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Life As an Expat

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Sugar Land Texas Town Square

Expat Life from Sugar Land Texas to Cebu Philippines

Metro Ayala Mall Cebu City
Cebu City Philippines


When I run into people from all walks of life, if they are new to here or back home in the US the first question is what is it like to live in the Philippines.  My first reaction is how do I answer that question.


Living in this country has been one of the most wonderful things I ever did.  However at times it has been the most trying thing I ever did.  I guess the biggest adjustment is getting use to people that never complain.  They will allow some of the worse things to happen and just not complain.  You can be at the restaurant and there are flies and such.  People covering their food with napkins yet not a one will complain.  They will buy merchandise that is broken when they arrive home and they will not request a refund.  I think it has something to do with saving face on the part of the shop owners and restaurant managers.  I really do not know why.  This can be annoying and think if people complained a little more and demand service it would improve.

The next thing that has been a change is family. The size and closeness of the family is really a change.  Though the society is poor for the most part. It is not uncommon to see families that have 7 or more children.  Then you will see generations of families living in the same house.  The house grandma and pa had 40 years ago.  The world will stop for celebrations of a birthday or other event.  People here feel there is nothing more important then that celebration.

With the size of families does come the detractors also.  You will see school aged children begging in the streets and kids not going to school. It is a travesty to see such poverty.  Kids without any hope of a future because they have no education.  You feel for them yet you know there is really nothing you can do.  Do not give as there are crime elements just as the movie "Slum Dog Millionaire" here.  If you need to give find a orphanage or school donate supplies rice, shoes, clothes, paper, pens or something that will be used. NEVER MONEY.

The poverty level affects everything in daily life here.  If you go to the grocery store finding higher end items becomes challenging.  The selections become limited and getting what you want becomes harder. This is not to say it can not be found.  Though hoping down to your local store for a nice bottle of wine and cheese just will not happen here. Planning your days and planning your life becomes a way of life.  No 24 hour stores or restaurants outside the Metro Cebu area so be prepared.

I deweled on the negative a little long however knowing them prior to arrival would have saved me a few heartaches along the way. One thing I found that is so nice you will never go hungry.  Go to any families house and instantly you will have a plate of food.  You will have something to drink and they open the doors up to you.  This is not a foreigner thing it is a way of life.  They feel if you came to their house they should do their best to make you feel welcome.  Hope you like rice.  It will become a staple of your diet.  Walk down the streets and people will say good morning. People will actually respond to when you talk to them.  They will answer you.  It never seems they are to busy to stop and say hello.  Little kids will come and want to practice English and they want to talk to you.  You will laugh and smile as they say good morning at 7pm or want to know everything about you.  I think they see it on TV and never really met a person from there.  The kids are so wonderful they will talk to you and ask you questions that are so simple yet something you have not thought of in years.

I know that people talk alot about crime here in the Philippines. Maybe in Metro Cebu you will find the crime rate higher then alot of other places.  So just keep your wits about you.  I always remember the time I was waiting on the V-hire and was fumbling around in my pockets for something.  Out fell a 500 peso note.  I had not known it fell out of my pocket.  Two kids ran up to me and returned my 500 peso note to me. I was knew here and really shocked by what had just happen.  I reached in my pocket and gave each one a 100 peso note for returning it to me.  I looked over and mom was yelling at the kids when they showed her the money.  I had to explain to her what good kids they were and that they had given me my money back.

I guess in the end what makes this place what this place is, are the people.  The time they will take to make you happy and comfortable is second to none.  The day is never to busy or have to much to do just to show you, your welcome here.  With everything in life it is a give and take.  Some good and some bad.

If you like this article Check-out 101 tips for success.
101 Tips for Success in Living Overseas

Keywords: Tim Potter Sugar Land Texas, USMC Retired, Norseman, Living Cebu Forum, Tropical Penpal, 

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