Lately, I have been seeing a lot of expats talking about the things that they can’t get in the Philippines. Mostly I see this on Facebook, people, especially those who have recently moved to the Philippines lamenting those things that they miss so badly from “back home” and you just cannot buy here.
I find that these kinds of complaints happen a lot during the holidays. It gets started around Thanksgiving and continues right through Christmas. I guess that all of us were ingrained during childhood to expect certain things, especially certain foods, during the holidays. If we don’t have those foods that we so closely associate with certain holidays, well, the holiday is just not the same as what we remember.
Back around Thanksgiving there was just a huge chorus of expats on Facebook talking about Turkey. Oh, they wanted Turkey so bad for Thanksgiving. But, as they all said, you just can’t get Turkey in the Philippines, it is unavailable here. That kind of surprised me, as I have been here for 14 Thanksgivings already, and we have almost always had a Turkey for Thanksgiving. The couple of years that we did not have a Turkey it was only because we chose to cook some other type of food, but we could have had a turkey if we wanted to. Turkeys are available in nearly every supermarket in Davao. When we lived in General Santos they had turkey there too, but not as many places carried it. The first year we were here we purchased a live turkey from a neighbor, had it butchered and cooked it for Thanksgiving. Every year since we have always bought a Butterball Turkey right out of the freezer in the grocery store. So, as I say, I was so surprised when I learned on Facebook that Turkey is just not available in the Philippines!
As Christmas approached, same thing… so many things were unavailable. At least that’s what the folks on Facebook told me. I remember one fellow who badly wanted/needed a Pie. He wanted an Apple pie or a Pumpkin pie. Lots of people commented on his Facebook post, agreeing that such things simply were not available in the Philippines. As I sat at my desk enjoying a piece of Apple Pie, I told him that he could get both Apple and Pumpkin pie at S & R. This fellow was living in Manila, and there are several S & R stores in Manila. Also, right here on the Live in the Philippines Web Magazine, over the holidays Feyma posted an article on how to make a pumpkin pie using local ingredients available here in the Philippines. Sad, though, that pies are not available here.
A few days ago, another American expat posted on Facebook saying that he wanted some BBQ Sauce, and he was going to try to make some himself. By the way, I make BBQ sauce all the time, and keep a supply of my homemade BBQ sauce in the refrigerator. Anyway, as comments came in on FB regarding the BBQ sauce, it was mentioned that in order to make good BBQ sauce, you need molasses. Sad to say, I also learned from the Facebook post that molasses is not available in the Philippines. I was surprised when it was posted about molasses not being available, because molasses is a product that you get from the processing of sugar cane, and sugar cane is one of the major cash crops in the Philippines! Funny also, when I drive out in the provinces of Mindanao, sometimes I get stuck behind slow moving tanker trucks (big ones like the gasoline trucks you see back in the States), and on the back of these tankers it is written “Molasses”. Hmm… I wonder what those trucks are carrying… after all, Molasses is not available in the Philippines!
The point here is… most things that we need or want in life are available in the Philippines! Some are harder to get than others, some cannot be purchased in the store at all. But, even items that cannot be bought in the store can still be had if you want then bad enough, home cooking of pumpkin pie is an example. So, if you are new here, don’t get too flustered and upset about something you are missing from home. Do a bit of research and you might just find that what you want is just around the corner! With a little ingenuity you can have just about anything you might want!