When I first started to come to Cebu I was very open on meeting people and generating a lot of good friends. But what has happened and many expats will tell you is that you filter out people not because your arrogant or fussy on your friends but truth of the matter is the community is so diverse and on top of that there are a lot of people who are what I call half expats. The half expats generally are in and out of the country and still exist on their finances from abroad no issue with that except when they start giving opinions on local issues as simply it doesn’t apply to them. Don’t get me wrong I am not talking generalised things here I am talking things like business where they will give an opinion where they have done something when in reality they know less than the person looking for the advice. At least state its “personal opinion not experience” as its why so many people just don’t write on the forums etc. because they are tired of the bad replies and often patronising or negative responses.
The other thing that happens is you slip into your group of friends and associates and eventually the 400 people you know end up with about 20 you do business with and 10 that are good friends. Why does it end up sub-dividing so drastically? firstly there are things like the Sexpats or Expats with girls from those professions. What a lot of expats don’t realise is the wife may not say it but they can smell prostitutes a mile off just by dress sense and attitudes. As well as education levels people may not like to admit it but there is still a class system in existence here and its something you have to be aware of. Its also why sometimes people will just ignore you (Filipinos) as they see you beneath them depending in the circles you move. Prime example of this was an NGO who was talking to a Mayor they were discussing the projects and what they got upto when the conversation went to which university the NGO graduated. Where the reply was that she hadn’t graduated any university which quickly killed the conversation before the mayor moved on. Point being that although a lot of people are “take me as i am or tough” attitude you then can’t complain when you get no support from the people around you as respect goes in many forms including to your partner.
I am also an odd age for most people being mid 30s which the majority of retirees here are double my age. The Expat business community generally splits itself off from the online side of things purely because a lot of it is a waste of time in that aspect of life as you either meet genuine people, people who you don’t get on with or people who are likely to try and copy your business. But the genuine people are a very small minority which is why they cut off in the first place. I meet up with a lot of the business entrepreneurs here purely because I want to succeed here and at the same time want to network them all up together. I have no interest in copying a business as simply its hard enough to get one started without someone coming along and trying to steal it. At the same time a proven business track record in an area may also open the doors to Franchises and partnerships in other areas if people are willing to work together. My recent discovery of a friends sea farm I have started to organise sea food for local restaurants which should provide a reliable network of food for restaurants at the same time help build bridges between different ventures to help each other. Things like imported beer doesn’t it make more sense for 3 restaurants to split on a container for shipping in the drinks than the three restaurants paying a middle man?
The friendship aspect here is also one I keep an eye on purely because a lot of people turn on a whim. Not sure why and I have had it happen to myself and seen it happen to others where people suddenly just lose interest in contacting you. Yet at the same time a lot of these people do fall into the people looking to steal your business or ideas once your brains are picked and there is no financial gain they quickly disappear to do the same to someone else. I am also aware of falling outs that end up with people spending a lot of time bad mouthing someone else behind their backs unnecessarily. We are a small community here and I will be the first to say I will warn people about others but at the same time will tell them to make their own minds up I don’t cause problems for the sake of it. But someone for example living here was quick to hard sell Legacy policies until they went bump and now pretends to be the victim. I experienced them first hand and it was the hard sell tactics aswell as his wife pestering my wife asking a lot of questions including “does she have access to my money?” that put me off going anywhere near Legacy investments. Which worked out well for me but didn’t work so well for a lot of others. The problem was not the hard sell but the fact he is using the “expat friendship” as his lever to gain trust. There are a lot of other scenarios that have happened over the last few years but at the end of the day if you want to ask my specific advice on something your free to do it and I would publish anything that is potentially something or someone who would rip you off. Generally though most are small fry and learning from experience with a small loss may do more good than harm as you would be more cautious on being burned twice.
So who are my friends? generally they are all walks of life and from lots of different nations. Most are here full-time or would like to be some are trying to work a way to make it happen while others wait for retirement. Either way friends I have are genuine which is why the list is so small. Fair weather friends are free but may end up costing you in the long run better to have a short list of real friends that you can build real friendships with. I have seen people argue here over the craziest things yet supposed to be best friends. Same people disclosing personal things about others because they have had a falling out. You can keep those.. Friendships are life and should be treated that way not a children’s playground mentality where they will spread things one day then suddenly all quiet the next because they are friends again. The other thing about real friends which I do extend to others is I will help anyone along the way its upto you to decide where you fit in on the expat community and if you want to be part of it. As I know there are a lot of people out there who simply sit in the background quite happily and just have a few friends don’t blame them as most of them came here to get rid of aggravation not bring it with them.