Living in Cebu, Philippines in 2010 as a British Expat

I have found the last 6 months a lot harder than the last couple of years purely because we are now in the stages of stability where we want to reach out to build up a future. In the UK generally I would find red tape interference but here in Cebu it just seems the issues are time consumption, delays and actually tracking down things. I would like to start looking towards exports by the end of this year via shipping. It would be nice if the Philippines took a model of China’s exports and how cheap and efficient its delivery service is and mimic the service to allow exporting to not only be easier but cheaper.

The elections this year were a bit of a surprise as I couldn’t believe the way things are hyped up and manipulate media pesonalities for votes. Same as vote buying, killings etc. enough for a book never mind a topic. But it did get an opportunity to here people’s political views but most fall silent as they know everyone is corrupt and don’t seem to trust anyone which was disappointing.

A lot of trial and error the first half of the year working forward on construction projects to find that the goalposts get moved further and further back to compensate for things that end up being done 2 or 3 times or the lack of material availability when we need it. A learning curve that does make sense why people do start to think there is always tomorrow with some things because simply its out of their hands waiting on suppliers,vehicles or people to be available. Its a different culture with different speeds. Doesn’t mean I will adapt to it either but more of learning how to get things done well ahead of schedule and take over most of the construction work myself even if it means building it block by block myself. The problems within the work has cost around P80,000+ extra which I can not only reduce on the next one but also reduce it a lot more as things will be done with Western methods and technologies that I know work and have managed to locate my supplies! Any excess should actually go towards buying a new electric bench saw so I can start doing joinery in my spare time. Making things like custom beds, kitchens etc.

Thing is unlike a lot of people who look at things as it only makes a few hundred pesos when it comes to doing something but its the fact that so many people here are helping others out with bits of pension they don’t realise! If you take a Sari-Sari that makes a few thousand a month profit and let someone else run it (one of the people your helping) then your already helping them help themselves and help you at the same time. Same with the net-cafe at some point you can concentrate on what you want to do as well as finding you have more money in your pocket than you initially thought. This is where we currently are but could do with getting it up a bit more because I have some large projects which currently have a price tag of around P6million. Yes I am aware it won’t happen over night and to be honest that is a lot better to do it that way as it reduces the risk. E.g. if I had the money already it would be likely the projects would have already been done and a risk of things not going the way I want it to. So phased in over time I am more cautious on the money as well as every part becomes they way we like it done and where we want it. Rather than rushed.

Only downside of the year so far seems to be that my daughter in the UK doesn’t keep in touch often enough but then again my ex isn’t exactly helping matters leaving a young girl to make her own decisions instead of asking her to write me an email every Saturday. But then again I will no doubt be seen as the abandoning father that walked out.. not the truth or the fact when I am in the UK I travel from wherever I am in the country to my parents just to see Nicole at the weekends. Last year it was a 5hrs journey on a Friday night and Sunday evening just so I could spend time with my daughter. To find too often than not my ex couldn’t even be bothered to let me know they had decided to go “camping” that weekend or visiting someone else.. although its funny when it comes to money you get calls and texts early asking if my ex could have Nicole’s allowance in advance.. Welcome to the UK! and one of the reasons many of guys left there and the same goes for the US. Losing contact with your kids isn’t easy but being at the beconing call of an ex partner isn’t going to happen either it belittles the guys and is disrespectful.

So all in all 2010 so far is mixed.. Would I give up on the Philippines? I am not here for the Philippines I am here for my wife and family.. I don’t do as much as I would like but it will come sooner or later and at the same time I do get down sometimes especially with a shortage of people from the same sort of background but it does keep life interesting and I have made a few good friends this year although we seem scattered from Luzon to Mindanao but maybe can all meet up in the middle as I am already (Cebu is central Visayas).