Over the past weeks, I have been writing a series that I call “Seasons in the Sun” in which I have described the different “seasons of my life in the Philippines.”
My early years of living in the Philippines were my Winter years. Life was hard, and I experienced a number of hardships. I made mistakes that cost me dearly, or nearly did. I had a tough time adjusting to life here. I made it though, and after a few years, Summer came to my life here. Summer was a hot one too, things really went my way, and I loved life. I had many reasons for my love of life in the Philippines. In around 2006 and 2007, though, things cooled down a bit, and Autumn had arrived in my Philippine life. It was not nearly like Winter had been, but the temperature had certainly cooled down since summer… mostly in a financial way. When the economic crisis hit in 2008, Autumn really took hold in an even harder way.
Around 2010, though, Spring arrived in my life in the Philippines. What happened, how did the season change for me around 2010?
Business and Financial
Although the US dollar was still at a very poor rate, things improved for me financially. I had shifted business into more of a publishing mode, including this website. Along with publishing came revenue from advertising on my various websites. Another thing that I capitalized on was writing books and selling them through my various websites. I touched on these things in my previous article about Autumn, but really these things started flourishing during the Spring season of my life here. These newer ventures really replaced some of my older ways that I had made a living here.
As I pursued new business ventures, financial stresses became easier, and overall life improved for our family. I am happy for that.
But, there was much more than just business that brought this new season to my life.
I started learning to speak Bisaya/Cebuano in 2007. By around 2009 to 2010, I was getting pretty proficient in the language. Finally, in 2011, I graduated from my language course, and was pretty much fluent in the language. Nobody is ever perfect in any language, even the language they learned from birth, and I am far from perfect in speaking and understanding Bisaya, but I do pretty well. I can go to the market or anywhere in public and carry on a conversation, and understand at least 80% of what is said to me. Understanding that percentage gives you the opportunity to be able to figure out what the other 20% is and be right in most instances, even if you don’t understand it perfectly. So, there are still times when I don’t understand what is being said, but I can figure it out and get by. Of course, as each day passes, I get better with the language.
Lately, I have been considering hiring my old language teacher, Bebe Metillo, to come back for maybe a few months, one day per week, to give me a bit of a refresher in the language. One of the biggest problems I have with the language is that I tend to go to places where I say the same things on a daily basis, rather than being able to engage in deeper conversation with Filipinos. For example, you go to the market, you are saying a lot of things like:
- How much is this?
- How are you this morning?
- Good day to you.
- Do you have “x product” in stock?
You know, that kind of thing. Of course, I say a lot more than just that, but it is conversation that is limited based on where you are and who you are talking with. But, still, I feel very comfortable in the language. If I go outside the house, out in public, I speak Bisaya 100% of the time, except if I am talking to another foreigner.
Learning to speak the local language has had a huge impact on my life, and made me enjoy my life more here. It is the best move I ever made.
When I took my language lessons, my teacher, Bebe, also taught me a lot about Filipino culture. She helped me understand situations that I previously was baffled by. She helped me learn how to be a more patient person, because by understanding Filipinos and their ways, I knew what to expect, so I was prepared for it. Bebe was really instrumental in helping me in this area. Oh, I am not perfect, far from it. I still lose my cool at times, and become impatient. But, now it is rare for that to happen. Before, it was a daily experience.
I am very thankful to Bebe for her assistance in this area. Learning to deal with the culture of the Philippines is very important for any foreigner who wants to live here.
I’m a lucky guy
The things that I have enumerated here, which have had a very positive impact on my life in the Philippines are all things that I began to implement in my life during my Autumn years of my life in the Philippines. As these things began to mature and come together to impact my life here, things in my life improved. In fact, it changed the season of my life from Autumn to Spring. Spring is a time of hope and happiness. It is a time when things are better and moving toward even more improvement. That is how I am feeling about my life in the Philippines at this point. I am loving living here, and seeing even better things down the road for myself and my family.
Overall, I would have to say that I am a pretty lucky guy to be living a great life in a place that I have come to love and enjoy, with people that I also feel the same about. But, I also have to say that I don’t really believe so much in luck. To quote Thomas Jefferson about luck:
I am a great believer in luck, and I find the harder I work, the more I have of it.
Yes, I have worked hard to achieve the life I am enjoying today. I don’t mind a bit of hard work, though, it all pays off in the end.
I hope you have enjoyed reading my series, Seasons in the Sun, about the seasons of my life in the Philippines.