A few months ago, and I’m paraphrasing, I mentioned the statement above in an article I wrote on this site. As a result of that statement, there were many comments written by people calling me arrogant, an idiot, and so on. I replied to all who commented something along the lines of “OK, you don’t like it. Great. Any suggestions about how you are going to get 100 million Filipinos to do things to your liking?”
Interesting that no-one had any response to that statement.
I was pondering all of the negative responses to that one sentence. Why… Simply why… would anyone travel, stay, or live where they are unhappy? Am I missing something in that logic? Is there some magical ability that Americans or Europeans have that can shape the thinking of an entire nation?
This convoluted logic puzzles me. It is most often seen from the “complainers”… Those who could not be happy anywhere on the face of the Earth. This week, Feyma received some backlash when she wrote about the now well-known “20 things I hate about the Philippines” video. Point is, that real or fake, whatever the motivation, many people got ticked off by that video.
Now, I personally found the guy to be somewhat a bit of an ass. Yes, there was some truth in the things he pointed out. Yet, he never really answered the basic question: “If you hate it, then why stay?” Are you a masochist?
There are those who will wrap themselves up in the American flag, even after they, themselves, expatriate from the USA. They speak about US soldier sacrifices, US politics, and act paternalistic towards Filipinos. They KNOW they are right. Yet, they made the conscious decision to leave the land they profess to love so dearly. They take it upon themselves that they have some duty or obligation to grace these islands with their presence.
Of course it is possible to have pride in your home nation, and still live elsewhere. There is nothing wrong with that. People expatriate for many different reasons. Some voluntarily, and others for more nefarious reasons. Yet, when you move to a different land, no matter how settled in you may become, you are, and will remain different.
In short, though little Jimmy’s video had some valid points, it was, quite frankly… RUDE.
If you are invited to someone’s home, and you comment about their ugly furniture, the hygeine of their toilet, their bratty kids. They KNOW that there is room for things to get better. Do they really need a guest in their house pointing that out to them? How do you think it makes your host feel when someone babbles on about the obvious?
You are a GUEST here. Yes, I’ve had people tell me I’m wrong when I say that. But the fact remains, you ARE a guest in this country. The Philippine government can ask you to leave at any time. Doesn’t matter if you are married. Doesnt matter how much money you have in the bank. Doesn’t matter how long you have been here. Sure, you may get a hearing or see a judge, but the bottom line is that if the government wants you out, then you are gone.
So, this last paragraph is certain to bring the “they come here and live”, “they have freedom of speech in the US / UK” comments.
Well, guess what? It is no different for Filipinos who live in the US. The Immigration and Naturalization Act, USC sec. 237, lists many pages of reasons why permanent residents can be deported. Commit a crime? Deportable. Fraud? Deportable. Thousands of people are deported from the US every month. Why? They are guests there, and they didn’t play by the rules of the host’s home.
How is this any different than the Philippines? The Philippines has strict laws against libel, slander, and sedition. Political commentary, criticism, and opinions from idiots can easily violate the law. Like it or not, you truly are a guest in someone else’s house. Would you still have an asshole or criminal sit down at your table in your home? Why should the government be any different?
It’s not just the Philippines, though. In my business, I meet many expats all over the world. For instance, I know several Americans living in Holland. They’ve been there for many years…. Yet, they never really “fit in” there. This is not to say anything bad about Holland. The point is that even in a heavily Westernized, first world, leading nation, there are substantial cultural differences. Amsterdam and Rotterdam are truly “global” cities, with many people from virtually every country on Earth living there. Yet, they still feel like they are outsiders, even after so many years. They all speak Dutch, own their own homes, and their kids grew up in the Dutch school system. So why the difference?
The answer is that unless you become a naturalized citizen, you are, and will remain, a guest, regardless of any ties you may have. Until you swear loyalty to that nation, you are simply a resident or visitor. A guest.
So then, why would you stay somewhere if you don’t like your life there, or the way that things are done? THAT is why you often read the comment, “If you don’t like it, then leave”. THAT is why I have little sympathy for the complainers.
John Miele is a Citizen of the World, having spent time in many locations around the globe. Currently, he finds himself in Manila, but travels throughout the Philippines. John joined the Live in the Philippines Web Magazine in mid-2008.