Would I live in the Philippines if I was stinking rich? No, I wouldn’t.
Perhaps the primary lure of the Philippines to foreigners is the cost of living. If however, you were so wealthy that the cost of living was not a concern, the Philippines would probably not be on your short list of ideal locations. I know I wouldn’t be here.
The Philippines has subpar infrastructure, customer service, and largely unattractive cities. Even if you are rich, you can’t escape it. It starts at the airport when you land. (My recent experience is limited to Mactan airport.) When you head to customs, you need to go down a level. An escalator is available and used by most travelers. At the bottom is a room where you queue up in line for customs. On a recent trip, the lines were backed up all the way to the escalator. People getting on at the top of the escalator didn’t realize the dangerous situation waiting for them at the bottom. There was almost no room to get off. There was no airport personnel trying to manage the situation. Luckily, people at the bottom squeezed tight enough and nobody was hurt.
There are 2 bridges that connect Mactan Island to Cebu City. Pray that your flight lands late at night, because it is gridlock most other times. Once you are moving through Cebu City, the view is mostly depressing. Unpainted small businesses or shacks line the streets until you reach the tourist/business district. Look up and you will often see a messy eyesore of black cables running between poles. It has the appearance of complete chaos. When you reach your hotel, you put your journey out of your mind, because the hotel looks beautiful like western hotels. You get to your room and turn on your computer. You have a wifi signal, but it’s slow. The next time you travel through Cebu City you try a different hotel, but it also has slow internet.
It’s time to go shopping. You search for a nice pair of shoes and find what you want on display, but need it in a different size. The polite, well groomed young sales girl informs you they don’t have that size. You select a different pair with the same result. She doesn’t even check the computer or look around. It turns out the store already has everything they carry on display. There is only one size for each style of shoe.
It’s time for breakfast and you stop at a restaurant. You order eggs and bacon from the menu. You’re told the restaurant ran out of bacon yesterday. Later in the day you stop at an upscale coffee place, similar to Starbucks. You order iced coffee and the sales person informs you they ran out of cups for cold drinks. They only can serve hot drinks. The sales person doesn’t know when they will have the proper cups for cold drinks and doesn’t offer any alternative, such as putting the cold drink in a cup designed for hot drinks.
Inside the clean modern mall, you feel a rumbling in your abdomen. You find the comfort room. The first stall is occupied. The second stall has no toilet seat. The last one is fine and you use it. Luckily, you have some tissues in your pocket, because the mall doesn’t provide free toilet paper next to the toilet.
Now, having listed some of the problems, I’ll let you in on my little secret. I kind of like it here. It’s probably a good thing for us non wealthy Philippine guests that the stinking rich expats don’t prefer the Philippines. If too many of them started living here, prices would go up, and then I might not be able to afford living in the Philippines.