Jun 24, 2024

Retiring in the Philippines means being surrounded by relatives.

Beautiful British Columbia – to anyone who has ever visited B.C. – is a place synonymous with breathtaking scenery.

The TV ads promoting tourism in B.C. show off the grandeur of its majestic mountains, lush valleys and sparkling waters. Its West Coast, with its mild climate and easy accessibility to various social, cultural and recreational venues would be a wonderful place for a satisfying retirement.

But having spent a few months of every year in the Philippines since my early retirement from teaching in the late 1990's,I find myself leaning more and more towards spending the rest of my life there because retirement cannot be all leisure. One must have some purpose in life other than a comfortable existence. I think the Philippines is an ideal place for me to lead a purposeful life.

While Canada has made provisions for its needy citizens, the Philippines has no such widespread safety net. Many of the disadvantaged are left to their own resources. Some lucky ones have their needs met by charitable groups and foreign and local medical missions. These organizations can always use volunteers to help with their work. I could be one.

Although the controversy is still unresolved, some public schools have opted to use English as the medium of instruction. My neighbourhood schools are in need of English resource persons to help with teacher training. I could offer some assistance in this area. In addition, I could also organize classes for teaching conversational English to those students interested in improving their English-speaking skills.

With the exchange rate favourable to the Canadian currency, my Canadian pension can afford me a comfortable life in the Philippines with enough left over to provide post-secondary education for one or two deserving students. There are many capable and gifted young people whose talents are wasted because they have no means to attend institutions of higher learning.

Steeped in Catholic culture and ritual, the Philippine environment fosters the devout practice of religion. Sincerely devoted Catholics abound in the Philippines.One can't help but follow suit in their zealous practice of hearing daily mass and attending other Catholic devotions.Catholic holy days are still strictly observed throughout the country. Businesses close on Good Fridays. The joy of the Christmas season permeates throughout the land, not only in churches and homes but in shopping malls as well. Incidentally the season lasts from September to December.

One of the beautiful customs of Philippine society is the recognition of relatives, no matter how many times removed. I will be surrounded by many who will care for me and look after my well-being. I will not be left alone in a seniors home.

Travel in Asia would be readily accessible and affordable. Friends and relatives often go on jaunts to other parts of the country as well as abroad. I will not want for changes in scenery and chances to re-energize.
Current thinking notwithstanding, we can go home again – to the familiar places, practices, palates and people of our childhood.

Paz Antonio came to Canada in the early sixties and was a teacher in West Kootenay, B.C., for 34 years.


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