What is a foreigner expecting on their first visit to the Philippines?

This isn’t a tourism post well not in the sense most people will be thinking its about foreigners meeting their girlfriends/fiancée’s for the first time in the Philippines. But with the internet being an odd setup with people either being pro Philippines to the point its in the realms of fantasy or the complete opposite many people arrive a bit dazed and confused on what is right and what is wrong.

Sounds a bit odd until you realise people’s expectations of living and working abroad and then you start to see it works both ways as many people believe things in Hollywood as being the real world scenario from here in the Philippines as for a long time the television was one of the few forms of media they had before the internet opened up.

So as a Filipina and your partner arriving where do you start? first thing is read the article before this one as this is part of the same discussion that one covered taking photographs of things so that your partner can get a feel for the Philippines and what to expect. But there is another factor that gets overlooked because of the belief all foreigners are rich, this problem occurs when money can be a bit tight for some foreign nationals who believe their girlfriend/partner is spending too much money as if its freely available. Why does this happen? initially because many Filipina’s want to show off to the family and also don’t want their partner falling for something beneath them in quality so how do you deal with this?

First off accommodation and its the same key to every problem and that’s to discuss it in advance and I know sometimes communication can be difficult which is why I would state something like this when explaining rentals :-

Budget – Wall fan (No Air conditioning) , TV, cold shower, no pool, restaurants nearby

normal – Air conditioning, electric shower, TV + cable, Pool, small restaurant with basic international foods

Superior – Air conditioning, electric shower + hot tub, TV+Cable, Pool and beach resort with restaurants

Notice how its broken down to explain each? this is the best way forward as you may get people initially wanting a budget but then quickly realising for an extra P300 a night they can get a much better room for rent.

When your partner arrives also be aware of food and ice, keep them away from ice where you know its not mineral water as it can cause LBM for many people making them ill for 2 – 3 days. Not good if they are only here a week and spent half of it ill. You need to explain that they can get sick from the water but also to wipe all bottle tops and cans due to the risk of things like rat urine that carry serious diseases. Obvious to you and me but in the West you wouldn’t need to think of this in most instances. With food ideally try to get them to stick with food they are used to but also to try a few new things. Use vendors you know that have cooked it fresh and thorough if you get them to try street food. Generally though they will be looking to enjoy your company in restaurants. For that you may actually work out a list of your favourite places but also remember to find out the type of food they like best so you can adjust the restaurants to suit both of you.

What about meeting your family? first thing is you need to decide the type of person he is which is why I would introduce him at least after after a few hours of meeting if not days in person. Reason being you can judge if things are going to work out or if this relationship is going to go nowhere. That way you can keep quiet about meeting the guy and nobody is any the wiser. If you decide to let people know in advance then its better to introduce early as they will also be able to judge if the person is right for you. Main thing is if your family is very traditional explaining a few of the customs of how to approach your parents and not to wear shoes in the house etc. need to be done early on before you decide to do anything. I would advise upon collection from the airport go to a restaurant to talk as you can get time to decide if he is right for you and at the same time explain the family side of things as well as he can let you know how he is feeling and how he feels about things with you so far.

Most foreigners arriving in the Philippines for the first time though are very trusting and easy going initially. They are unaware of taxi drivers overcharging and all the other hazards of the Philippines which is things you need to educate him on at the same time be aware it may annoy him later if he knew you know of things he got over charged on and didn’t tell him. Had it myself initially as its a feeling of the “foreigner” can afford its not a lot extra. But its principle your in a position of trust and as so should look to assist your partner. I am sure things will work out and your partner isn’t 100% what to expect which is why discussing everything in advance of his arrival as well as his first impressions during the taxi ride from the airport as well as over dinner will get the ball rolling and give you an idea of how things are going and if he will like it here long term.