The Happy Retiree

Retired Air Force.

He had an affable smile, initiating small conversations as we seated beside each other on a bus bound to Baguio. Exhausted from the warm climate of Manila and from activities of the week, I only gave short replies until I was able to regain some energy.

He seemed enjoying his retirement which interested me. I started asking questions.

Philippine retirement, based on surveys and researches, is something that most yuppies don’t mind at the moment and elders from the middle to upper classes look forward to or dread depending on their situations. I believe it also applies to other countries.

I asked how it feels to be a retiree. He said he is doing fine. Sometimes, he gets bored since he doesn’t follow a schedule anymore. Back in the Air Force, he used to maintain aircrafts. He used to shuttle to and from several bases in various provinces.

I then asked if he’s happy being retired to which he answered “yes”. He receives a decent monthly pension from the government for his years of public service. If he gets sick, he goes to the designated armed forces hospital and the government pays for his medical bills. He is also renting out a portion of his land in the province to a telephone company that set up a tower from which he receives a monthly rental fee. The same telephone company also made him the caretaker of the tower for a monthly compensation.

He is around 60-64 years old and is enjoying his retirement years through interest from years of active service (pension) and passive income from his land (rent + salary).

He generously shared with me details of his monthly stipend which you can see in the table below.

Mr. Retired Air Force Monthly (PHP) Annual (PHP)
Government Pension 30,000.00 360,000.00
Telephone Company Monthly Rental 15,000.00 180,000.00
Monthly Salary (tower caretaker) 6,000.00 72,000.00
Total 51,000.00 612,000.00

Let’s see the other side of it.

Mr. Air Force has a family – a wife, a married employed daughter, a single employed son and a son who just graduated from university.

Asked if his beneficiaries are covered in his stipend, he said that once he dies, his monthly pension will be passed on to his wife. If he had a child who is <= 18 years old, his wife and child will share in his monthly pension. Since all of his kids are more than 18 years old, his wife will inherit his pension. That is, if she lives longer than her husband.

Based on our conversation, he only gets allowance from his family from his overall monthly income. His monthly income then is also used for joint purposes; thus, his family also benefits from the fruits of his hardwork.

(FYI: Usually in Asia, the wives hold the financial accounts of the couple. Some husbands willingly allow their wives to handle their ATMs/payroll since the wives manage the household budget.)

If only every Juan and Maria could have what Mr. Air Force has, then everybody will look forward to than dread retirement.

I would like to achieve the same, and starting early is the key since TIME – not timing – is essential when talking about investing for the future.

He has more than enough to keep him afloat until his senior years, and his family will also continue to enjoy the benefits of his investment (land) for as long as the contract with the telephone company continues and they pursue being good caretakers.

What’s your take on retirement? Feel free to comment!


Opposites Attract in Mui Ne

If you are travelling in Vietnam, you should consider stopping by Mui Ne.

along the road towards Mui Ne; the blue sea on the background entices visitors to stay longer

Here is a coastal resort town with two totally opposite attractions combined in a small area: crazy waters and colorful sand dunes.This is the main reason why most travelers always visit this place while some considered it their home, even setting up businesses on the long stretch of the main road close to the sea.

entering Mui Ne
a Russian Pharmacy
a Russian Pharmacy. Russians compose majority of the investors in this place.

Mui Ne is famous for its wild waves, attracting professional and amateur kite surfers all around. There is never a dry scene. The strong winds help provide the needed momentum for this “extreme” sport to kick off daily.

kite surfers battle with the waves while a brave soul walks the waters
kite surfers battle with the waves while a brave soul walks the waters

And then, there are the sand dunes.

Remember when our moms didn’t allow us to get inside the sand box because “you don’t know what dirty things they put in there”? Well, we ignored that and booked a jeepney tour to the sand dunes. Fyi, it’s the only other way to visit the sand dunes besides renting a motorbike.

trailing jeepneys to the White Sand Dunes
our manly ride

China has Gobi, Africa has Sahara and yes, South East Asia has Mui Ne. It has a relatively small expanse than the previous two but these separate desert spots around town remain curious attractions.

We got pumped up when we arrived on the White Sand Dunes where we played around sillily. It was fun running and jumping down the slopes, doing jumpshots – a first for our German friend, Laura – and walking on soft ground as we continued to explore by foot.

Sand covered us from head to toe after the excursion. I realized, it was just like walking around Myanmar but only for a few stretches.

Fairy Springs and Orange Sand Dunes

hot, hot, hot in Fairy Springs
orange and white hue add  drama to the Fairy Springs
orange and white hue add drama to the landscape
feet sauna with these two
burning soles with these two

White Sand Dunes

Laura's first series of jumpshots with the Filipinos :-)
Laura’s first series of jumpshots with the Filipinos :-)
deciding whether to run up the slope after running down
deciding whether to run up the slope after running down
jump, jump, jump
you can also slide like these guys

Red Sand Dunes

the desert at dusk
waiting for the sunset

Good times! ;-)

The 12-Month Challenge

I mentioned before about my plan to “rest” for a year to get creative while continuing to learn new things for self-improvement.

I never thought that part of it will lead me back to finance which is quite interesting. In a sense, I need capital to continue doing what I love in my own terms and not restricted by time demands. The same things that I love to do will eventually produce what I need to continue being my own boss.

Last week, I went to a financial seminar where I met Christine. While waiting for the speaker, we started conversing about our lives. It was an enlightening moment!

We shared similarities about our current situation where we resigned from our corporate jobs to pursue our passions.

We nodded in agreement when we realized that we became busier when we started doing things on our own compared to the time when we were still working as employees. Corporate life was rewarding, it truly was. I learned a lot from interacting daily with dynamic people. But so is self-employment. Well, I’m still building but I’m seeing the stark contrast. It’s happy busy. :-)

I’m glad that all the projects I’ve listed for this year are going well as planned plus some. It can really be done. We just need to act to fulfill our dreams; otherwise, it will remain dreams forever.

12 months Status
4 months South East Asia travel-writing done
8 months writing, personal finance & investing, learning, travelling ongoing

The Most Beautiful English Word

The British Council conducted a survey of non-English speaking countries about the most beautiful English word in the world. Guess which word made it to the top?

According to the survey, the most beautiful English word in the world is “MOTHER”! Amazing, isn’t it? :-)

mothers day
beautiful in different languages!

The second through fifth places were: (2) Passion | (3) Smile | (4) Love | (5) Eternity

To all moms out there, feel happy and CELEBRATE! It’s an achievement to be called one and be on top! You greatly deserve it!

To my dear Mama Juliet, blowing kisses to you. You’re our angel now. I love you! I can never compare to what you’ve done to us and to everyone you touched but I hope to be strong and faithful as you. :-)


Making the Decision to Go

Here is one article that spurred me to pursue my passion. Although it’s focused on travel, it’s also applicable to life decisions we make for ourselves.

Click on the titles to go directly to the main links in BootsNTravel :-)


Making the Decision to Go – The Hardest Part of Long-Term Travel

by Jason Thiessen, December 3, 2013

“Most success in life is an internal game. It’s usually more about how you think, feel, and behave than the tools or resources you have at hand. Your psychology is more important than anything.” —Brendan Burchard, Best-Selling Author and Speaker

For many, the idea of long-term, round the world travel is a pipe dream. It’s something that we romanticize and talk about in a starry-eyed kind of way with anyone who will listen. We talk about quitting our jobs, all the amazing places we would go, the people we would meet, and the personal growth we would experience. Then all the specifics of how to do it start to enter our minds. Very quickly we are overwhelmed with details. Our dream begins to get clouded over. It fades away as quickly as it came. “I’ll get to it another day,” we say. The how just trampled our dream.

Round the world (RTW) travel, career breaks, sabbaticals, gap years, or any extended travel for that matter, is, at the core, not about logistics. It’s not about getting the time off work, saving enough money, or the perfect itinerary either. These are important things to work out, of course, but something critical has to happen before any of this. You have to decide to go. It sounds obvious, but most people never have this experience because they quite simply can’t or won’t decide. They may procrastinate on making the actual decision, leaving it hang out there for months, years, or even decades. They may start thinking about it and then get hung up on the details long before they actually make the commitment to do it. Regardless, their inability to decide takes them out of the game, sometimes for a very, very, long time.

Forget the specifics of how you’re going to do it…

There is no point in getting bogged down in how to do something until you actually decide you are going to do it. This is what takes most people out. Details, details, details. Think about it for a minute. Would you plan a wedding before deciding to get engaged? The cart seems to be just a little ahead of the horse on that one. Deciding is often the hard part. Once you’ve decided—really decided—the details generally fall into place. There are some incredible tools and resources out there to help with the how. But before getting to the how, you have to decide, and before you decide, you have to cross a point of no return and connect to it emotionally.

Extended travel is a major commitment; it’s right up there with buying a house, moving to a new city, taking (or leaving) a job, and yes, getting married. It’s a commitment of time and money beyond what you may have ever considered before. If you’re reading this you’re probably debating the pros and cons of doing so right now. You’re sitting down with pen and paper and scratching out your lists. You’re doing the math on how much money it may cost. You’re worrying about how long you’ll go for (and who you may upset in the process). You’re worrying about safety and security. You’re trying to figure out how you’ll get from place to place and navigate borders and bus stations and airports.


Let’s decide first if it’s something you really want. You’re going to ask yourself all those other questions anyway, so why not really decide first if you want to go?

Consider this: most people who buy an expensive sports car do so not for the vehicle itself, but for what it represents, what it means to them. For most people that car means success, and that makes them feel good about themselves. The same can be said for many of the large purchases we make in our lives – including houses, boats, cottages, and the like. We buy these things because they make us feel something (secure, proud, or safe). We want to feel a certain way or satisfy some under-the-covers emotional need. (By the way, we all have these needs; we are human, after all.) Once we connect to that feeling, or that need, the ability to make a decision becomes much easier.


I’ve spoken to hundreds of people about long-term travel, and I would be hard-pressed to recall someone who did it that could not express a strong emotional connection to the experience. The idea of round the world travel, career breaks, and sabbaticals resonated with each of them on an emotional level, and they were able to identify with the feeling they wanted. With that, the decision to go was a much easier one, and they stuck to it. They felt it, thought about it, and then simply decided. I’ve also spoken to many people who have dabbled in the idea and thought it might be cool but had never gone because they could not connect to it emotionally. They didn’t feel it. As a result they never made the decision.

As Henry Ford once said, “Whether you think you can, or think you can’t—you’re right.” In order to move forward with your plans, you must think that you can; you must decide that you can. From that point forward things will fall into place. Your logistics will work themselves out. You’ll find the time and money (these may seem like insurmountable obstacles right now, but if this is your priority, just like buying a house, you will find what you need). Someone will rent your house or look after your cat while you’re gone. You’ll get the time off work or school and get the support you need from friends and family. The stars will indeed align.

Being truly committed to a decision means that you are unwavering. Once you’ve made it you will undoubtedly question it many times (I did this often during the two-and-a-half years between deciding to go and actually going on my big trip), but you will have confidence because you know that it will happen. One way to maintain this confidence is to practice using language in your everyday conversations that suggests to anyone listening (even if you don’t know they are listening) that you are going, guaranteed. For example, you don’t say “if” and you don’t say “maybe.” You may even want to affirm it to yourself and to the world. Say something like, “I’m grateful and excited to be traveling the world.” Bring the future back to the present and speak about it as though it is already happening. As with any affirmation be sure to focus on what you want, not what you don’t want. For example, saying something like, “I’m enjoying traveling the world because I’m away from a job I hate and a roommate that drives me nuts,” is not really sending the right message to the universe.

Plenty of friends, family, and even fellow travelers have looked at me as though I was somehow special for traveling around the world. I’m not special at all (ask anyone). All I did was connect to the idea of this kind of travel emotionally and then made a decision. You can, too.

In order to help you connect to what you really want, and ultimately help you in your decision-making regarding a career break, a round the world trip, or a sabbatical, answer the following questions in order. Be honest. There are no right or wrong answers, just listen to your gut. Actually write out the answers, don’t just answer them in your head. Put your answers in a safe place and come back to them periodically over the next few weeks and see how you feel.

  1. What are my top-5 personal values?
  2. Who are the 3 most important/influential people in my life (past or present) and for each of them describe, in detail, why they have (or had) such an impact on me?
  3. What sparked my first thought or interest in extended travel and why?
  4. What are the top-5 reasons why I am really considering taking extensive, round the world travel?
  5. What does long-term travel represent to me (not anyone else)?
  6. What are the top-3 fears I have about taking a trip like this?

Extended travel has as many budget possibilities as there are destinations. Pick a number that you may be considering as your potential budget. It could be $10,000 or $50,000, it doesn’t really matter. Now, consider that the actual expense would be 10% more. So, for a $10,000 budget it would actually be $11,000. Would this new knowledge make you change your mind and stay at home?

“It doesn’t matter which side of the fence you get off on sometimes. What matters most is getting off. You cannot make progress without making decisions.” – Jim Rohn, Best-Selling Author, Speaker, and Philosopher

Accessory Read: What is your “why”?


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