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Everyone ’s been reading MindanaoBob’s posts about his leaving the Philippines. It’s made me think about the idea of Home and where it is. Since most of us know Bob as the voice and brains of expats who have come to the Philippines, or those who are thinking about it, his life decision has certainly caused some thought for many of us. Is the Philippines right for me? Do I want to leave too and go back to the US? I have been here for 7 years, though three of them my wife and I were in Japan and Austria, back and forth to the condo we bought in Cebu City. I am now retired from teaching so I can live anywhere…but then there’s my Filipina wife. When I was retiring the first time in the US, I chose The Philippines and Cebu after having traveled there. I thought about Subic and also Thailand. My kids were both mad at me; my now 32-year-old son and my now 25-year-old daughter. They have both been here and I have been back for visits; they have adapted. My wife has no US Visa status so we can’t go back and forth. She tried to get a tourist visa but they denied her and made her cry.

Bob has chosen “Home” this time sort of randomly. He thought about Portland and New Mexico and Las Vegas. The key factor has turned out to be his wife’s employment and employer medical insurance, both of which are very important in the US. They have chosen small town Indiana or it chose them by its opportunity.

Bob is an affable guy, an adaptable guy and seems to be able to create Home wherever he is. They will be fine in Indiana and Bob will get busy with his new businesses.

But how about you? And what about me?

I was born in a suburb of Philadelphia and lived there until I was 8 when my dad was transferred to California and what became the Silicon Valley. When it came time for college, 10 years later, I left California and moved to Washington State where my parents had both been from. I lived in Bellingham, Seattle, and Ellensburg for the next 10 years and then started teaching in Portland, Oregon. I had two kids. I had two divorces. I couldn’t leave my teaching career or Portland because of my kids and so I stayed for 28 years, long enough to retire from teaching and to get the pension I live on now.

My parents stayed in California, in the same house in which I grew up, but my Dad died in 1988 and 5 years later my mom sold the family house and moved to a retirement community until she died in 2001.

While I taught in Portland, because of the breakup of my marriages, I lived in 5 or 6 different houses. They were all in the Portland area, but except for my kids, the personnel kept changing. In 2011, when my daughter was finally out of school and ready to begin her “adult” life, I moved to Cebu.

I got married, again. 3 years in Cebu. Two years in Japan. 1 year in Vienna, Austria. Back to Cebu, but my wife felt lonesome there; her family was in Samar and Angeles City. None of them speak English. They speak Waray Waray. The only one who speaks English is my wife and now we are in Angeles.

So where is home? What is home? Who is home? Will I die in Angeles City? Do I want to stay here forever? Will I ever find Home?

My wife Rachel just came into the room. She’s been playing tong it with her sister and brother in law and drinking San Miguel Lemon-flavored light beer in the Angeles City house we’ve lived in for 10 days.

I had her read what I wrote and told her, “I’d like you to finish this story. So where is home?”

She looked at me and said…

“Your Home is wherever I am, and my Home is wherever you are. Wherever we decide to live because you are my Destiny.”

And I knew right away that I had the ending to my story. That maybe she was right. That Home isn’t a place, really. Maybe Home is a series of destinations, a series of circumstances, even a series of loves.

A Home in the Heart.

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Rob Ashley

After travelling to the Philippines and SE Asia perhaps 15 times between 2007-2011, I decided to retire in Cebu and moved here in August 2011. Things changed fast. A month after I was here I met my wife Rachel; In 6 months I decided I was bored after having taught high school English and in a graduate school of education at a Portland, Oregon university for 30+ years; I looked around; I was hired as the Head of the English Department at a Cebu international school. Rachel and I got married; we bought a condo in Cebu City; we got two cats. After 3 years here I was offered a similar position at a Japanese international school, so we went to Japan. After two years there I was offered another position of Coordinator of Languages at a Vienna, Austria international school. Living in Europe was nice, but Rachel said, “It’s too cold here.” So, finally last August, we returned to Cebu for good, and I really am retired. I have learned that you pretty much take your life with you wherever you go. I have a PhD from the University of Oregon and I’m a diehard Oregon Ducks fan. Likewise an NBA Portland Trailblazers fan, so I am often up at 3 am on Sundays or Mondays to watch football and basketball games. Cebu is home now and many thanks to Bob Martin for LIP and the services and opportunities he offers us Expats.

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David G. LaBarr
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David G. LaBarr

Hi Rob, I was born North of Philadelphia in the little town of Sayre. I really enjoyed your latest post; especially the ending by Rachel. It reminded me of the time when we were at our Church in Sayre after I had decided that I wanted to permanently move to Davao City. The Church ladies looked at my wife in astonishment and asked her if she was really willing to leave the United States. She looked back at them with the same astonishment and said of course I am. David is my husband and I go where he goes. We… Read more »

Rob Ashley
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Rob Ashley

David: Thank you for your comments. I was born in Abington and lived in Hatboro-Horsham, a sleepy little Pennsylvania town. I, like you, are probably here in the Philippines for the duration. There are too many issues in moving to the US and the only thing I truly miss is the ability to go to sporting events…NBA Basketball, MLB and college football. So, I stream them on my Slingbox strategically placed by my Portland friend’s cable box. Of course I miss my two kids but they have their adult lives in different cities and in reality I would see them… Read more »

Dave Starr
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Great article, Rob. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. Made me think, I’m sure it will make some others think as well. My wife and I have been in the Philippines going on 13 years now. We just recently came back from a trip to the USA on which we spent a lot of time thinking very hard about staying in the USA. Eventually, we decided, no, back home to the Philippines we come … for now ;-)… Never say never. On the tourist visa situation, one thing any American married to a Filipino has to understand from the very beginning.… Read more »

Jack
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Hi Rob, to keep it short. “Home is where you hang your hat”
Stay well and Regards
Jack

Rob Ashley
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Rob Ashley

Right On Jack. Thank you. -Rob

Rob Ashley
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Rob Ashley

Dave: Yes, since our attempts at trying to get Rachel a tourist visa (and we were in Japan at the time) I have done quite a bit of reading about the unlikely success of this. You are right that the US government sees it as a way to sidestep the Spousal Visa and also, unfortunate as it is, the Philippines has a reputation of young women disappearing into the society once they set foot on US soil…you know, pledging to marry an older guy and then running off with the waiting younger bf in the US. Of course WE are… Read more »

LSD
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LSD

Hi Rob, for the past 58 years “Home is where I lay my head at night”. Like many other readers I was surprised at Bob’s announcement, to return to the US, but am certain they will adapt and overcome and make a good life wherever they land. I have been following LiP for a few years now. I wanted to touch on the subject of tourist visa, I have been coming to Philippines for 8 years now. The mother of my children also had the same experience at they embassy as your wife, she felt degraded, and cried. However, we… Read more »

Rob Ashley
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Rob Ashley

SD: I understand the fiance visa process gives you 90 days in the US to get married. If the partes don’t get married, the visa ends and she is supposed to leave. However this visa takes at least 6 months to get. Where the rub is, is that many filipinas don’t leave. They use the Fiance Visa for entry into the US and then disappear into the society. This of course, is against the law. But I think deciding not to get married during the 90 days, and her leaving the US, is perfectly legal. I’m not an immigration lawyer.… Read more »

LSD
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LSD

Thanks Rob,
I totally understand the problem with tourist visa. I’ll keep doing the research.
The one thing in Life that I have found consistent is CHANGE…sometimes for the better, sometimes not.
Change is inevitable.

SD

David Haldane
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David Haldane

Good one, Rob. Kind of the theme of a book I published a few years ago. I arrived at the same conclusion.

Rob Ashley
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Rob Ashley

David: Thank you. I guess these are themes that many of us grapple with…you know, where to I belong? have I made the right choices. Love to know about your book. Be well, Rob

RANDY WEIS
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RANDY WEIS

Rob,
Good article! It isn’t so much where you are at, but who you are with that is most important.

Rob Ashley
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Rob Ashley

Randy: Yes, but my learning curve was large? wide? really curved? and I am still wrestling with it especially when I see people make personal changes. It’s interesting why people move and why they don’t. Someone wrote me and said, “You are brave for moving overseas, out of the US. I could never do it.” So is it fear that makes people unable to do things? Another good topic I think. How much does Fear motivate us in our actions? Fear of what? What are the roots of these fears? Thanks for your comments, Rob

Paul Thompson
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Paul Thompson

Rob I grew up in the Dorchester section of a city called Boston. My father bought the house in 1946 on his WW-II GI Bill and moved my mother and two older brothers in, next year in 1947 I was born and then two more brothers followed me. I lived there until my wanderlust and hatred of winter caused me to escape to sea in the Navy. After that, I never had a home, I had a “Port” where my ship was, as that was my home. The Navy helped me buy houses and condos over the next 24 years… Read more »

Rob Ashley
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Rob Ashley

Paul: I am amazed to find so many like you who have moved from place to place as Home. I do think of the many people I worked with in teaching who literally live and work 5 miles from where they grew up. In fact here is an article about the fact that most people in the US live less than 18 miles from Mom. https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2015/12/24/upshot/24up-family.html. Another article says, “A new Pew Social & Demographic Trends survey finds that most Americans have moved to a new community at least once in their lives, although a notable number — nearly four-in-ten… Read more »

Paul Thompson
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Paul Thompson

Rob
Mine was wondering what was over that next hill, or what was behind that breakwater. My four brothers stayed at home (Or within a short drive). I’m done now, no regrets and as happy as a New England Clam. I hope my brothers are too. .

Rob Ashley
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Rob Ashley

Paul: Being from Boston and The East I wonder if you like some of the Ben Affleck and Mark Wahlberg films, all with an East Coast (some in Boston) The Town, Four Brothers, The Accountant etc.

Paul Thompson
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Paul Thompson

I have no use for any of them, celebrates never impressed me Most grew up poor in Dorchester and now are pure Hollywood..Remember Mr. Spock was also from my neighborhood.

Jose
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Jose

Mr. Ashley, I liked what you wrote and like many others here I have traveled the world, courtesy of the “great Uncle Sam.” I am sure, as a retired teacher, you’d appreciate this quote. “… home was not just a cabin in a deep woods that overlooked a placid cove. Home was a state of mind, the peace that came from being who you were and living an honest life.” Stay happy and enjoy life there in Angeles City.

Rob Ashley
Guest
Rob Ashley

Jose: Thank you. Wonderful quote….The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah. -Rob

Jose
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Jose

I knew you’d like the quote. By the way, I noticed a poster of Les Misérables on your wall ..and the two glasses of red wine on the table. (I hope it is Cabernet-Chauvignon – and not by Carlo Rossi) 🙂

Rob Ashley
Guest
Rob Ashley

Jose: Well it’s definitely not Carlo Rossi, but here in The Phils, you do sort of get what you get. Les Mis is a favorite as it is for everyone. It played in Manila and I took my wife to see it. I had seen it before in London and Portland Oregon. Be well Jose and thank you, Rob

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