But their flight home on March 18 was cancelled as the world went into lockdown – and they’re still there 14 months on.
Mr Alston’s doctor has died from coronavirus and he fears catching it himself.
While limited flights back to Australia, via a third country, have restarted, Ms Alston’s Filipino passport has now expired.
She is a permanent resident of Australia, but not yet a citizen.
Mr Alston claimed the wait for the new Filipino passport is many months and he cannot get her an appointment.
He said won’t leave her there alone and if he returns to Australia, he won’t be allowed out again due to the travel ban.
“I won’t leave my wife, I can’t go to Australia and come back out. If the Philippines goes into lockdown she won’t be able to come either,” he said.
“I’ve got my daughter there and my family, they’re getting old also and you’re stuck here.
“I totally feel completely abandoned.”
Strict limits on people coming in, via flight caps, mean getting home is difficult and expensive.
Mr Alston made a video explaining his latest difficulties.
“Been here for about 15 months now,” he said.
“We have to sit through all the typhoons, terrorist attacks, everything, we can’t go to the cities, we can’t go to the dentist, we can’t go to the doctor…. my doctor died last week of COVID-19 so there’s no way I can go to the surgery to get prescriptions for an ear infection.
“I’ve got a toothache, can’t go to the dentist because they recycle their protective equipment, they reuse the gloves and facemasks.
“So here we are, trying to survive overseas, and people are just sitting in Australia thinking nothing’s happening.”
In July, Mr Alston said the couple had lost their rented home in Lidcombe, in Sydney’s west.
The couple now grows their own vegetables and trades dried fish.
While they still have their fishing boat, their region of Banate Iloilo, more than 600km south of capital Manila, is overfished.
The nation is the second-worst for COVID-19 in the region, behind Indonesia.
It had started to reopen, but infections spiked again in March this year to more than 10,000 a day, prompting President Rodrigo Duterte’s administration to reimpose a lockdown in the Manila region.
Several hospitals in the metropolis reported being overwhelmed, with new COVID-19 patients waiting in hospital driveways, ambulances and cars.
Penalties for breaking lockdown rules in the nation are heavy, with threats of being shot.
That latest lockdown has now eased, but Mr Alston said people are desperate, with little work or income.
And while thousands have made it back, others remain stuck overseas, with flights not resuming yet from some nations.
More Aussies have also left the country under the strict list of reasons allowed as part of the nation’s travel ban, adding to the numbers overseas trying to get home.
Expats who now also want to return to Australia are swelling the numbers.
A Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade spokesperson said: “DFAT’s highest priority at this time is helping vulnerable Australians overseas.
“Over 544,000 Australians have arrived in Australia since the Government recommended that people reconsider the need to travel abroad.
“Since the start of the pandemic, DFAT has helped over 45,700 Australians return on over 500 flights including over 19,000 people on 129 Government facilitated flights.
“There are currently no scheduled government facilitated flights from the Philippines, however regular commercial services are available.
“We continue to support Australians to access scheduled commercial services which provide the main avenue for Australians to return home.”