The Great Escape

Rediscovering life in Palawan Philippines

About Us

Hello There,

My name is Maria Feist and I’m tired of the daily grind we find ourselves living in North America.

In early 2011, my husband, “the Chef”, and I went on a 3 week vacation to a part of the Philippines dubbed “the last frontier.” We planned this get-a-way for 4 years saving as much money as we could and finding the right time to pull ourselves away from our everyday lives. This wasn’t an easy task. My husband is in the hospitality business so it’s difficult for him to take time off for any significant length of time.

Leaving the sub-zero weather of a Canadian winter we flew halfway around the world and landed in an environment so different from our own. Stepping out of the airport our senses were immediately assaulted by hot, humid air and the thunderous chattering of people and honking vehicles.

Despite the chaos we felt an immediate connection to this foreign land. As we travelled away from the cities and into the surrounding countryside we found ourselves enjoying a more relaxed pace of living. People worked hard but they seemed happy. Most of all we liked the simplicity of life.

This got us thinking. All we do now is work to pay our bills and our mortgage. We have all the conveniences of a comfortable life yet we feel a real disconnect to the life we lead here. We are ready for a change.

This is how we started the blog. This site is dedicated to our plan of escape. Wish us luck!


In August 2014 we went back to Coron, Palawan for a month to make connections, research the area and find out if we really want to make the big move. You can read about ‘Our Journey‘ here.

We’re on the move again. This upcoming May and June 2015 we’ll be visiting Coron to look for properties. I’ll be blogging about our experiences again from there.

The countdown begins. After five years of planning and researching we will make the big move to Coron, Palawan in early 2016. Stay tuned!

March 2016. We’re finally here in Coron, Palawan living a simple and challenging life. Internet is difficult so my posts and comments will be sporadic for now until we get more settled.

October 2016. We’ve left our beloved Coron and moved to Puerto Princesa City and continue to live a simple life (with just a bit more conveniences 🙂 )

July 2017. Our Feisty Chef Resto will open soon in Puerto Princesa and we will be totally immersed in Palawan society.

September 2017. Wow, it’s been a long haul but the Resto is almost ready to open. Check out the Feisty Chef Resto Facebook page. (no longer active)

For updates on our progress visit our Facebook page. (no longer active)

September 2020. We are back in Canada and it’s not what you think.

185 thoughts on “About Us

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  1. great blog! I’m sure the thought of going back to sub zero temperature never knocked you ever again! have a great day!

    • Thanks Arv! This body ain’t made for the cold anymore.

      • ha ha! I have a theory which though is not tested but I’m sure you can validate it if you find it correct. I feel people in hot/tropical climate tend to be more social, warm & loud as compared to people in cold climate! Do you think its true, having experienced both?

        • You know that’s interesting. On the surface it seems so but I think there’s more to it than that. Here in Canada we’re all cooped up in our houses for 8 months of the year because of the cold so our social lives tend to slow down and we tend to be more isolated. Canadians in general are friendly but more reserved and we have a go, go, go lifestyle that sometimes gets in the way of meaningful socializing.

          I think it’s got a lot to do with a country’s culture as well. In the Philippines family and community are a big thing and so they want to make sure you are included. We’ve never been invited to so many birthdays before!

          From my experience, the friendliest people I have ever met are from Bali, Indonesia but that was a long time ago before they had the terror bombings in 2005. It was always a peaceful island and I wonder if that event changed the psyche of the people.

          Anyways, I think it’s complicated. I’ve met wonderful people in all the countries I’ve travelled. The key is to immerse yourself in the culture with an open mind and understanding. When that happens people will open up to you. Thanks for that great question!

          • I too thought of climate making an impact on socialising! cold climate certainly forces people to stay indoors. this can be seen translating into culture.
            Yes, Asia in general is quite vibrant as a people, culture, food and history! Countries west of India till Egypt is a different story altogether!

  2. Bravo! for stepping out of the box. I admire your courage to want to make such a change. Good luck with it.
    I also want to thank you for stopping by my DOOR challenge. My like buttons don’t work, so consider yourself Liked! 🙂

  3. Hi there, thanks for dropping by my site!

  4. It’s great that you saw our Palawan a place to be… I hope you had a nice experience of the hospitality which we Filipinos are known for. I’m looking forward to reading more of your travels and insights… 🙂

  5. that traveling nurse on said:

    Wow, so many comments here! I discover your blog, see Philippines in it and that is your magic word! 🙂 I am glad you are “back”. Palawan is my next stop the next time we visit. I could probably ask you for pointers by then.
    I don’t know if you have been nominated with this award yet but I am nominating you for the Sisterhood of the World Bloggers Award. Please see link for more details…

    • I see you’ve caught the travelling bug too! Maybe by the time you visit Palawan we’ll be already there and can give you what ever help you need. Thank you so much for nominating me for the Sisterhood of World Bloggers. At this point I’m not accepting any more awards. I hope you understand. I’m very touched that you would consider me. Keep on travelling!

      • that traveling nurse on said:

        No worries! Consider it my virtual hugs to you for being an awesome blogger. And yes, the travel bug has long bit me even before I was blogging. 🙂 I’ll send you a message once we have our next Philippine trip organized.

  6. Thank you for dropping by, Maria! Happy travels! :))

  7. As one who has already escaped, keep on at it, you will get there!

  8. Your Oct 29 post says you were born in the PI. Were either of your parents Filipino that you can document? If so, you qualify as “natural born” Filipino citizenship and eligible for passport.

    That is important if you plan to move to PI and own land. Only Filipino citizens can own land there.

    If one of your parents is Filipino, I suggest you contact a nearby PI consulate or embassy about what you need to do to claim citizenship and get a passport. If you do not need to own land, then you might want to look into a “retiree” visa. Do Google search for “Philippine retiree visa” and you will find link to a special government authority set up for people who want to retire to PI.

    • Thank you Spencer for your advice! We need all we can get. I’ve already looked into it and 2 years ago I re-acquired my Filipino Citizenship. I am a Filipino again! So now I can buy land without any restrictions, vote and even run for office if I want. Haha. I wish we were retirement age but we’re not so we have to come up with a way to support ourselves financially. That’s why we’re not moving there right away. In a few more years hopefully the pieces come together and we’ll be living happily in Busuanga. 🙂

  9. I hope we all find our happily ever afters. Good luck in your adventures through life. reaching for your goals.

  10. Thanks for liking my post. your post is great

  11. Hello Maria, how nice to read that you have an incredible goal with your husband. Wish all the luck you need to achieve your dream soon! Let me tell you that we’re already living our dream. We wanted to change our stylelife for better, so we left the north of Italy definetely in September of this year to move where we’re now: southwest of France. We just adore this place; we’re so happy here feeling very motivated and learning a new language, too! 🙂 Cheers!

  12. wilsonagaba on said:

    This is a beautiful goal you have. You did a lot of planning and cooperating together to take your vacation, now if you make plans and cooperate together and be patient, you will succeed to have a simpler life.

  13. Good luck with your Great Escape. There’s definitely more to life than working to pay the bills. Stay focussed – Succeed. Live your dream!

  14. Truly inspiring! We’re hoping someday our trips aren’t just trips – but an extension of our life. Someday…perhaps. All the best on your ‘great escape’!

  15. Hi, thanks for the like on my blog, good to meet you! Vonita 🙂

  16. do it! do it! do it!
    i am filipina-mexican currently living in puerto vallarta…i have never visited palawan, but send you and your husbo lots and lots of good vibes so you can live your dreams!

  17. wow, cool! we have similar goals and experiences. ever since I stepped foot into Spain for the first time in 1980 I felt a connection there. when I returned nearly 30 years later it intensified. and now hubby too is being pulled there. we hope to retire to southern Spain in just less than 5 years from now…..I read a few of the earlier comments and haven’t looked around your blog yet, but not sure if you’ve moved yet? Nice to meet you and I’m going to go poke around a bit if you don’t mind 🙂

    • Thanks for visiting my blog. No, we haven’t moved yet. We travelled there this past August for a month to find out what it’s really like to live there to be sure we really want to make the big move. We rented a house and basically tried to live like a local. The conditions really opened our eyes and we discovered so much by talking to locals and expats. We are lucky in that we already made connections with people we met on our first trip there two years ago. There is so much to digest and consider but in the end we absolutely loved it. Our next step is to try and secure property and come up with a plan to support ourselves there since we’re too young for retirement. Good luck in Spain! 🙂

  18. Good luck to your move to the Philippines. I was just reading about Palawan. I really wish you reach your dream in beautiful Palawan. I’ve never been there and it is in my bucket list when I come home for good. Maybe I will see you there. Best of luck!

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