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Becoming One With Where You Live (Part 2)

As I mentioned in part 1, given the chance to meet and talk with Filipinos, you usually get to know a nice person.

A while back, I wrote an article about a car accident I had where a motorcycle hit the driver’s door of my car. After we got his motorcycle and my car out of the road and got a chance to make sure the driver was ok, we talked about the damage and the cost of repair of my car. The driver left his motorcycle at my house as collateral until he made the payment. He did not argue, try to cheat me, accuse me being a foreigner or want to make trouble. He admitted it was his fault and was honest enough to pay for his error.

Lucky for him, I had full coverage insurance and all he had to pay was the affidavit for the accident and the deductable for the repair.

At the dealership, I got to know, talk to and joke with the lady who was the service writer for the dealership. She was a nice person and we would talk and joke about life here. As she was writing up the items needed to submit for insurance, I mentioned some of the other scratches and dings on the car. She said, no problem, I will have them all fixed under the insurance claim. I then asked if they would remove the dark tinting on the lower part of my windshield. When I bought the car I had medium dark tinting on windshield and dark on all the other windows. There are many vehicles here that do not use their lights at night and/or who have no tail lights. At night, it is hard to then see out and I was afraid to hit someone. This lady offered to have the lower tinting replaced with a tint that blocks views into the car but hardly has any tinting. I asked how much it would cost and she told me again that she would put it on the insurance claim. She did advise me that it would take about 3 weeks to get the new door from Manila.

On one of my next visits, as we were talking, she asked me “Sir, what is wrong with you?” I looked at her wondering if I looked ill or something and asked what she meant by the question. She told me, “Sir, you never got angry and when told of the wait for parts, you never complained.” I replied to her, “I understand you do not keep stock in parts here and it is not your fault it takes 3 weeks, so how can I be angry?” She then smiled and said, “Well most other foreigners are not as understanding and some get angry and yell.” I smiled back and said, “I am not other foreigners.”

Because of the air conditioning and places to eat or just have coffee, we go to the local mall many days of the week. Sometimes Elena has errands and asks me to drop her off and meet her at the mall later. At the malls and most businesses there are guards at all the doors. They look through carry bags and ladies purses and lightly pat men to check for weapons. Because of being there so often, I have gotten friendly with most of the guards. I always greet them and ask how they are that day. I then wait for a reply. Because of this, I just
get a light touch on the back to move past and not a full check.

Many times when I go outside for a cigarette I have someone say hello and ask where I am from. When I mention I live here now, we usually get to talk about how I like living here. I will usually mention during the conversation my favorite saying here, “There are things I do not like in the Philippines, but I cannot change them. So not to be stressed, I just accept them.”

What I am trying to convey is the nicer you are here to the Filipinos, the nicer they are to you. They are some of the warmest and hospitable people you will ever meet. I just hope you get to enjoy this.

A saying I heard the other night fits this topic so well, “The way you call into a forest is the way the echo will return”

14 Responses to “Becoming One With Where You Live (Part 2)”

  1. johnray says:

    Bruce, glad to know that you had a very wonderful experience with regards to you stay here in the Philippines. Your attitude towards the situations did that…Normally, typical foreigners just whine about things they can’t change. When these happens Filipinos only tend to fight back. I always witness these situations with foreigners here. Glad you are not one of them Bruce.heheeh..

  2. laagan says:

    Thank you for this post. It really makes me happy whenever good things are written about my people and my country. I have been away from the Philippines for nearly 2 years and all I read in newspapers is the grim economy.
    I myself have encountered a lot of foreigners in the Philippines who are arrogants. I was timid then so I did not retort. I just feel sorry now if they encounter me again ahahaha
    nice post

    • Bruce says:

      As I replied to Johnray, I have seen it too and I do not like it either. There are times I get upset, like when I am charged a higher price or when beggers see my white face and flock to me like moths at a lamp. But, I cannot change who I am but I can try to treat people as I want to be treated.

  3. Be open and interested in a positive way about the things that are different from your own culture and you will realize and see that it is funny too! That is always my philosophy when I am in Asia. I almost get sad when I met other travlelers that complain so much that in some cases I had to stop being together with them. Only cause I couldnt stand the whining!
    A lot is about respect I think. Who am I to go there and just complain and think that I am better or something. Sometimes that is the case too. I can see it here in my country too, even diferences in nationalities. Some nationalities here want to change this country and it has gone far in some cases. I think it is sad cause it makes the racist people an excuse to raise their voices too. Well, I am slipping into a different topic here now…I should stop..hehe. Anyway, I wish that all of my friends here in Sweden could experience what i have with locals in Asia. Some never experienced it cause they never travelled there of course, and some cause they are not openminded and willing to take in other cultures. It is usually rejection and whining before even trying something. Like I would say “I dont like crabs, but I have never eaten it”. I have see nthis attitude so many times among westerners in Asia.

    • Bruce says:

      Since your lookign for a way to be financially stable to move here, maybe start a tour agency to bring Sweds to the Philippines.
      Seriously, I know many in the US that could never enjoy comming or living here. I know if my mom came to visit, the moment she saw the crowds, the traffic, the driving and sanatation she woul get on the next plane back to the states.

  4. Tom Martin says:

    I would think having all the dents, chipped paint, new tint covered by insurance when they were not a legitimate part of the insurance claim would be worth waiting for. I am sorry I love you and I know you do not think that it is, but I view that as corruption and the woman at the dealership has no problem with it because she only recognizes corruption when politician do it. I. Feel free to delete this comment I will not have my feelings hurt. It was you that told me children watching their parents bribe traffic enforcers contribute to the continuation of corruption in the Philippines. It is easy to get caught up in corruption with out realizing it isn’t it.

    • Bruce says:

      I mentioned that to other people and they say that is the way things are done. Is it corruption or just the way they do business, I do not know. How many people did you know back home that cheated insurance companies.
      No matter how we hate it, corruption is a way of life here. It will never change. It was learned from the Spanish explorers and continued through the other influences.
      What is the old prayer, Give me to change the things I can and the strength to accept the things we cannot.

  5. About bringing Swedish tourists there, it is a good idea, but it has got to be somewhere else than Mindanao. As soon as they realize that going to Mindanao will make their travel insurance worth nothing because the Swedish government says it is dangerous and dont recommend people to go there (which is almost directly copied from the US government’s advice). I have a travel insurance when I travel but while in Mindanao it is not valid :-). Crazy hah?:)
    So the people I bring to the Philippines wont experience the great Mindanao! Sad but true…

  6. Tom Martin says:

    I know that you know no matter how many do things that are not right, legal or moral and are corrupt it does not make it right.

    I agree it is a way of doing business in many parts of the world, but someone pays for all benifits that others take that they are not entitled to.

    I am aware that there is absolutely nothing I can do to stop the corruption in the Philippines or anywhere else in the world, but I do not have to contribute to it.

    The thing I have noticed that I do not understand and it bothers me are the people in the Philippines, including my friend Cardawe’s family, who complain and complain about the corruption in government, blame corruption for their poverty, but at the very moment are building a home without permits because of who their uncle knows at city hall. Corruption is corruption regardless of who does it regular citizen or politicians. If corruption is wrong for one part of society it is wrong for all parts of society.

    I do not know anyone in the States that cheat insurance companies and I doubt that it would be a conversation they would casually have with their priest. I do know that it happens and I do know it is the major cause of high premiums that all in the States pay for via insurance premiums. Insurance companies are in business to make a profit and they are going to raise premiums to guarantee a profit.

    I also know corruption of doctors filing false claims is the main reason Americans cannot use their Medicare outside the U.S.A. and its territories which cause a hardship for many retired American that choose to live abroad.

    I worked for Krogers who at the time I was in school was called Henke and Pillot. The company added ten percent to the price of all fresh fruits to cover the cost of those that walked through the department and sample the products. A simple thing done without thinking, but everyone in the end paid for it.

    If I can change, but one persons view of corruption as I walk though life I will have at least done something and made a differnce.

    • Bruce says:

      As you know, I try to stay away from political information on this site. I was not looking to start a discussion about corruption but showing how, if your nice to Filipinos, they will be nice to you. You act arragant or abusive, you get that back too.

  7. zelot66 says:


    I really enjoy reading your post. Phillipines is not new to me but what enlightens me is your personal experience there being a foreigner in a foreign land. It would be less interesting if a Philipino tells a story about Philippines. Your post is like the National Geographic but in writing, no audio and moving pictures. Hahahaha…

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