Some Of The Reasons We Live Here.
NOTE: I wrote this in September 2004. It was how I felt at the time. I still believe what I felt then was true. What do you think? Feel free to email me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org or post a comment to this blog using the link included below. Perry April 2008.
You could be forgiven in thinking that this country is a nightmare, badly run and full of people just waiting to rob you of every penny you have. Not true. The Philippines is the Philippines, simple as that.
This is a great country with many wonderful people and customs, its just very different from the USA, Canada, Australia,New Zealand, UK,and Europe. Very different. If it was identical then there would be no reason to come here, would there?
There are so many good things to living here, not just having your retirement or vacation dollar stretching farther. There is still a freedom to do as you wish that is being legislated out of all existence back home. I believe many well intentioned pieces of legislation have been amended well out of their original context and now add to the problems they were implemented to correct.
The Philippines is still growing and developing, finding its place in the modern world, eager to advance yet proud of her history and hero’s. Justly proud, I feel.
There is corruption, incompetence and ignorance in every aspect of life, but it is tempered with an approach to life and living that is simple and refreshing. It is a fact of life here so accept it and focus
on your own problems, don’t try and save the world or at least the Philippines from theirs.
As a foreigner you have the luxury of being able to leave any time you choose and go virtually anywhere you wish. Not so the Filipino. So if they seem unaware of the “failings” of their country, who can blame them? If your own country didn’t have failings then you wouldn’t be reading this now.
Living here is a humbling experience and for me, an empowering one. It builds your self confidence and self respect, it makes you appreciate the simple things in life we have taken for granted for too long. You will only get out of a trip here what you are willing to put in.
Keep your mind open to new ways of doing things. Just because it is done a certain way back home does not mean it is right for the Philippines or Filipinos. Far better than I can say it, the words of
Lord Curzon, Viscount of India, express the love I have for this country and its people, while often wondering why they do it the way they do!
‘We must remember that the ways of Orientals are not our ways, nor their thoughts our thoughts. Often when we think them backward and stupid, they think us meddlesome and absurd. The loom of time moves slowly with them, and they care not for high pressure and the roaring of the wheels. Our
system may be good for us; but it is neither equally, nor altogether good, for them. Satan found it better to reign in hell than serve in heaven; and the normal Asiatic would sooner be misgoverned by Asiatics than well governed by Europeans.’
Powerful words as true today about the Philippines as they were about India over a hundred years ago. Manual Quezon himself said he would prefer a “Philippines” run like hell by Filipino’s than run like heaven by foreigners. Cynics might argue he got his wish but at least their destiny is in their own hands, more or less.
I may be among the first to rail against the almost feudal system prevailing here but there is so much good to balance against the bad. Having spent three months now away from my Cebu home and back amongst my own countrymen, I must admit I see things differently. My time in the Philippines mellowed me in many ways, it changed my perspectives and altered what was once considered important to a status less imperative.
I look at my countrymen, striving to live the great “Aussie Dream” of owning their own home, having two cars in the driveway and sending the kids off to university. The reality is that the homes are getting bigger while the land they stand upon is shrinking. Everyone wants MacMansions yet the cost of land is too high to leave any room for a garden for the kids to play in. But then kids don’t play outside anymore, its all Nintendo and computers and cable tv and who has the time in their busy lives to keep a garden in shape?
As for the cars, the government slugs you coming and going with taxes and duties and fees and fines and yet you still need to have the latest model and lots of space. By the time your kids get to university they will probably hold little regard for you other than contempt given the media, their peers and society as a whole. You owe them everything for bringing them into this world and the world owes them the rest. That’s not how it is in the Philippines.
I want my wife to visit Australia and see my country. Hopefully hang around just long enough to get over the WOW! Factor and pick up on the reality, then be happy to return to the Philippines. I have little to no faith my retirement superannuation dollars will be around when I reach the age the government have decreed I can touch them. Instead I will look to having as many rental properties in the Philippines to live off as I can acquire between now and then. In other words, like the Filipino, I will be looking after Number One, and the immediate family. Charity does start at home, and my home is in the Philippines.