry, your bride will love the USA and she’ll meet many Filipinos here.

    • Bruce says:


      Welcome and thank you for your continued visiting and now commenting. Everyone has their reasons for wanting to live in the Philippines just as many who never have visited or has and decided they could not live there. A “comfortable” life in either country does need enough money to live the life you want.

  15. Ms Caroline says:

    I am in Vegas and live in a newly built home…we do have cockroaches,ants, even deadly spiders.Dengue is the last thing I worry about living in Davao.Sounds like you had horrible time living there.Vegas is now as we are the highest unemployment in the nation.I am looking forward to moving back to Davao for good.My husband loves it there,ants and all.I do believe that ,if you live a simple life,you can live anywhere.My husband is Canadian,his father just married a lady from Cebu.They are both family oriented like all Filipinos.When I went on vacation with him,he never complained about the flies flying over our food.He said he was never happier and he is only 29 yrs old.I am lucky that I did not marry a man who whines over something insignificant …as they always say”Don’t sweat the small stuff”

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