Category Archives: Retirement Business

Unique Spots in Cebu You Probably Did Not Know About

If you think you know everything about Cebu, think again. Yes, most of us probably heard of the place to be one of the most developed and promising island provinces in the Philippines, what with it being the center of trade, commerce, education and industry in the Visayan area. Even more so because of the several wonders it has to offer to both the locals and the tourists. But can you honestly say you have totally explored the place?

29469276If you want to visit one of the country’s most iconic heritage spots, Cebu is the place to visit. It is the first Spanish settlement in the Philippines, and it has the oldest city in the country as its capital – Cebu City. It is also called the Queen City of the South, and rightly named so. The province is one of the favorite destinations of those seeking to explore and experience the harmony of culture, history and modernism.

imagesOne of its most popular spots is the Magellan’s Cross which marked the conversion of the locals to Christianity by the Portuguese Explorer Ferdinand Magellan; the Basilica del Santo Niño. This houses the country’s oldest religious relics – a statue of the Child Jesus dated back to 1591; the Colon Street which is the country’s oldest street; and several other tourist attractions like pristine white beaches, world-class cafés and restaurants.

Setting Cebu’s most famous places aside, keep yourself open to some other unique spots you most probably haven’t heard of yet.


If you are into waterfalls, springs, rivers and beaches, you will surely find these places very interesting, known only to most locals and a few adventure buffs:

  • Ka-Tinggo Falls (CatmonDaan)
  • Binaliw Spring (Sogod)
  • Kabang Falls (Talamban)
  • Virgin Beach (Daanbantayan)
  • Bagatayam Falls (Sogod)
  • Lambug Beach (Badian)
  • Bojo River (Aloguinsan)

For families who want to have a unique getaway, then you will definitely have a blast in these places :

  • Medellin Zipline (Medellin)
  • GL Highland Resort (Balamban)
  • Mainit Spring (Catmon)
  • Hidden Paradise (San Fernando)
  • Boardwalk Zoo (Alcantara)
  • Mactan Aquarium (Mactan Island)

If you want to appease your palate, these incredible dineries restaurants will surely provide you with dishes which will make you come back for more:

  • Alex Kafe (Argao)
  • DukoDuko (Catmon)

To those who simply want to relish the beauty of nature and Cebu in general, you will absolutely love these spots, and get ready to take beautiful photos!

  • SRP Backroad (South Road Properties)
  • Cantipla Flower Farms (Cantipla)
  • Day-as Boardwalk (Cordova)
  • Hideaway (Medellin)
  • Marmol Cliffs (Tuburan)

Or, maybe discover the mysteries behind the recently discovered chapel which is equally historically valuable as it is intriguing:

  • Kapilya de Sakripisyo (Argao)

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Get to be among the first to try these unique spots in Cebu! For more information regarding these incredible places, feel free to check out this page:


I have a relationship with this wonderful country for 34 years now, in which I have lived full time here over 25 years and part time the balance. And WOW, competition changed everything as far as amenities and customer service is concerned (although still heavily dominated by the elite families) but not entirely, as the richest man in the Philippines, Henry Sy came from nothing (owner of SM Prime Holdings and malls), as well as Manny Pangilinan (PLDT), and John Gokongwei Jr. as who is a major owner of malls in the country.

With smart phones, laptops, and tablets, there are so many choices. The competition is fierce, although not quite yet like the 1st world, but major changes brought on by this competition.

Philippines, in the old days, when you drop your Coke at McDonald’s? Too bad.
If you take something home from a department store and decide you don’t like it? Too bad.

But TODAY, many companies and stores have become extremely customer-oriented when it comes to amenities that give perks to clients, providing customer care and satisfaction.

Why is that? Because competition rules and it drives the market.

For my wife’s birthday present, I got her a beautiful VAIO laptop for P37,000 (or approx $840).

For the first few months, there were no problems. Then a battery recall from the main office was announced, in which I gave the company credit for taking precautionary measures as such. I bring the laptop to their service center as was told a particular week to bring in: “Sorry sir, the batteries are not here yet.”

So then I ask them “Can you pick-up the unit at my place?”
“Sorry sir we cannot do that.

After a week, I was finally able to drop off the unit.

Suddenly, the electrical component starts to act up. The laptop will not turn on.

I sent my wife to have it checked and she went back and forth to a Sony store branch at the mall. Each time was a success, but after a day, it stops working again. We only had this unit for 4 months and all I can say is wow, bad unit.

The laptop then crashed, and Sony store advised that we bring it to their service center, which we did, and after waiting several days, we found out the motherboard had crashed.

Three weeks later, the main office said we can already pick up the laptop, so I went. It was a local holiday. They were closed.

Several days later, at my insistence, the unit was delivered to our Condo since I refused to go back to their service center.

On a parallel note, I have HP laptops and printers. I had bought one of the printers in the US. It stopped working one day, so I brought it to HP service center to have it repaired. They looked at the code on the unit and said my warranty is still intact after 11 months. They honored my warranty here in the Philippines even if it was bought from the US, and guess what? It gets better. When they could not repair the printer, they gave me a brand new one! Now that is evolution, and maybe the American headquarters want their reputation around the world as being honest and service-oriented. They have won me over. I walked in the door expecting to pay for repairs, but it turned out so pleasant.

Now back to our Sony Laptop, the unit is still fluctuating power-wise after the mother board was replaced. This unit is a lemon, as we call it or something for the junkyard. I asked for a new equal unit and the higher up executive (hiding and delegating down in their old style of doing business here), sent their clerk for the answer: A big NO.

As an alternative, I asked for a year warranty from the date the mother board was fixed. An answer came back as ANOTHER BIG NO. Best they could give was one month extended warranty.

I guess the Japanese head office doesn’t care, although I will send this article to them.

For all my time wasted and inconvenience, getting a defective unit, and using the old style of service of a very non-progressive company, I give Sony Philippines an F, and I advise that YOU DO NOT BUY ANYTHING SONY IN THE PHILIPPINES.

Get HP or SAMSUNG instead.


I enjoy working in my local community to give back as is my physical makeup thanks to my father who is a legacy in this arena. This article is purely to acknowledge some fine folks and a successful company, or should I say corporation which is  SM Prime Holdings  which primary success has come in their large number of modern Malls here in the Philippines.

First, I would like to thank Marc, the operational GM at the Baguio SM mall for helping to get the corporate office to renovate our city children’s park here in Baguio City. Marc is now working with an associate of mine who has a foundation here to help the deaf population. With a little luck SM will donate some greatly needed computers and I-pads in the very near future.

Also a thanks to David the store manager of SM appliances also here in Baguio for getting the corporate office to pay for transportation of a donated Refrigerator/Freezer to a local orphanage as every little bit of help is a gift.

SM we all say, keep up the good work.

Religion in the Philippines Joining One Church…or Another!

If you come to the Philippines and are of the Christian religion, you’re in luck. There is every sect of Christianity here with the predominant religion being Roman Catholic to the tune of approximately 80%. There is every conceivable church from the Baptist church, Evangelistic churches, Latter Day Saints, Protestants, and the Seventh Day Adventists. There are two major Philippine-born religions in Christianity which are the Iglesia ni Cristo and El Shaddai. The Roman Catholic church is everywhere and it is not uncommon to see dozens of these churches even in small provincial areas. In the major cities, some of these churches are spectacular. To join the Catholic church here is not necessary, just attend a Mass or go into the church and there will always be people around to attend to you. Mass schedules are usually posted somewhere in the church. Sunday Masses in many of the churches are continuous.


The religion of Islam also is prevalent with approximately 5% of the people of this religion, but the concentration of Muslims is predominantly in southern Mindanao. Quite a few Islamic folks have migrated to areas where they can practice their religion and profession in peace. In Baguio where we live, the Muslim population consists of accomplished business people, and their businesses seem to me to be traditionally owned and managed by the women. There are mosques in almost every major city here.


Buddhism and Hinduism are practiced here, and the combination of the two are around 5% of the population. Jewish temples also exist in Manila, one in Angeles City on Clark Economic Zone, and one in Cebu City. Chabad are sort of the Jewish equivalent of missionaries as their mission is to provide a place where Jews can come to worship and socialise. They are expanding their locations around the country.


Some of the churches such as Iglesia ni Cristo and the Latter Day Saints (Mormons) have rigid requirements for joining with obligations to their church members such as helping fellow members and financial obligations as well. The Iglesia ni Cristo by far and away are the most strict of the religions here as one is never allowed to marry outside of their religion. And if they do, are ex-communicated from their church.


So if you come to the Philippines and want to join a church, you will rarely not find a branch of your particular sect no matter where you are. Below are the statistics of the breakdown percentages of the different religions.


So in conclusion if you’re Seventh Day of Adventist or a Roman Catholic or Islamic or Buddhist or Jewish, just ask anyone in your community where the closest temple is and enjoy.

Roman Catholic
Evangelical Christians
Iglesia ni Cristo
Other Religions
Atheists and Agnostics


There are a lot of trade-offs in the third world when it comes to third world chaos that the author describes as freedom. If you have never been to the Philippines, the drivers can be insane. Because of there is little law enforcement in many areas, the law of the jungle does exist. To describe this, you would have to see the way that folks drive here which is absurd, but there is rhyme and reason to their driving habits, and it is just a part of the learning curve.

When driving and you are trying to change lanes or make a turn in traffic you will have to take a directive which is usually by using hand signals. Since there is so much third world craziness in the Philippines, it may take some time to adjust. Other examples of chaos are people throwing their trash on the street, smoking on the street, vehicles belching smoke, among others. Does a long term resident like myself enjoy these things? Well, of course not. I as many other expats have learned to adjust, yet again, it is a trade-off. The last time I visited my family in the States and was driving through a residential area, I was warned not to go even one mile over 25 miles per hour. There were signs on the streets saying that there was photo radar. My father explained to me how his car that I was driving would be billed for speeding and it would be sent through the mail.

There are so many rules and regulations in the first world unlike the Philippines which is the complete opposite to that and therefore something that I call freedom. Obviously, many will disagree, but who likes liter on the street, vehicles belching smoke, and crazy drivers? but from another perspective, freedom lovers as myself hate rules and regulations. In sum, there are pros and cons to living in the Philippines when it comes to the third world chaos, but for many like myself, this is an acceptance for what we describe as our freedom.

– Bruce Silverman


The Philippines offers an affordable, compassionate, and caring alternative to an assisted living facility in the First World.

 A fact of life that we all eventually have to face is that at some point, we will have to care for a parent, a spouse, or a loved one who is in need of assistance, be it physical, emotional, or both. The need can be temporary, it can be permanent, or it can be finite, but as sure as dealing with death and taxes, we will one day have to deal with assisting someone we love.

In the First World, the usual course for care would be moving your loved one into an assisted living facility or nursing home. The option of being able to live in your own home, among your own family, and be capably cared for is not usually a feasible one in a First World setting.

In the Philippines, caring for a loved one at home is a way of life. It would never occur to a Filipino to send a loved one outside of the home to be cared for. In the case of a disabled family member, the culture dictates that he or she be cared for at home.

I have known several folks from abroad that have taken the option of moving to the Philippines with a sick spouse rather than go into assisted living. For whatever reasons, moving into such a facility was not an option in their circumstances, so they chose instead to move here, where they can live in their own home together as husband and wife. In this environment, they have been able to avail of the nurses and caregivers who come into the home to live, and to give them the specialty care needed.


One gentleman I met, Hugh, had a wife with dementia. She required a full-time caregiver. Hugh did not want his wife in the health care system—a.k.a. senior citizen home—back

in America. He had had some experience before, of coming to the Philippines on business. He also knew of the good reputation of Filipina nurses and caregivers in the United States. His decision was to bring his wife to the Philippines and to set up a home for them here.

Then there are others I have met who have parents who they did not want to put into nursing homes or assisted living; they preferred to have them live with family. Unfortunately, in a First World setting, the family does not have the ability to be with the father or mother every minute of every day. In the cases of these acquaintances of mine, the adult children brought their aging or disabled parents “home” to the Philippines to live with them.

Another scenario I have seen is people who are living and attending to a loved one with a degenerative problem that requires someone watching over them constantly. There are also instances of people who are of sane mind but who have a handicap that limits their personal movement. In the First World, either of these scenarios put tremendous pressure on the family members who are the caregivers of the person who is not well.

In the Philippines, there are wonderful, affordable options to life in a nursing home or assisted living, a life where the person who is disabled can live at home with family. A parent can be with the people who care for them, living at home, and they can have many other advantages as well, such as massage therapy and physical therapy right in one’s family home. Moving an ill family member to live with you if you are retired in the Philippines makes life much easier for the individual or family of the sick person as both the sick person as well as the healthy family members are not strapped into a situation where their time is delegated to purely to caring or being cared for.

It’s a real win-win situation all around. The person who is ill gets to be taken care of with competence and compassion, and they can look forward to cheerful social interaction with their caregivers as well as with family and friends. The family members get the assistance they need to care for their loved ones, but still have the time and opportunity to move forward with their own lives. The caregivers, midwives, and nurses in the Philippines have the advantage of a good, steady job.

Even though in the First World, the cost of a caregiver is usually borne by medical insurance or social services, (which often would not cover the cost of caregivers if one is living overseas) the quality and frequency of care is often limited. In the Philippines, the cost of competent caregivers is very affordable, even without the financial assistance forwarded by insurance companies or social services. Add to this fact that the cost of the extra services, like massage therapy (US$5.00 per hour for home service) and in-home physical therapy is down right cheap by world standards.

Filipinos, particularly those in the medical field, are known around the world for their compassion. In the Philippines, there is no shortage of caring for the elderly, for whom the culture nurtures the greatest respect, or for the ill. You see elderly folks being wheeled around in the mall by attentive helpers, and they seem in general so happy as they have a friend and companion who is also someone who helps them and gives them a degree of independence as well. I do not believe that there is anywhere in the world that the elderly and the ill are treated as well as they are here by the wonderful caregivers of the Philippines.

For someone in a situation where chronic illness requires constant attendance, the option of living in this country—even if only part-time—is an attractive one.

It’s an option that sure does make sense, considering that for a basic salary of between US$100.00 (outside of Metro Manila) to US$300.00 (within Metro Manila) a month one can have a full-time caregiver or midwife living in at home. If the caregiver, who is often a nursing school graduate, is young, just starting out, and with a bare minimum of experience, the salary would be on the lower side, maybe US$100.00 to US$150.00. A more experienced nurse or licensed midwife would cost about US$300.00- US$400.00 per month in salary. Free room and board (cost of both borne by you; usually housed in a spare room at your home, with access to a dedicated bathroom or “CR” (short for “comfort room”) rather than in the maid’s quarters, and “board” would run about US$20.00 per person per week as a very substantial allowance for food/drink/minor toiletries) is the norm, as is one 24-hour period of “day off” per week.

What Filipinos do for someone who needs around the clock care is to spread the work around. Usually there are several people attending to the disabled person—not just caregivers, but also (depending on need) midwives and/or nurses qualified to insert IV lines, give injections, and the like. Often, there are also “watchers” who can be hired inexpensively, and who have no particular qualifications other than attending to the needs of the patient or providing companionship. Often the watcher is a regular maid on your household staff. The “watchers” will, when needed, call in the pros (caregiver, midwife, nurse) who might be in another room, doing something else, or taking a break.

In any event, caring for someone who is ill is a team effort within the house hold, and the afflicted person is taken care of with respect and one thing for sure is that the caregivers and nurses here give elderly folks dignity and the tender loving care that is needed to enjoy their lives.

(For qualified nurses, midwives, or caregivers, take a look at the ELRAP Index of Professionals. If you have a service or person in this field you would like to recommend, please send the information to ELRAP at and we will vet your recommendation for inclusion on our Index.)


Opening a Retirement Business in the Philippines

Whether or not you are married to a Filipino can impact on your approach to opening a retirement business in the Philippines. If your spouse is Filipino, opening up a business is easier; if you are single or not married to a Filipino, opening a business can be a bit more challenging, but it is still quite do-able nonetheless…

Popular types of retirement businesses among foreign baby boomers who retire to the Philippines are usually a retail business or an exporting business.

“Export” nowadays has become an explosion in the outsourcing industry, which ranges from call centres to businesses as diverse as medical transcription, web development, or even teaching English online. Essentially, an “export business” covers anything that can be outsourced from a foreign country. The Philippines is now the number one country in Asia when it comes to call center seats, so this type of export business is definitely worth exploring. As to outsourcing and the boom in the Philippines, it best to have some experience in knowing how to build infrastructure. If this industry fits your abilities, then pick a specific area of outsourcing. My family business has been very successful selling custom web sites to the US market. Another guy who I personally know is handling tech support for a utility company in Canada. Another person is handling sales for companies in America for merchandise like smokeless cigarettes as well as skin care products, and whatever else he finds saleable with telemarketing agents. Koreans needing to learn to speak read, and write in English in order to get into universities in English-speaking countries in the West are a big market in the Philippines. I know folks who have made successful businesses of teaching English online to the Korean market. Some do this as individuals, on a one-to-one tutorial basis, and others have set up small call centers to teach English using Filipino talent as teachers. This is one of the more difficult businesses to be involved in as there is a lot of competition in this field. If you prefer to go “old school” for export products, there are plenty of folks in “old school” products like the furniture export business, and there are still some garment exporters around (most garment manufacturing has moved to China though). These are mostly extinct business here, but there are some manufacturers around who make a highly specialized product and who still do well. The point that I am trying to get across is that the range of products that can be marketed from the Philippines within the scope of a retirement export business is vast.

Retail covers pretty much anything that can be sold to the general public, and if this is what you want to do, I suggest that it is best to stick to something you know. I know an American fellow married to a Filipina who opened a shawarma business with his “secret ingredients” and he has done very well for many years now. He has expanded from one to several kiosks in major malls. I know another guy who buys overruns from garment factories. He buys the overruns cheaply and in volume, and then turns around and sells the overruns to wholesalers abroad. I know another retired foreign gentleman who owns a retail/wholesale chocolate business in the heart of the Makati financial district, and does very well. Many foreigners open bars and restaurants, but in my opinion this is a tough business unless you have experience in it. I would suggest that any foreigner stay away from doing business–club, restaurant, or whatever–in a red light district unless you are prepared for the havoc it may cause in your life. This country is now number two in the world in regards to franchise businesses, so purchasing a local or a foreign franchise business and then operating it could be another option for a retirement business.

Remember that the big plus in setting up and running a retirement business here is that labor costs are much, much lower than they are in the First World. Labor laws can be difficult to comply with, but issues are certainly surmountable. There is quality talent available here, but despite the “Western” mindset in the Philippines, the foreign employer must realize that there are massive cultural differences that must be understood in order to succeed. These differences that can be easily learned by the foreigner wanting to set up a retirement business as long as that person is open minded, is respectful, and is, of course willing to be very fair about salaries and merit-based incentives.

Of course, the very FIRST thing you should do, if you are serious about starting a retirement business in the Philippines, is to consult a competent attorney, and to get yourself an equally competent auditor/accountant. You can go to the ELRAP INDEXES (Index of Professionals; see tool bar), for a list of professionals you might want to interview in the town you are thinking to do business in. These professionals come recommended to us either first-hand (because we have done business with them directly) or else by recommendation from a trusted source known either to Betsy or to myself.

Lots more discussion on this topic to be covered, so feel free to ask away! If you have any comments or questions about setting up and operating a retirement business as a baby boomer–foreign or “balikbayan” (formerly Filipino)–I would be delighted to hear from you! Send me your thoughts (remember that ELRAP is a friendly website–on our pages please–no vulgarity, and no politics or religion discussed!) via the “REPLY” button on this blog and I will do my best, relying on my years of experience of living and doing business here in the Philippines–to help you out…
Better yet, come here and check the place out yourself by taking an ELRAP tour (see TOURS on the tool bar). Betsy and I lead the tours personally, usually together, and she being a Filipina, and me being a “foreign” resident of over three decades, we can, between us, answer pretty much any question you may have, not just about business, but about life in the Philippines.

In closing let me say that I have been doing business here for 33 years. I did business here as a foreigner “permanent resident” long before I was married to my beautiful wife, and I have continued to do business here since my marriage. I have lived and worked in many countries–both First and Third World, and I say that this is the easiest place in the world to do business, as long as one follows and operates within cultural parameters.
Come on over to the Philippines, and see for yourself if–and why–life here really is more FUN!