OK, yesterday I wrote about things that I love in the Philippines. Whenever I meet with foreigners who are visiting here, one thing they always ask me is what I miss from the States. When I tell them how much I love living here, they almost always say, “Oh, come on, there must be some things you miss from the States?”
Well, indeed, there are things that I miss from back home, although I consider Davao as my home now. But, honestly, these things are minor compared to the things that I love here. Let’s have a look, again, in no particular order:
Family. Family was also one of the things that I love in the Philippines in yesterday’s article, how can that be? Well, of course I miss my family back in the States too. My Mom, while not at death’s door, is getting older, and I miss seeing her. I have a Vonage IP phone, though, here in my house in Davao. My phone has a US Phone Number from the same City where my Mom lives, so it is just a local call to talk to her. I talk to my Mom just about every day, and it’s also nice for the kids to be able to talk with their grandmother any time that they want. I also have a brother in the States, but for some reason, we are not that close. I don’t know for sure why, but a few years after we moved to the Philippines he basically cut off comnunications with me. I have been told that he is jealous because I have a good life here. I am sad about that, and I wish that I could get him to communicate with me, but so far all of my efforts have failed.
Fruits. Yes, there are wonderful fruits here in the Philippines, but there are some fruits that you can’t get here. I particularly miss berries of all kinds. I can get strawberries here if I go up to the mountains in Bukidnon, but that is only so often. I miss raspberries, blackberries and such, you just don’t find those here. Another fruit that I miss is watermelon – while you can get watermelon here, it is not nearly as good as the watermelon in the States. Many kinds of melon are not that good here – canteloupe and honeydew melon are two examples. Overall, there are so many good fruits here though, that this is a minor concern, except once in a while when you really miss something.
Shopping. Some kinds of shopping are just not possible here. For example, in the States there are the big stores like Costco, and also discount stores like Walmart. These stores seem to have everything under the sun. It is hard to find that kind of shopping experience here in the Philippines. To be honest, if you find any kind of good quality goods, in most cases the prices are prohibiitve. To be able to walk into a Costco and buy everything I need is sort of a dream these days. I know that Feyma would enjoy that a lot too.
Fry’s Electronics. Not only Fry’s, but a big computer store like that. Such places simply don’t exist here. Where I lived in the States, we had a 100,000 square foot Fry’s Electronics within driving distance, and I loved it. If you went there and browsed, they basically had stock of any computer or technology item that you had ever heard of. Here, even getting simple tech items can be hard, and also very expensive. Up until about 2 years ago, we were paying more than $6 for a blank DVD disk! At the same time, they were 10 cents in the States. If you look in a computer magazine and see ads for the latest items, it will be 2 or 3 years before we see those items here, if they make it here at all. This is something that I really miss badly.
Being a regular guy. It is nice being treated as “special” by people just because you are a foreigner. But, it gets old too. Sometimes I miss just being a regular guy. I mean, if you go out to the mall here, you can’t escape the fact that you are different. You are bigger. You have a different color of hair. You have a different skin color. You even think differently. Most of this, you cannot hide no matter how hard you try. I don’t have a big hangup on any of these things, but from time to time you just miss being able to blend into the crowd and be somewhat anonymous. You simply cannot ever do that here.
Stuff that works. In the States, and most Western countries, stuff works. If you get a 5 Mbps Internet Connection, they deliver 5 Mbps. Here, it doesn’t work that way. You order a 5 Mbps connection, and the real speed is 300Kbps. This is just how life is, things don’t work as you would expect them to. Technology is behind. Things are not smooth all the time. You have to get used to that, and it is something I miss from the States.
Driving. Yes, I love driving in the Philippines, but I also must say that driving here is a high stress thing. You must constantly be on the lookout and aware of what is happening around you. If you don’t pay attention, you could be killed. In the States, driving is much more controlled, smoother, and generally a more relaxed thing. Sometimes I miss that.
Specialty TV Shows. In the States, if you have Cable TV, or Satellite, you might have 300 to 500 Channels to choose from! Here, if you have the most premium cable available, or the highest channel package on the satellite, you might get 50 channels. Ten of the 50 are religious channels too! Other than that, you get the same old blah channels that basically have nothing worth watching. In the States, with so many channels, there are channels totally dedicated to real niche topics. Like TechTV, a tv channel completely about computers! There is virtually no variety on TV here, and I miss that.
Magazines. I have never been a huge book reader, particularly fiction. I do read non-fiction to learn more. But, I have always been a huge consumer of magazines. I like to keep up on current events, and I devour such magazines. In addition to current event magazines, I enjoy computer and technology magazines. These kinds of magazines can be very hard to find here, and when you do find them, they are often very old and out of date. I miss this from the States. Of course, you can read much of this online, which is a savior for me, yet there is still something nice about having a magazine in your hands instead of reading it on the computer screen.
Bookstores. There is a real void of bookstores in much of the Philippines. There are more and more bookstores popping up in Manila, but if you live outside Manila about the only choice you have is National Bookstore, which I find pretty inadequate. And, if you are in a smaller town, even National Bookstore cannot be found.
Honestly, this is about all I can think of that I miss from the States. I enjoy my life here, and am pretty happy with everything here. Of course, there will always be a few things you will miss if you move away from your one time home, but I find this list to be pretty minimal!