Living in Cebu as an Expat – Is there large divides in the expat community of status and beliefs?

Living in Cebu, Philippines as an Expat has its complications. I am currently heading towards the end of year 3 and its been a steep learning curve. Not only with cultural differences of people locally but also cultural differences from Western cultures with the communities that live here.

There are different sections of the community which divide the Expats up into different groups as socially and financially they can be very different. In the UK its the same but in a slightly different way as wealth is an odd measurement here in comparison to the UK.

In the UK valuations are made on “fake” assumptions. The big house, shiny new car and a good job. But in reality most of these are debts by most UK citizens so its a false assumption of wealth which drives consumerism.

In the Philippines wealth is odd to measure as there is a huge pensioned Expat community who have various levels of funding living in various standards of living in completely different locations. The majority of people don’t bother with car ownership as its not only an expense its difficult to park, local drivers tout the laws of the road and to top it all off there is a risk of it being stolen or you being robbed because of an assumption of being wealthy just because you have a new vehicle. Robbery here sometimes results in being shot at traffic lights then robbed so it makes sense not to bother with a car. As public transport and hiring easily accessible taxis is not only easier it works out cheaper for many than owning a new vehicle.

House values are another metric that don’t make much sense. I have seen people build very expensive houses here who will never sell them purely because nobody has the income to buy it locally and most other people just build another one when they arrive as its often cheaper. Or can be done modular as budgets allow.

So what is the metrics of wealth? well that is the bizarre thing as generally there doesn’t seem to be too many as socialising pretty much most people can do most things. Although I think the main metrics here are previously status and choice of associates.

A very different world to the UK where you would find I generally socialise with people of my own status e.g. work together or have been long term friends. Here in the Philippines people seem to try and socialise and filter out who they want to know. But of chalk and cheese as there are clashes of cultures and beliefs between different groups and nationalities.

Would I change things? I don’t think you could the Expat’s are a splintered group mixed with completely different kinds of people from all walks of life.

3 comments for “Living in Cebu as an Expat – Is there large divides in the expat community of status and beliefs?

  1. Tropicalpenpals
    August 4, 2010 at 1:49 pm

    I think the big hang up on Cebu is a lot of people just don't want to leave the security of their sub divisions etc. which then makes them miss the whole point of being here. That frustration then leaks into other things. Travelling around is what the Philippines is about, difficult to do currently due to business but its something I will be doing in the near future. I got the bike now so can get a lot futher than I used to. You also have to remember the majority of people in Cebu seem to be living on a shoe string which is why they spend most of their time not doing anything. Will have to come out and visit soon although I am supposed to be going down to Mindanao to visit a friend shortly first.. Camotes is also on the map this year for the Airsoft.

  2. John Hall
    August 4, 2010 at 1:27 pm

    Matt. Cebu in retarded. The only reason most expats live in cebu is because they don't have any idea how FREAK AMAZING Boracay is. There is none of these stupid UK this and English this and Subgroup of these foreigners blah blah blah its so simple. Most people are just fun loving hippies. Nothing better than going out on a sailboat and island hopping with some friends smoking some pot eating 1 or 2 balut and cracking down a few san migs to lighten up the mood while out in the middle of the ocean.

  3. John Hall
    August 6, 2010 at 2:28 am

    Hit me up in boracay bro. We will drink beer on the beach. Do zip lining 4 wheeling relaxing on sailboats and smoking a fat blunt and laughing at the sky because we are so high. Really beautiful place bro. Your wife will be my girlfriends bestfriend. I can find u a place thats a 1000 pesos a night.