Acculturation: Ain’t gonna happen!

Over the past weeks, I have been writing a short series of articles about my acculturation in the Philippines.  Adjustments I have made.  Changes in myself that have happened over the years.  A few months back, I was thinking and come to the conclusion that I feel that I am pretty much finished with my acculturation here in the Philippines.  I have focused in on the two biggest changes that I have made, and also an article on the smaller changes.  I would argue that my biggest cultural changes have been in the area of language and transportation.  I feel pretty strongly that having learned the local language is the number one thing that has helped me become immersed in the Philippine customs, accept the way life is here, and generally lead a happy life.  Learning the language, in my opinion, made all of the other steps toward acculturation possible.

I have acknowledged, though, in this series, that there are some areas of life where I simply will not be accepting the Philippine way, or becoming acculturized.  I feel, though that these are mostly very minor issues, things that are not a big part of life here, or things that don’t impact in a huge way.

So, what are some things that I won’t be adapting?

Happy to say that I have changed a lot over the years
Happy to say that I have changed a lot over the years

Well, there are not many, to be honest.  In fact, I have to sit here and really consider carefully to even think of those things, although I know they exist.  Let’s see what I can come up with.

Filipino Time

For some reason, as long as I have been here, I cannot adapt to being late for things, or accepting if others are late.  I am not talking about 15 minutes late or such, I get pretty frustrated, though, when people are hours late.  Don’t take me wrong, I have eased up quite a bit on this issue, but I don’t think I can ever fully embrace it.

When I was still taking language lessons with Bebe (my teacher), she had a habit of usually being late for our lessons.  At first it angered me, frustrated me, and was just generally inconsiderate in my opinion.  But, as I considered it, I came to think of her lateness as a sort of cultural training.  We all know that Filipino Time is part of Philippine Culture.  In the west, we have the attitude that time is money.  If you are habitually late, you are wasting my time, and thus costing me money.  But, that is not the way it is looked at here.  So, since I took language lessons with Bebe for 4 years, I came to the point where I eased up and did not get upset with her for being late.  Truth is, I never told Bebe that being late upset me, because I wanted to take a step toward controlling my impulse to get mad, and I did consider it to be cultural training, after all.

I look at Filipino time a bit different now, though.  The way I see it is this…  if I need assistance of some kind from a Filipino and I set up a meeting, I don’t get bent out of shape if they are late.  I am the one who needs them for some reason, and because I need them, I do my best to adopt their cultural norm when it comes to timing.  On the other hand, if a Filipino asks to meet with me because they need my assistance, if they are significantly late, I usually just cancel my appointment with them, and I don’t schedule with them again, because I consider them inconsiderate of my time, when they are the one in need of something.  I do explain to them in advance that if our meeting is scheduled at a certain time, I expect to see them then, and will not be waiting around long if they are late  (BTW, I only tell them that if they are the one seeking my assistance).

For some reason, the need to be on time for meetings and such is somehow ingrained into me pretty signifantly, though.  If I am going to a meeting, I need to be on time.  Even if I feel I will be 5 minutes late, I try to get there more quickly, and I notify the other person that I might be a few minutes late.  It is rare that I am late at all, though, I am usually 15 minutes or more early.  So, as I say, accepting Filipino Time 100% is just not going to happen for me.  I feel, though, that I have made strides toward adapting the practice when it is most appropriate for me to do so, although I admit that it bothers me greatly.


Ok, I admit it, and if you ask Feyma she will tell you too.  I am not well adapted to most Filipino foods.  Generally, I really prefer to eat western dishes that I grew up with.  There are a few Filipino dishes that I enjoy greatly, but that is a small minority of my diet.  The vast majority of Filipino dishes, frankly, I consider to be a bit “gross,” if you know what I mean.  I do enjoy Adobo and a few others, though.

There are a few Filipino foods that I do enjoy, stuff that the majority of westerners turn their nose at.  One that comes to mind is Durian fruit, which I truly love to eat, and I even love the fragrance of durian too.  There are others too, they just don’t come to mind immediately.

I really have not developed a taste for dishes that should be savory, but are served sweet by Filipinos.  Stuff like Spaghetti.  I just cannot adjust my taste buds to eating sweet spaghetti, frankly it really grosses me out.

But, really, there is an easy fix to this problem…. just cook your own food at home, and use recipes that are more adapted to western tastes.  Surprisingly, most dishes can be prepared with local ingredients to match western tastes, you just need a recipe.

I know a number of foreigners who get past this by relying on buying imported products to meet their taste expectations.  Like, for example, let’s just say spaghetti.  I know plenty of foreigners who will buy bottles of imported sauces like Ragu or Prego from the USA.  You know, that bottle of sauce that you spend $2 or $3 for in the States might cost you $7 to $10 here.  Frankly, for me it’s not worth it.  So, instead of buying that bottle of Prego, you just learn to cook with fresh tomatoes and spices.  Frankly, it’s way better tasting, healthier, and way, way cheaper too.

That’s about it, I suppose

Although I have only come up with two areas of culture where I have chosen not to fully adapt, frankly, that is about all I can think of.  There are other very minor things, but not important enough to even write about.  I actually feel pretty positive that of all the things in life, there are only a couple of things that I have been unable to, or simply chosen not to adapt to.  I consider that an accomplishment.

So, this is the conclusion of my Acculturation series here on LiP.  In the future, I may come up with other topics of discussion that tie in with this, and when I do, I will add to the series.  But, I think I’ve given you a fairly complete and accurate account of my acculturation to the Philippines.  I feel very happy that I have been able to make the achievements that I have in this area.  I hope that anybody moving here will realize that it takes time to adapt, and give yourself the time necessary.  If you don’t allow yourself the proper amount of time, you likely will not make it here, nor will you enjoy life here.

Post Author: MindanaoBob (1354 Posts)

Bob Martin is the Publisher & Editor in Chief of the Live in the Philippines Web Magazine. Bob is an Internet Entrepreneur who is based in Davao. Bob is an American who has lived permanently in Mindanao since May 2000. Here in Mindanao, Bob has resided in General Santos City, and now in Davao City. Bob is the owner of this website and many others.

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  1. says

    The imported food is one of those things that always baffles my mind but then again I have not had to be without the items I am used to. But I always look at it from a chef perspective anyways that almost anything can be made from scratch and improvised with other things. I have the example of my father though to look at and his incurable desire to eat burgers and chili at least 3 times a week. So I can appreciate that some people can not go without those comfort food items from back home. I know my wife always looks for Filipino foods items here and chooses the ones she likes.

    I will agree with the sweet spaghetti though, that it is rather gross, might as well eat chef Boy Ardee spaghetti, YUCK!

    • says

      HI Darin – Actually, it seems we agree on both points! 😆 Whether it be spaghetti, chili or about anything else, I really prefer to make it from scratch using local ingredients!

      • John Miele says

        Bob: Darin mentioned Chef Boyardee… About a month ago, I was thinking how much I liked Beefaroni when I was a kid when I saw it at Landmark and was thinking, “I wonder if Juanito would like it”, so I bought a can (P200… That will get your attention)… He wouldn’t touch it.

  2. says

    Hi all – Funny thing, to me anyhow. My wife goes to the store, here in the US, and buys the ingredients to make the meals from scratch. (She is from Guihing, just south of Davao) Before we were married it was frozen pizza or from a can for me. Her way is more nutritious and better for me anyhow. I thought I would do something to make it easier for her and so I bought her a nice food processor. She has never used it, rather she cuts everything with a knife.

    Some of the filipino food I will not touch, especially if it is staring me back in the face. The sweet spaghetti isn’t too bad. I love adobo and lumpia and especially like the fresh fruits there in PI..

  3. Mike Johnston says

    Hi Bob, enjoyed the article. I will try most Filipino foods and actually enjoy quite a few, but there are certain items that my taste buds just won’t adjust to. Mainly the stronger fishy dishes. My wife is from N. Samar and I haven’t convinced her to move back full time…..yet!

    I do have a question about learning the language, how difficult did you find it to learn and do you have any tips to pass on. I am foreign language challenged and haven’t had much success learning Tagalog. I just got Rossetta Stone but haven’t had much time to use it yet.

    Take care, Mike

    • says

      Hi Mike – There are a number of Filipino dishes I enjoy, but more that I don’t. 😉

      You know, I never really believed that I would learn the language. Like you (and most Americans) I am severely challenged when it comes to learning a language. But, I actually found it very, very easy to learn. My tips?

      1. I firmly believe that using a system like Rosetta Stone is not a good way to do it. Get a teacher (not your wife) who will give you one on one time.
      2. Take it slow. Don’t expect to learn the language in 6 months or even a year. I took weekly classes for 4 years. I consider myself fluent, but not perfect by any means. Take time to learn.
      3. Are you sure you are choosing the correct language to learn? If you are planning to live in N. Samar where your wife is from, Tagalog will not be the language you will be surrounded by. This is very important.

      Good luck on the language, Mike.

  4. Mike Henebry says

    I really enjoyed your article and I can empathize with you somwhat. I have not found “Filipino time” to be a problem for me yet. Maybe I just have not experienced enough of it to get upset; it seems rather refreshing to me compared to our hustle-bustle in the US. I have not really experienced folks being significantly late for appointments yet.

    I have always loved asian food and fresh sea food, and while Filipino food is (to be charitable) not the gourmet food of asia, I may have an advantage over you in that food from the Bicol regions where I live is the “gourmet food” of the Philippines. I generally eat anything put in front of me with the exception of bagong, balut,ump alaya and strongly fishy dishes. I find the sweet spaghetti strange, for sure, but not unpalatable. We never buy US-branded spaghetti sauce, etc, but I do enjoy the occasional Kano hamburger or Italian food such as pizza when we go to Naga City.

    I suppose the transportation system including the bad drivers and the bad roads are the most frustrating to me for long distance travel. Howver, we discovered the daily PNR train that goes and comes back from Naga and and on to Manila, and life is much easier for that portion of our travels. I compare that travel from Libmanan to living in a Chicago or New York suburb and commuting into the city. I can read, listen to my MP3 player and relax. When we get to Naga, we generally walk for excecise. We do not currently own a car or motorcycle, and I am not sure that I would want on now that we have overcome the difficult logistics of transporting our building materials for our almost completed house.

    Our house is in the family compound of houses and we have family trimobiles, padyaks and an owner that we used to transport lumber and applicances. For transporting the the heavy concrete and tiles from Naga to Libmanan, we rented an entire jeepney; we could buy almost nothing in Libmanan .

    • says

      Hi Mike – Well… I am not sure that I would agree that Bicol food is the gourmet food of the Philippines! Ha ha… while I am not a huge fan of Philippine food, there are some things that I enjoy. Certainly if you like seafood and fish (which I do), the abundant seafood in the Philippines is here in southern Mindanao where I live. I guess when it comes to that kind of thing, I prefer Japanese style food, stuff like sashimi and such. I truly love the fresh swordfish and tuna here, and there is no better way to eat it than raw. The fruits are also great.

      On Filipino time, I am talking about when people are like 3 and 4 hours late… to me that is significant, and wastes my time. I also have found it quite common.

      I have been driving in the Philippine for the past 12 years, and I don’t have a big problem with “bad” drivers. I suppose I am used to the driving style here, and it doesn’t bother me a bit. I do hate the congestion, though, which happens at times.

      I hope you are enjoying life in the Philippines as much as I am, Mike! 😀

      • says

        Might I suggest, Bob, that if you have been driving in the Philippines for the past 12 years, you may now just be one of those “bad” drivers! :-)

        • says

          Well, my friend… I often tell Feyma that if we ever went back to the States, and if we had a car, I’d probably get arrested within my first mile of driving! 😉 ha ha

    • Mike Henebry says

      I totally agree with Bob that you (I) need to learn the local languague to become more involved in the culture and feel included in family gatherings. I learned some Tagalog by getting half way through the Rosetta Stone course. It was a hard job and a relatively useless effort. Locals are likely to be able to speak with me in English (which I already know) as to speak with me in Tagalog. But, in speaking with each other they use Bicol or Bicolano, and I feel totally lost an left out of the conversation. Now that we have mostly completed our house, where we acted as general contractor, my next project is to find a teacher of Bicolano.

      The only advantage of Rosetta Stone Tagalog is that many of the pronunciation and meaning of words and some grammer seems to be common to Bicol.

  5. Mike Henebry says

    I agree with Bob entirely on the need to learn the local language in order to enjoy and fit into the culture. I learned a fair amount of Tagalog by getting about half way through the 4-part Rosetta Stone course. It was not only hard to learn this way, but, as Bob notes, relatively useless. The locals in Bicol can generally talk with me just as easily in English (which I already know) as in Tagalog. And, among each other they speak Bicol. I will begin the process of learning Bicol. The one advantgae of the Rosetta Tagalog course is that many words and much of the grammer (sentence structure) appears to be similar to Bicol, so it sort of gives me a head start.

    • says

      I would agree with Mike that learning Tagalog will give you a head start on learning the language you will really use. But, learning Tagalog, if you will live in a non-Tagalog area, is really only that head start on learning the language that you will eventually be using.

  6. Mike Henebry says

    Sorry about the double post. I have a slow system and it looked like the first one never went through. Yes, I am really enjoying living in Phils. I have to go back to the US later this month, but “I shall return” with new ideas to make life here even more enjoyable. I finally just last week met another native English speaker in Naga City, a Brit named Mike Smith. He has lived here 12 years as a supervisor for Nokia in Naga and owns a beach resort in Pasacao. I am sure that I will be visiting Pasacao soon.

  7. Mike Henebry says

    Bob. I quote from Page 195 of the 2008 edition of the Lonely Planet Guide to the Philippines (the authority on travel in Asia).
    “There may be no more roundly vilified cuisine in all of Asia than Filipino food. Bicol, with its smorgasbord of fiery fish, pork and vegetable concoctions, is the country’s answer to that criticism.” I offer this sort of in jest, but the food here really is better than most Filipino food, and not all of it is firey spicy.

  8. ludwig says

    ha. i was born here, and acculturation just does not cut it. as for the time, i am either early or right on the dot. and i bring a book with me obviously. the food? except for regional dishes of vegetables and fish, which are fine… attempts at westernized cuisine are an insult to one’s intelligence. and so i do my own cooking— using nothing but local ingredients— and refrain from eating at anyone’s home or at restaurants even, because of the flagrant use of msg, iodized salt, the undercooking of chicken and pork and the overcooking of fish and beef. outside of these two… the philippines is a great place. because one can always negotiate, for a price of course, one’s “criminal” persuasions. and this goes all the way to the senate. the senate investigations are nothing more but to determine how much of a stash one has, and all the drivel is just that. a last note: never ever pick a fight with the locals. the barong tagalog was designed by the spaniards to reveal what the natives keep around their waists. a balisong

    • says

      Hi ludwig – To be honest, I don’t really understand what you mean at the first part of your comment that “acculturation doesn’t cut it.” I am confused and don’t know what you mean.

      As for your other comments, I sure do agree when you mention about the overcooking of food. To me, it really spoils the food when it is so overcooked. I don’t mind the use of salt, really.

      Thanks for your comment, Ludwig. Have a great day!

  9. PapaDuck says

    Thanks os much for sharing your “acculturation” with us. It’s something i will look for when i live there. I’m with you, spaghetti was not made to be sweet. Homemade sauce is really nice and fresh and you can season it to your taste. Take care.

  10. Dave Harris says

    When it comes to time here in the Philippines one thing that just blows my mind is you can walk into businesses and rarely you will see one that have the correct time, i have been to several branches of the same bank and i have seen up to 20 minutes difference.

  11. David S. says

    Actually there are probaly a number of ways you have “failed to adapt” to filipino ways. What about these?

    1. You don’t run your businesses the way a typical filipino company does.
    2. You believe good customer service is actually important for business success.
    3. I venture to guess you actually save some of your income for a “rainy day”.
    4. You don’t throw a “tampo” fit when you don’t get your way.
    5. When was the last time you seriously contemplated violence when someone caused you to “lose face”?

    These are just some ideas to get you started. I venture to guess there are many more. The longer we live in a given culture, the harder it is to see our differences.

  12. Mike says

    Does being chronically late also extend to workers who have a working schedule? If, for example, a person has an 8-5 job, are they often late, or can you count on them showing up to work at the scheduled time?

  13. Dine says


    As for me there is not so called “Filipino time” after living in America ( southern part of the USA) for a while. I think it is more like individual discipline to me.. I thought at first it is a cultural thing….but I also experienced this here where I live…most of it is at work and during parties. Of course it is so upsetting…but I have to maintain my cool. I agree with you that this type of behavior affects greatly the quality, time and money in a work place. There are certain individuals at work and social gathering who are well known to be late, but only few very of them. There are multiple of times in my Christmas party (with rsvp ) who actually do not show their faces without calling. These experiences made me say…it is not a ” cultural thing” but lack of social grace and discipline. With regards to Filipinos…This is my personal experience….just simply tell them that you expect them to be on time or else you’ll be gone to do something else.

    • says

      Hi Dine – Yeah, there are people anywhere in the world who are habitually late, no doubt on that. But, I do think it’s cultural, though. The lateness here in the Philippines goes way beyond what I have seen elsewhere in the world.

  14. Dine says


    I forgot to include this experience I had with native people in one of the remote barrios in Malita, Davao del Sur. I had a party for the natives set at 12noon….they came down from the mountains one by one. They were there at 9am!!!!!! How about that??? They were too early for the party!!!!!!!! we have not even butchered the pig yet. Those people are always prompt when it comes to food. They can smell your cooking way up in the mountains. I was expecting for 5 families in the neighborhood and I had twice the number. Needless to say, I don’t know anybody. I was glad the food was shared accordingly. Therefore, my conclusion is obvious….I probably like dealing with the BILAANS AND THE MANOBOS (aboriginal tribes) more that the so called sophisticated people in the city. HA…HA…HA…

  15. John Leick says

    Totally got you on being on time and the food there. For the most part, the food in the RP really is not to my taste. I was raised in the great melting pot of America, and variety is the spice of life. And up in China, I love it, almost nothing I do not eat; it is always an adventure!

    • says

      Hi John – I agree, I love Asian foods. Chinese, Thai and others. I already mentioned Japanese. To me, for some reason, Filipino food is just not in the same class, though!

  16. Russell says

    Hi Everyone,
    My trip to Manila last October was my first ever foray outside of Australia.I went there to meet the lady with whom I had been chatting on the net for a considerable time.
    My intentions about culture and food etc. were to give everything a go and see how it goes.
    To the most part I was able to try everything presented to me except the balut.OMG how could anyone eat an unborn duck or chicken?Totally grossed me out.
    I found the seafood to be extremely salty and passed on that after a couple of tries.
    The sizzling sisig was an interesting dish and although the thought of pigs ears,snout etc. was a little off putting I found it to be rather tasty.
    One thing that I noticed was the way they overcook fish,pork and fried chicken.And those hotdogs they eat with ketchup and rice for breakfast totally yuk.And that chocolate rice for brekky.Definately not!Hahahahhahah.
    Anyway for the most part it was good.
    Getting onto the time factor,I also got rather annoyed when my lady friend would say “I’ll be there at 10 dear” and not show until 2 or 3pm.Grrrrrrrrrrrrr.Half the day wasted sitting in a hotel room.And when I mentioned my displeasure in her tardiness it was like water off a ducks back.Even now I am back here in Oz and want to chat on the net,she never goes online when she says she will.Usually two or three hours later.And leaves a comment like”Where are u dear?” Hmmmmmmmmn women lol.
    I think that these points are going to take a fair bit of getting used to.
    Thanks for the great articles:)

    • says

      Hi Russell – Yeah, the things you describe are the things that drive me wile. Perhaps you will get lucky like I did. When my wife came to the States, she quickly adapted American cultural norms. She likes Filipino foods for the most part, but the Filipino time thing drives her nuts too!

    • says

      Perhaps you could set appointments 2-3 hours earlier than the time you wanted to chat/ meet. Playing mind games can be fun like that sometimes, then maybe she will be right on time. :)

  17. Michael says

    Hi Bob, I would just like to ask a question not really related to this article, but another one of your article on August 2011, titled: Does Philippine Customs overcharge.

    Anyway , I bought something online (Sunscreen just costs $20)and had it shipped using USPS EXPRESS MAIL INTERNATIONAL from US to Cebu City , Philippines, with tracking . From my experience using that type of shipping it only takes like 7-9 days to arrive. Is my item lost or does that mean I have to pay some money to get my item?

    But my tracking for the LAST 5 DAYS HAS BEEN

    Class: Express Mail International®
    Status: Customs Clearance

    Your item is being processed by customs in PHILIPPINES at 1:13 pm on February 06, 2012.
    Detailed Results:

    Bullet Customs Clearance, February 06, 2012, 1:13 pm, PHILIPPINES
    Bullet Processed Through Sort Facility, February 06, 2012, 9:59 am, PHILIPPINES
    Bullet Processed Through Sort Facility, February 01, 2012, 8:52 pm, ISC CHICAGO IL (USPS)
    Bullet Arrived at Sort Facility, February 01, 2012, 8:50 pm, ISC CHICAGO IL (USPS)
    Bullet Electronic Shipping Info Received, January 31, 2012
    Bullet Depart USPS Sort Facility, January 31, 2012, OMAHA, NE 68108
    Bullet Processed through USPS Sort Facility, January 31, 2012, 5:33 pm, OMAHA, NE 68108
    Bullet Processed through USPS Sort Facility, January 31, 2012, 4:27 pm, COUNCIL BLUFFS, IA 51501
    Bullet Acceptance, January 31, 2012, 3:50 pm, COUNCIL BLUFFS, IA 51501

    • says

      Hi Micheal – While it might usually take 7 to 9 days for such a package, I have also had these kind of packages take up to 2 months after they reach the Philippines. I can’t say if your package is lost or stolen, of course, but I don’t think so.

      Good luck.

  18. Joe P says


    I am currently on week two of a three week stay in the Philippines.

    one way I get to eat what the local food is to drown it in vinegar or hot sauce.

    I have some other tricks, but perhaps when I have more time I can share those as a guest writer? (not sure if you accept guest articles )

    As for sauce, the local del monte Italian style sauce is a good base to start from. I just cooked up a meal for my friends with the local ground beef and spices and NO SUGAR, and they loved it.

    This trip was a major education for me, since we traveled around quite a bit….even took a 12 hour bus ride! (that’s a story on its own for sure)

    take care and thanks for the great websites….they are far and away the best on the net for info and sharing on the Philippines.

    • says

      Hi Joe – I’m glad you are having a nice visit to the Philippines!

      Drowning your food with vinegar or hot sauce might work for a short stay, but when you live here for many years, a better solution would be needed! 😉

      If you would like to write a few guest articles, you would be most welcome to do so! It’s always nice to welcome new writers on the site! Just let me know.

      • Joe P says

        OK, will write a bit about the Philippine experience as a frequent visitor.

        Got cha on the more permant solutions as far as food. What I really meant was that when I come across something that I cannot tolerate, my temp solution is hot sauce or vinegar with garlic. Mostly I don’t want to insult my hosts by not eating at all.

        When I am here I am more or less living close to the ground. not as most visitors who show up with tons of cash and living the high life for a few weeks.

        I know for sure that I can adapt. I did it when I lived here before when I was in my 20’s

        what I agree with is this, hanging with complainers or naysayers is not in my future. I have met a few and it totally amazes me that they have chosen to live here in the Philippines, but seem to be constantly miserable and intent on letting everyone else know it!

        As I write this right now, we are just sitting around watching the activity in the barangay. I have a great respect and admiration for the way folks act towards each other and to me out here in the province.

  19. dINE says

    Bob and to all beloved expats,

    I was reading what exactly involves acculturation. It involves modification in food, clothing, language and behavior. It can be thought of as a second-culture learning. Philippines is pretty much acculturated due to increasing number of inter marriages and immigration. This is the reason why we tend to fit easier when we go to another country. I can understand how hard it is on your part especially you pretty much downgraded your standard of living from where you all came from. Now….my question for all of you and I hope this will not offend anybody….How will you overcome this difficulty of assimilating Filipino culture to yours. Will this affect your intention of staying in the Philippines and will this affect your personal happiness? I hope that the acculturation process will not be too difficult because I am very sure that majority of the Filipinos welcome you and wants share with you our humble paradise.

    • says

      Wow, Dine! I am not sure where you got the idea that I “downgraded my standard of living” by coming to the Philippines. Actually, I make significantly more money here than I ever made in the USA, and I have a higher standard of living here too. Where did you get such information, because whoever told you that certainly does not know me or anybody in my family!

      I am very happy with my life in the Philippines.

      • Mars Z. says

        Hi Dine/Bob, I guess it depends on how quickly you can adapt.

        “This is the reason why we tend to fit easier when we go to another country. I can understand how hard it is on your part especially you pretty much downgraded your standard of living from where you all came from.”

        Not so true statement. I have observed a lot of “Filipino Expat” who came from the upper crust of society from the Philippines who are quick to claim that their “standard of living has been downgraded” specially those FOB’s (Fresh off the boat) expecting the same spoiled lifestyle they had in Philippines:
        -no more maid, no yaya, and no driver to ran errands.
        -they have now to do their own grocery shopping,cooking, dishwashing, house cleaning, laundry, etc.
        -lose privileged to be rude to ordinary class of people.
        -loses celebrity status-noboby listens anymore who their VIP relatives are in the PHL. Cannot cope with a deflated ego.
        -can’t cut through lines, have to wait just like everybody else.
        -always claim they are from Manila or QC, (embarrass to be a Provinciano or an Islander).
        -complaining about how hard working is in the US–been spoiled or just bad parenting.

        Just like this Youtube:

        Have a nice day,


  20. Dine says


    I know that you are doing very well and pretty happy with your life in the Philippines and I am very happy for you, but I observed majority of the expats from the western world has a lot of complaints and I noticed a lot of dissatisfaction just being there. Now……. a lot are expressing their thoughts of staying also for retirement. What I was trying to express and you may help me out with this, if the acculturation process will not be successful , will this affect their future plans and their personal happiness??????this was all I was trying to asked in my previous statement. I know Philippines is a poor country, it will have a difficulty keeping up with the western standard of living that a lot of the foreigners are used to enjoy. The funky smelling fruits, funky smelling fish, the ugly roads, pollution, noise, etc…etc….those will always be expected in the Philippines and may never go away. Bob, I am trying my very best to express myself and ask some questions to satisfy my curiosity without offending anybody in this forum. I have told you one time that my family will be relocating someday back to the Philippines. Well……I will say this..I have also that concern in my mind on how well my husband can acculturate coming from the western world. I have lived in the USA for 30 years…so I have to undergo that process also but it will not be as hard as my hubby. I apologize if I may have used the wrong statement “downgraded your living condition”. I know that this is not true to all expats. I am trying to get some sort of input from anybody what they do to overcome all the difficulties living there. I guess I will stop here.

    • says

      Hi Dine – I guess I need to readjust myself to your way of writing. When you address a comment to me directly.. “Bob…. you downgraded your lifestyle” and such.. you are saying that I downgraded my lifestyle, not that other expats have had to downgrade. I am sorry, it’s quite confusing.

      If you have lived in the west for 30 years,Dine, I would venture that it will be much more difficult for you to readjust to living in the Philippines than for your husband. I know this is the case for every Filipina/Western couple that I have seen make the move.

  21. Dine says

    To Mars,

    You may be right about your counter statement about some Filipino expats…I have also noticed that from few immigrants here, but I was talking about acculturation process that a western expats in the Philippines has to undergo and how will they overcome it. Thank you for correcting me.

    • Mars Z. says

      No problem, Dine. But it goes both ways. I know a lot of Filipinos who cannot cope living the busy life here in the US and decided to go back to the Philippines. BTW, what does your husband’s first impression during his visit? You can gauge if he can tolerate heat, tolerate most of the things you listed above that others are complaining about, tried and like most of the food (don’t worry, there’s a lot of food in the US that other foreigner won’t touch), jeepney ride and tardiness doesn’t send him to the roof. He must have an opinion already, right?

      If your husband eat those Ham, in the South that has been hanging in the back of Stuckey’s for years, tolerate the smell of chitlings, scrapple, ham hocks, he’ll be okay. If he had eaten a McNuggets, from McDonald, he probably would eat most of the food in the Philippines.


  22. Bob says

    I agree that some expats may have their issues with living in the Philippines but that is because they expect it to be the same as their home country. They have to make the Philippines their home country instead and live like a native Filipino – or a reasonable facsimile! By that I mean that they can’t expect everything to be the same but to embrace the differences!

    It’s funny but I have a former brother-in-law who was always late. One year my ex and I were having her family over for a 3pm dinner so we told her brother the meal was suppose to be at noon. He was still late and showed up around 4pm! And where did this take place? SanGen? Manila? Davao? Would you believe in Nova Scotia, Canada? Hehe!

  23. Steve Maust says

    Am I too late? I was waiting for the right time to reply!
    I did have a problem with this time issue before. Being prior military I stick to times given, even as you say 15 minutes early. My wife would tell me that we needed to be somewhere at a certain time. I would wait and the time she gave me would pass. We still would be at the house. It would really make me mad. Then we would get to where we were going (say a party) and I thought for sure it would be over by the time we got there. Well low and behold we would be getting there just as it started (2 hours later)! This even happened at the school Christmas program for my son. I cussed the whole way there thinking we were late. I got to see the whole show. Beginning to end.
    Now I just sit back and relax. They are in no hurry so why should I be. I have found it really important to ask this question: “Is this going to be on Filipino time or is this airport time?” We always make it to the airport on time!

    • says

      Hi Steve – never too late to comment, my friend! Your comment is just on Filipino time, that’s all! 😆

      I am better than I used to be regarding being late, but I don’t think I will ever make the adjustment 100%. Being late makes me nervous, and uneasy! It still does, just not as bad as it used to!

  24. Chris Simpson says

    The biggest issue I can’t adjust to is political quietude. In Australia and the USA I have always been a political animal, writing letters to politicians, lobbying. I would not do so in the Philippines.

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