Reader’s Submission from the Philippines
I have been an avid reader of Stickman’s column since September of last year. I look forward to reading his weekly article and my Sunday nights won’t be complete without reading his piece.
I am from the Philippines and I hope Stickman will have a counterpart here who would also write stories about my country but in a not so negative perspective (but I know it's not possible). I have read some of the submissions here about my country and most of them are really negative…like this is a country full of beggars. It is Asia but more like Africa and other things.
Yes, we are a third world country but there is more to see here in the Philippines. It’s unfortunate that some of the readers' submission only focus on Angeles City, a red light district. They haven't seen the rest of the country and just have been and seen a small part of it, so I guess it’s really unfair to see us in a negative light.
Filipinos are friendly and hospitable. Always smiling even in the midst of calamities and difficulties brought about by poverty. Being in the third world, it is one of our major problems. But most Filipinos are responsible and have jobs. Our new government is striving really hard to improve the way of living, fight corruption and provide more jobs for a better life.
We used to be on top among our Southeast Asian neighbors in the 70's. But like any other country we also have problems like corruption, which is the root cause of all the problems here and hopefully the new government will be able to change the system.
We have a lot of beautiful places to see in comparison to Thailand or any other parts in Asia…. Boracay Island (http://myboracayguide.com/), Chocolate Hills in Bohol (http://www.bohol-philippines.com/chocolate-hills.html), Banaue Rice Terraces in Ifugao (http://www.destination360.com/asia/philippines/banaue-rice-terraces), The Undergorund River in Palawan (http://undergroundriver.net/), Mayon Volcano in Bicol (http://pilipinashotspots.blogspot.com/2011/01/mayon-volcano.html), Siargao in Surigao (http://www.surigaoislands.com/siargao_island.html), just to name a few and a lot more tourist destination to see and explore. Our Tourism Department must do a great deal of promotion to compete with our Asian counterparts and I know they will as the new Tourism Secretary was tasked to do a massive campaign to attract more tourists to visit our country.
Food is another good thing, as Filipinos love to eat and dine out. Our cuisines were inspired by different cultural influences such as Spanish, Chinese, Japanese, Mediterranean, Italian and of course the original Filipino cuisines. So much to choose and try from the different restaurants and fast foods, be it internationally inspired or local venues as well.
We have the biggest mall in Asia located in Manila (Mall of Asia) and other big malls strategically located in different parts of the country which carries local products and international / signature brands.
Likewise, English is the second language in the Philippines, so it is not hard to converse with Filipinos. Even a taxi driver or a street kid can actually speak English though not fluently but can easily be understood. I have a friend who's married to an American. Her husband's been staying here for almost a year and one time she overheard him talking to his friend in the U.S. over the phone. His friend asked what he was doing in the Philippines and he said that he is now married to a Filipina. His friend told him that he must have a hard time communicating with his Filipina wife because of the language barrier and how his life has been going on here. Her husband replied "Well she can speak English, we understand each other very well since my wife is an educated woman. The cost of living here is low, I am enjoying my life here and I love the weather."
Many foreigners think that Filipinos cannot comprehend nor speak the English language. There are actually foreign companies who put their call centers here because of the Filipinos good command in English and because the cost of labor is much cheaper. Koreans come to the Philippines to study and learn English. There are also foreign students coming to Manila to earn a college degree in different universities here.
Lastly, many of the articles here are “farang” relationship experiences with Thai women. Let me tell you about the women here. Filipinas are beautiful, intelligent, caring, loving, sweet, understanding, have enormous patience, are trustworthy and faithful. They are the best wives and mothers in the world. Not all women are after a man's money and that is something I am proud of as a Filipina. Most women here are educated, have decent jobs (there are more women holdling higher positions in politics, media, marketing and other industry) and who are financially independent. We don't see men or foreigners as a walking ATM. But I also think it is normal for a woman to make sure that she can have financial security when she's going to settle down. But asking for money from a guy while they're still dating is a BIG NO. I am not denying the fact there are also women here who are gold diggers and those type of women also exist in different parts of the world.
These are only few things that I could share. Philippines is not a perfect place like any other country. There will always be a positive and negative side…we may not be the best but still I am hopeful that in the near future we will be and I am always proud to be a Filipina.
I do hope to visit the Philippines one day. The people, the weather and the beaches seem to the main attractions. The thing that puts me off is the perception I have that the country is not that safe and that's a big turn off for me. I guess in this respect we Thailand expats are spoiled because as long as you don't stick your nose where it doesn't belong, have street smarts and use common sense, Thailand is generally safe.