Being younger than many of the people that come out to the Philippines it can make life a bit more dull and boring to what I am used to. There is all the travelling and the friendliness of people at the same time here full-time is like anywhere else in the world you become absorbed in your location due to work commitments. What makes the difference here to the UK though is I can make money every month without needing to be forced into a full-time job on top of the other work.
For example my expenses before in the UK were around £1,500 a month for just a pretty normal life, wasn’t out partying every night but things like needing a good reliable car for work was just as important as having a roof over my head due to client relations. This meant you often ended up with extra expenses built into the lifestyle that supports you. Things like the brakes for the car seen an easy £1000 disappear.
In the Philippines though we can sit still easily on around £400 a month its obviously not as comfortable as things like the Chicken Kiev’s have to be made not bought from a supermarket in the same way pretty much all the treats are missing from the table. Food as you probably guess is a major issue and I would be lying if I said it wasn’t. Pomelo is something I have started eating regular as well as trying to get into the habit of having a high fruit diet. Question to anyone else out there is have you located the foot vendor that walks your neighbourhood? Reason being they are dirt cheap in comparison to the market or supermarkets in the Philippines. Negotiate to buy stuff on a regular basis you could find your new best friend as personally I like my fruit fresh which is one of the reasons supermarket stuff isn’t so inviting. Finding a lot of it spent a couple of days travelling up from Davao in the sun doesn’t inspire a juicy flavoured fresh fruit but instead dried up fruit that could have arrived in a lot better condition. May sound unfair on this except supermarkets don’t do cheap fruit! you can compare a lot of it to the same prices in the UK which were flown in so why is it they can’t get a boat from another island to bring it up within 24hrs if they are charging so much here for low grade produce? (the good stuff is exported).
But the cheapness is also a problem with the Philippines as you will try to do business to find people start quoting stupid prices at you as they got a taste for it online. For example a web development company I want certain members of staff working on piece work because if they can work quickly they make more at the same time I want to keep the costs down so we can get more work. Yet I will find people quoting me U.S. prices because they got a job once from a website. That’s great but its one job! I am looking at building a company of hopefully hundreds of jobs and contracts on a regular basis once the company becomes established. Yes its great to get paid P20,000 for a website job but how many months afterwards and before did they have no work? The incentive is to become established at a lower rate and built a reputation most graphic jobs can be done within a few hours yet you will be surprised at how much people will try to charge.
I still can’t understand a lot of Filipino business logic and often I see things in the media that just make me scratch my head as from the outside world it simply wouldn’t make any sense. Bit like the Sunday TV shows that seem to have a lot of people singing from shows that were on during the week, a bit of a holiday camp type of TV which I am sure would be unsellable in other countries especially when some of the singing is done by people who are better suited to Karaoke than large crowds and live broadcasts.
The family side of things in the Philippines generally seems good amongst people but there always seems to be some kind of undercurrent of events you don’t find out about until later. A guy I felt sorry about before that died due to an accident after his wife left him seemed a bit of a sob story until you realise that as soon as he got paid he would be off to the cockfight and spending everything else that he didn’t gamble on alcohol leaving his wife to not only feed and fend for their children but also his. Eventually after years she left but the story you will always here is how she left not the reasons behind it all going wrong until his death. But that’s happened so many times with things where there is something that could have prevented something from going wrong is withheld until something happens then it gets mentioned. Bit like saying does anyone know a carpenter and everyone points at a guy he builds your house, it falls down and you ask why people didn’t say he was a bad carpenter the response would often be you never asked or you asked for an available carpenter not the fact he’s available because he’s been fired from every other job.
You learn over time to take things easy and generally everything tastes better with a pinch of salt. Good quality is based on local opinion (which is an argument I have had many a time until I go into depth of the differences with European standards), doesn’t mean people are wrong as their opinions are based on what they know not what they have read or studied. If someone breaks something that is theirs they may get upset but if they break something of yours then there is no call for alarm. Funniest one I seen this happen with was some ornate tiles that were shoved under a sack of cement to hide them from us. They are tiles but also the glaze isn’t great so the quality is “ok” but often have a tendency to chip. In reality in construction you have to push quality that you want but also within the workers ability and with what is available. Trial and error is a daily way of life here and pretty much has given us the stable life we have here well above what most Filipinos have yet its all built in the Philippines, the buildings, the businesses and by the people.