Readers' Submissions

Reflecting on “An African Perspective”

  • Written by JN
  • August 21st, 2014
  • 8 min read



Firehouse


For the first time since finding Stick's site I've been moved to submit an opinion. I've never replied to the haters and the people who felt like they were done wrong, and used it as an opportunity to bash the Philippines. Some people are just angry and want to vent, but there have been a LOT of false truths spread through these pages, and I would like to set the record straight.

I have been married and divorced from a Filipina. We lived in the United States and in the Philippines together. I've been to the best places outside of Manila and to the worst places in Mindanao. Yes, the exact places the government tells you not to go (Look up Cotabato). Was I afraid? Never. My ex-wife was smart enough not to put the money train at risk. Look, there are bad places in EVERY major city. Anyone with half a brain knows that you do not go to 22nd and Broadway at 2 AM in Louisville, Kentucky.

To categorize the Philippines as dangerous is ignorant. While there are places I would not go, for example the Muslim part of Manila, I have never felt in fear, or had any trouble whatsoever. For starters, I'm half a foot bigger than 99% of everyone here. Most white people are. Second, if you really get to know Filipinos, you will know that any man raised in western society is easily the manliest man on the islands the minute he steps off the plane, save for Pacman maybe. Most Filipinos can't afford a gun, and violence against westerners in "normal" society is nearly non-existent. The worst thing that will probably happen is someone will try to pick your pocket. I will advise you to keep out of their politics. None of your business, and no need to get yourself in trouble there. Filipinos are very up to date on American politics, and are happy to discuss that with you.

As far as fidelity goes, there is the toad of truth in the swamp of lies surrounding us. Everyone is sleeping with everyone. Part of the problem is there is no divorce in the Philippines. Getting an annulment is financially impossible for most, so you just move on to the next one instead of finishing with the one you are with now. Yes, my ex-wife did me the same way. I like to tell everyone she upgraded, which she did, but her having a new boyfriend before the divorce papers are filed was a little disappointing. Did it make me bitter? No. I've been cheated on by western woman as well. It happens sometimes, and is just part of life. There are some good ones in the Philippines, but you really can't even begin to figure out which ones they are, aside from common sense things, until you understand their culture.

As far as the simple things to the submission, rolling brown-outs is a problem. Water is not lacking, but EVERYONE drinks filtered water. Getting a blue jug is as easy as texting the supplier and they will drop it off at your house. Could not be easier.

Internet is less than half what he states the cost is and less than half as bad as he says. If you are in a remote place then they use satellite internet, and it is reliable as it is in the United States.

Why in the world would you seek out western food? The Filipinos make amazing dishes, if you find a girl that can cook, and they ALL can cook. If not, meet her mother. I'm sure she can whip you up a dish that will delight your taste buds. You know what is boring food here? The western restaurants. If you like fried chicken and rice, they have it in spades. When I'm there, I never ate at a restaurant, and I loved it! The one big treat I always loved was the roasted pig. Maybe the best curry in the world is made in the Philippines. Made with the freshest coconut milk, I could eat it every day. The fresh fish and fruit is without compare. The Philippines is known as the tuna fish capital of the world. Definitely not "dull".

The driving is no worse than in Mexico or China. It was about what I would expect. Doesn't sound too different than from Thailand. Public transportation is so cheap and available so why would you drive and worry about car repairs? Most Jeepney rides cost about 18 cents US.

As for your circle of friends. This is the biggest red flag as to you not being an "average" guy. There were plenty of westerners around, but I did not really associate with them. Filipinos are far and away the most fun and pleasant people in the world. They love westerners, and you are treated like a rock star. It is really a bit unnerving at first, but you get used to it. Everyone wants to talk to the white guy. They won't let you lift a finger. Really the nicest people anywhere.

The climate is perfect? I find that hard to believe. Even on the mountain in Mindanao, it was hot. Yes, it is cooler than Manila, but 95 degrees F and 90% humidity is hot in any language, but it does beat the heck out of 105. And for taxes, did you not realize you paid 12% VAT (Value Added Tax) every time you bought something? That is cheap, but a tax nonetheless.

Manila has a decent airport, and traveling to certain destinations is reasonable and quick. Hong Kong, Singapore and even Thailand are easily within reach. Yes, the flight to the US is a long one, but it is what it is, and no closer than Thailand to me. I can't speak about hookers, because I've never been with one, but why would you? Getting girls is EASY for a western guy. I've been with a date, and had a girl try to give me her phone number while my date was in the CR (Comfort Room). There is simply no need for pros. And have you heard the nickname LBFMs? (Little Brown Fun Machines – really, a different F word, but I am keeping it clean). Think Asian appearance and Spanish passion. What an amazing combination!

As for security, just listen to your Filipino friends. They already have it down. Bars on the windows, fences with broken glass stuck in the top. No need to pay a cop to patrol your area. You are western, if you ask them, they will watch out for you. We did bring them a basket of food at Christmas time, as is the custom. I saw the patrolman at least 4 or 5 times a day.

Visa is no problem. If you have a Filipina wife, you can get a balikbayan stamp and you are good for one year. I think it cost me about $40 USD. Try that in Thailand! I'm not sure what you are talking about with the land scam. Foreigners cannot own land in the Philippines, so why would they try to sell you land? That makes no sense whatsoever. I've never been scammed in the Philippines. Yes you pay more for a taxi, but if you know the route you can get the right price. Besides, if a dollar or two makes the driver that happy, then good for him.

If you really lived in the Philippines, you would know the best parts are you can rent a NICE house for about $250 or $300 just outside of Manila, have a live-in maid for about $80, and get a 2-hour massage for $4. What a life!

No country is perfect, and there are lots of problems in the Philippines, just like anywhere else. The one thing that wins me over, is getting on a Jeepney full of strangers and seeing smiling faces everywhere. Not fake smiles, but genuine happy people. Even in the middle of poverty and crisis, Filipinos find a reason to be happy and smiling. It is infectious, and soon you will be smiling too.

I'm not trying to sell anyone on the Philippines, but just set the record straight. I can only say I wish I knew about this life when I was young. Please excuse my writing, and thank you for looking over my submission.




Stickman's thoughts:

I really do not know what to make of the Philippines. I have never been and I have heard highly contrasting reports from those who have visited. Caveman, someone whose opinion I respect, tells me that the food is no good and that the danger factor is an issue – and this was backed up with him, a military man in outstanding shape, being the victim of a snatch and grab, something he wrote about some time ago. Another friend who is Bangkok-based told me that the food in the Philippines is the worst he has had anywhere in the world and he is well-travelled. At the same time I hear from others that the seafood is excellent. My experience of the people from the Philippines has always been very, very positive and the people seem extremely nice and engaging. And we have guys like Pattaya Gary who has written some compelling articles about the sweetness of the ladies in the Philippines. It's really hard to know what to make of it all!