I was amazed at the difference in many things in the Philippines, which I did not see in the same way in the United States. The first thing I will discuss here is what amazed me the most, and can be quickly understood by those that have either visited or live in the Philippines. With one word you will know what I mean. Housing. I have never personally experienced the type of living conditions that some people, probably more than I saw, live under. I want everyone to understand that I am not looking down on anyone for living in the types of houses I saw. I know that many are simply victims of being born into a poverty stricken country. I don’t know that I want to get into the politics of it all either, because I just don’t know enough to talk about the topic without sounding like an idiot. This article is simply to show the shock in a new experience and MY THOUGHTS about those experiences.
The housing situation I saw, while not a positive thing, is something I found shocking. To see that people with no or very little money were living in houses that appeared to be built out of metal, wood, or whatever else was found on the ground. The houses were built much like I would have built a fort in the woods to play in as a child. Yet, these are used as a home for a family. And the biggest shock to me was that many of these homes were built right next to what appeared to be a multi-million peso home. When I returned home and looked into things more, I found out about squatters, and the trouble it takes to get them off land. I know that would be easy to remedy here in the U.S. If you have money, many things can be remedied with ease. Now that I have been introduced to, and educated a little on squatters, I have a different feeling towards what could happen to me and my wife should we decide to buy land in the Philippines. I think walls and security guards might not be a bad idea.
Being from the U.S. and being fairly uneducated about the Philippines, I found it amazing that just about everyone had a cell phone. If I were to sit in the park in the U.S. and watch the number of teenagers or adults walk by me with telephones in hand I would not be surprised at the large number that would have them. My ignorance of the technology in the Philippines is what caused my culture shock. I didn’t know that you could buy a phone, and simply buy minutes as you went. In the U.S., we have it, but you buy large blocks of time. In the Philippines you can buy enough for just one or two texts. And then, to find out that you don’t get charged for the text or the phone call you receive caused me to be completely astounded! Are you kidding me? It costs me not even one peso? That is awesome!! The U.S. really screwed the pooch on this one. Why is it that I get charged because someone else decides to call or text me? Is that fair? NO!!! The U.S. could really learn a thing or two from the Philippines in this regard, as far as I am concerned. AND… NO CONTRACTS!! If I don’t like a carrier in the Philippines I can just change the SIM card! How awesome is that!? I’m really looking forward to dumping my Verizon phone and get something better in the Philippines!
All I have to say is WOW! Ok, I’ll elaborate a little on that one. The food is COMPLETELY different than I was raised with. It has different ingredients, it’s cooked differently, and let me just say… almost everything I ate was awesome! I will say that some things I did not like, but I later found out that it contained the most dreaded and foul ingredient known to mankind… LIVER! LOL!! I don’t like liver. Never have. My mother used to try to hide it in our food, and when we realized it was there, she would say how good it was for us. Well, that just made me hate it more! So, needless to say, the pancit which I thought was horrid, was not eaten by me again until I returned back to the U.S. and tried some of her Aunt’s, which did not contain liver. That made me a pancit liver, I mean LOVER! Adobo! Anything adobo is good! Chicken Adobo! Pork Adobo! Beef Adobo! Green beans adobo! Cabbage adobo! If it has adobo in the name of the food, I’ll probably love it! And what is with the roasted chicken over there? It was like cocaine!(which I’ve never had, but have heard stories) Once I had one from a vendor, I wanted more! And I mean I wanted more right then! That was the best chicken I have ever eaten in my life. And if my Aunt Rose reads this, I am sorry, but it was better than your country fried chicken too! And let me tell you something folks, that is saying something! Pizza. Hated it! What is with the cheese over there? I know this has been mentioned in some other articles, but I seriously need to find a decent pizza place wherever I decide to live because I like me a nice pizza pie once in a while! I could go on and on about the food. Most of it was very good. In fact, I eat it most every day back here in the states, thanks to the cooking abilities of my wife. She is a great cook, and makes some great food. I will even say that she cooked up a calf liver and I was actually able to swallow it. My disgust for liver puts this as a miracle, and the Vatican should probably be contacted.
I know I have already discussed how nicely I was treated, but I can’t say enough just how much nicer the Filipino people are than the people I run into in the Detroit area. I’ve been to the south, and they are some very nice people. Very hospitable, and very generous with what they have. But, it doesn’t even come close to the kindness and generosity of those I came across in my stay in Pangasinan, or my day trip to Baguio. I was going to write a different article about something that happened to me last week, but I’ll include it here. My wife and I went to our “local” Filipino food store, 35 miles away from home. We go there to get our Filipino specific supplies. While there, we are always greeted with warm hellos from the worker, and usually the workers Mom, or one of their children. On this day, there were a few other Filipinos in the store. I’ve started taking up habits from every other Filipino I’ve met, which is to start up a conversation with a complete stranger. This is not something I would have EVER done prior to meeting my wife, but I will say that it is truly a blessing. On this day, I met a very nice man named Levy, who is working here in the states. He is from Iloilo City, and I told him my wife was from Pangasinan near Dagupan City. We discussed my short trip there and how much I loved it. Of course, I had to tell him I was retired and that we would be moving there next year. We talked about owning land, and his desire to return home to buy some land and be self sustaining on a small farm, and I discussed my desire for the same thing. We discussed foods there, and what we missed most. I told him Kang Kong, and he told me where and when to get the fresh greens!! I don’t know how many Americans would tell you where to find something as rare in this area of the U.S. as kang kong, but Levy shared this information with me! This happened at a time when I was beginning to feel down trodden because of our eventual move. So, his kindness, friendliness, and generosity brought back to my heart and soul why it is we want to move there. It was a blessing, in the form of a Filipino OFW. A man who was working here to provide for his family back there, and hoping to return one day to the very thing I am hoping to do myself! It was, a good day!
Where else can you get a taxi/bus to take you across the city for under 20cents? I don’t know of any! While in the Philippines I never rode on a tricycle, or a jeepney. I regret this. Why? Because this is something that, culturally, IS THE PHILIPPINES! The Philippines is more than this, of course, but it is definitely known for it. So, why not do it when I get there next year? I’ve heard wicked bad things about the suspension in those jeepneys, and my back might not be able to take it. I don’t want to spend three days in traction to recover from something as culturally awesome as a jeepney ride. Who knows though, maybe I’ll have a good day with my back, and take a short ride, with my van following behind me in case it hurts too much! As for a tricycle, I’m actually thinking about buying one. My wives family can use it more than I would, but it would allow me to try it, even if it’s only for a short distance.
Anyone there understands what this means without me having to describe it, but for those that have yet to experience it, I will do my best. If you take the most luxurious blanket you can find, and put it in the dryer to become warm, and you wrap yourself up in that blanket on a cold day… the feeling you get from that blanket is what it was like to have family as close as they are in the Philippines. They are a comforting group of people in your life that while you may fight, argue, or get angry, you KNOW that when they are needed, they will be there. I come from a law enforcement background, and that is what it is like with my LEO family. I am sure it is much the same for firemen, and military, and shipmates of all types. Because you know that when your life, or someone else’s is on the line, they will be right behind you, next to you, or in front of you to help you out. That is what I felt when I was in the Philippines.
I was amazed at the cost of everything I saw. Not everything was cheaper, which is what my ignorance expected. Vehicles are RIDICULOUSLY expensive. A 100% luxury tax for a car? Seriously? This is one thing I have a problem with. I think this is ridiculous. Why is this a law? Where does the money go? I know nothing about import/export, but it seems to me that you would want people to be able to afford to buy a car. Lower the import tax, and more people might buy them. Maybe I’m wrong here, but I know I would be more open to the idea. As it stands, I MIGHT buy a USED van. Definitely not new. WAY too much money for my blood. I can understand the traffic in Manila possibly being a cause, but I think this one is political in nature. Someone’s pocket is getting lined with some cash, and it sure as heck isn’t the common Filipino! Now, some things were cheaper, which is great. I intend on living as much like a Filipino than an American, so my expenses should stay low. Aircon bill – NOT INCLUDED!
I have never in my life seen so many children! They seemingly come from everywhere and nowhere all at once. The best thing, is they all come out smiling, and happy, and I wasn’t asked for a single thing by any of them. Not once. They simply wanted to see, but NOT COME NEAR, the white man! This is something I was not used to. In the U.S., children loved me. They hung around me, talked with me, and generally, liked me. Babies especially. In the Philippines, the smaller they were, the more they wanted NOTHING to do with me. They were literally SCREAMING in my arms. ???? What did I do? It turns out, they’re not used to seeing a white guy, with no hair, as big as I am, with a fire red goatee. Hmmm. I guess I would be scared too. Demonyo!!! No, I’m not the devil, but they might have thought it. The older ones would come around me, and poke me(I don’t know what that was about, maybe a dare to touch the big Kano), and I did have one fan. My new niece. She was three at the time, and a little sweetheart. She followed me around everywhere I went, but never got too close. We had a good time together after she got used to me a little, and I even got her to laugh a few times! She found a place in my heart, and I found a place in hers. I know because she asked her Mom if she could go home with me to the U.S. She is an adorable little girl, who is now six and still wants to live with us.
I’ll end this article now, with a special note to my LiP friends. I want to thank you all for reading my articles, and sharing a little bit of your life with me in your comments. I believe this site to be a sort of support group for those in the Philippines, and those wishing to be there soon. It warms my heart each time I read and article from one of you, or read a response to one of my articles.
Until next week, Paalam, ingat, and God bless.
Attention Readers, Editor’s Note
As an experiment, I am including a computer generated podcast of this article. Please mention in the comments what you think about this, whether you like it or not, so that I can decide if I will include such a podcast with all site articles in the future. If you like it, I will consider doing that for future articles. Thank you! MindanaoBob
At the time of this writing, I am 40 years old. I’ve been married to my Filipina wife since December 2009. She is from the Province of Pangasinan, Philippines. I was born and raised in the Metro Detroit area in Michigan. I’ve worked in many fields throughout my short career, mostly in Architecture, computers, and law enforcement. I’m medically retired from the U.S. Government due to a back injury and look forward to our move to the Philippines. My interests here were yard work, guns, and hanging out with friends. But because of my back injury, I’ve had to shorten what I can do to just hanging out with friends. Not a bad thing when you’re retired, right!? Also, I’m sure I’ll find some new interests when I get to the RP. We don’t yet know where we will be moving to exactly, but I expect it to be on the main island of Luzon. I look forward to moving there, getting healthier, and experiencing island life.