Maria Ozawa, Daniel Matsunaga, foreign celebrities who are in the Philippines for good

by Nikko Tuazon
Jun 12, 2018
Japanese actress-entrepreneur Maria Ozawa and Brapanese hunk Daniel Matsunaga are two foreigners who fell in love with the Philippines and decided to stay in the country for good.

Laid-back culture, affordable cost of living, the weather, and majestic islands—these are some of the reasons why foreign tourists keep coming back to the Philippines.

Some even decided to leave their own country behind and stay here for good.

One of the main reasons why some expats choose to make it their residence is because of the people.

Filipinos are generally known around the world as very warm, hospitable, and resilient.

As we celebrate the country's Independence Day, (Philippine Entertainment Portal) lists down some of the full-blooded celebrity foreigners who fell in love with the Philippines and made it their home.


Sam Oh. Radio and TV host Sam Oh has been living in the Philippines for over three decades.

Sam started her career as a TV host for ETC's lifestyle show titled Rated Oh! in 2005.

The 38-year-old host has also made a name as one of the country's well-known radio DJs, hosting several programs on 99.5 RT and Magic 89.9 before her last board work in April 2018.

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Sam also helmed several food shows—Sarap At Home, Delicioso, and Sarap To Heart, among many others—on GMA's sister channel QTV which was later called GMA News TV.

A post shared by Sam Oh (@iamsamoh) on

Grace Lee. Korean radio and TV host Grace Lee has also been living in the Philippines for 25 years.

The 35-year-old host moved to the country at the age 10 after her father decided to pursue his business opportunities in the country.

Grace continued her studies in the Philippines and finished her degree in Communications at the Ateneo De Manila University.

Like Sam, Grace pursued a career as a host, starting off in QTV's The Sweet Life in 2007.

Grace was also a DJ for Magic 89.9.

Now, she owns a restaurant in Pasig City called Kko Kko.

Jinri Park. South Korean model Jinri Park has spent more than half of her life living in the Philippines.

In an interview with (Philippine Entertainment Portal), the model-host said that she has been staying in the country for over two decades.

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It was her father's idea to move to the Philippines over 20 years ago to be a missionary in Cebu.

Their family, however, fell in love with the country because, "Filipinos are so nice compared to any other countries. They’re so hospitable, they’re always smiling, they never have a sad moment.

"Even though they’re in a bad situation, they always look at the bright side, super positive, and grabe yung hospitality."

Jinri worked as a radio DJ and is now an actress in the Philippines.

A post shared by Jinri Park (@jinri_88) on

Ryan Bang. It's Showtime host Ryan Bang has been living solo in the country for 14 years.

Ryan admits that he misses his family in South Korea from time to time.

The Star Magic talent, however, doesn't feel that he's alone especially with the support of his closest friends and fans in the country.

Last March 7, he wrote on Instagram, "Di ko alam na may family picture pala ako... 14 years na po pala ako mag-isa dito sa Pilipinas...

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"Ang saya ng buhay ko dito sa Pilipinas pero minsan di ko alam kung tama ba desisyon ko dahil nakakalungkot rin mag-isa ka lang at sobra miss ko na pamilya ko.. buti ang daming bumati at mahal sa akin..

"Salamat po talaga.. alam kong mahirap gawin pero habang nanjan pa po ang magulang ninyo dapat sasabihin niyo palagi na ‘i love you’"

A post shared by ??? ? (@ryanbang) on


Maria Ozawa. Japanese model-actress Maria Ozawa first visited the country in 2015 for a cover photo shoot with FHM Philippines' June issue, and to star in the movie Nilalang with action star Cesar Montano.

Originally from Hokkaido, Japan, the 32-year-old actress-entrepreneur fell in love with the country and has been living here since 2016.

On June 2, 2018, Maria was invited to participate in a Santacruzan for the first time in Candelaria, Quezon Province.

She definitely enjoyed the experience and shared it on Instagram.

Maria wrote, "As a foreigner working here in the Philippines I feel so much closer now to this country by attending this parade and was able to wear the Filipino traditional gown that I always wanted to try... And the best part was that it rained during the parade which means it’s a 'blessing' from the sky."

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Maria is now a part-owner of a lounge bar at Remington Hotel in Pasay City.

A post shared by Maria.Ozawa (@maria.ozawa) on


There was a time when Brazilian-Japanese hunks took over the local modelling industry.

It started in 2007 when these "Brapanese" hunks became a staple on the country's local advertising campaigns and fashion spreads.

Fabio Ide. Model/actor/businessman Fabio Ide has lived in the Philippines for over 10 years. He first came to the country in 2005 as a model seeking opportunities.

What made him stay?

In his 2010 interview with Ricky Lo for, Fabio said, "The people here are very mabait, very friendly and very hospitable. They make us feel comfortable. The language helps a lot.

"The weather is like back home and the religion, too. There’s a positive vibe everywhere."

Now, Fabio has made a name in the local entertainment scene, starring in several GMA-7 series including Coffee Prince (2012), My Beloved (2012), and Destiny Rose (2015).

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The six-foot-tall heartthrob is also one of the well-known celebrity partners of The Palace, one of the most popular nightlife destinations in the country located at Bonifacio Global City, Taguig.

Daniel Matsunaga. ABS-CBN model-actor Daniel Matsunaga also found a home in the Philippines.

What does Daniel love about the Philippines?

The 29-year-old Brapanese hunk told Ricky Lo in the same feature, "Everything is amazing—the food, the people, and the culture.

"Everything, including the weather, is like Brazil. It feels like I never left home at all."

Like Fabio, he began his career as model in 2007 and entered the field of acting via GMA-7's The Last Prince in 2010, alongside Kris Bernal and Aljur Abrenica.

In 2014, he was announced the winner of ABS-CBN's Pinoy Big Brother: All In.

Hideo Muraoka. Standing at 6-foot-6, supermodel Hideo Muraoke first set foot in the Philippines around 2008.

Since then, the former Pinoy Big Brother celebrity housemate has made the country his second home, after Brazil.

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Hideo, his wife, Fatima Rabago, and their daughter, Daniela, have been living in the metro for almost a decade.

In his interview with Men's Health Philippines for its December 2013 issue, Hideo revealed what made him love the country.

"The Filipinos, they are really nice, they are really lovely people."

A post shared by Hideo Muraoka (@hideo_official) on


Sam Y.G. Radio and TV host Sam Y.G. is a full-blooded Indian born and raised in the Philippines.

In April 2010, Sam Y.G. became a full-fledged Filipino and decided to let go of his Indian citizenship.

He told (Philippine Entertainment Portal) in a previous interview, "I chose to be Filipino kasi I was based here. I was born here, dito na ako lumaki.

"Dito na ako nag-aral. Dito na rin ako nagtatrabaho ngayon."

A post shared by Sam YG (@_samyg) on

Addy Raj. Indian model/actor/singer Addy Raj first came to the Philippines as a foreign exchange student in Ateneo de Manila University in 2014.

He went back to his hometown in India for his graduation but the 22-year-old talent decided to return to the Philippines in 2016 to pursue a career in showbiz.

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In an interview with GMA News, Addy said the country's food and culture are some of the reasons why he decided to go back and stay. But mostly, he added, it's because of the Filipino people.

Addy explained, "The most important thing that made me stay was the fact that whenever I'm walking along the road, even when I have just been in the Philippines for a few weeks, I smile at random strangers and they always smile back.

"That's something that really made me stay."

Addy is now one of the exclusive contract stars of the Kapuso network. He has also starred in GMA-7's hit romantic-comedy series Meant To Be with Barbie Forteza, Ken Chan, Jak Roberto, and Ivan Dorschner.

A post shared by Addy Raj (@addyrajofficial) on


Lee O'Brian. California born-and-raised actor Lee O'Brian found his one true love in the country.

The 42-year-old Hollywood actor and ABS-CBN comedienne Pokwang have been a couple for over three years.

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The couple first met on the set of indie movie EDSA Woolworth, which was first shown in the U.S. in November 2014.

Lee and Pokwang officially became a couple in February 2015.

Since then, Lee decided to move in with Pokwang. The couple now has a daughter named Malia.

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Japanese actress-entrepreneur Maria Ozawa and Brapanese hunk Daniel Matsunaga are two foreigners who fell in love with the Philippines and decided to stay in the country for good.
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