OK, in yesterday’s column, I discussed the worst things that I had experienced while living in the Philippines. I like today’s topic more, though – the best things I have experienced here. I would say that the good outweighs the bad by an immense amount, it’s not even a close contest. If that wasn’t the case, I probably wouldn’t be living here anymore!
For yesterday’s column, I felt that I had to struggle to find bad things to write about. Today, I’m having to struggle too, though – this time keeping the list of good things to a minimum! There are so many good aspects in my mind about living here. Let’s have a look:
- I came very close to running out of money. What? That was the number one bad thing yestereday, how can it be the number 1 good thing too? Well, I did give you a teaser the other day and said to have a look at the number 1 bad thing and the number 1 good thing, because they are related. You see, while running low on money was certainly a bad experience, it is something that forced me to learn how to money here. Honestly, the number one complaint that I hear from other expats here is that they don’t have enough money. Things are more expensive than they expected. A lot of expats end up going home, because they can’t afford living here. They need to go home and get a job. Well, when I was staring at that same situation a number of years ago, I decided that I did not want to go back home, and I would do anything I could to make money here. It took some hard work, time and commitment on my part, but I succeeded in that goal, and I’m glad that I did. So, basically, through my hard work I was able to turn the worst experience I ever had here into the best. I am very thankful for that too.
Learning to speak Bisaya. No, I am not fluent in Bisaya yet, but I am well down the road. Last week, I got into a conversation with an old man in town. He is from Leyte originally, but has lived in the Davao area for decades now. He could not speak English much, so we talked in Bisaya. Our conversation went on for an hour or so, I guess. We talked about our respective lives, our families, kids, etc. It was reallly enjoyable. If I did not know how to speak Bisaya, I would have never been able to do talk with this man. I have had other similar conversations with people over the past year. I find that learning to speak the local language has been very rewarding to me. It helps bring me closer to the local culture, opens up my understanding of the people and the place, and overall, it improves my life. It improves my life a lot too. Remember yesterday, I talked about feeling “superior” and how that was a negative thing about living here? Well, I find that the ability to speak the local language gives you a lot of opportunities to be treated as “just a regular guy.” And, I like that. My only regret about learning Bisaya is that I should have done it earlier. But, I can’t change that, all I can do is keep plugging away and improving my Bisaya skills. I really offer a deep sense of gratitude to my teacher, Bebe Metillo for this too. What she has done for me has improved my life immenseley.
- Gaining better health. In yesterday’s list of the worst things that I had experienced here, I mentioned that I had a stroke in 2001. That has not been a secret, I have eluded to it a number of times on this site over the years. But, that stroke pushed me toward improving my health. Living in the Philippines contributed toward improving my health because of a number of reasons. I have the time to get some exercise, be it walking, swimming or some other activity. I don’t have to always be in a rush to get to work or whatever, and can take the time to improve myself. Aslo, since living in the Philippines I have lost nearly 150 pounds, and that is certainly better for me. I am not thin now, by any means, I am still very big, but having shed the pounds that I have has been good for me. All I can do is to continue working on losing more weight in the future.
- Travel and learning about other cultures. If you have been reading any of my sites for any appreciable time, you will know that I have done a lot of travel around Mindanao. This ability to travel the region has really opened my eyes to cultures other than my own, and that is something that I have found valuable in my personal life. If I didn’t live here, I doubt that I could have had such an opportunity.
- Becoming more thankful for the things that I have. It would not be easy to live here without developing a deep appreciation of the things that you have in life. Seeing the poverty that exists in the Philippines can have a deep impact on you, if you allow it to do so. One thing that has come to my mind is that some people who may be very poor in terms of finances are still rich in terms of other things in their lives – family and such. Most westerns don’t appreciate these things as much as they should, in my opinion.
- Making good friends. Yes, I had good friends back in the States too, but living here has given me the chance to make friends from many different cultures. I have friends from dozens of countries – other expats who live here – as well as Filipinos and other Americans. If I lived in the States, I don’t think that I would have had the opportunity to have such a diverse group of friends.
Well, there are so many good things that I have experienced here, it’s hard to list them all. In fact, listing them all would be impossible. I have, however, listed those things that I find very important in my personal life. I hope that you all get the opportunity to experience things like this by moving to the Philippines yourself.