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Jan: Expat in the Philippines

In our InterNations Recommended Blog section we let you take the spotlight! Expat life in general is, of course, a perfect breeding ground for great, user-generated reads, and life in the Philippines makes no exception. Take your time and browse the great blogs showcased in this article!

Please tell us a little bit about yourself. Who you are, where you come from, when you moved to the Philippines, etc.

I am Jan van Dam, a Dutch native married for almost 25 years to a Filipina. We decided to move to the Philippines in 2008 after I was retired. We currently live in lower Antipolo in a quiet subdivision in a rented house.

When and why did you decide to start blogging about your experiences?

I decided to start a blog already before we moved, but I decided to look for a hosting company in the Philippines. So after we moved I set up my website and started writing.

Do you have any favorite blog entries of yours?

My own blog of course: and I started a forum for people to share experiences and to ask questions about being an expat in the Philippines.

Tell us about the ways your new life in the Philippines differs from that back home. Did you have trouble getting used to the new circumstances? Did you experience culture shock?

One of the reasons we moved to the Philippines was that my wife was closer to her family. For me it was living in a new country where it never snows and freezes only in a freezer, where almost always sun shines, friendly people live and where life in general is much cheaper than in Western Europe.

Do you think you were fully prepared for what awaited you in the Philippines? If you could, would you change some decisions/preparations you made?

I have been in the Philippines several times before in the last 25 years, so I didn’t experience any culture shock. My Filipina wife has not lost her identity and we had many Filipino friends in the Netherlands and Germany. So we were well prepared for a life here.

The preparation took about one year, we have done it thoroughly and we have not forgotten anything.

Every expat knows that expat life comes with some hilarious anecdotes and funny experiences. Care to share one with us?

There are many but one which makes everybody smile all the time is when a Filipino finds out my family name they often look at me very well and sometimes ask: “are you related to…..?” They mean the Belgian Actor Jean Claude Van Damme. I often jokingly tell them: “please do not tell anybody…!”

Or:  “yes, he is my brother!” or any other answer of that kind.

Read also my post about this.

Which three tips would you like to give future expats before they embark on their new life in the Philippines?

Just three tips? I could give many more, but OK here are the most important ones:

  • Learn about your new country, there is a lot of information on the internet these days. Read a lot and try to remember it.
  • Prepare yourself very well. The Philippines is a so called Third world country and it will stay that way the coming decades. Filipinos have their own culture and ways of doing things. Do never try to tell them how to do things. Respect their way of things.
  • NEVER forget that you are a guest in their country. Behave like a guest and adjust to their way of life

How is the expat community in the Philippines? Did you have a hard time finding like-minded people or fellow expats?

Through my website I have met already several other expats living here. Most expats I have contact with are also retired like me and not active in work or business.

How would you summarize your expat life in the Philippines in a single, catchy sentence?

I decided to spend the rest of my life in this country and so far I am doing fine.

Jacques Paillard

"All expatriates in my company joined InterNations because it really helped me get accustomed to my new life in Manila. "

Adriana Rodrigues Zon

"The idea of getting to know other expats in Manila was very appealing to me, and I've greatly expanded my network in the Philippines. "

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