Handling stress as an Expat in the Philippines

One of the biggest causes of stress in the Philippines has to be other expats for the average expat. From my own experiences I have met many people as well as known people online and generally you seem to get the odd thorn now and again that seems to have little else to do.

The best way to understand it was a visit to “The Ranch” restaurant where an expat gathering had happened and I said to the owner before I left that I would drop a review and blog post for him but would like them to send me photos over to help promote the business. His first thoughts? bad review based on the way a lot of people seem to operate, the way to understand this is if I asked you the worst restaurants you went to did you tell a lot of people about it? what about your favourite? look at the two and which one comes out top in numbers.. in reality there was nothing wrong with the ranch even though reading through forum posts afterwards people complained of the time food took etc but no-one seemed to have bothered to put anything positive. The layout, plenty of parking, friendly staff etc. may sound I am cutting that restaurant extra slack but it was a newly opened restaurant and like most places here they get teething problems which is why I am prepared to give anyone slack as its unfair to criticise if its unwarranted. Obviously me writing a post the thought for the owner was how much damage this would do but a few days later his bar man that I knew from another location had told the owner about the positive review as well as the help setting them up a blog to help promote the business.

The negativity expats cause is something that causes a lot of stress and damage to business and much of it is unfair and more to do with other problems expats are having instead of the place they are. Doesn’t go for all expats mind as many people are good people but I would say next time your unhappy about something look at the rest of the experience in the location and take the time to explain to the manager the problems. Not every restaurant is perfect and how the deal with the problem is a major make or break for me Sunburst is the only restaurant I can say I have had issues firstly was a hair in my rice and the next visit I found a small caterpillar walking around in my lettuce. The restaurant replaced the meal in both instances and apologised. Has flagged me a bit on the hygiene but I am not a regular there so can happily say at least they cared enough to deal with the problems.

The restaurants are just a small sample of “expat stress though” most other things people need to learn to wind down and just let it go at its own pace. SSS cards for example for my wife are currently looking at 2 years processing, shouting and screaming doesn’t fix it, worrying won’t and we aren’t in a rush so bribing isn’t even in our thoughts. Same goes for the Bureau of Immigration as most people will notice things go at a slow pace and a lot is done on purpose to drag things out. My 13 ( a ) for example is already permanent but still not arrived since the end of last year. There is no point rushing it because simply they want you to do it to try and gain an extra few thousand pesos. If your processing your visa just let it take as long as it takes once in process its not really something you should worry about I have yet to hear of anyone being refused!

If you get stressed driving don’t drive as I noticed a few people lately getting irritated by the methods here locally generally it doesn’t bother me as I try to avoid driving at night or when its raining which are the two worst times to be on the road. Buses falling off cliffs last year give you an idea of the maintenance and speed vehicles are using especially larger vehicles simply don’t get into things that you don’t need to. I prefer riding a scooter or motorcycle over a car/jeep purely because it filters through traffic like no tomorrow meaning I can arrive where I need to be on time.

Arguing with other people also throws up a the odd flame and to be honest I find most people I argue with are online and not only do I have no direct contact with the arguments are generally not worth my time which only becomes irritating when things go on and on when the whole point is I have little interest in the issue in the first place as well as the fact knowing there is neither a middle ground or in many cases people are arguing for arguments sake. Locally within the Filipino community how many arguments have I had?? Answer is zero if anything we help each other out as I currently look for tenants for the new houses built nearby the owner adjusted her rents to make it more marketable end result she got her first tenant in the last few days and the new tenant got a good property for a fair rent. Other examples within the expat community though are things like working business deals out between myself and other parties for things like catering for weddings or clothing for events. I get people ask for things from time to time and I will use the network that has been built over time often at no profit at all as its based on the network helping the network develop. An expat that is earning a regular income from work passed over at some point will have something that I can do dropped into his/her lap and pass it back which is why people bitch at me being business orientated but being around business orientated people also means they can see past their own egos to expand their and my business.

All I can really say on the subject though is does it matter? not the stress but the cause.. I get weird emails regularly from people and I don’t get mad or stressed but just wonder what really goes on in their minds as their logic and thought is often twisted but makes no sense. I offset it with emails from people who understand the life we are trying to build and also the way the blog is. Its not based on Sci-fi or Disney type happiness but truth, fact and the life we lead doesn’t mean we are always right it just means we are offering up a slice of our life for others to see. Main thing is not getting stressed! Annoying thing though is the last few days I start to wonder if I should drop off the internet purely because I am tired of the crappy emails I get from time to time yet I know that’s exactly what they want. Leave the golden path of “live like a king in the Philippines” open. Funny how the articles to break that myth has started the emails off. Don’t worry mind will be continuing as if its starting to irritate people it also means its starting to work in reducing the myth and the damage it does.