Many might be surprised by the content of this article
Everything I will say here is completely true
My wife, Feyma is from the Philippines. I visited the Philippines for the first time in 1990, then we got married. It took about 4 months to get my wife to the USA, after going through the Immigration process. We lived in Southwest Washington through the 1990s. In around 1997 or so, I started getting the urge to move to the Philippines, but Feyma would have no part of it, She did not want to go back to live in the Philippines. I thought it would be an adventure, though.
Over the next 2 years or so, I kept trying to convince Feyma that we could have a nice life in the Philippines. Finally, in 1999 she agreed to make the move! It took about 6 months to prepare everything for the move. In March 2000 I quit my job and made final arrangements to move halfway around the world.
We moved in May 2000
On May 2, 2000, we stepped onto a 747 and flew to the Philippines. I thought I’d never come back to the USA.
We did have a good life in the Philippines. I nearly became a Philippine Citizen, but in the end, elected not to do that. Life was good, though.
I was an immigrant in the Philippines. If you are an immigrant from a Western country, you can’t help but be noticed, and you will always be an Immigrant. Even if you became a citizen, all of the Philippine people would still call you a foreigner, because you are obviously not of Filipino descent. Most Filipinos like foreigners, particularly westerners, but there are some who hold hatred for foreigners.
Truth is, many Americans hate foreigners or immigrants. I hear people every day talking bad about immigrants. Many Americans say terrible things about immigrants. When I hear those things it makes me think about my Immigration experience. there were some people in the Philippines who hated me too because I was a foreigner, but the vast majority liked me and treated me well.
We moved back to the USA in 2019
On January 17, 2019, I set foot on American soil for the first time in nearly 2 decades. It felt weird. I did not set foot in the United States that I remembered. Everything was so different than it had been when I lived here in the past.
So many things were just way different. Every part of life was different. Could I adjust? Would I ever get used to livi9ng here? I was not sure if I would be able to make it.
A few months after arriving, things still felt strange to me, but I was getting more comfortable for me than when we first arrived.
You know what?
I recently realized that after more than 3 years of living in the States again… I feel like an immigrant here. I don’t feel like this is where I “belong”.
When we go out and meet people, I tend to gravitate toward Immigrants, because I feel a similar journey to what they have. Yes, this is my home country, my country of birth. But, I feel like I am an immigrant.
Who are my friends?
I have friends of all races and nationalities. I have quite a few Filipino friends since my wife is Filipino, my kids are half Filipino, and I lived in the Philippines for many years. I also have a lot of Hispanic friends, because they are immigrants, and Hispanic people are very prevalent in our area.
As part of my business (I am a reseller on eBay and other platforms), I usually meet a lot of people at places like bin stores where I can buy merchandise for resale. I meet a lot of immigrants (and also Americans) at these places. I usually have a lot of Hispanic friends at these places and I enjoy seeing them when I go shopping. It kind of makes me feel “at home”.
Do, I feel “at home” in the USA?
No, I really really feel at home here in the USA anymore. I hope that someday I will, but after 3 years on the ground here, I don’t feel this is my home anymore, and it is a strange feeling.
I am starting to get used to the many changes that occurred in the USA during my absence, but it might still be a while before I feel at home here.
What about family?
I really don’t have any extended family alive anymore. My Dad and my Sister died before I moved to the Philippines. My Mom died about a year before we returned to the States (she visited us in the Philippines 3 times, and seemed to enjoy that). My brother died of a brain tumor about 2 months after we got back to the States.
These days, I feel pretty strongly about choosing family. People that I love and am very close to are the people I consider family. I’ll be writing more on that in future articles.
So, I don’t have any family to make me feel that this is home.
Am I moving back to the Philippines again?
Feyma and I have been discussing the possibility of moving back to the Philippines, but we have mutually decided that we will stay here in the States, likely in Indiana, where we are living. Although each of us misses the Philippines, we do like our life there too and need to give it enough time to be more comfortable. I don’t expect we will ever move back to the Philippines.
But, I think I will always feel like an immigrant in my own country. Kinda strange, right?
I appreciate your writing, and don’t find your perspectives unusual at all. People who make a decision that there may be advantages to relocating to other countries/cultures/parts of the world, and have the fortitude and motivation to test the risk:reward ration are a rare breed.
I think it would be interesting to hear Feyma’s philosophy regarding this; not from a perspective of one culture being better than the other, but from the perspective of leaving one’s native environment to experience another, and this internal debate on what constitutes “home”.
You and she obviously share some basic philosophies and motivations, as well as a sense of curiosity, adventure, and willingness to take a risk on uprooting and experiencing a new and foreign culture, as well as potentially adopting a new place and people to consider “home”.
Hi Scott, thanks for commenting. One of the things I enjoy most about blogging is hearing opinions from others.
Getting Feyma to write about her feelings is not an easy task. She used to write some articles on LiP, but it was always a challenge to get her to write because she does not enjoy it the way I do. As you pointed out, Feyma and I have similar perspectives because each of us has lived in both cultures, so we understand each other. I think the fact that we have each traded “living places” and understand each of the places has improved and strengthened our marriage. For anybody who is in a cross-cultural marriage and would be able to make such a switch, I would recommend it highly.
It’s a common problem, matey. I think we would really struggle to move back to UK after over 20 years, and I’ve seen others who have left Spain to return to their home countries, only to come back within a couple of years as they couldn’t adjust. Hoping things work out for you..
Hi Mike, thanks for sharing your thoughts. No worries, things are working out and will work out for us, I have no doubt about that. There are some bumps in the road, challenges and need to focus, though, ,and I suppose that is to be expected.
Interestingly. in 2010 I wrote an article on my other website: Once you’ve been an expat you can never go back – give it a read!
I’ve been here in the USA since 2013 since living in the Philippines from 2002-2022. I still don’t feel 100% “home” here. But I suspect my wife and I would feel a bit out of place if we moved back to the Philippines. I think when you are an expat (or missionary in my case) it affects you deeply and profoundly.
Hi Kevin, nice to hear from you again. I believe you are correct, once you’ve lived in another country for a long time, making the adjustment back is not easy, maybe impossible completely. Completely. I mean your life abroad has changed you as a person, and you can never go back to being the old person again, so it’s just something you have to learn to deal with.
The Philippines is an easy place to live and its my home now! There are many reasons on why I am content in the Philippines. I will start with the low cost of living. I will also say that my quality of life is better in the Philippines which is a broad category. After being in the Philippines, I could never be content any longer in the USA.
Hi George, don’t take me wrong, I love my life in the Philippines, and I never regret that I lived there for so long. It was a great life, but I’m just on a new adventure now, and am enjoying it here even while missing the Philippines.
Hi Bob –
One thing that I always mention when asked why I don’t spend more time in the States (being a Balikbayan in the Philippines for 6 or 7 months of the year): “Too many Americans!”
Those who now inhabit the States differ greatly from those I left behind over 50 years ago when the Navy started sending me everywhere overseas. I no longer “fit in” amongst them as well as I once did. I am fortunate, however, in that when I’m back there, I can easily detect and associate with other, similar “misfits” who laughingly share the same outlook. 😉
I would tend to agree with your comment. The people of America have changed a lot in the 20 years that I was gone. It is not as friendly of a place as it once was.
Hope your resale venture is doing well.
Yeah, I understand what you are saying. Eventhough I have lived most of my life in the USA, I have spent time in both Mexico and the Philippines, somI understand the idea of reverse culture shock.
Good luck to you and your family.
Hi Steve, thank you for your comment. Yes, my resale business is doing very well, I’m so busy all the time with that. I really enjoy it though .
I have lived in the Philippines, South Africa, and the United States. I only spent a few years in South Africa, and that was when I was a child. So, I don’t think that had a huge influence on me, but my 20 years in the Philippines really led to massive culture shock when I came back to the United States, no doubt. Take care.
I enjoy your stories almost as much I enjoyed talking to you when you were in the Philippines. Last week I started my retirement but we can’t move to the Philippines because they require the children to be jabbed with the poison people believe is a “vaccine” in order to go to school. So I can’t move there and enjoy my condo or businesses because my daughters can’t go to school without the jab and they are not going to be poisoned.
Don’t feel bad Bob, I don’t recognize this as the country I was born in or served during the Vietnam War . It is far from what I grew up in, at least boys were boys and girls were girls and the top female swimmer was not a man and a justice on the Supreme Court could define what is a woman .
Stay safe, best to you and your family.
Hi Jeff, good to hear from you. All of this COVID stuff has certainly messed up plans for so many people over the last couple years, and seemingly in the years ahead. It’s quite sad. I’m sorry to hear that you won’t be able to move and enjoy your condo the way you expected.
I’m proud to say that I’m one of Bob & Feyma’s friends from the Philippines. Having known Bob and his family has definitely enriched my life. It was sad seeing them leave, but our friendship happily remains strong.
Thanks, Blogie. You have always been a good friend, and a reliable person who would always be willing to help. We miss you! Always hope you are doing well in YOUR new home!