I’ve said it many times, to live in the Philippines is like stepping onto a new planet for many. This is less true perhaps for military people that have traveled the world. It is less true for those that have traveled outside of North America. If you’re like me though, a guy that never stepped out of Canada or the USA, you probably cannot wrap your head around what life is like here.
I see comments and questions a lot that remind me of how I was before setting foot in the Philippines. Just setting foot in it didn’t tell me how different it was. It took a little while but it did not take long.
I had been here only a few days, sitting on the back of a tricycle, traveling in a way that was
so vastly different than I’m use to. It was hot, uncomfortable and rusty. The trike had lots of rust and compared to American standards very unsafe. At least it felt that way to me and it probably is unsafe compared to American standards. Even if someone would use such a service in the USA, I doubt it would be legal. If kids can’t sell lemonades in the USA without a permit, I just don’t see this kind of transportation get past the regulations.
Legalities are Major Reason it is Different to Live in the Philippines
It is not unusual for someone to live in the Philippines because of a reduction in regulations. As someone that hates for the government to get into my personal life and tell me what I can do, what I can’t do and lately what I must do really bugs me. Though by no means am I a civil libertarian to the degree of Ron Paul, that is what I am. I’m a fan of capitalism but I also know that the powerful will often trample all over the less powerful when they can.
Looking at the TV ads that American produces run here will give on a clue to that. I couldn’t believe some of the claims I saw soap peddlers making in the Philippines when I first got here. I never had any delusions about advertisements, of course their job is to make you want to buy the product. I realize though these companies will often say anything to sell their product. And here, they often can and do.
I was reminded of some of the difference in legalities a few days ago. A woman in Mindanao was arrested for helping human traffickers. The charge had to do with obstruction of justice. I posted an article about that in our new Philippines forum. The article reminded me that one of the differences in the Philippines is that entrapment is often used to catch a “bad guy.”
Not only is it okay, it seems to be encouraged. Police often speak of buy/bust operations in the Philippines. This usually is related to drug dealers and it is commonly called entrapment. They don’t wait for the dealer to approach them, they approach the suspected dealer. It matters not that they enticed the person to make the sell. Only that he made it. Now I doubt many of you that want to live in the Philippines are coming to push drugs. However, if you do choose to live in the Philippines the point to understand is you are choosing to live in this Asian society.
You choose to give up some regulations yes but that cuts both ways. You also give up some protections that Americans enjoy. I can really only write on this topic from an American perspective as I don’t know the details of other Western nations. Travel is cheaper here, probably in part due to less regulation. Cars are cheaper here. I suspect a lot of those lower prices have to do with a lot less regulation that American car makers must adhere too.
It gets more complicated though. One of the most mind grabbing encounters I’ve ever had in the Philippines came when I was reading a local paper. Something someone new to the Philippines should do often. The stories can be a little hard to follow. Sometimes because of the obvious use of different terms, like double dead meat. Sometimes it is because the writers refer to facts not in the article. Sometimes they even say it is in the article. My guess is the editors removed that part but not the reference. For a long time I thought I was just not reading closely enough. That wasn’t it.
One day while reading the paper at Jollibee’s, I read an interview from the director or chief of the Philippines Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA). He was freely admitting to the policy of planting drugs on “known dealers.” He explained something like if we know they are dealing and we can’t catch them with the drugs, we plant the drugs on them! Wow, did that blow my mind. I had very strong feelings on this matter. One of my next lessons was that I also do not have freedom of speech here and that it is best if I keep my strong feelings to myself.
I wrote a pretty strong article about that. A few days later I noticed Philippines government agencies on my website. I can see where people come from and the names of their ISPs in my stats. Business and government agencies often have IPs assigned to them. I use to have IPs assigned to me because I have about ten servers running on a “rack.”
When I learned about my speech limitations, I went back and edited that article. I think that is the only time I’ve ever done that for reasons such as these. I almost always see errors in my articles a few days after I write them. Spelling and word usage and things like that which irritate me about myself to no end. But to pull back on an opinion, I don’t do that much.
I had put my ability to live in the Philippines in danger. Filipinos do not appreciate foreigners that live in the Philippines to “meddle in their internal affairs.” I used some really strong language. I will not even repeat what I said here because I wish to continue to live in the Philippines. I don’t think I have even said if my strong opinion was in favor or against it in this article.
The Choice To Live In the Philippines is Different but not Necessarily Bad
Living in the Philippines will change your life. If you are accepting of the ways of others then I think you can have a wonderful life in the Philippines. Those obsessed with “my way is better” are going to have a problem. if you’re truly obsessed with it then you’ll be thinking about it all the time. I don’t always like the ways here but I can work it out. If you think the difference are bad or if you think they are good really depends on the way you think. The way you think doesn’t make you bad or good. It is just the way you are. For me, the same applies to the Philippines. Its not bad nor good, its just different.
Not all the differences in the Philippines are negative. Some of them are dang nice. Have you seen the ladies here? haha Wait till you find out how they treat you. Find yourself a girl that is not too Westernized, an easy thing to do, and you’ll have no problem seeing what I mean in most cases.
The ways the Philippines are different are vast and way too much to cover in one article. These are some of the things that gave me valuable lessons on the way things work in the Philippines. They taught me just how different it is to live in the Philippines rather than the USA.
Filed under: Living In The Philippines
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