I have come to the determination that I have lived here in the Philippines long enough that I have actually shed a lot of my American concepts and such. What do I mean by that? Well, I can remember back in the first few years that I lived here, I often would talk about this or that “back in America.” I mean, if somebody offered me a cup of coffee, I might say “you know, back in America, we drink x brand of coffee.” Or, if I was at the computer store and wanted to buy a new hard drive, I would look at the drives available, and an 80 Gigabyte drive was the equivalent of $200. I’d tell the sales clerk that “back in the States I could get a 120 Gig drive for just $89.”
Frankly, who cares?
I mean, why would the sales clerk care if I can get 50% more hard drive for half the price? It simply is of no consequence to him, right? In the case of the hard drive, I would go so far as to get disgusted that technology items were so much more expensive here, and I’d leave. The next day I’d go back and buy the drive, because I needed it. Now, that is embarrassing, because the day before I was complaining, then I’d go back again. It doesn’t even make sense.
I have come to the realization that I actually cringe when I hear this from other people now. I have long since gone beyond doing this myself, and I guess that I am hyper-critical of this now. When I am with people from the USA and they say this to a local person, I kind of cringe hearing it, and I actually find it embarrassing to be with the people saying things like that. I guess I don’t want to be lumped in and having local people think that I am like that too, because I’ve grown out of that.
I guess part of what I am saying is that as Americans, we tend to have an attitude that we think that “we” are better than the people here, or in other countries. I guess this would apply mostly toward other lesser developed countries. I mean, I doubt that most Americans go to London and act like we know better than Brits do. But, if Americans go to the Philippines, or any other developing country, we seem to have this attitude of feeling we are “better.” I know that I was that way before, albeit not conscientiously. Why do we need to feel “better,” or that we must “teach” others how to do things? I am of the feeling now that it is us Americans who need to realize that when we come to the Philippines, we are not in America anymore.
I will throw this in too – this also applies to other foreigners too. I am talking about Americans, because I am an American, and thus have some basis on which to talk about this. I’ve seen the same thing from other foreigners as well, but I’ll leave it to them to talk about their own people.
So, in the end, if you travel to the Philippines, just remember – you are no longer in America! Just come, visit the place, enjoy your stay, and take in the experience of doing things the way they are done here!