I hear so many foreigners come to the Philippines and complain and then complain some more. They complain about the Philippines and they complain about other foreigners. This is a human trait and it is a hard thing to fight. I find myself doing it, rarely but I do fall into the trap just like almost everyone else I know. That old trite saying is true, “If you don’t have anything to say, say nothing at all.” At least it’s something to strive for. Being positive is contagious and will improve how others see you.
The other day, I saw an American post a graphic on Facebook that I cannot post here. Basically, it said “If you don’t like our country get out.” I started to reply to that and point out how Americans and other foreigners speak negatively of the Philippines and probably just about any other place they go. Americans are spoiled and that’s not bad thing. The USA is still the land of plenty. It is still a wonderful place to live. Despite its many problems, if you leave the USA and go to many other parts of the world, how you see the USA is likely to improve. The USA has unmatched “Freedom of Speech.” So many places in the world, even in developed parts of the world don’t have ice widely available. I recently saw someone mention that but I don’t recall where they were. It was not a developing nation. So Americans and others, count your blessing.
No Matter how Far you Run, You will always be There
If you are not happy where you are, you probably will not be happy in another country. Happiness has so much to do with your own outlook on life. How you see the Philippines depends on what is behind your ears. When I was contemplating the move, I thought that the Philippines would be better for me. However, I was not unhappy with the USA. I was right, it is better for me.
A few years ago, one foreigner got himself into a lot of trouble by staring in a short documentary about the Philippines. He was very negative, making fun of many common things. He was almost thrown out of the country. Even the president of the Philippines spoke on the matter. Filipinos are very forgiving if you seek forgiveness. This American did and the president said he should be forgiven and the country should move on. The same person that made the negative film also created a positive film. I think the producer or director was trying to make the point I so often try to make. How you view the Philippines depends on your outlook on life.
When I first arrived in the Philippines, it scared me to death. Partly because I had listened to to many other foreigners. I also had read too many websites that were inaccurate about scams. Sure there are scams here but they are not nearly as common as people portray them to be. I don’t consider the fake pearls on the street to be much of a scam. I think that was probably born in the USA. I know my uncle fell victim to the counterfeit watch and fake diamonds scam at a truck stop in the late 1960’s. Yes those kinds of scams are all over the Philippines. It is hard to be 30 years old and have not run into that any place in the world. Just say no and move on.
Expats Meeting in the Philippines
It was about two months after I was in the Philippines that I found my first group of expats to meet with. I remember being highly irritated by the complaining. I wanted to say “Since you dislike it so much, why are you here?” That would not have been a good thing to say to a bunch of drunken foreigners. Instead, I had a few drinks to calm my nerves too. Haha If you are like me, it is best to ignore them and maybe not meet with them again. I would meet with them but I would not partake of the Philippines bashing with them. I try to find something to photograph and not let them get to me. I am not the only one that it angers. I have spoken to others. It really should not anger me when someone else is showing their own lack of self-confidence. I believe that is where the root of complaining about others or rumors are born from. People do this to convince themselves that there way is better.
It is Different but Not Always Worse
Customs and cultures develop differently because of different histories. Asia and the Philippines is more community oriented while the west is more about the individual. Both have their pluses and minuses. Overall, I find Americans to be selfish in just about everything. This is true even in politics where people tend to vote for what they think is best for them not the society.
For Filipinos, most of them live in fear of bringing dishonor to their family. This is especially true for Filipinos. So much of what guides a Filipino in what they do is based on this idea respect for the family. I like to say that “Respect is the center on which much of Filipino culture revolves.” How can one fault that idea? I hear people say “Respect must be earned.” Treating people with respect does not need to be earned. That is how we should behave. It is hard for Americans, we are used to raising our voices and getting angry when we feel mistreated. Filipinos are more likely to act that way with family but I have never seen a Filipino get angry with someone working in a business. I am sure it does happen but it is not common enough for me to have ever seen it a single time in over eight years!
There are some things I’m not found of about the Philippines but there are many things I am found of. For example, I try to take on the more laid back lifestyle usually found in Filipino culture. Especially when it comes to worry. I am a major worry wort. I tend to get obsessed on the negative which is very bad. When I do that, I try to remember what God told Paul, I think it was Paul, “My grace will be sufficient.” I’m not very good at that but I try. There have been periods of tremendous stress in my life yet I was at peace because of that. Really, this life is very short and when I think of eternally peaceful life that can reduce a lot of stress in this life. The Filipino culture helps reinforce this, I often think of how happy Filipinos are. They are happy even while living in poverty. Filipinos complain so little that when one does confide their worries with me that I feel honored that they did so.
It is trite but there really is good and bad in nearly everything. So “Be happy, don’t worry.”
Have you been to the Philippines? Been around other foreigners and experienced this. Maybe you also contributed to it? Please give me your thoughts and comments below. If you find the post worthy, please share on your favorite social media sites.
Filed under: Living In The Philippines
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