If you are a foreigner living in the Philippines, if you have been here for any length of time, it is obvious to you that as a foreigner, there are pre-conceived notions of who you are, what you are all about, what kind of person you are, and such. Unfortunately, the actions of other expats will have a huge impact on the way people think about you.
Unfortunately, when an expat goes out in public and they behave in a good way, basically, nobody notices that. But, when an expat goes out in public and makes a fool of himself, dozens, even hundreds of Filipinos notice it, and take a note of it. “Oh, another American being disrespectful” is something that a lot of Filipinos must think.
Fair or not, Americans and other foreigners (basically here, if you are a foreigner, you are called an American in most cases), through their actions, impact the way that the local people think of us. No matter how good of a person you are, how good your intentions are, you have to overcome the bad taste left by other foreigners over the years.
Honestly, I feel that most foreigners living in the Philippines are good, well behaved people. But, as the old saying goes, it only takes one bad apple to spoil the whole bunch. I mean, the negative actions of one single expat can make local people think that every foreigner is an unfriendly (or worse) person.
Sometimes, I admit, I find it very frustrating when I see other expats acting in a way that is not only embarrassing, but also unproductive and downright disrespectful.
The other day, I was browsing the Internet, and I looked at a Blog that is published by an Australian fellow (I am not going to use his name, but most readers would probably know who he is) who used to live in the Philippines. He is still quite active in the Philippines on the Internet. He writes a number of eBooks, like I do, and writes blogs about living in the Philippines, even though he no longer lives here.
Well, when I came upon his site, he was announcing a new site on the Internet (I am not sure if that other site also belongs to this fellow or to somebody else). This new site is a “Classified Ads” site where people in the Philippines can buy and sell things to each other online. Well, the way that this fellow announced it was downright rude, in my opinion, he said:
There is a new classified ad site for all things Philippines. Philippine Finder is the place to go for real estate, cars, Filipinas and anything that is up for sale for the expat or retiree.
UPDATE: I am happy to report that the wording on the site in question has been changed, and is now much more appropriate. Thanks to Perry for making the change.
So, according to him, Filipinas are up for sale to the expat or retiree? This kind of attitude makes me sick, frankly. And, I know that this fellow is married to a Filipina and has a long term marriage, I believe. Does he really look upon his wife as a piece of property that he can literally put up for sale?
When Filipinos see this, I am sure they are very angry. Heck, I am very angry myself. But, many Filipinos will see this and think that “all expats are like that.” It simply is not true. I know that I am not, and others too. I would venture to say that the vast majority of readers on this site are not like that, at least those who are active here. But, there is a part of the expat population who has no respect for the people here, no respect for the culture, not a bit of care for the feelings of others.
It is not just this one fellow, either. Right here in Davao there is a group of expats. On several occasions in the past, including once very recently, they have approached me asking me to join the group and attend their meetings and other activities. There are a number of people in the group whom I consider friends, and they are nice people. However, in addition to other rules that I disagree with, the group has one rule which absolutely makes me reject joining them. Filipinos are not allowed to attend their meetings. You are not allowed to bring your wife in to the meetings. When I have talked to Filipinos about this, they are absolutely appalled when they talk about this. This is a rule that simply takes away all interest that I would ever have in joining this group.
So, why are some expats like that? If they don’t want to associate with Filipinos, why would they decide to live in the Philippines? If they consider Filipinos as something that can be bought or sold, why would they even have a desire to live in the country?
If you are an expat who does not go for this kind of attitude, how do you disassociate yourself from this kind of thinking? For me, when I see things like this, I speak up and let my feelings be known. I suppose that is the best way to step away from such behavior from other expats.
How about you?