MANILA — In the Philippines you can be 35 years old considered a retiree and still be allowed to work.

Strange as it may sound the age bracket is one of four categories of retirees targeted by the Philippine government in a bid to attract more investments into the country.

In a presentation before members of the the First Ambassador and Consuls General Tour’s Guam trade and investment mission at the Board of Investments on July 13 Joel Voltaire V. Mayo marketing manager of the Philippine Retirement Authority said retirees are encouraged to invest in the Philippines by acquiring existing corporations buying condominium units leasing houses and lots for long-term leases and purchasing proprietary shares.

“For former Filipino citizens they can purchase land up to 5 000 square meters in urban areas and up to 3 hectares in rural areas ” he said.

Due to constitutional limits foreigners who wish to invest in a retirement village or housing development are still not allowed to acquire land. “But we have now what we call a ‘horizontal condominium.’ So they hold shares but their shares would entitle them to usufruct or use in a house and lot. That’s what’s being practiced here right now ” Mayo told the Journal.

The PRA hopes to attract 100 000 new retiree-members over the next five years as it proceeds to accredit an increasing number of housing developments and condominium establishments as retirement homes. It is also encouraging investment in construction of retirement villages and subdivisions.

Mayo said the other three categories of retirees PRA is targeting are those who are retired (above 50 years old) foreign businessmen or executives working in the Philippines or expatriates and retirees who need medical assistance. Some Japanese he said have already set up model retirement homes or nursing facilities for their own retirees needing medical assistance in the Philippines.

To be able to stay retirees are required to deposit anywhere from $50 000 (foreign nationals 50 years old and above) to $75 000 (foreigners 35 to 49 years old). Former Filipino citizens meanwhile need only to deposit $1 500. The deposit would stay in a PRA-accredited bank for at least six months before it could be converted into an active investment if the retiree so wished Mayo said.

He told the Guam delegation that it was attractive to retire in the Philippines due to its mild weather high purchasing power of the U.S. dollar various eco-tourism sites that retirees can visit “world-class medical services ” ease of communication in the English language the hospitality of Filipinos and the country’s telecommunications edge. “As you know the Philippines is the text (SMS) capital of the world ” he said.

Foreigners or Filipino-Americans who opt to retire in the Philippines are given a resident retiree visa.

This gives the holder the privilege to come and go at will through a multiple-entry visa the option to reside permanently exemption from exit clearances and re-entry permits exemption from travel tax; allowance to import personal effects tax-free up to $7 000 and freedom to receive annuities or pensions from abroad also tax-free.

What’s more Mayo said the retiree will be given access to the many resort facilities and golf and country clubs in the country as well as discounts in various PRA-accredited establishments to enable the retiree to enjoy retirement to the fullest.

Those who opt to work again will be assisted by the PRA in obtaining an alien employment permit while their children below 21 years of age will be exempted from securing a special study permit.

At present there are 46 retirement facilities accredited by the PRA around the country. These range from simple condominium developments to exclusive subdivisions upscale resorts and hotels. The accreditation process is ongoing and PRA expects more facilities to be considered suitable for retirees.

According to the 2000 U.S. Census there were 40 729 Filipinos included in Guam’s population of 154 805. The figure includes those born on the island and in the Philippines. There is no available data on Guam retirees in the Philippines. MBJ