[COLUMN] Chicago born and raised Fil-Am makes his mark in BGC as The Savvy Expat

Evan Lorezca, host of the popular “The Savvy Expat” on YouTube, offers informative and visually appealing videos on moving and retiring to the Philippines, especially in Bonifacio Global City, BGC

Don’t let his youthful good looks fool you. Or, even his youth for that matter.

Nineteen-year-old Evan Lorezca a.k.a. The Savvy Expat, more than lives up to his moniker as the founder and host of the popular YouTube channel bearing the same name. Launched in May 2021 in the Philippines, www.youtube.com/@TheSavvyExpat has over 32,000 subscribers. His videos have been viewed over three million times.

Lorezca covers topics on everything about living in and moving to the Philippines. From “Advice for First Time Travelers to the Philippines,” to “How to Open a Bank Account,” as well as videos on healthcare costs and services. His most highly viewed videos talk about the actual cost of living expenses in places like Cebu City, Manila and his home base of Bonifacio Global City or BGC.

I caught up with Lorezca during my recent vacation in the Philippines. We had lunch at Manam in BGC, a popular restaurant chain boasting of “Filipino comfort food with a twist!” (He had pork sisig and my kalamansi cheesecake is a must-try!)

I had just discovered The Savvy Expat on YouTube about a week before I left for the Philippines. After learning that Lorezca was born and raised in Chicago, I knew I had to meet the young host. Why did he and his family move to the Philippines? What was it like for an American-born teenager (at the time of his move) to be uprooted from his home and country of birth? And of course, why did he start a YouTube channel about moving to the Philippines?

From his easy knowing smile and composed demeanor, I could tell that Lorezco was already familiar with these questions.

According to Lorezca, he and his parents, brother and sister moved to the Philippines from Chicago in 2019 mainly to escape the cold weather of the Windy City, the increasingly divisive American political landscape, and exorbitant cost of living in the U.S.

While his family now enjoys a lifestyle that their American dollars afford, the warm hospitality of the Filipino people, and a more benevolent culture less prone to mass violence, he says, the young expat had his fair share of challenges when first moving to his ancestral country.

“It was difficult for me to fit in with my classmates,” said Lorezca. “I didn’t speak Tagalog and I didn’t have a Filipino accent.” He was considered “mayabang,” or conceited whenever he did speak flawless English, he said. Filipino culture holds humility and modesty in high regard, and disdains anyone perceived as unnecessarily standing out in a crowd.

He also didn’t understand the fabled “Filipino humor,” dry, self-deprecating and based on age-old cultural triggers.

‘I didn’t get Filipino humor at all,” recalled Lorezca.

It took time, but eventually, Lorezca gained acceptance with his peers. “Once they got to know me, they learned that there was more to me than what they heard or saw,” he explained.

Lorezca spends many hours on each of his videos for YouTube, racking up hours of research and garnering mounds of b-roll of shops and restaurants in BGC. Getting to know BGC cemented his commitment to live in the modern metropolis even more. “I can honestly say I wouldn’t want to live anywhere else in the Philippines!”

Speaking of more than meets the eye, Lorezca also runs a relocation consultation service company in addition to his YouTube channel. Aptly similarly named, The Savvy Expat website offers “Moving to BGC: Your Comprehensive Guide to a Seamless Relocation”  as well as a “FREE Guide For Moving to BGC, Philippines.” Lorezco is also available for private consultations through scheduling on the website.

Over eight million people, including expats and would-be retirees, visit the Philippines each year. Thousands make the island nation their permanent home. Lorezco’s guide walks clients through “every step of the way” without sugar coating the realities of daily life there.

“Without the proper information, guidance and research, settling down in the Philippines can present individuals with unforeseen circumstances and unfavorable obstacles,” said Lorezco. He also cautions consumers from potentially misleading information presented by other YouTube’rs about the Philippines.

“It’s not all sunshine and rainbows as others tend to depict the Philippines on social media,” he explains.

Savvy?

For more information about The Savvy Expat and to download the “Free Guide For Moving to BGC,” visit savvy guides (thesavvyexpat.com) or find Evan Lorezca on YouTube: The Savvy Expat – YouTube

P.S. I was also interviewed on The Savvy Expat! Check out the interview here: Is the American Dream Dead? Filipino Americans Leaving the U.S.

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The opinions, beliefs and viewpoints expressed by the author do not necessarily reflect the opinions, beliefs and viewpoints of the Asian Journal, its management, editorial board and staff.

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Corin Ramos Lujan was born in Manila and immigrated to the U.S. at five years old. A former journalist and graduate of UC Berkeley, Corin received her Philippine dual citizenship in May 2023. She currently lives in Las Vegas where she is a real estate agent, and also an accredited Marketing Partner in Nevada for Ayala Land, Inc., the largest real estate developer in the Philippines.

 

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