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How to mitigate all of the risks of living in the PI?

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Hi, this is obviously my first post, and I tried messaging Jollygoodfellow to ask where to post for starters, but my account is not able to do so for some reason.


Anyway, after spending time reading this forum (incl. the crime and law sections) and posting on another PI expat forum, I am a bit amazed at how many pitfalls there are to living as a 'kano' in the PI. I am not totally ignorant of the culture, as I have a Filipina wife of 15 years (I am in mid 30's, she's a few years younger than me), and I am from Guam, which is about 35% Filipino. My wife and young daughters are all dual PI/USA citizens and hold both passports.

Does being a higher-income (in my case, $HIGH USD / year, sometimes more) expat help to possibly mitigate the bullsh*t, if I follow all of the obvious rules of being an expat in S.E. Asia? I am not trying to brag, rather, I want to be upfront so that I can get appropriate feedback.

Since we can afford to live in an enclave in, say, Muntinlupa, or even a high-rise condo in, say, Salcedo Village (Makati), would my family's daily life be substantially less prone to all of the dangers that come with living in the province, surrounded by jealous neighbors?
Of course drive-by shootings can and do happen in the wealthy areas of the NCR, but there must be a damn good reason why wealthy Filipinos and the wealthy 'kano' expats who are VPs of global corporations in Makati actually live in the 'nice' areas, past the obvious reason that they can afford it.

For example, how does a guy like Greg Kittleson, of Kittleson Carpo, manage to become as wealthy and grow as large of a business as he and his partners have, without some jealous local getting him thrown in prison for 5 years until trial? Pay everyone off along the way, or does it more come down to where one lives and the circles they move in?

I figure if we live and mix with the wealthier, more cosmopolitan set (and I know my income pales in comparison to the actually wealthy Filipinos' incomes) will I be able to keep my family safe and above the BS. That is my main question.  


Income removed by JGF for security reasons


Edited by Jollygoodfellow
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If you insist on living in a big city the air pollution will get you if you manage to avoid the criminals. Abandon all hope.

I wouldn't get involved in any kind of business in the Philippines. Too dangerous, and a Filipino will do whatever cheaper than you can.

My house is in a semi-rural touristy area in a less corrupt municipality, close to a small city . It's 2 hours from a big city (Cebu). It's quiet and safe- no bars on my windows!

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On 1/3/2022 at 8:35 PM, Clermont said:

Well first off, you aren't the only Person with a bit of money on this site and my suggestion, don't spruik about your wealth or dress in top of the range cloths when your over there. Another thing you haven't said whether it's only a holiday or fulltime, if it's a holiday splash your money around, draw attention to yourself there's plenty over there that will notice you  and relieve you of some of it. Then again if your staying fulltime, invest in your daughters future, there's no need to lock yourself up in a condo, there's plenty of nice estates that are well patrolled and close to the city proper. The PI people aren't all scammers or crooks, most of what you've probably heard are half drunken yarns told over and over to make then sound plausible. What's been said may times to new visitors, keep a low profile and stay out of sleasy bars and enjoy your daughter and wifes company. Good luck :56da64b51da2f_36_1_681:Try a bit of his lifestyle.

Hi Clermont, thanks for the insight. Like I said in my post, I wasn't trying to brag about income. In the past I have gotten a little advice here and there from retirees that are on $2k USD/month Social Security checks, and while the advice can still be valuable, when it comes to the financial aspects, my income is much much higher, so I was never able to get advice specifically geared toward being my age, with my income bracket. Hope that makes sense... its been edited out now anyway, lol.

We'd be living full-time in the PI. Actually, when it comes down to it, we'd go back and forth from our hypothetical place in the PI to our place on Guam, as it's only a 3 hour flight.

I trust that you're right, and I have to keep in mind that the same things happen anywhere on Earth, unfortunately, and we probably only hear about the worst of the worst outcomes when it comes to expats.

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On 1/4/2022 at 1:15 AM, scott h said:

Welcome :thumbsup:

Dont know why you would want to leave Guam,,lovely place (except for the 30 mph speed limit :stop_80_anim_gif:boy that drove me nuts lol) But I understand living there and visiting there might be completely different than just visiting.

I wont touch on the business part of your post, I am retired with secure income, so I will just address what I know about.

The more money you have the safer you will be. Live in a higher end subdivision, have a driver to take you about, have live in maids. The area you mentioned is near Ayala Alabang, really high class area. From there you can go to 1st class malls and restaurants, 1st class hospital, all the bells and whistles. Even a good international school for your kids. The only time you would really have to mix with the great unwashed is if you went a a road trip somewhere.

Long story short, unless a person is a complete rube and just rubs people the wrong way, is involved in some shady dealing and stays away from politics and family disputes, the Philippines is just as safe as any place else in the world,,,especially Chicago :whistling: 


Hafa Adai, Scott,

We love Guam, and are not running from it at all. We have a home here, and plan to go back and forth, as wanted. Thats the cool thing about it being only a 3 hour flight between the two places.

Alabang is exactly where I am looking at, and Muntinlupa seems ideal, as its right off the Skyway from Makati and other places in the city proper, as well as being just enough outside of it to seem less hustle & bustle. Plus Laguna and Tagaytay are easy access south of it, for those roadtrips (which we plan to do).

For the business aspects, my main point was, how do the Whites who have truly grown wealthy IN the PI via PI-based businesses manage to avoid the seemingly unavoidable pitfalls. I know one guy personally, a European, who had been VP of some major Philippine corporations for 20 years, and now has his own large company in Manila. If I am to go off of the horror stories, there is no way a foreigner like him could become a USD multimillionaire within the PI, unless he had some sort of divine protection. Yet there are many more than just him. Greg Kittleson is another, more publicly visible one. Although Greg K. is openly gay, so maybe never having to deal romantically with Filipinas cut his risks down A LOT... hahaha

Anyway, thanks for your insight and feedback. I really appreciate it.

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On 1/4/2022 at 2:09 AM, Guy F. said:

I wouldn't get involved in any kind of business in the Philippines. Too dangerous, and a Filipino will do whatever cheaper than you can.

And yet, there ARE plenty of very successful White expats in Manila...

The point of my post wasn't asking about how to get into business in the PI, as my income comes out of the USA.
I am wondering, how the hell did they manage to do so, without ending up in a jail cell? Either it's not as bad as the horror stories make it sound, or it is, and they have some incredibly good luck mixed with psychopathic ruthlessness.

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