A Foreigner’s Love/Hate Relationship with the Philippines

The Philippines is a very easy place to complain about for expats. I mean lets face it, the place is very different and in many ways completely backwards from what you may be used to in your home country.

It is also an amazingly beautiful country once you get outside the city. It has everything from stunning mountain ranges to glorious clear blue water and gorgeous beaches.

You only read about those who are on the side of these two completely opposite views. Most tourists who come to the Philippines will most likely be falling one of these two camps. If you read travel blogs you will get glowingly positive stories from all throughout the country, and then you get the odd horror story from someone who got themselves into trouble or just doesn’t have the patience required to get by in the Philippines.

For the expat who stays here long term your feelings about the place will swing between the two. Some days you will hate the place, others you will feel that you never want to leave. It becomes a love hate relationship that you are constantly grappling with. The Philippines becomes that partner who you can’t stand to be around some days, but always miss when they are not around.

The pollution sux, every form of transport is horrendous, Filipino logic can be impossible to understand, your life can be strangled by nosey gossipers… I could turn this into a long rant but i am not going to.

All of these things are balanced out with positives that perpetuate the emotional see-saw you can go through. I have already mentioned the mountains, beaches and island. By the every day stuff can make your life a bit more comfortable that what it otherwise would be back home. You can eat out all the time without blowing the budget, beer is cheap, you may get more attention from girls, you can live in a nice place with swimming pools, gyms and magnificent views. Of course you can be brought back down to earth as soon as you walk outside and are slapped in the face with the heat, and that unique Manila Smell.

As i get deeper into thought on this issue i am probably being too harsh blaming the Philippines as being responsible for my own internal struggle. I think that just living in another country does this to you. No matter where you are it will never feel like home and things are going to piss you off at times no matter what the perks. This could explain why i miss the country so much when i am not here. It has become a second home over time and that it something i will carry with me always, but i also cant wait to get back to my real home – sad and happy at the same time at the thought of that day coming. Or perhaps i just have a volatile personality.

Footnote: Before anyone jumps on the defensive here and comes back with a if you don’t like it here than leave, or the old Philippines isn’t the only country with these problems. I can happily point out that Australia has plenty of its own problems which i will lay out here for you – pretentious douche bags and road munchers taking over every where you look, traffic that is well on its way to become Manila like pace but slightly better organised, ridiculously expensive housing, increasing rules for everything you can imagine – especially in Sydney where you can’t buy take away beer after 10pm; godless 24 hour 7/11 and relaxed Filipino alcohol laws. But it is home and i feel the volatility far less. So i am sticking with my opinions being influenced by an element of home sickness.

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