Expert Info

Posted by Brien Clark
on 4 Mar 2022

Hi to the community at Expat Arrivals,


To start, this is going to get lengthy.  I'll try to keep it as short as possible, but as a warning there is a lot of information to give as background that I think is relevant to my questions.


I'm a veteran of the US Navy with 50% disability rating through the VA.  I was honorably discharged for service aggravated medical issues after between 3 and 4 years of service.  From what I have seen, this means that I am eligible for a retirement type Visa in the Philippines.  I get over $1000 a month in disability pay and seem to meet all the criteria.  That seems good, but in order to be comfortable I would really need to work.


I have experience living in Asia, I taught mathematics, science, and English at schools in Thailand for over 10 years, from 2003 through 2014.  I met my wife there, who is Thai, and we had two children who we moved back to the US with in 2014.  I won't get into the weeds on this one, but our marriage didn't work out.  We stayed together for the kids for 8 years longer than we probably would have otherwise.  We weren't happy together for many years, I felt that I put great effort into personal improvement and that nothing really changed for her.  I guess I could argue these points but it doesn't really matter anymore.  The point I want to make is that I lived pretty successfully in Thailand, I love the culture and people there, but it wasn't the best fit and I see advantages in the Philippines compared to Thailand, especially with my being a disabled veteran.


After returning to the USA I went through the process of getting into the VA healthcare and benefit program.  Through their system I was able to get support for PTSD, ADD, depression, and physical health.  Eventually I found that I might also have education benefits, and in December 2020 I graduated from a computer information systems program with a bachelors degree in Business Management focused on computer info systems.  My overall GPA is something like a 3.2, but my GPA within this program was a 3.7, earlier in life I had a lot of problems and had a few semesters with failing grades that drag my overall GPA down.  I was starting my senior year as a chemistry major when I decided to take a break and travel to Thailand and teach for a couple of years.  I planned to return and finish the degree, but life had other plans.


I was an excellent student, had good relationships with many of my professors, and can get a great letter of recommendation from the dean of the business department and other professors.  I also worked in sales at AT&T before returning to university and have contacts there who will also provide a recommendation.


While studying I didn't work, we lived in my parents home to help keep our expenses at a more manageable level so I could focus on those studies.  My father had health issues that meant we needed to take as many precautions as possible to avoid exposing him to COVID, which his doctors felt would be the end of his life.  Thankfully he never got it.  After graduating we got an apartment and my ex-wife returned to work.  My son was too young to get vaccinated so we kept him in online studies.  My daughter returned to school.  I felt that I had to be there for my son to support him in learning from home.  My ex-wife cannot do this, she lived in Thailand until moving here and can't possibly support his learning.  I taught in Thailand for about 10 years, though I was never trained as a real teacher, and I received a good education, so I am well qualified to guide him in his work.  It's definitely time for me to get a job, though, and he has been vaccinated now, so I am going to be getting him back in school soon so that I can begin work.


I'm 49 years old and a recent bachelor's degree graduate ready to get an entry level job in the computer information systems world.  My preferred areas within information systems are data analysis and visualization, business application development, and information systems security.  I put a lot of effort into learning all that I could while in my classes, which were about 50/50 between business management and computer classes, so I think I would be comfortable in a wide range of entry level positions in business management or IT, information systems, and information security.


While in classes Cigna health sent representatives to one of my classes and I applied for an internship with them, thinking for sure I was going to get it as I was in the top two of that class and had a good relationship with that particular professor.  When I talked with them after the class and gave my resume they were impressed.  For whatever reason, though, I would later find out that they chose two other students from the class who had applied with them.  I think it was due to the fact that I didn't follow up and let them know how interested I was in the position.  What appealed to me was their inclusive company culture and continuing education focus with their employees, and especially learning that they have offices in the Philippines and Thailand.  It seemed like the perfect opportunity to get what I wanted, a good job in SE Asia.


Since that didn't work out at the time, I've casually looked at possible opportunities as I begin again on the process of getting that entry level job in my field.  I have found interesting opportunities with multinational companies in the Philippines such as Deloitte, Shell, and even Microsoft.  There seems to be a huge difference in pay for the same jobs in the US versus the Philippines.  Since I would either be supporting my children who would live here with my wife or my family while they continue school or would need to enroll them in an international school, I would really need more than I am seeing for jobs in the Philippines unless international school is a lot less expensive than I expect it to be.  There might be opportunities I am not aware of that would help bridge that gap, too.  As an example entry level jobs with these same companies in the US pay at least $50,000 a year, often closer to $70,000, while the same positions in the Philippines seem to indicate pay of 400.000 to 500,000 PHP.  That amounts to less than $10,000 a year.  I would get more than that from my VA disability payments, about $13,000 a year.  I'm interested in learning of any resources that might help me learn more about places that might be a good fit for me in the Philippines.


As far as I can see at this time, and this is with limited time put into researching the situation as of today, the best approach for me is to get the job with one of these companies locally, within the USA, and then see about transferring to the Philippines.  My question for you is do you know of any resources I might pursue to learn more about opportunities to work in the Philippines?  I have also considered the possibility that I might qualify to teach business, computer, or mathematics classes at an international school there.  That might be ideal as it would likely result in much more affordable tuition for my children.  That's my main concern, being able to support them.  I don't live an extravagant lifestyle, I lived in Thailand in a modest home with my ex-wife's family with only one bedroom having air conditioning, and her sister slept there so obviously I could not.  It wasn't easy in the hottest part of the year when temperatures were around 40C every day, only dropping to 29C or so overnight for almost 60 days each year, but I did fine the rest of the year.  I had serious alcohol abuse issues before getting treatment for my service related PTSD/mental health issues, but I've put effort into consistently improving myself.  6 years ago I completed the VA substance abuse program and haven't used any drugs or alcohol except as prescribed by my doctors since then.


The only real requirement I would have is the best possible internet connection, since at some point I would be able to do a great deal of work in my field from my home computer.  Again, the research I have done so far is limited, but with 1 to 5 years of experience I see many opportunities to get a great job working from any location with a reliable internet connection.  I just need that first position to convert my education into real world work experience.


I think I've covered the bases just about as well as I should to explain a little about who I am and what I'm looking for.  If any additional information could be helpful I will gladly provide you with it.  What would you suggest?  I am highly motivated to make the Philippines work for me, I was never afraid of working hard.  I put consistent effort into everything I do, and since getting support for my medical issues I've consistently performed at a high level.  In the navy I completed Nuclear Power 'A' school and worked on an aircraft carrier in the steam catapult division of the engineering department.  It seems like being a veteran, and a 50% disabled veteran, could be especially helpful in the Philippines, again relative to Thailand where it meant next to nothing.


If I didn't have children I would probably just move there in a few months based on my disability.  From what I remember I would pay something like $1000 for the visa and deposit something like that into a bank account there, pay a small yearly fee, and would have a visa with unlimited stay including the ability to leave and return at any time.  That definitely isn't going to work for me in my situation, though, because supporting my children on my VA payments alone is just not possible.


Thanks to anyone with any information for me!

jrussell.cyber… on 13 Mar 2022 - 16:20

I would recommend Sunshine Shoulders Youtube Channel. He describes best living situations in PHP.  You might find it too casual, but if you find the right videos your living expenses can be much less than you think. Good luck Sailor.


-- U.S. Navy Vet

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