With apologies to Dr. Pepper
What the heck is a “promdi’ and why should I care? Well the short answer is, it is common Philippine slang for a person who lives “out in the Provinces” and maybe you don’t care … but chances are if you come to live here it will creep in and affect your life in one way or another, so forewarned is forearmed as they say.
The Philippines as a recognized country has existed since the 12500’s … way longer than the USA for example. When the US was nothing but forests and native Americans in teepees, before there were any foreigners present, the Philippines already had a network of churches, schools, fortresses (mainly to protect against renegade Muslim extremists … hmm, have things really changed all that little?). As well as a strongly regulated and well developed trade with Europe and particularly China. But don’t let history fool you.
Unlike the US where the nation is pretty much united in outlook and laws, the Philippines, even today. somewhat resembles what we used to call very old airplanes in the Air Force … spare parts flying in formation.
The Republic of the Philippines is more than 80 provinces on more than 7,100 islands flying in what a military pilot would call a very ‘loose’ formation.
That’s why you’ll continually see people asking some question about living here in the Philippines and getting different, sometimes conflicting answers about how things are. Here, for sure, the old Internet adage applies YMMV … Your Mileage May Vary.
One thing that has been constant over all those years though is the concept of a few powerful families being the real ‘movers and shakers’ … many of them based in Manila. Manila obviously has also been the seat of government since Spanish imperial days, and even though the Spanish have been gone for more than 100 years now, the concept of “Imperial Manila” is still very much ingrained in the hearts and minds of many people.
To many government agencies, to many corporations and to many rich and influential people, the Philippines consists of Manila and then all others.
You should chose where you wish to live here in the Philippines based on many factors. all of which are pretty much unique to you and your family. I certainly don’t advocate settling in Manila just because of this centrist attitude … many people seem to think I live in Manila, but no, I’m close but I’m still proudly a promdi.
As a point of interest that many miss, what we typically call “Manila” is really the NCR, (National Capital Region) or Metro Manila. The City of Manila is one of only 16 cites which make up the NCR and there is no overarching government agency … talk about “flying in loose formation”. Only a few months ago the President had to avert a general strike by issuing an executive order to prevent motorists from getting more than one ticket per day for the same offense in different NCR cities … a taxi driver would get a ticket for say a burned out light and before he could get home to fix it, he’s get tickets from the three other cities he had to cross to get home … a bit of an impediment to business. There’s also a Metro Manila Development Agency (MMDA) who has certain government powers … such as their own police force, but is not the government of anyone. Welcome to the Philippines.
You will continually ‘bump up against’ this attitude in your daily life, so you need to be aware and take it in stride rather than blowing your stack at something which is not likely to change any time soon.
When you need something like a part to repair a car or an appliance, their availability magically changes at the border between metro Manila and the provinces.
About 5 miles from me as the crow flies, inside the boundary of Metro Manila a cable TV company offers excellent high speed Internet service. My TV is hooked to the same cable system owned by the same company but, “Not available in the provinces sir, call back next year”.
My wife and I have one credit card issued here in the Philippines, a Visa card from one of the larger banks, BDO. Actually we never even asked for it. They sent it so us by commercial messenger (remember I’ve already written about how seldom we see an actual mailman). The terms were ok and we wanted something local so we kept it. A few months ago the monthly statements, also delivered by messenger stopped coming. When we called the customer service number we were quite abruptly told, “Oh we no longer send bills to the provinces”. Huh? That’s where we live and that’s where you local bank branch that we use is … well we don’t use that credit card much, as the only way to find out if we owe anything is to call customer service, wait on hold and then get a verbal amount due and pay that, “blind” over the counter in the bank or in the SM bill pay center.
Anyway, none of these issues are life threatening or insoluble, just something you want to keep in mind …. even if it means money not going in their pockets even major corporations here don’t retreat ‘promdis’ as well as they do Manilenyos … but hey, that’s just how life goes here in the Philippines.