Thursday, October 27, 2005

What I Like About Living in the Philippines

Living in the Philippines, I freely admit that Americans here typically complain way too much; and being fairly typical, I am no exception. If two of us are talking you can bet that our conversation will eventually get around to our latest complaint. I've lived in many countries and never have I been anyplace where so many whining citizens from another country continue to live in the country about which they complain. Our grumbling covers almost every imaginable thing from unbelievably dreadful local drivers, to bad roads, to the predictable flooding during rainy season, to the constantly failing power. The conundrum is that even though so many of us find reasons to continuously carp, thousands of us continue to live here. That fact begs the question: If it’s so bad, why don’t we leave? It must be that there are things here that we DO like. I won't presume to speak for my fellow expatriate Yanks, but I will make an effort to list what I personally find likeable.

First, I like the year round balmy weather. I spent my high school years in Michigan, a frigid place where I learned to hate the cold. Now I have even more reason to avoid chilly weather because of my aching osteoarthritic joints. Even in the supposedly warm climes of some southern states like Southern California or Florida--even those places have their frosty wintry days. No thank you! My tender joints and painful tendons prefer the heating-pad-like weather right here in the Philippines.

I like the fetching smiles and friendliness of the people here, and being me, I’m especially fond of the wonderful smiles of the ladies! Seriously, Filipinos are naturally gracious and welcoming. By contrast, Americans are friendly as well, but we tend to be a bit more reserved, particularly if we happen to come from certain parts of the U.S., namely from the big cities of the northeast, but I generalize. Having lived all over the globe I can say for certain that as a people Filipinos are the quickest to give a stranger a pleasant smile and welcoming words.

I like the cost of living here. The prices of many things in the Philippines are well below the costs of the same items and services in the states. Many of the foreigners living in this country survive on pensions; finding a job here that pays anything substantial is pretty much out of the question for an outsider (and for a local for that matter). Therefore, it’s important to us that essential living expenses such as rent, food, and transportation be affordable. Although you can find deluxe accommodations here, it’s more important to have available reasonably priced housing, victuals, and conveyance; and all those things can easily be had no matter how limited the budget.

In my case I also include the cost of secondary schooling in the list of affordable services. As a military veteran I get paid to go to school, and the more economical it is the more educational benefit monies I get to put in the bank. The cost of college in the U.S. is so high that it has become prohibitive. For instance, a stateside textbook can cost as much as 5,000 Pesos (around a hundred bucks) and more, so you can imagine how high the cost of a single class there. It’s easily the price of a complete semester at my school, Systems Plus Computer Foundation, taking a full load of credit hours.

It’s ironic that one of the things I like most about Filipinos is their composed attitude while driving. It’s ironic because although I like this one aspect about them as drivers, I abhor their generally poor driving. What I appreciate about their attitude is their absolutely non-American style of patience with other drivers and their lack of the road rage so prevalent in United States society. It seems that nothing really upsets a Filipino behind the wheel. Situations and the actions of other drivers that would drive an American back home into paroxysms of middle-finger-waving fury cause the Filipino to merely tap his horn, or more often than not, to have absolutely no reaction at all. I strive mightily on a daily basis to attempt to copy this admirable characteristic. So far I’ve had very little luck in accomplishing this change in my driver’s persona.

And finally, my mom used to tell me that if I couldn’t say something nice about someone that I shouldn't say anything at all. Well, I’ll doubtless keep on complaining about irritating aspects of this place, but I’ll also try to keep reminding myself about the good things, because there are many! Did I mention how cheap it is to buy a San Miguel beer? Hey, there's another one!

22 Comments:

At 9:05 PM, Blogger watson said...

Don't you just love San Miguel Beer! I go for San Mig Light. And what about halo-halo and the assortment of goodies you can chew on every now and then?

Hmmm... when it comes to driving, I must say I am a bit on the impatient side. Although I do try to keep from blowing my horn at waiting for traffic lights to change and in congested roads.

 
At 9:33 PM, Blogger PhilippinesPhil said...

No doubt about it... Filipino cuisine is my favorite. Tinola and adobo are my MOST favorite.

 
At 1:32 AM, Blogger Duane Keys said...

Lumpia!!!! Yum.

Oh, and on drivers I've been able to sum up the difference by saying in the US the attitude is "I can't pull out, they'll surely hit me" and in the PI it's "I can pull out in front, they'll stop."

 
At 2:25 AM, Blogger PhilippinesPhil said...

Hey Duane, yup American drivers have a rather selfish attitude on the road, and "forcing" one of us to apply brakes by "daring" to "barge" into the traffic flow in front of them causes many to break out in very intense anger. Filipinos pull out knowing that vehicles have brakes for a reason. African drivers were the same way... if there is even a tiny gap in the flow, good enough! "I'm in there!" and no one gives it a second thought, or the finger!

 
At 7:10 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

My wife is from the Philipines, we live in the states now. She got 3 speeding tickets and pulled over with a warning for agressive driving in less than a month.

 
At 3:33 PM, Blogger PhilippinesPhil said...

As I think about the way people become to driving here in the Phils it is understandable that your wife is being "reined in" by the stateside cops. In truth, there is no speed limit here, so you tend to go as fast as YOU are comfortable. Aggressiveness on the road is also an offshoot of driving here for a couple reasons. The fact that there are no cops watching over drivers' every move tends to make us willing to do anything behind the wheel that will "advance our position" on the road. I have absolutely no reason to be in a hurry to go anywhere in this country, yet I drive like a maniac in spite of that. No one EVER worries about making appointments on time in the Philippines, yet everyone drives as if getting some place quickly is the most important thing in their lives. As your wife is learning when you go from an atmosphere of lawlessness to a place where the police are waiting to pounce at almost every block, you get a driver like your wife who is now having to learn how to drive in the very structured road system of the United States.

 
At 10:21 PM, Blogger YLA said...

Hi Phil. I like this article of yours, and working in customer service, i find your first paragraph very, very real :) I prefer the British and Germans who are more cool-headed :) However, as opposed to my more-placid country men, i have encountered Americans who are generous with their appreciation to good service, and it can be really inspiring. So what do i mean to say? - be kind; you like it so much here, and we like having you around. Let's make it pleasant for all of us.

 
At 10:38 PM, Blogger PhilippinesPhil said...

Your right YLA. I try to smile, at least in my fashion, to everyone I see, no matter what the circumstance. Actually, the more trying the situation the more I endeavor to be nice. Its the only way to go.

 
At 2:20 PM, Blogger Proud Fil-Am said...

Thanks for the good words about the Philippines!

 
At 10:17 PM, Blogger Sophia Bliss said...

As far as Americans are concerned, they always welcome the warm Philippine weather and the sunny smiles of the Filipinos. They couldn't help but be amused by the happy-go-lucky Filipino drivers. On Filipino cuisine, Tinola and Adobo are their all-time favorite. But for American men in particular, the best thing that ever happened in the Philippines is the ice-cold San Miguel beer! I know this because my brother-in-law is an American, too. LOL Don't you just love the Philippines? :)

 
At 9:18 AM, Anonymous Michael said...

Phil, I am trying to find people living in the Philippines, either Filipino or American to work as partners with my company. We are launching products there and need partners to help us make contacts.

Can you refer me to ways to make contact with people interested in doing a lot of business there with an American partner?
thanks
Michael

 
At 2:14 AM, Blogger fancydelancey said...

yes.my name is kenny delancey and i will be moving to the philippines in the near future.i may be interested in working with your company.you can contacy me at fancydelancey@gmail.com.i have been to the philippines twice in the past 13 months.the last time i went there i spent 50 days there.i like it there very much.i went to the philippines in the 1970s while serving in the us navy.im still to young to retire and dont have enough money to make it there for any great length of time.i wish id thought of living in the philippines when i was collecting my g.i bill.i just thought that idea was out of reach.these young men now adays are certainly very clever arent they.it took me 34 years to get back to the philippines and believe me i fantasized about it my whole life long.but then again,everything happens for a reason.also i would like to include here that i am looking for a filipina woman that has a good job there.she must be slender and attractive. say 35-45.i myself am 54 with a thin athletic build.blue eyes and 6 ft tall.i like to play tennis and im also an artist spending much time painting and drawing.

 
At 4:35 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you!

 
At 9:39 AM, Anonymous Jonha @ Happiness said...

Now that's what you call like Rihanna's "I hate that I love you so" about the Philippines. I know it has got a lot of flaws but you sure did a great job in identifying the great things about the Philippines - only in the Philippines. I think you are right about drivers being too patient and too cool on the road (yes, too cool to the point of overspeeding). One American noted that once on the road, it's just like showing everyone else who's the boss, haha.

 
At 1:21 PM, Blogger PhilippinesPhil said...

Johna, I've actually posted specifically on driving in the PHilippines. Did you see it?

 
At 11:47 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Re: Filipino Drivers
I never realized that Filipino drivers had a good attitude. I have lived in the city for about 5 years now, so I usually walk or take public transportation to get somewhere. I've noticed that many of the taxi/jeepney/fx drivers have extremely short tempers. I have heard many stories of taxi drivers or jeepney drivers starting arguments that lead to physical violence. (Though this never happened to me, I have heard a good number of swear words, threats, etc. while in the backseat of a taxi.) I think they may seem to have good attitudes because if people in the States drove the way Filipinos drive, then verbal or physical fights would take place instantly and traffic would never move. Plus, the joke here is that traffic laws or regulations are suggestions because so many people are used to not following them. Considering the importance many organizations place on following traffic rules in the States, I don't think that statement would work too well. Don't you think? =)

 
At 7:46 PM, Blogger PhilippinesPhil said...

Oh, there's no doubt that the level of driving here is horrendous. That is primarily due to the lack of enforcement. When laws are not enforced, THAT is the definition of lawlessness, a word bandied about quite a bit here by expats who are used to seeing REAL traffic enforcement in their home countries. Then again, I'm not sure most drivers here even KNOW the rules of the road. I've never actually seen a drivers manual. As far as attitudes, folks here get mad sometimes and sometimes spout a few swear words, but it rarely gets any further than that. I've only seen one exception, where a trike driver sideswiped a Filipino driving a big SUV. The driver jumped out and pistol whipped the trike driver into a bloody pulp. But for the most part, drivers simply put up with each other's carelessness and indiscretions with out much protest or comment. By the way, its been a few years since I wrote this post; maybe its time to update? chuckle...

 
At 12:05 PM, Blogger DS said...

I am contemplating moving to the Philippines to retire, 62 former marine with a pension of 40K year. I would like to meet and fall in love with a pretty Filipino girl of 40 years old or so, someone settled, with a life of their own and one who could appreciate a better quality of life for herself and her family by partnering with me. I am not an ugly American, I do not suffer from road rage at all although I do get frustrated with older drivers where I live. I have been looking at Cebu City joined filipinocupid and would appreciate any advice you could offer me.

 
At 5:40 PM, Blogger PhilippinesPhil said...

Hi DS, send me an email so we can talk about it. pjspear1@yahoo.com

 
At 11:15 PM, Blogger jeff said...

Hi all im an american wanting to live in the philippines...yes theres a pretty lady involved...lol...she said she will take care of me there until...we marry so i can find work...i feel funny about that...if anyone needs help email me please at jseeley6969@gmail.com...i am moving there around the capital and want work so i can support myself and wife to be...and any answers on visas would be helpful to...ive been told a passport is good enough till we marry then she has to file a 13a visa for me..but id rather have a work visa first..thanks to all that respond....jeff

 
At 2:28 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

 
At 4:41 AM, Blogger TakashimaEri said...

Unemployed Pinoys can earn while enjoying time with their family and loveones.
Unemployed is Brave and a choice to be a Freeman.
Join us today at http://www.unemployedpinoys.com

 

Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home