When you get into a discussion with any expat here that comes from a Western Country, it is inevitable that you hear about how far “behind the times” the Phiippines is. Unfortunately, in most cases in my experience, that is probably true, but things are improving a lot too. I can remember, when I came to the Philippines for the first time in 1990, my impression was that the country was a good 50 years behind the USA in many areas.
Being 50 years behind was not bad in all instances either. On some things, being behind the times was actually a very good thing. For example, when it came to family values, the way that people treated each other and that sort of thing, being stuck 50 years behind the current situation in the USA and other developed countries was actually a really good place to be! It is, in fact, one of the reasons why I decided to move here to begin with!
In my years in the work force, I have had a very varied career. I have worked in Retail, in Store Management, Regional Project management, and I actually started out as a Stockboy when I was still in High School. I have worked as a Salesman. I have been self employed many times, and I have had a job in supervision in a Wafer Fab in the States. Overall, I am a retailer at heart, in addition to being an entrepreneur. I love working in retail, and I am good at it too. I left retailing because it is a high stress job. You have to work long, very long hours (100 hour weeks were not usuaual, 60 hours was a light week). But, in my heart I love retail.
From 1985 until around 1988, I was a Regional Project Coordinator for a major retail chainstore in the Southern US. Basically, our company had several thousand stores, and it was my job to travel around and remodel stores. I had to update these stores to meet with our current company marketing strategies and designs. In each store, I would have a staff of people who did the work, but I had to travel a lot and check that the progress in each store was happening, and that it was moving in the proper direction.
In the past few years, here in the Philippines, I am seeing some of the big retailers (SM, Robinson’s, Ayala) start to adopt design elements that we implemented at that time 20 to 25 years ago when it was my job to implement these things. Now, from what I have seen in the USA, the changes that we implemented in the stores that many years ago are still primarily in effect today, so the Philippine companies seem to be moving up to current standards in their retail efforts. It makes me happy to see this happen. Not only does it interest me bacause I have done these things myself, but as a customer I see things happening that I believe will benefit myself and my family. I see more modern stores moving in. I see a few stores that are entering the marketplace who are doing things like computerized inventory practices and such. So, it is my hope that the very common words that you hear in the stores: “No stock, sir” will be a thing of the past in years to come.
I think this is an exciting time in the Philippines. We are seeing progress in almost all aspects of life. It is fast progress too, where the country is leapfrogging technologies and moving from the “dark ages” to the most advanced at a single leap.
While progress is a great thing, there can be a downside to what we are seeing in the Philippines too. Will the current values go by the wayside too? Will people start treating their neighbors the same way that is so common in the USA, where it is uncommon to even know who your neighbor is? I hope not, although I see signs of that too.
Tomorrow, I’m going to look at what I think is the single biggest negative influence on Filipino Values. Can you guess what it is before I write the column tomorrow?
On a sidebar….
Over the weekend, Feyma and I had lunch at a new restaurant in Davao. Turns out, we both felt this is one of Davao’s best! If you want to read about it, head over to my WowDavao Portal and read the article! If you are in Davao, or coming here, you won’t want to miss the food at this place!