Remembering respect when in the Philippines or anywhere else as a tourist

As i scroll through the internet looking at various news articles and spent some time watching about British tourists in Thailand it makes it pretty obvious why things go so bad for so many. There is an arrogance that a lot of people have when entering a country that does give foreigners respect. But also the same issue leaves many people off guard when they get caught out by some local criminals. A lot of countries orientated around tourism will cut foreigners a lot of slack but some people just don’t know where the limits are and push the boundaries. Drugs are a major problem in Asia and something to avoid as much as possible. You may find some locals smoking some weed but you can guess who will be in the cells quicker than you can say it wasn’t me. Foreigners make good news headlines as we are supposed to be setting an example and if caught doing something we shouldn’t then it sells newspapers. It doesn’t mean you cant have fun while abroad but just be aware that eyes are on you more than you realise. If your going to get caught doing something make sure its something in a good light. I remember the one day we were sat in McDonalds when this young girl had been begging as we entered the store. Then was stood at the window while we ate. I went and got her burger,fries and an ice-cream. She wouldn’t come to the door as she was scared of the guard so I had to take them outside. After I gave it to her she ran over to what must have been her brothers and they divided the food between the 3 of them. When I went back to my table April said to me that people were saying how nice it was of me to give the food away. But to me it wasn’t important what was the kids smiles. But it also shows a few people seen me in a positive light but if I had done something stupid and in the newspapers I would have been seen by literally thousands of people in a negative way. The Philippines is our home and should be treated that way.

It doesn’t mean I’m Perfect as I know I’m far from it. The problem I think a lot of people experience is cheap alcohol and hot weather mixed with boredom. The same reason I have pretty much stopped drinking alcohol except at social gatherings. The other reason it goes straight to the hips.. A lot of people expect foreigners to be foul mouth loud drunkards something I want to steer clear of. Do I expect to be accepted in the Philippines as more than a foreigner? Simply I don’t expect anything.. some days you feel you fit in and then something will happen that shows your still an outsider. If I’m an outsider so be it. It reminds me of the song common people by Pulp with the lyrics

“But still you’ll never get it right
’cause when you’re laid in bed at night
watching roaches climb the wall
if you called your dad he could stop it all”

because no matter what you do people will always see you as a rich foreigner and the fact that you could just up and leave. Because culturally most peoples perception of the world outside of the Philippines comes from Movies and TV. Problem with that is its about as far from the truth as life could be.

0 comments for “Remembering respect when in the Philippines or anywhere else as a tourist

  1. Gene
    January 14, 2010 at 2:27 pm

    I truly like your post about showing respect when here in the Philippines. Living close to Angeles City as we do, I often see foreigners treating the locals like crap. I’m surprised they seem to tolerate it so well.
    I hate to see that as it give us all a bad name.
    We also try to help others when we can. The shopping malls are a place that my wife, daughter, and I enjoy going on weekends. And its fun being able to give a little food to those kids that are outside and never have a chance to enjoy the mall to its fullest.
    Some good advise to anyone who would like to help a child here in the Philippines. Be sure the help is given in a public place-in plain view of many people.
    And although one might be tempted to give money, it is not a wise thing to do. Especially giving money to a female child.
    Often times it can be a police “setup.” Child asks for money and once it is given there is very quickly a federal police officer there to take you to jail for attempting to buy sex from a minor. Naturally, you can buy your way out of the trouble by paying the corrupt officer upwards of P80,000!
    Just a word to the wise to those who feel the need to help. Be careful and think with your head and not your heart…

  2. Matt Wilkie
    January 15, 2010 at 12:08 am

    Hi Gene,
                  your right about the kids. Although I have stopped giving anything to them lately because they are picking the car out as it arrives at the mall. I dont mind helping but im not a constant flow of food as giving is out of “choice”. Its important to realise as a foreigner we are guests here and that we didnt create the problems. Its nice to help but also to be aware its not ours to fix as this is the Philippines and its for the Philippines to feed its people. May sound a bit harsh but I think its important that people keep that mindset as I know so many people that have got wrapped up in helping the poor that they become heavily out of pocket and may even have headed back to home countries. Its also the reason I look at sustainable projects as teaching others how to breed/fatten fish in a barrel for example is a cheap way of food production.