I received an email last week from a person who has been living in the Philippines for a year.
I am going to share his email with you, but I will not give the man’s name, for the sake of his privacy. I do not think that there is anything in the email that would identify him, so that is not really a concern in my mind.
To be honest, when I read the email, I could not really figure out what the purpose of the email was. He really did not ask any question that he wanted me to answer. More or less he just “let me know” of his disillusion with life in the Philippines. I’m really not sure why he felt the need to let me know how he was feeling. As far as I know, I have never met the man who sent me the message. He said he lives in Davao, but like I say, I don’t think I know him or have ever met him.
Well Bob I have been in Davao almost 1 year now, bought a lot and built a Home.
Philippines is considered a Christian country, but my opinion this is a fake.
I have found Jesus/God signs everywhere on everything. But I have learned Filipinos do not practice being a Christian.
Filipinos will lie, cheat, and steal from anyone anywhere anytime, especially the children.
Sure has been a shock for me not to be able to trust anyone and make friends here.
I did not send a response to the email, because I just did not feel like he was asking for my advice, he asked no questions at all. As I read his email over a few times, my conclusion is that he was just venting. I decided to share the email here instead, because I find that after a year or so, a lot of people who move to the Philippines develop feelings like this.
Instead, I decided to share his email with the readers of this site, and to offer advice for everybody to read, because like I say, many expats end up feeling like this. I’ll be honest, after I had been living here only a relatively short time, I had these kinds of feelings as well.
I believe that this man’s first mistake is listed right in his first sentence. He came here, and almost immediately he bought some land and built a house. My friends, if you do this, you are putting the cart before the horse. The proper thing to do, in my view, is to look and find a house that is acceptable to you and rent it. Live as a renter for at least a year or two. Rent longer unless you just absolutely must own your home.
The reason why I suggest that you should rent when you first move here is because you might just find out that you don’t like living in the Philippines. It would be my estimate that at least 75% of foreigners who move here don’t like living here. Probably half of those people end up moving back home, and the other half start drinking heavily, and hang around complaining about the Philippines. For people who don’t like it here, they really should just move to a place where they will enjoy living, for their own happiness.
Problem is, if you find out you don’t like it here, you will have a very hard time selling a house so that you can leave. If you can’t sell the house you either can’t leave, or you must walk away from the house and likely lose a fair amount of money. That means that renting for a while is the wise move, so that you can decide if living in the Philippines is really for you. I would say, and this may surprise many, that living in the Philippines is not a good fit for the majority of people.
Liars, Cheaters and Thieves
Are Filipinos liars, cheaters and thieves as this gentleman says so plainly? Sure, some Filipinos are. Some Americans are too, some British, French and every other nationality fits the description. There is no country on the planet where every person is a good or nice person. Every country has prisons where the bad people are kept, that should be a clue that no country is perfect.
However, this gentleman seemingly is saying that all Filipinos fit this description. My experience is that this is not correct. I think that part of the problem is that this fellow is not hanging out with the right crowd, or not seeking out people who fit that “right crowd”. Look a little harder and you will find some really great people. Once you find those really great people, start hanging out with them and they will introduce you to a whole lot more great people, and soon you will think that all Filipinos are really great people. Of course as I said in the previous paragraph, not all Filipinos are great people, and the same goes fro every other nationality as well.
In my opinion, there is probably a greater percentage of Filipinos that genuinely are great folks compared to most other countries, but you have to put yourself into a position to find those great folks.
In the final paragraph of the email, the man says that he is not able to trust anyone, nor has he been able to make any friends in the Philippines.
You know, back in my early years of living in the Philippines, I hung out with foreigners almost exclusively. We would sit around and talk about Filipinos, the Philippines, and how we did not really care for the way things were done in this country. After a couple years of this, my friends and I decided that it was us who had a negative attitude, and that we should change. We made a conscience decision that we would instead look for the positive side of things we saw in the Philippines, and instead of complaining about the way things were done, we would do our best to talk about the positive side of the way things were done in the Philippines.
After just a couple weeks of this change in attitude, we all noticed that we were enjoying our lives more, and enjoying life in the Philippines more.
“Stupid” Taxi Drivers
Just recently, I was meeting with a man who was thinking of moving to the Philippines. A story came to mind, and I relayed it to him. That story will fit quite well into the topic of this article, so here it goes.
Back in the day when I was hanging out with the group of friends that I mentioned in the previous section, one day we were sitting in a restaurant in a mall having a drink. We were looking out the window of the restaurant and there was a line of taxis just outside, waiting for passengers to come out of the mall. There was probably a dozen taxis in the line. As the front taxi would take a passenger and leave, the rest of the line needed to move forward to the front, to take the place of the taxi that had just left. Each time that this happened, the rest of the taxi drivers would push their cars forward one spot. They did not get in the taxi, start it and drive 10 feet or so forward, they pushed their car by hand. This was back in the days when gasoline was very expensive.
One of the guys in the group pointed at them and said one word. “Stupid.” We all kind of laughed.
It was not long after this “stupid” incident that we all decided to try to take on a more positive attitude. We talked about the “stupid” taxi drivers pushing their cars, and we all decided that we should not use that word to describe the actions of people here in the Philippines, but instead we should choose a different word. We decided to use the word “fascinating” to describe situations like this which were different than we had experienced back home. So, instead of the drivers being “stupid” for pushing their cars forward, we would say that the way they did it was fascinating. We all noticed that we started feeling better about life here in the Philippines, and we genuinely did find the different way of doing some things to be fascinating!
January rolled around the corner, and my group of foreigner friends and I were talking. One subject that came up was that since it was January, we should all share what our New Year’s Resolutions would be for the new year. As the discussion ensued, we actually decided to make a common New Year’s Resolution among us. We decided that each of us in the group would make at least one Filipino friend during the coming year. Truth is that each of us pretty much only hung out with each other, and we didn’t even try in the past to develop Filipinos as friends. Maybe we felt intimidated, but all I know is that we did not try, and we were wrong for that.
Over the year every one of us developed a Filipino friend, and some of us developed more than one. Some of us developed mutual Filipino friends. We all did it, though. As we developed Filipino friends, we found that the Filipinos who became friends started introducing us to their friends, and we had more Filipino friends over time. It was a good thing, and again, just like with the taxi/attitude incident, we all felt that our lives had improved and we enjoyed living in the Philippines even more with each improvement that we made!
Did you catch the last line in the previous sentence. We felt better with each improvement that we made. Improvement that WE made. Why would we or anybody else feel that Filipinos were going to come up to our table and join us to help improve our lives in the Philippines? Of course strangers don’t just come and do that. We found that it was up to US to seek out these improvements, and we did it. The result was fantastic, and turned my life around, and it affected others in the group in the exact same way.
I hear a lot of people, especially people who don’t yet live in the Philippines, talking about the Philippines being “paradise”. It always rubs me the wrong way when I hear that. The Philippines is not paradise, there are problems here. Truth is, as far as I am concerned, there is no such thing as Paradise on the earth. I do not believe that you can make the Philippines into paradise either. However, I know from my own experience that you can make the Philippines a lot more enjoyable of a place to live. The thing to remember is that only YOU can make the Philippines the kind of place that you want to live. Nobody else can do it for you.