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Friday, November 14, 2008

Living Under a Microscope

For many reasons Expats come to the decision to move here to the Philippines. The biggest reason is that their wife/fiancée lives here or wants to return here. Another reason is the cost of living is cheaper than their home country in a lot of areas such as housing.

Just like living in your home country we have friends, people we associate with, relatives and people that know us through other associations.

In our home country we pick and chose our friends, groups and people with common interests to share with.

Even though a lot of Filipinos speak English, their fluency varies from very good to just passable, we enjoy meeting with others from our home countries or countries with a common language. As being American, I speak English. I also have trouble learning languages.

Because of this, I tend to meet and talk to English speaking people. I also, as mentioned in many past articles, I belong to 2 Expat groups, Friends of Mindanao and Davao Area Expat Association. Through these groups I have made many friends and associates. Besides the meetings we meet for different social gatherings, house parties, card nights, pot luck meals and other fun activities.

Of all the Expats I have been able to meet here so far I have not met anyone I do not like. Some I like more than others but nobody I try to avoid or stay away from.

As a friend recently told me, he has told others, I am the type of person that is ready to help anyone. If someone needs a hand, a ride, or anything else I am able to do, just one call and I will be there. That is true, I love helping others.

My wife has also made many friendships with the wives and girlfriends of these expats. They are in contact a lot by either landline phone or cell phone text messaging.

Now here are the problems. Just as in our home countries there are different personalities and socio-economic differences. In our home country, if we have a different life style or income status, we tend to be with people in our same lifestyle. We make friends in different ways. Sometimes at work, at a bar, sports clubs, through current friends. We pick and choose who and where we meet and who it will be.
Even with the more commonalities, we sometimes have differences.

Here we have one main thing in common, we are from some other country and living in a country that at times make it difficult. We are at times looked at by the Filipinos as someone they do not want here. Laws and attitudes make it difficult. You cannot own land, a house or a business. You can only own 40%. Most Expats have their house and/or business in their wives or girlfriend’s name.

Another difference is monetary. Some are old enough to have a pension, some have been better at investing over the years to have a nice retirement nest egg, some work online or return for some months to continue their livelihood. And there are people that are not as comfortable and looking to make some income here, legally or not so legal.

With all this going on, we sometimes joke too much, act too different or just do not totally fit in with everyone. I know that feeling well. During my life, enjoying people and trying to help people and make them smile I have been misunderstood.

I do not know if it is intentional, jealousies, malicious intentions, miscommunication or just the old problem showed in the kid’s game “telephone” where one person tells the next person and so on around a group and the story keeps changing but at times facts and communications get misunderstood.

I have had this happen to me and have been able to explain and correct the problem at times that I know of.
In a place where we are in such a smaller group, and see each other often, I hope we all can be open enough to go to people when a problem arises and clear up these situations. If not it can hurt and damage the core and make life difficult to both parties and the common friends we have made.

As the old cliché, “Can’t we all just be friends.” With our differences we can add and learn from others, their knowledge and education. A tree has many branches but together makes a stronger tree.

2 comments:

Argentum Vulgaris said...

Like you, I am an ex-pat. Not American and not the Philippines. New Zealand/Brazil. I understand what you are staying. Cool post Bruce.

AV
http://netherregionoftheearthii.blogspot.com/
http://tomusarcanum.blogspot.com/

Bruce said...

Argentum,
Thanks for reading and commenting. Please continue to read, comment and share your experiences as an Expat.