In the early eighties, some interesting scientific papers were published by the biologist Marta Sokolowski and her colleagues. In their search for genetic determinants of behavior, they studied the larvae of the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster. Using this fly as a so-called “model system” - trying to understand certain aspects of behavior in higher organisms - they studied what might be termed as “foraging behavior”. Marta and her team discovered that there existed two types of larvae. Some fly larvae never went very far. They would consistently crawl around in circles and would remain very close to their food patch. These larvae were termed the “sitters”. On the other hand, they observed that some larvae crawled much further away. They followed longer foraging paths and moved between patches of food. These larvae were termed the “rovers”. Genetic studies could demonstrate that the difference between sitters and rovers is determined by a single gene, termed forager. By experimentally controlling the activity of this gene, sitters could be changed into rovers and vice-versa.
If we look closely, humans are no different from flies. Some people live their entire lives in the town they were born in. Here they grow up, go to school, find a job, get married and raise two kids. They have never left the safe boundaries of the alcove, or perhaps they have, but traveling has never become part of their life. These people are “sitters”. They do not seek adventure. Buying new curtains gives them all the excitement they need. They are unlike the “rovers”, the restless souls: the ones who cannot stay in one place, or at least not for too long. Perhaps rovers are not satisfied with their job or their life and they start searching for something of which they only have a vague idea and which they hope to find in another part of the world. Or perhaps they have a broken heart which can only be cured far away, or an empty bank account, or both. That is quite often how they end up in the place they came to live. All of them - there are few exceptions - are born travelers. Every holiday, they haul their backpacks to countries far away. Every year they go to places more remote and stay for longer, until finally they don’t come home anymore. They have become expats.
What does it mean to be an expat? What does it mean to leave everything behind - your home, your family, your friends - and come to live in a strange country such as the Philippines? Who are these expats? What strange twist of fate brought them here? Of course, there is no single answer. There are a thousand answers. The businessman who has lost everything – his house, his car, his yacht – is staring gloomily into his glass of cheap whisky, hiding from his creditors and hoping for better times. The bank employee who decided, on a grey Thursday morning, to change his life. After years of traveling all over the world, he finally found a shoulder to lay his head on. Now he runs a small bar at the harbor, together with his Philippine wife. Here you can find the French entrepreneur who takes advantage of the possibilities of this young country: if nothing goes wrong, he will be rich very soon. Or the German loner who comes here every night, gazing over his beer at the moon shining in the black sea. He has come too far and cannot go back anymore. At the next table, some dark girls with white teeth and promising eyes are smiling at him... All of them have found their new home in the Philippines. They all know too well that there is only a thin line between being rich and successful, or waking up in a sleazy hotel in Manila, having a thin cigarette for breakfast.
Dear reader, the book you hold contains interviews with expats in the Philippines: travelers who found a place to rest after a long journey. It is no coincidence that the author - a keen observer of human nature - has roving eyes himself and has traveled widely across all continents. Perhaps better than anyone else, he knows that traveling is not only moving from one place to another. It is also an inner journey, in search of oneself. As such, I tend to believe that this book is not about expats in the Philippines, or at least not exclusively. It is a book about people who are willing to go very far in search of happiness and peace, something which we all seek, but so few of us ever find. - Ronny Leemans, Belgian expat in Basel, Switzerland
Ronny, born in 1974 in Bayern, Germany. First time to the Philippines in 1997. Full time resident since 2000. From EXPAT, 2010
Carlos, born in 1964 in Monterrey, Mexico. First time to the Philippines in 2002. Full time resident since 2002. From EXPAT, 2010
Martin, born in 1972 in Baden Wütemberg, Germany. First time to the Philippines in 2006. Full time resident since 2006. From EXPAT, 2010
George, born as Jürgen in 1946 in Bayern, Germany. First time to the Philippines in 1986. Full time resident since 1992. From EXPAT, 2010
Bjørn, born in 1954 in Oslo, Norway. First time to the Philippines in 1997. Full time resident since 1997. From EXPAT, 2010