Well, these days I don’t have much faith in the Republic or in the process. Difficult just about anywhere is a correct assessment.

Well the big thing to keep in mind is that as a foreigner living in the Philippines you really have no rights there, and you can only bend so far in order to avoid conflicts with residents. In other words, turning the other cheek doesn’t always work.

For example, my wife and I moved to the Philippines in 2012 and built a small house on land she inherited from her father. Things went relatively well until last summer when suddenly a relative came out of the carpentry claiming to own the land my wife inherited. My wife has a title deed to her land, with her name on it, but this relative was basing his claim on a supposed conversation he had with my stepfather in about 1980. Such things are a very common problem in the Philippines, and under certain conditions, a verbal contract can replace a written document.

Long story short, I had a heated argument with my wife’s male relative over this, and he filed a complaint with the local barangay court, and then the barangay court referred the matter to the civil court. I learned that my wife’s relative had gone to school with the judge who was going to preside over the civil case. In the Philippines, the line between civil court and criminal court is somewhat blurred, and the plan was to have me arrested during the civil trial and thrown in jail for allegedly threatening my wife’s relative.

When I learned these details about the set up of the trial, I realized that I was probably going to die in a prison in the Philippines, so I left with only the clothes on my back and returned to the United States .

At the end of the day, every day you live in the Philippines, you will always have the Sword of Damocles hanging over your head, whether you realize it or not, and things are always good in the Philippines, until one day suddenly they are not. Also, your wife and her family may not be able or unwilling to protect you when you get into trouble. No matter how many presents you buy, you will always be an expendable underdog.

Also, if you own something a local wants and has the ability to manipulate the legal system, then your goose is as good as done. Me, if I had to do it again, I would go back there once a year, but I wouldn’t live there full time.