Many people in the UK see the Philippines as a location full of terrorism and perverts. It comes from a factory mentality of the masses the same sort of mentality that has a loud mouth in a curry restaurant shouting racist comments to staff and joking with his friends. Yet i doubt that person has been further than Spain on holiday and the views come from a father that lived in a different world where going abroad wasn’t even a thought unless you were in military service.
So why the Philippines, for me it was not only that my wife is here but the way of life. Many people complain about the facts of poverty but i think a lot of it “personally” gets over exaggerated by NGO companies competing for funds. Ever heard a charity say everything is great here send no more money? Poverty is everywhere but you need to look at the big picture and view the world from Philippine eyes not Western views. If you lived in a Bamboo house all your life would you see yourself in Poverty? Your content you have food each day and spend more time with your family than the average working family in the UK. OK you don’t have a TV, a mobile phone or a car. But would you need them? Everyone that is close to you literally lives or works close to you. The transport system is cheap and efficient and sharing time with your family asking how the day went is something we should all be doing instead of watching tv.
The family unit is very strong in the Philippines even when there are lots of under current disputes that even married to a Filipina you may never even find out about. But come a celebration most differences are put aside. There is also respect for those older than you which works from the top down. The grand parents have respect from everyone, the eldest child taking the next place, the children of the aunts and uncles respecting the aunts and uncles all the way down to the children who you will find as a male call you Kuya! a lot which basically means big brother and as a female Ate. They are given in respect and should be taken as such. When visiting others houses you will always be offered food out of respect. Often in the evenings before i would be sat outside with uncles sharing bottles of brandy and stories. But recently there have been a few changes and I haven’t done that on this trip.
The Philippine islands themselves are a mixed bag which makes it even more appealing. If you want city living you can head into one of the Major cities such as Cebu, Manila, Davao. Which all have large department stores and market areas. The only down side is if you need something for a Laptop or any other high-tech good you may need to import spares if they can’t be found in the city. But if you head 30 – 40 minutes out of the city you start hitting provinces and a lot of undeveloped land. Depending where you are this can be Beaches in Bohol, Rice fields in many other provinces or even mountains such as Cebu. But either way you can get away from it all and a bit more into the natural beauty of the Islands. You will find that as a foreigner not only is nearly every local happy to see you and give you a “hey Joe” with smiles you may be offered to sit and eat with them and chat. Generally i find in the Philippines there is no rush for anything and a term i picked up from Emily at Mercy in Action ( a British charity ) Things are on Filipino time which basically means if your waiting for a car etc. It will get there when it gets there. Same with meeting people in restaurants many people are always late and don’t see it as being a problem. The wealthier and higher the status the more time they are likely to be late by. Haven’t really had an issue with this myself but i know others who have.
I love the Philippines for all the above facts and many more. The climate, the people, loud music and custom vehicles. All these factors make the place what it is.