I hate to hear those words. No it’s not how we did it in the USA but the obvious response is, “I’m not in the USA.” Why be here if you want to do it like your home country. Sometimes, I feel it too. I don’t say it out loud but today I thought it to myself.
The air conditioning (aircon) has been out for close to a week in the hotel lobby. I live in a hotel as it is cheaper that way. I was hoping it would be working today as the new unit was delivered yesterday. Still, it remains idle in the corner, waiting to be installed. When Jessie told me it was not yet working, I thought to myself “They’d never do that in a hotel in the USA. It would be replaced within hours.” That caused me to think this would make a good article.
It’s Not Your Home Country, Get Used to It
In the Philippines, there are few things that will be like your home country. “Get used to it” as Jessie often said to me in my early years here. One of the striking things to me was just how different it was. When I was still in the USA, Jessie would describe things she had done that day. One episode in particular showed me just how different it was from what I expected it to be. You see, I pictured it in my mind completely different than it would be. She ran across a mother and young child begging for money. She wouldn’t give them any money but did take these homeless people into a donut shop.
When she told me about it, I asked her if the shop had any problem with her bringing them in. I had pictured this place sparkling in glass and chrome. That’s what one would likely see in a donut shop in the USA. After I arrived here, that memory came back to me. After sitting in the back of a motorcycle within a sidecar and seeing jagged metal and other dangers all around me, I realized I wasn’t in Kansas now. I don’t know when I recalled the donut shop story but that really drove it home to me. This is nothing like the USA.
Not long after I began to live in the Philippines, Jessie and I went to the store at night. The street was packed with what looked like people living in poverty. It was a chaotic scene to me but I suppose totally normal to me now. I was scared. I asked Jessie “Are we safe here?” She assured me we were and I said “It sure doesn’t look safe.” If you are from the USA, you know that walking around at night in an impoverished area and you yourself don’t look like you belong there, you are in danger. That is usually not the case in the Philippines.
Since then, many times I headed into areas where Jessie did not want me to go. She has usually fallen behind me and I will hear “Where are you going?” Which I learned really means “Don’t go there.” I go anyway. I suppose I would listen if I felt threatened and it depends on where I am. I’d likely listen more in the city than I did out in rural areas.
For the first couple of years that I lived here, I was walking over a mile several times a week. I miss that too. That is when I usually strayed into new areas where the “country folk” live and I didn’t feel threatened by these people. We did discover some very interesting people and places by my doing this. Everyone I ran into was very friendly. I suppose I could eventually run into trouble but I feel more likely to do that right outside my hotel now where the kids are huffing paint on the sidewalk. Last night, I went out and a dog was relieving himself in the street. I did not get a picture but I’m not sure it would really be a good thing to include here.
Some of the things that are different here are better, well for me. The way women treat men is the most striking example. It isn’t right but it is enjoyable. When most Filipina loves you, she can’t stand for you to do anything for yourself. I have heard the words “Please let me serve you” from a Filipina. I cannot imagine an American woman saying that. If you were to even suggest it, you might have divorce papers waiting for you when you get to work the next day. At the very least, you’ll pay dearly for your comment.
No, that is not how we did it in the country I grew up in nor will it likely be the way you did it. I think that’s wonderful. If you are going to go on an adventure to the other side of the world, don’t be surprised if it feels like you went to a different galaxy once you get there. I really would avoid ever saying “That’s not how we do it” but sometimes, I admit, it does slip into my mind. Your way really doesn’t make your way better. As for my hotel lobby air con, I’m still waiting and it’s still hot down there. I have become a little more use to higher temperatures. It has been several more days and well over a week now. I suppose I did “Get use to it.” I wish I could get use to the foreigners complaining about everything about the Philippines. Wait, no I don’t want to get use to that. Then I might join them in this irritating past-time.
Please tell me about your experiences in the Philippines or share your input in the comments below.
Filed under: Living In The Philippines
Like this post? Subscribe to my RSS feed and get loads more!