I’ve only been living in the Philippines for a year and a half, however, I have vacationed here often over the past 26 years. So much has changed. (My observations are limited to Cebu and Dumaguete).
Twenty-six years ago:
- There were no shopping malls. Now there are several with little difference from those I would visit in the USA.
- I would often see old western men with very young Filipinas. While I still see that on occasion, now I often see old western men with middle-aged Filipinas.
- Filipino’s seemed to all be slender/thin. Walking around the malls these days, I now notice many overweight people of all ages.
- There were only a few hotels where I would feel safe and comfortable. There are now more upscale hotels than I can count.
- Communicating between the USA to the Philippines was pretty much limited to long distance, expensive phone calls. Today there are several options, and many are (more or less) free.
- Airfare was approximately US $1,500 on my first Philippine visit. That is more money than I now typically pay. Taking inflation into account, I would estimate airfares to be at least 50% cheaper than 26 years ago. (Air travel time hasn’t changed much, which is surprising. The Boeing 747 was the typical jet used 26 years ago and has only been phased out in very recent years by the 777. My 777 flights seem to take about the same amount of time as my previous 747 flights.)
- Luggage on passenger flights from the USA to the Philippines was mostly boxes. Today, it’s mostly normal luggage.
- Filipino children stared at me like I was the eighth wonder of the world. Apparently, I’m not very interesting to look at anymore. They no longer stare.
- All the cars I noticed were Japanese. Today there are many from South Korea and some from other countries like the USA.
- Taxis were one step above scrap metal. They are in much better condition today.
- If I wanted to travel from my town to Dumaguete, I had to take a small pump boat. Today, a barge type ship allows for you to take your own vehicle, and because of the larger size, the condition of the ocean is less of a concern.
- The cost of land was much cheaper. (Those of you now just thinking about building a house may have missed your opportunity for a really cheap home.)
If you can think of any other differences that I missed, please add them in the comments section. Of course, some things haven’t changed over these many years. The children are still incredibly cute and it’s still a bad idea to stand or park directly beneath a coconut tree.