If you’re looking to retire to Asia, marry a younger girl and settle down amongst the palm trees, I urge you to read this first.
Let me introduce Bob. That’s not his real name, but it will do for the sake of this tale. I met Bob for the first time a few months ago in a seaside village in La Union in the Philippines.
He was sitting enjoying a cup of tea and the old man nodded to me as I passed by. Foreigners aren’t a common sight in this neck of the woods and I stopped to say hello. We spent a pleasant few minutes chatting and I found my own table to sit and write at for a while.
After Bob had left, the owner came up to me and told me Bob’s story. An orphan with no family, he’d lived and worked his entire life in the UK, deciding at the age of 67 that it was time for a change.
In 2006 he packed his belongings, cashed out his savings and headed for the sunnier climes of the Philippines. As most Western men tend to here, he met a girl, 26 years his junior, fell in love and married. They bought a small piece of ground close to the beach, built a house and settled down to a life of matrimonial bliss. Or so it appeared.
His wife was engaged in a string of affairs and finally in 2016 she decided she had had enough of the now ailing foreigner. Bob was mercilessly booted out of the house he had paid for and that had been his home for the ladt ten years. You see my friends, Filipino law prevents foreign ownership of land and all rights to the house and property were in his wife’s name.
Wiley operators will tell you there are ways around this, but always remember you are not on home soil. Back to Bob. He was left destitute with no money, ailing health and no family abroad to assist him.
A Filipino friend offered him a small room in the back of a lot and Bob has been there for the last eight months, his pension from the UK barely enough to cover his food and medicines. I was shocked and decides to try and set right the injustice.
We arranged for Bob to meet with a local lawyer who agreed to assist him for free to try and reclaim a portion of the value of the house he had built. Things looking a little more rosy for Bob when I left and I was hopeful that the gentle little old Englishman might see some justice.
Yesterday I received a call from the lawyer to update me on their progress. He is optimistic about Bob’s chances in court, but doubts they will see any resolution in the next two years. Bob in the meantime has suffered another medical setback and deserately needs to get back to the UK for the free treatment he can claim there. There’s no free medical cover in the Philippines and hospitals are prohibitively expensive.
To make matters worse, Bob has been unable to afford his last two visa extensions and will now face a hefty penalty when he tries to exit the country. Don’t pay the penalty and your butt is headed straight for the local jail. No excuses.
In short with no family abroad and an old fashioned sense of pride that prevents him from asking for help, Bob is screwed. We have decided to start up a collection to get him back to home soil and provide him with a few pennies to keep him going for a few weeks on his return.
He needs £1500 for his ticket home, penalties and a roof over his head for a few days. If anyone would like to contribute a pound or two to Bob’s plight, please get in touch via the Contact form on my blog and we will provide a PayPal address. You can even help Bob by simply reposting this and spreading the word.
To other foreigners contemplating a move here, please take heed of this story. Asia is not for the naive, customs differ and yes, there are happy mixed race couples living here, but far more tales of heartbreak and tragedy abound. Tread with care.