A new beginning

After 50 years living in the USA, tomorrow I move to the Philippines. I’ve never lived in another country before, so this is a new adventure.

In the midst of the worst economy in 70 years, I quit a very good job and changed my life completely to move to another country. Why?

There are two kinds of reasons.

1) Love. I finally found the person I want to spend the rest of my life with. He is a Filipino citizen. Legally, the only ways for us to live together are a) both move to a third country, or b) I move to the Philippines.

a) is not a good option – why should we both live far away from our families?

Many US citizens do not understand this reality. Because my lover is male (as I am), I cannot sponsor him to live in the USA. Even if we had same-sex marriage in California (as we did for 5 months in 2008), that would not help. Like most of the 1100+ rights and responsibilities that come with marriage, immigration is a federal right. Under the so-called Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), the US federal government is actually required to discriminate against same-sex couples.

The other part that many US citizens find hard to believe is that it is extremely difficult, often impossible, to get a tourist visa to visit the US. Since 2001 this has been, for most people from most other countries, a very high hurdle, and often insurmountable. I hope that one day soon my boyfriend can visit here. For now it’s just not in the cards.

2) Opportunity. I’ve been wanting to make a change for a long time. After 26 years writing software documentation, hiring and managing technical writers, working in corporate America, I want to do something else. I’m very excited about starting a technical writing outsourcing company in the Philippines.

A few words about technical writing. What is it? It is not programming. It is not software design. We technical writers write the online help, user guides, installation guides, online information databases and other information sets that explain to users how to use software and hardware.

I have observed that technical writers differ in how they emphasize three key aspects of the job:




Many technical writers are most interested in the technology they write about. They may choose a job based primarily on the basis of the technology that they will be able to write about in that job.

However, that’s not me. I’m a PWT technical writer, meaning that I’m most interested in people, I’m also interested in words (in writing, in the English language), and I’m least interested in the technology.

But the opportunity to start a new business is only one of the opportunities available to me in the Philippines. For example, I have a Master of Arts degree in International Affairs. In the Philippines that degree may qualify me to teach in a college or university. In the US, probably not. There is a great need for management skill in the Philippines. The economy there is growing much faster than the US economy. The banking system is much stronger.

The Philippines is the first or second (after Singapore) most English-language friendly country in Asia. The US occupied the country for 50 years, basically the first half of the twentieth century. Although the Spanish were there much longer (400 years), our occupation is more recent. All the road signs are in English. Almost all Filipinos speak at least a little bit of English. Most learn English in grade school.

The first 4 times I visited the Philippines, I thought English is all you need there. This is true for tourists, but as I realized on my 5th trip, the place runs on Tagalog (also called Filipino). After I move there Iwill learn Tagalog. (And perhaps I’ll become a bilingual, bicontinental, bisexual blogger. But I longer wear bifocals, so I won’t be a bilingual, bicontintental, bisexual, bifocular blogger.)

Yes, I am bisexual. Not a big deal, unless you are one of those people who happens to think bisexuals don’t exist. We do. More on that in future posts. I do have some observations about cultural differences between the USA and the Philippines, and in particular about how sexual minorities are treated in each culture. But I’ll wait to go into that in future blog posts.

One more opportunity for me in this move has to do with my passion in life – The Hunger Project.


The Hunger Project is a global movement to sustainably end hunger for all humanity. I started volunteering with The Hunger Project in 1981. We are now reaching 35 million people in over 22,000 villages in 13 countries, on 3 continents. We empower the poorest of the poor to be the authors of their own development, and achieve for themselves and their families and communities lives of dignity, self-reliance, and sufficiency. We do all this on an annual global budget of about $12 million a year. The Hunger  Project is one of the most cost-effective development organizations on the planet. One of the reasons we are so effective and cost-effective is that we directly confront the most important root cause of extreme poverty – gender inequality. When you effectively empower the leadership of poor rural women, they transform their communities.

About 90% of the funding of The Hunger Project comes from individuals. In recent years only a tiny fraction of those funds have come from East Asia. I plan to start Hunger Project fundraising in the Philippines, and to catalyze fundraising throughout East Asia.

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  • Chris  On December 6, 2010 at 7:15 pm


    What a great beginning. Glad you got a blog started.


  • Fely Rodriguez  On May 9, 2011 at 8:43 am

    Hi Barry,

    Good to hear about your experience in the Philippines. I love your blogs, it keeps me updated of what’s going on in my country. Kudos for you my friend. I hope I can visit you one of these days, when my schedule slow down a little.

    Enjoy your new life in the Philippines, new family and new venture.



  • Arnel  On June 30, 2011 at 6:59 pm

    Hey Barry, I meant to read your blog earlier, but you how it is in the States with our work time about taking center over our free time. Anyway, that’s great you’re taking all this down. I’m enjoying following your entries now, and hope to be caught up when you pass by here in July, wow, which comes tomorrow and may have come to you already on your side of the globe.

  • rene  On November 11, 2011 at 6:07 pm

    I’m leaving the U.S. because I cannot sponsor my wife also. I’m disabled and live off disability but do not make the required amount to help her come here to L.A. As far as I’m concerned, good riddance right? I even attempted not to follow doctors orders and get a job but now that we are in a recession that’s more of a joke and I refuse to spend less time away from her. I’m headed to Manila this Nov 2011.

  • Barry C. Saiff  On November 12, 2011 at 9:27 am

    Best of luck to you, Rene. I hope you find the life you want here in the Philippines.

  • filipinojoe  On September 9, 2012 at 6:23 am

    Mr. Saiff,I love Your blog! I’ve already commented on 2 of Your posts. Anyway, You have to check out this book called ‘Pacific Rims’ written by an extraordinarily talented New Yorker named Rafe Bartholomew. I think as an American living in the Philipines a lot of his observations will resonate. Cheers-Joseph Lim

    • Barry C. Saiff  On December 30, 2012 at 1:43 pm

      Thanks very much for your comments. I’m not a sports fan, but the book looks interesting, perhaps I will read it when I get the chance.

  • Toti  On July 12, 2013 at 2:27 am

    Hello Barry. My name is Toti, been in the DC area for 35 years. I saw your blog today and read this one about your new beginning post. Congratulations, DOMA is done. Are you still a California resident? I’ve been reading about other expats blogs for a year now and I’m glad I found yours. My partner and I are also planning to be in the Philippines in a couple of years, hopefully. I’m 53 and she’s 49 so we don’t have Social Security yet. We have a little savings so we can only afford to live in the province (where I’m originally from), eat fish and vegetables, lol. We wish we can move now though. Like I told other expats, I envy you guys.

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