There are some things I don’t like about living in the Philippines. I will talk about those things in this article but first I wish to point out that I love living in the Philippines. I recently wrote an article about some of those things which you can read here.
There isn’t that much I don’t like and some of those things are only negative to me. They are not negative to most Filipinos. I do not see it as my place to try to change the culture of the Philippines. Frankly, I think that is absurd.
I’d have to say my number one thing to dislike about living in the Philippines are brownouts.
Brownouts in the Philippines
Anyone that has been reading my blogs knows I really despise brownouts. At first they didn’t bother me much. Then we had a period of time where we had a brownout every day for a couple of months. That caused me to hate the blooming things.
These are not an issue everywhere. I’m now living in a hotel in Cebu City and I’ve seen reports in the papers of rolling brownouts in the city. If we had any in Downtown Cebu City then I missed most of them. Only once did the lights go out for a couple of minutes. I think the hotel must have improved their ability to respond because I suspect there have been more, but their backup source must kick in before the power failed. I’m not sure.
If you live out in the province of Cebu or any other province, it is highly likely you’ll experience these. There are quite a few in Samar and Leyte. There used to be a lot in some parts of Mindanao and that probably hasn’t changed. You might want to get a generator if you’re able to but first find out if they are common in your area.
Seems like every time I mention this someone talks about solar and wind energy. Well for one it has rained all day long the last two days in Cebu City but more important is that the cost of solar and wind energy is excessive. You can power a single light bulb without spending a fortune but to power a house is in the millions of pesos when I checked into it. I haven’t seen power produced by wind on a small scale, only very expensive towers. These things really don’t seem to be a reasonable answer to me. The best answer is to move to a place where they don’t have them. It is no longer a problem for me and I’m so glad.
Filipino Culture is too Focused on the Community rather than the Individual
I do not like all the tsismis when living in the Philippines. Tsismis is Filipino slang for gossip. Now I do not really mind gossip. I can blow that off like anyone else. Like it or not, gossip is human nature. Not that we all should not try to do better but it happens even from me if I don’t catch myself first. Really, I see gossip as a way of building ourselves up by putting others down.
What I don’t like about the Philippines is that many people seem afraid to live their own life. A lot of Filipinas are scared to death of being in a scandal. That is an important word too. Google “Scandal in the Philippines” and look at all the hits you see on it. Do the same thing on YouTube. Most of what I find on YouTube is not scandalous at all but Filipinos know that is a word that others will be searching for. It ends up getting used where it does not apply in hopes of getting more views on their videos.
I do not like all the finger pointing and the putting others down. It is hypocritical and it makes me angry when people do that. Especially when directed at me because quite frankly I really do not care what you think. I do not go out of my way to draw attention to situations that I think might cause finger pointing but I am not going to hide in the closet either and it sure as heck will not keep me from doing what I want to do.
I see many Filipinos making snap judgments about something I write or a picture I take. Honestly, I do not care if you think she is too young. If she’s 18 then she is not too young. If the only thing I find interesting about her is her appearance or the only thing she is interested in is money, it is not going anywhere anyway. So I don’t need your warnings. I am not stupid. Well, I will admit to sometimes being stupid where women are concerned. If I do not know you, I do not need your opinion. You might as well keep your negative comment to yourself because you will never comment on anything else if you do not. Also, you might want to read your Bible a few more times, especially the gospels because you did not get it if you are making those kinds of comments or even having those kinds of thoughts. Look, you do what is right for you and I will do what is right for me. I will not be hurting anyone and as long as you are not hurting someone and everyone is an adult and doing what they want to do, butt out.
Instead of trying to put someone else down to make yourself feel better about you, maybe you can make yourself a better person.
Paying Medical Cost in the Philippines
Medical cost in the Philippines are extremely low, a doctor visit is about 600 pesos for a private doctor at a private hospital. By private, I mean it is not run by the government. That is less than $15.00 USD for a visit to the doctor. A hospital room at the same hospital is about $50 a day but it has been a couple of years since I last checked the price. The fees are outstanding but paying them is just not smart by the providers.
To get admitted you will almost always need to pay first. Perhaps if you are in a coma or something you will not have to pay first. I do not know what happens in those cases. I have insurance that will cover 100% of everything a Philippines hospital will charge me. The hospital will get paid but I will never get the care because I have to pay for it first.
I needed to be in the hospital this month as I had pneumonia. If I spent every single dime I had, I had enough money for three days. I think it was around $200 or maybe $300. On the bright side of that, when the doctor realized I had no money to pay for it, I got to go home. I was very sick though and probably needed IV antibiotics. Not an option for me.
It does seem to me that it would benefit the hospitals here to have some kind of relationship with major US insurance carriers like Blue Cross Blue Shield which is what I have. Actually they just administer the insurance, the expenses are paid by the US Government through a self-insurance program.
The Philippines wants to make itself a destination for medical tourism. I think that is a great idea but this is going to have to be addressed first if it is serious.
Too Few Protections in the Philippines for Consumers and Tenants
So far, my experience with landlords in the Philippines has been abysmal. The first one I had changed my apartment on me without making it clear to me. Oh he sent more pictures but he did not tell me it was a different place. I did not find that out until Jessie was already living in it for a few days. I was still in the USA when she got to Cebu and moved in. It was a nice place but it was much smaller. When I asked for a reduction in the price he refused. I did not stay much longer but that was because we moved to Bogo City.
The next landlord started out wonderful. She cosigned a note with the furniture store so I could get furniture. Things quickly went downhill from there. She pulled some fancy reverse accounting on what we paid her. We paid two months’ rent in advance, the first month rent and a deposit. I am not sure exactly what she was saying but she managed to convince Jessie we did not pay two months in advance. One problem, I have the original receipt.
When we had virtually any problem inside the house, she expected us to fix it. An Electrical problem? That was on us, we were expected to pay for it. There was a “dirty kitchen” outside with our electricity running to it. The neighbor moved their stuff in there and when I told the landlord she said she would make them move it out. Instead, we soon found a lock on the door and that the landlord rented that out to the neighbor. When I asked “What the heck was going on”? she told me she let us borrow that. I never spoke to her again. Recently, I learned she was threatening to throw us out if we did not pay the rent early. I did not know that when I was there. Jessie keeps things like that from me. She knew I would blow a fuse but there was little I could do about it.
It took her about four months to fix the roof after the typhoon hit, it leaked during that time and she never did repair the damage to the ceiling which was falling in. When we left, we didn’t tell her anything. We just left. I knew full well that she would do everything she could to get more money out of me and that just was not going to happen.
There is no one to go to other than the Barangay Chief and she grew up in that town. Who do you think is going to come out on top in that argument? I do know of one case where an American did come out on top but I wasn’t going to waste my time or risk having him make some insane ruling. I had to just grin and bear it.
As for consumers, buy something here and it does not work? In most cases, you are just out of luck. I am not talking about big ticket items. Small things in local electronics stores for example. They will not take it back. You might get them to exchange it as I did once. I exchanged one battery that wouldn’t charge for three more that wouldn’t charge.
The mobile phone companies and DSL providers are out of control. You will very likely find your prepaid load (credits) disappear from your phone from time to time. Want unlimited mobile Internet. Oh they have it but if you use it they will limit you. Watch three or four YouTube videos and you will get a text that you’ve exceeded your reasonable use and may now enjoy 2G internet speeds. That is useless here. It is too slow to use. I just turn it off at that point. I had far more problems with Globe though than and I did Smart when in Bogo City. In other parts of the country, people told me Smart was worse than Globe.
Once my DSL was out for six weeks, Jessie was calling two or three times a day at one point. They would close our ticket as if it had been fixed. We ended up paying for all of that. When Typhoon Yolanda hit, all lines where down. When I finally saw a bill, they were trying to bill us for three or four months when we had no connection. I don’t know how that ended up, I realized I would be leaving and that I would not pay it. It was absurd.
Corruption in the Philippines
Most of us that live in the Philippines never see any corruption first hand. Perhaps in the past it was different but at least in Cebu it just is not common. There is corruption but for most of us, it doesn’t directly enter our lives.
The only thing I have seen is cutting through red tape. Things can get sped up. No one has ever demanded I pay this in order to get that. Whatever this and that happened to be. For the most part, Filipinos have been very good to me personally except for the landlords.
The one possible exception to that is if you try to start a business. While I have no personal experience with that, I’ve heard enough complaints from others to believe it is here. However, it does still seem to be a matter of timing. I recently had someone tell me it will take a long time to get their business plan approved without paying special fees. They are not going to pay and just wait for things to happen.
I do not know these accusations are true though. I hear it said often enough but I don’t have any personal experience so I do not know for sure.
On the other hand, it is pretty hard to ignore what went on with some of the aid making its way into the Philippines after Typhoon Yolanda. Some items did seem to make it to store shelves for sale. I don’t see a lot of aid making it to the people. Now, Jessie told me food is not a problem in Tacloban. She said she can get all the rice she wants but that rice is not enough.
It seems hard to give aid to the Philippines and keep it out of the hands of those that want to use it to their own benefit. There are organizations that deliver aid direct to the Philippines. They distribute the aid themselves and it does not go through third parties. The Red Cross, Save the Children and Habitat for Humanity all do this. You should always check into this when aid is going to other parts of the world and only contribute to organizations that distribute the aid themselves.
After the press broke their stories, I have found it hard to get another dime for the Philippines. In fact, I haven’t been able to get another dime. Before that I helped to raise over 60,000 pesos or more than $1000 USD.
Like most other stories of corruption, it gets overblown. It happens but the corruption issue is not nearly as pervasive as some people say it is. At least, it hasn’t been for me. To say it doesn’t happen though is going to far as well.
So these things that bother me about living in the Philippines. Do you live here? If so what do you dislike? Visiting is not the same as living here but if you ran into problems you can leave a comment and share. Maybe that bottom floor at the airport in Manila could be listed here too.
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