nav-left cat-right


Isolation in a Filipina/Foreigner Household

A few days ago, I wrote an article asking for assistance from my readers asking about subjects for me to write about.

The two areas the comments was the Filipino sense of humor or lack of any in the way we joke or tell jokes. The other area, which there was a few comments, was the language problem and communication.

Marcel, who lives in Canada, mentioned that his Filipina wife, when she has another Filipino at their home would talk in Tagalog.

Steve, who now lives here in Davao with his Filipina wife and 5-year-old daughter, mentions when there are Filipino visitors in their home, his wife will have conversations in Bisaya ignoring the fact he is there.

Ian, who also lives in Davao, has the same problem.

For me, it is the same. I live with my wife and three nieces. Currently our nephew is home from his Marine Engineering job and is here with his girlfriend. Unless someone is talking to me, Bisaya is used extensively. When I ask what they are talking about, I am usually told something vague. Or “it is nothing.”

When I ask a question, I get a one or two word answer such as “OK”, “maybe”, or such. When I complain, I am often told, “we are not in America, you are in the Philippines.” With all the talk of the respect Filipinos have for elders, it does not apply if it directly affects them.

My nieces are either attending, or has graduated college for nursing. They have had English in school for many years. They can read English and can write their reports in college in English too. They watch English movies and TV shows. However, with this knowledge, they will not use it in front of me. To me, they will not use the energy to think and talk to me.

This is not just in my home; it is in most mixed marriages here. I know, it is their country, their language and we chose to move here. To me it is interesting; when I visited here before my move, most would talk to me. Now I am here, it is over.

If you move here and just live with your partner, there is not much choice, but if her friends or family visit, or if you hire a domestic helper or if family members move in the use of English will diminish greatly.

Now some readers express their interest of learning the local language. If you choose Bisaya/Cebuano, you will understand the language most here speak, but what about local TV. Most TV shows are in Tagalog. I sometimes wonder, if the communication is to keep us out of the loop or just because they are not willing to communicate in English around us. What if you learn Bisaya and then visitors speak Tagalog, you are in the dark again.

I know there is an inherent shyness from Filipinos talking in English. They are afraid their pronunciation might have errors or they do not speak clearly. I will tell friends and family to try. If they cannot find one word to express a thought, we can find the word. I am patient; I just want to see them try to communicate with me.
Because of this isolation and from what I have heard others in the same situation, many expats spend much of their time at home in the bedroom. Most have a TV in there and their computer.  I know of one expat that eats his meals in his bedroom too. I eat with the family, but the only English spoken at the table is from me.

For me, this situation is moot. I cannot change what has been since I moved here. If you are moving here to live with a Filipina, either a wife that has been in the states or someone you plan to marry here, try to make this problem understood. It might end the plans, but if you cannot accept this life, it might end because of it.

I am hoping in the future when my nieces go abroad to work, or marry and move out of the home, things will change. I also have lived an isolated life in my past so I am used to it. I do notice I am out of the house during the day more than in the past so I can be with friends and be able to have conversations.

108 Responses to “Isolation in a Filipina/Foreigner Household”

  1. jeff says:

    Is their language that complicated that you cannot learn enough to get by? Is there any place to take classes teaching the languages? If so that would get you out of the house and solve the language barrier. I know at our ages thinking of going back to school does not sound fun but you gotta do what you gotta do. My 2 cents or should I say peso. Jeff

    • Bruce says:

      There are teachers here but I am not willing to spend money for this expense. One of the first problems I notice in the language is the difference of pronunciations of letters are different than some in English. Also the grammar is different. I have been here 2 years and picking up some new words at times. Maybe someday I will take the plunge.

  2. Michael says:

    It would seem that if it is your house and you are the head of the house it would be you that set the rules and that your nieces who are living under your roof out of the kindness of you and your wife would be the ones that need to adjust their behavior,don’t you think ? You mentioned that they are taking up nursing as a career hoping to improve their life and lifestyle by going abroad to work and live. With all do respect …I don’t think that they will be speaking Tagalog/Bisayan/Cebuano in their future home or hospital . Maybe they are the ones overlooking a golden opportunity to learn to speak English in a more native manner.Perhaps a nudge from you or your wife may remind them of that !
    I do know a Pinay physician here in LA …and we were discussing that very issue.And the use of Taglish mixed in with english among the nurses here in LA. She said that in her family (a family of lawyers…she is the black sheep of course as a doctor)it was discouraged and that while a student at the University of Philippines Medical School …it was discouraged and if heard could bring swift demerits. She is rather well educated from a good family in Manila and a very successful plastic surgeon here in LA and 33 years old.So I don’t think it is a generational difference rather an educational one.
    Just my personal sense of things.
    As usual …you are doing a great job with your observations about life in Davao.

    • Bruce says:

      I am not the head of household. Our living expenses are not solely from me. The “my way or the highway” attitude will not work unless it is me hitting the road.

  3. ian says:

    Jeff- when you ask if the language is so complicated that we cant learn enough to get by ?? I assume from that comment that you havent learned to speak any new languages in the last few years ! lol What took three or four years of study 5 hours a week when we are young is far harder now. I havent met a kid yet who after the first year of learning a new language in high school could speak enough to converse in it. I think that by the time most of us were able to converse in Visayan or Talalog with a native speaker we might very well run out of time! And you know what I mean by that! lol
    Personally i do make an effort to use the words in visayan that I do know- and which are always received very well ! Even sometimes with amazement. But to learn enough to be able to sit at the dinner table and carry on a half ways intelligent conversation? forget it ! Just not gonna happen ! Maybe some will think I expect too much, but to me, if you want to come to live in this English speaking guys house, that an English speaking job paid for, and eat his food, which an English speaking job paid for, and enjoy all the benefits that come with living with an English speaking person, that it is only right that you respect the fact that he does not speak visayan or Tagalog.

    • Bruce says:


      The few words I know and use are Salamat (thank you), wali sapian (your welcome), Maayong Butang, hipon, gibee (good morning, afternoon, evening) Wala (left) Tao (right) and get a smile when used.

      For something confusing, Wala (last letter cut short is No, wala (last letter stretched) is left. So I joke, “No Left) is wala wala.”

  4. jan says:

    In our house also a lot of Tagalog is spoken. Also Bicol between my wife and the helper.
    But when I am around, everybody has to try their best to speak in English, especialy when I am involved in the discussion. If I am working on my computer or do something else, they can speak what they want.
    I am trying to understand tagalog, and I understand some of it, but not enough to join a conversation in Tagalog. At my age (60) it is difficult to learn a new language which doesn’t have a clear grammar.

    • Bruce says:


      For me, I feel if I learn Tagalog they will speak Bisaya. If I learn Bisaya they will speak tagalog. If I learn both, they will find another dialect to speak.

      • Liezel says:

        hey bruce, it seems u get mad at them because of the language barrier. but this one i want to inform u, they are so grateful in having you and they just want some appreciation from u or interest when it comes to our language. me myself, i know tagalog, bisaya & ilonggo and can also speak english well. i understand ur feeling.hehehe.maybe Elena is wooing u because of that. thats a great challenge actually..hehe

  5. jeff says:

    Oh yes, I understand very well that it is not easy to learn another language, ( at our ages ) especially the many used versions and mixed dialects that are spoken in the Philippines. But I know living here in the USA it is a common complaint to all the foreigners that are here ” LEARN THE LANGUAGE ” = ” WE SPEAK ENGLISH HERE”. But the USA has gone out of it’s way to accommodate by putting Spanish and other tongues on most every product you can purchase here. If I were to move to Mexico I would not expect them to cater to me as we do them. I would have to learn the language. As I told Bruce before I am contemplating between Belize or the Philippines for retirement. Belize’s main language is English. The more I read and learn, Belize is looking better.

    • Bruce says:


      You are correct. But the Philippine Govt advertises the use of English, and it is one of the Official Languages. But some speak poor english since the quality of English taught in the schools is bad too. There is also the feeling, “it is not my language so why speak it”
      About Belize, no place is perfect, they all have advantages and disadvantages. As I said in the past, no matter where you chose, make some lengthy visits to try to get a feel for the country. Two weeks in a 5 star hotel only shows you the good life if your rich and will live at the hotel.

      • Liezel says:

        yes we have that notion that if we try to try hard learning English we will be strangers to our own country. that is because of how our national hero taught us. “ang hindi marunong magmahal sa sariling wika ay higit pa sa mabaho at malansang isda” (He who does not love his own mother tongue is worse than a rotten fish.)

  6. Marvin says:

    My wife has learned that when I give her the horse eye during one of their conversations she will stop and explain to me what they are talking about. I’ve gotten to the point that I can usually pick up on the subject, but 9 times out of ten the conversation is just nothing of importance, just Filipinos yakking about day to day junk…which they love to do. I don’t mind hearing about the good stuff later. What I find very rude is people interrupting my wife and me when we are standing there having a conversation and they just butt in and start talking to my wife as if I wasn’t there.

  7. Marcel says:

    My wife has been in Canada for barely a year now so I try to tolerate occasional slips. However, we are in English speaking country and I expect her to speak English all the time except for situations when other person can not speak English (which is quite rare here). On top of it, her English is very good so it’s not too difficult to follow my request if she tries. She has been trying her best but it’s mostly other Pinoys that start conversation in their language and she follows. As it was mentioned here by other people, stuff they talk about is of no interest to me mostly, yet I find it very rude and insulting anyway. And there have been couple of cases when topic was directly concerning me and my decision on certain matters was required and I had to wait for my wife to finish her blah, blah with other party before I was finally allowed to know what has been discussed. Much of time was wasted that way and my patience has run very thin. There were few instances that I have completely blew of my lid and erupted in to heated argument. Now I strictly demand that while we live in Canada, I don’t want to hear any Filipino in my presence if at all possible. You guys have much worse situation to deal with being in their country, however I think that your immediate family and guests in your house should do their best to converse in English.

  8. Steve B. says:

    For me it is the same situation as yours Bruce. I only ask my wife and her children to speak in English at the dinner table, but they wont. They could be a bit more considerate. After all we send these kids to school. They have been to college one is in high school but my point is that I only ask for them to speak English at the table at mealtime. I have a T.V. in the bedroom now and take most of my meals there also.When her family or friends come over they automatically start talking in there own language and thats when I just leave the room. After everyone leaves thats when I’m told that I was rude, in English by the way. There seems to be a standard for Filipinos and another one foe foreigners here and automatically (magically) we should know what to do and how to act. I did not learn the language here because I was laughed at when I mispronounced the words. I did get tired of trying after a few months if I was going to be laughed at every time.

    • Bruce says:

      As I mentioned in my reply to Marvin, respect is a one way street.
      For me it was the same in my first marriage. I lived in California and married a lady originally from Argentina. When her family came to our house for a family dinner, they spoke Spanish. One time I left the dinner table and went to my bedroom. My wife told me I was rude. I told her they were guests in my house and they were the ones rude. I told her as my wife, she should stand up for me, not them.

      We have little choices here so we need to get used to it. I find myself spending more time with expats so I can talk, but many have lifestyles different than mine so that get uncomfortable too listning to them brag about their women, bars, and golf.

  9. Caesar Erel says:

    Hi, I am new to your site. Its a great site for you made an avenue for locals and foreigners to learn from your observations and opinions on living with the life and culture of Davao.

    Regarding the topic you have posted, I agree with your observations. A couple of years ago, I had an american neighbor Mr. Art Cole, a retiree, who married a filipina here in Davao. Both of them were in the sixtees of age. Art, who is an outspoken type of person, normally raise his voice to say “Speak in English…in English” whenever the relatives or friends of his wife started talking. This usually happens during breakfast, lunch, and even dinner time where most people in his house gather around.

    Though, Art managed to establish an “English please” policy for any member of the house to speak English whenever they are in front of him, there were still instances people were talking cebuano or tagalog behind his back.

    Most of the time, I can observe Art “isolates” himself infront of the television set or infront of his laptop computer – retreating from the “noisy and bubbly” talk of his wife and relatives/friends living with them.

    I thought such scenario above is just an isolated case, but as what I read from your site, it was not. I can imagine the difficulty that one has to go through. Its hard to learn new language like cebuano or tagalog on your own.

    I hope filipinos visiting your site can help out english speaking foreigners who are in a similar fix cope up with the language barrier, and enjoy living here in Davao.

    More power to you. Thank you.

    Caesar Erel O. Macahilig
    Freelance Translator
    (EnglishTagalog and EnglishCebuano)

    • Bruce says:

      Thank you for finding and enjoying my site. I enjoy having Filipino readers and them sharing their comments and views. I learn more from Filipinos who still live here then Expats or Filipinos living abroad.

      I hope to meet you someday. Also if you ever have something to share to the readers, I welcome you to be a guest writer.

      It is not isolated, it is more the norm. Even when couples get together, the Expats sit at one table and the wives at another.
      Since your sympathetic, if your in Davao, maybe set up a free Biscay class for expats to learn. Many of us cannot afford to hire a private teacher.

      • Caesar Erel says:

        Hi Bruce,

        Yes, I agree with you. It’s more on the norm. Getting into isolation is one of the result of it.

        Thank you for offering me to be a guest writer on your site. I will try to share some to the readers. (though I am not a writer myself).

        Having a free Biscay class for expats is a good idea. Sure, I would be glad to help the expats here in Davao. ITS FREE. Let us try what we can do to learn Cebuano and Tagalog…

        By the way Bruce, I do live in Davao City at Bolton Street. I am also an employee at the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines at Davao airport.

        Thanks again.

        Caesar Erel O. Macahilig
        Freelance Translator
        English-Cebuano and English-Tagalog

        • Bruce says:


          Do not worry about being a writer, nether am I.

          I will talk to the Expats I know and maybe we can try to find a location for classes if we get enough interest. I am editing your comment to remove your email and cell, I feel it should not be out for anyone to have.

  10. Tom Martin says:

    Bruce I appreciate your honesty as I have stated on your blog before. I am considering leaving the Philippines because of the lanuage problems. I was checking the Internet for possible relocation places and hit upon a blog for the Dominican Republic. Someone was asking about retiring to the Dominican Republic and an American that claims to live in the Philippines said, “Why think of living in the Dominican Republic because language will always be a problem. In the Dominican Republic everyone has to have bars on their windows. I live in the Philippines everyone speaks fluent ‘perfect’ and n one has bars on their windows.” Why does he want to lie? It has been my experience few speak conversational English and as far as ‘perfect’ English I would not know it if I heard it. Every place I have lived in the Philippines there has been bars on the windows except my 37th floor condominum in Manila.

    Those that say learn the language usually act as if you can put a tape on go to sleep and wake up speaking a new language. What language do they want me to learn since there are so many dialects. I read in the paper the other day that the peace talks with the M.I.L.F. are difficult because the Philippines parties participating speak ten different dialects. They are all from Mindanao. But, the real problem is I have tried and cannot learn Tagalog and to old to be frustrated trying just so I can stay in the Philippines.

    I feel isolated. The most difficult thing for me is being in public places and not knowing what is going on around me. My neighbor speaks very good English because a man from England is supporting her and her child and she has to speak English when he comes over every two months for ten days. She was an O.F.W. in a Singapore hotel. She comes out to visit with Cardawe. She is sitting in my living room, watching my television, eating and drinking my food and insist on speaking a lanugauge I do not understand. In the past when she would leave I would be upset at Cardawe for not telling her to speak English. He would tell me he did. I then told him do not answer in anything but English. He did this, but she would reply in Bisaya. I finally had to tell her not to come back if she could not be more respectful of me. I would have been tolerant if she did not speak English, but that was not the case.

    Cardawe my caregiver speaks decent English and if not for that I could not and would not stay another day in the Philipines. I like the weather, I like the slower pace, the country is beautiful,I can tolerate the food, I have basically everything here that I had in the States and the medical care I get is excellent. Many have told me they wish they were as fortunate, but communication must be more important to me than them.

    I was lured to the Philippines by the Los Angeles Consulate telling me everyone in the Philipines spoke English. I was told English was the only language used in the schools and a child could not finish High School or attend college if they did not speak fluent English. I then turn to the Internet and was fed the lies that many Expat post about everyone speaking English. I wish your site existed before I made the move and I would have not moved here. I am sure I could have found a place far closer to the U.S.A. than the Philippines to live if I would not have been considering the language problem.

    I understand your frustration and symphatize with you.

    • Bruce says:


      Since it is your home and Cardawe, besides being a friend is your employee, I agree to set a rule about the language used in your home. I know the feeling of isolation and wish we were closer friends. As you know you are welcome in my home anytime you like. Now I know about your difficulty of my smoking, I can respectfully step outside for a smoke if you visit.

      You comment on the Dominican Republic. Their language is Spanish with a lot of Creole French. You might want to look into Belize. If you need a companion and friend with you, I might be available. 🙂

  11. eRLyN says:

    hi sir, perhaps its high time you learn both bisaya and tagalog so you wont be out of the loop 🙂

  12. ian says:

    Obviously many people [ ok- foreign guys ! lol] feel the same way that I do- that we do our best to fit into a very different culture because- just to be honest- we want to have a relationship with a woman who is hopefully less judgmental and less demanding on what we are used to . Things have gotten so out of hand where most of us come from that we would rather live by ourselves than have to put up with the sort of relationship that many [ most?] women of our generation demand of us back home. So, not being willing to totally give up our identities or hand our balls over on a platter we seek out a culture where hopefully we will still be appreciated as men ! And many of us find that here in the Philippines. We dont come here because we want someone to be our slave or servant, but rather because we want a situation that still allows us to feel like men- responsible,strong,caring- and equal. We know when we come here that there will be problems and trials. That our stay here is always somewhat tenuous despite our immigration status. That we will always be seen as a financial victim ready to fleece- by the government, by the police, by the merchants-and sometimes by our loved ones and their extended families. My wife – who works- by her own choice coz we dont need the money- is always being asked why she works when she ” has a foreigner” ! lol like somehow having a white guy she has won the lottery and now her life is perfect ! lol And when they say ” having a foreigner” they say it in the same way that someone says ” having a dog’ ! As though all foreigners are the same and it doesnt matter which one you have- just as long as you have one !!
    Please dont get me wrong- i am here by choice. I am lucky enough to be able to live anywhere that I want. But I want to find out how other guys have solved the lack of respect regarding the language problem ie refusing to respect out inability to speak visayan/tagalog. i dont want to go on just complaining about it- nor do I want to hide in my office- eating my meals there by myself as at least 2 guys here have mentioned. Being an ogre doesnt seem to work, nor do pleas for respect. What does work? We have heard from the guys who havent been able to solve the problem- how about hearing from the guys who HAVE solved the problem [ if indeed there are any !! lol]

    • Marvin says:

      Wow, that my friend was brutally honest! Now having been here five years I feel I now know how my grandfather felt or was treated somewhat when he arrived in the US from Lithuania. He never learned English and was taken advantage of many times through out his life in Oregon. Now I know how many of the Hispanics felt at my place of work, or back in the 70s when I worked with large numbers of boat people from Vietnam, or the professional Iranians we hired for minimum wage. Now I know what discrimination feels like, but my Filipina wife loves me and takes care of me and at this stage in my life thats all that matters.

  13. Steve in Davao says:

    Good for you, Marvin. In America I here people say,”If your in America, speak English or go home” now here we are in “their” country…..
    I think the subject is a little old and worn at the edges. Much ado about nothing. If, as Expats, this is our biggest worry, then NO Worries, Mate!! Go to the beach and relax.

  14. ian says:

    Steve- you hear how people are feeling so frustrated and unhappy with their lives that in desperation they resort to eating alone in their bedroom- and your comment is “much ado about nothing” ???
    I prey that you never feel so frustrated my friend.
    And judging from the number of comments on the matter you are the only one who feels that the subject is ” a little old and worn at the edges”. We are real people here Steve with real problems and real concerns and I’m sorry if we are boring you !! Mate!

    • Bruce says:

      In defense of Steve, he has been here for just a few months. Also his wife lived in the States six years with him.
      I remember when I was here just a few months and for me, everything was wonderful, my wife and her nieces living with us was wonderful.
      I am not saying I hate them, which I do not. I love them all dearly and would do anything for them, life changes over time.
      Your Filipino familiarly get comfortable with you in the house and they return to their normal life. They also realize they cqan life their life and not worry about yours.
      Think back to your fist few months and tell me it was different.
      I hope with this site, the comments from others and the other Expats Steve will learn. Also with this information Steve can adjust or teach his family his needs from them.

  15. ian says:

    Bruce- guess Steve hit a raw nerve! lol Its hard enough accepting the fact that we are getting old, that the best times of our lives are behind us, that we have to learn to accept that we have to look forward to increased sickness, longer recovery times, brittle bones, absent mindedness, increased medical costs etc etc – without realizing that in some cases our lives are just so frustrating that we feel horribly trapped . And that I think is how it must be for someone who feels he has to hide in his bedroom at meal times because he just cant stand the fact that he is being ignored and disrespected by those who supposedly love him. The ones around whom he has built his new life. Fortunately my case is nothing like that, but I do really feel for those guys we have heard from for whom that is their reality. And that is why in my previous post I chose not to whine and complain but rather to ask to hear from people who have managed to overcome the problem.

    • Bruce says:

      If in your house there is English spoken with conversations and camaraderie, if things get bad for me, do you have a room to rent and join the family? 🙂
      I look forward to meeting you someday and getting to know you.

  16. Marcel's Wife says:

    Rule No.1: “SPEAK ENGLISH!!!!”

    I am Marcel’s wife and as Filipina I would like to air out my opinion about speaking English as a “rule”. Speaking English is always a big issue between the two of us specially if we have my fellow Filipino around or I’m on the phone answering calls from a fellow Filipino. I understand that I am in an English speaking country, Canada so everyone including “I” especially should have an initiative to talk in English or use English as the primary form of communication to everyone in Canada. If I am with my husband alone or with anyone who does not speak Filipino language I am very spontaneous speaking English. My husband keeps on telling me that no other language is allowed for me to use while we are here in Canada specially in his presence but “ENGLISH”. I understand that and I am OK with that, but my problem most of the time is whenever I start talking to a fellow Filipino I have mixed feelings, for some reason I have this hesitation to speak English with my fellow Filipino “I am anxious that they might think I’m a Filipino and I keep on speaking English to them” and another is, the moment I hear fellow Filipino start talking in Filipino to me I can’t stop myself to be persuaded by them and let myself speak Filipino back in return. For some reason it became automatic, my subconscious mind would direct me or switch the state of my mind that if I know and I see that I will be talking to a fellow Filipina it makes me forget the “English Rule” and automatically I speak Filipino, and if that instance happened in presence of my husband I expect that we will have a big fight right away. He feels that I’m doing it on purpose, being so rude and that I am neglecting him.

    • Bruce says:

      Marcel’s Wife,
      I understand both your husbands and your views. It is difficult when someone is in a place when people are talking in a different language. Especially if they here their name mentioned and not knowing what is being said.

      Your in Canada, how do you feel if your around a group of French Canadians and they only talk French.

      At least you use English when your not with your Filipino friends. To see how Marcel feels, have him invite friends or family who speak his native language and you sit and see what it is like, especially if you hear your name and some laugh and you do not know if they are laughing with you, or at you.
      For some who have commented, they never hear English in their home. They are isolated to their bedroom and only hear English if they go out and meet another expat.

      My feelings when you have Filipino friends visit, have them at least spend some time speaking english and conversing with your Asawa. This way he will not feel isolated.

  17. Steve in Davao says:

    Ian, Bruce and others
    I meant no ill will with my comments, only that life IS good here and we need to grasp at the good and let go of the things that bother us most! The sun is shining here and there’s a blizzard in the states today. We need to appreciate that more and get out and have some fun.
    I’ve been attending church and making friends there, and meetings with the Friends of Mindanao and making small trips to the beach and the local coffee shop. I’m not a business type, but friends are always a good idea, I’m not the beach type, but it’s fresh air and sunshine and I’m not a big coffee drinker, but it’s time out of the house.
    All I’m saying is TRY. If we sit in our rooms and complain, nothing changes, right! When I came here I knew everyone did not speak English, although I thought more would try. As aggravating as that can be, it won’t ruin my day, I won’t let it! Ok, if I stay hidden from the world, that’s my doing. Yes, I’ve spent my days in my bedroom with my TV and computer and I’ve even had a few meals there, but I’m not going to succumb to a self-imposed hermitage. Except for the fellow who is handicapped and can’t get around well, we’re all capable of doing something more and sitting around wishing for better times won’t fix it.
    We have to make better days. I guess I’m that annoying guy that always sees the glass as half full. Sorry for my insensitivity. I truly do not wish to hurt feelings here.
    Now come on and smile, it’s NOT snowing here! My family back in Ohio is Soooo jealous!
    I’m always available to come out and have a coffee or lunch and I’d enjoy meeting you. Just holler and I’ll be there.

    • Bruce says:

      Your personality and positive outlook is one of the reasons I am glad we met and I consider you a REAL friend. I just wish we could see each other more often.
      With this site, we can look back in a year or two and see if you have changed.
      About the glass and the water, remember, here in the Philippines one drop of water is Tubig (too big) 🙂

  18. Steve in Davao says:

    Bruce, I had fun at the beach on Saturday. I have to addmitt I’m not much of a beach goer. I have to be careful of too much sun. Us old white guys burn very easily. We went to Blue Jazz and had a great time. We met a Austraian couple there and had a nice chat, then back to Davao and lunch at Boyd’s Pizza. Spent about P1800 for the whole day out. Not bad!

  19. IAN says:

    Steve- not for one moment did i think that you meant any ill will ! lol Adults- if they are being honest about what they say- sometimes agree, and sometimes disagree. Thats the way life is. And sometimes we do hurt other peoples feelings ! I sure do ! lol
    But like you Steve I do try to be honest . About who I am and what I believe in. I know lots of people who will tell me what they think I want to hear. What I need are people who will tell me how they truely feel- and if sometimes my ego gets bruised- so be it. But as long as we are true about WHY we say things, and do not say them just to try to cause problems that is fine with me. Selena said this morning about how foreigners killed their pinay partners [ actually she said that if a pinoy leave his wife “at least she’s still breathing”] Selena basically called any foreigner with a younger wife a paedophile! To me those kind of exteme statements do nothing in terms of helping us get along in life, and are meant solely to cause contention and bigotry. So as far as I am concerned Steve you have nothing to appologise for- in fact the first beer/coffee is on me ! lol

    • Bruce says:

      About the “left with her life, how about the house in, I think, Lanang where an Aussie was found burried in the front yard and his ex-wife and her boyfriends were arrested for the murder.

  20. don m. says:

    Bruce, I will be in Leyte later this week and will try to tell you what happens when the crowd is together. My advantage is my wife has been here in the us for almost 15 years and her english is almost better than mine. She is a unit clerk at the hospital and uses english every day. My knowldge of dilect is very limited but my family there has always been willing to speak to me in English. As you said only two weeks at a time. I will watch and tell you what I see on the other language issue. I also know a little spanish and can understand some of the words spoken there. Most times I can follow the conversation. They are often suprised when I interject a few words into the conversation.

  21. ian says:

    Bruce- how do I get info on teh F of M dinner this week? I cant seem to find any information

    • Bruce says:

      I emailed you the answer. For all others, there is a pre Valentines Day Dinner at Gardinia Frescia in Matina, 6pm.
      The location is on Morales Village Road. Turn off MacArthur at the Jetti gas station just north of Buffet Palace.

  22. ian says:

    Bruce- one thing on this site that drives me crazy is this- I try to read peoples comments as they are posted. But sometimes I go back to reread something- and thats when I find out that you have posted a comment 3 or 4 or 5 posts back that i never saw before. I guess you go back and place your comment where you feel it best fits in, but you are driving me crazy doing it !! lol As i said I try to be as lazy as possible and hope to find a way to read recent comments without scrolling back over the last 5 . Any suggestions?

    • Bruce says:


      Because of some technical difficulties, I was not able to answer all comments this morning. Plus if you change your name in the comment heading or if you change to upper case it goes in as a new commenter and into moderation for approval.

  23. Gene says:

    Hi Bruce,

    It’s been some time since I’ve posted anything here and for that I’m sorry.
    But when I read your latest post I had to chuckle with tongue in cheek and add a little something here just for fun. Yep-that problem is even here in our neck of the woods too. Angeles is not exempt from the lack of English in the home.

    I guess its just one of the many things one must get use to living here. But for the most part I have found it a real blessing too. I find that unless a conversation or statement is directed to me, I don’t have to always be “tuned in.” So I’m free to continue with my own activities or thoughts.

    I do spend a great deal of time outside of the home by choice. I have refused to isolate myself or be relegated to a self imposed purgatory.

    My wife and I seem to spend adequate time together that the lack of English use in our home is not much of a problem.

    Also, for myself, being on the local police dept I am in contact with locals all day long. They know I do not speak or understand the local language and so I have a good time trying to understand their use of English as I try to help solve whatever problems they are presenting me with.

    I guess really, its all in the attitude one has and the determination to adjust to a different and often frustrating way of life…

    • Bruce says:

      Yes it has been a long time hearing from you. I thought I insulted you or something.
      It is good you found your niche. With the Police, do you get a whistle to blow and were a cute uniform with the ropes on the shoulder?
      For me it is difficult since I enjoy conversation and sharing thoughts and ideas.

  24. Gene says:

    Wow-you’re really up late! No, never an insult.
    Yep, we get a wistle bun no sholder ropes. Now I feel deprived-hahaha!!
    I enjoy the conversations and thought sharing. At times like those I visit a few foreigners that live close by. If fills the need but more often than not it just remindes me of a lot of the reasons I left the states and moved here.
    Guess thats all for me tonight. Its my turn to get up early and play “Mr. Mom”, go to the school and do laundry.
    Hmmm, I wonder how much Viol is going to pay me for doing all this “womans Work?” Just kidding—its nice to be able to help out and let her sleep a little bit later…

  25. Lonnie Carreau says:

    I talked to my wife about this particular issue. We live in Texas and its very rare we run into Pinoys. When we do though, she speaks tagalog and I do not have a problem with it. We have also had pinoy visitors in our home and they speak tagalog, though my wife frequently brings me up to speed on the conversation. When we visited her hometown, it was about like you guys described. I would kind of hang out with and tend to my son while everyone chatted. The family was very nice and many of them had one on one chats with me. There were times when my wife was telling a story, and someone would break into english to ask me a clarifying question.

    Of course, this was a short stay for me, so it never got to a point where it really grated on me. Its gotta be harder when that is a way of life. When I asked my wife the reason for this, she explained that it is very awkward for 2 pinoys to have a casual conversation in english. Imagine that you went through the effort of learning a second language and got good enough to hold conversations, but not really fluent. If you were to meet another english speaker in the same condition, it would be awkward to speak in the second language and much more comfortable to speak english. I imagine this would be especially true between family members.

    I am not sure about the other folks here, but most of the chatter I have heard between pinoys has enough english mixed in that you can get the gist of the conversation. I am not trying to minimize anyone’s angst here, but it seems natural that folks will have a strong preference to speak their first language.


  26. ian says:

    Lonnie- I agree with you 100% . And I do appreciate that when they get excited, or are using anecdotal references that the natural inclination is to switch to the language that they feel most comfortable in. That I take for granted. What is the problem is when they are sitting at dinner with me, and they all know some english, and they all know that i do not speak either tagalog/visayan, they still refuse to show me any respect by talking in English. If my wife goes to another home I do not care what language she speaks in. If she is speaking to a relative on the phone i do not care what language she speaks in. When she is texting- which as you know is an almost full time event here- i dont care what language she speaks in. But when they are invited to eat at my table – that is when i expect to be treated with respect and have the conversation carried on in a language that we ALL can understand [ not just everyone EXCEPT me !!] People have said here ” well, if thats all you have to complain about thats nothing!”- but i can tell you that to me it certainly is something !!! There are many cultural differences and I honestly can say that I really do try to be considerate about those differences and to try not to make filipinos uncomfortable in my presence. But I deserve the same in return. And I will NOT give up like some and slink off into my bedroom to eat ! NOT IN THIS LIFETIME ! I will be as considerate as possible but i will not let you come into my home and disrespect me !!

    • Bruce says:

      Again you tell it like it is. Too bad no matter what we do or live, we are not treated as equals.

      • roger says:

        Well, what about starting a food fight? you know, show that you are left out and flip some piece of food on a spoon at one of the main offenders? It will surely get their attention and may demonstrate the unfairness of their behaviour. Dont pick on a violent type though. Preferably a woman. It may turn out to be a fun night and you know, I think it could result in them thinking: “Hey! He was right. We are being rude.”

        • Bruce says:

          DO you want me kicked out of the house? We all have to find our niche if there is this type of mix of family. As someone famous once said “you need to pick your battles”.

  27. ian says:

    uh Gene- if you do windows I have an empty maids room you can use ! lol

  28. Lonnie Carreau says:

    Ian and Bruce,

    You both bring up good points. My wife probably feels like you guys do. She is isolated in a foreign place, but has made it her home. The household language is not her first language, but her husband, child and neighbors all speak American. She spends a lot of time online chatting with her family… so much so that our little boy dancing on webcam is routine here. My wife fills me in on the latest family drama and all the funny observations that her family tells her about us and our kid.

    With this said, the dinner table should be as sacred as the bedroom in the sense that both husband and wife should be partners with a unifying theme. In these venues, neither should feel like an outsider.


    • Bruce says:

      Unfortunately for me, my nieces are not willing to make the effort to speak in English and have conversations with me and my wife will not exert any power towards them. I think she prefers not using English so much so it is an easy out. I love my wife and my nieces even without the conversations. I am not prepared or have any thoughts of leaving my wife, so this is one of my “Crosses to bear.”

  29. ian says:

    MindanaoBob posted comments on his blog to the affect that he wouldnt name THIS blog so as not to embarrass people here who had a problem with people not speaking English at meals when the foreigner owner was present . [ I hope i havent misrepresented what he said- i’m trying to be honest here]
    Bob said that as we are invited guests in this country it is up to us to learnt to speak tagalog or visayan. My comment to Bob was that I agreed with him- invited guests should respect the host- and that as invited guests in my house I expected them to show me that respect. But I do have to thank Bob to referring me to someone who teaches Visayan. Previously Bruce said that he couldnt afford a teacher and now I see why- the person Bob referred me to charges 250 pesos for 1-1/2 hours . But I will make an effort to learn more – just to make life a bit more fun.

    • Bruce says:

      I commend Bob for his taking the time, money and effort to learning Bisaya. He has stated in the past he started and stopped. Then he made up his mind to DO IT, and he has.
      I also remember a long time ago he stated he would only allow English in his home. Times change and idea and ideals change too.
      We also need to remember Bob is an Entrepreneur and knowing the language can help him in his business activities. He also has been here in the Philippines for almost 10 years.
      Another advantage for him was his wife lived in the States for, if I am correct, 15 years so she is able to conduct herself in English fairly well.

      As I have stated on the recent past, I am not trying to condemn the Filipino people or this country, I am just trying to open the minds of people thinking of retiring here and some things they might encounter.

      As I state, this is not America, the UK or Europe. This is an Asian country with a mix of cultures. There are so many differences to life here. Some sites like to paint a pretty picture and some condemn everything.

      Some do it for activity and some for income. I make barely any money from this site and am not knowledgeable to use the internet to make an income to support a family. Some readers are kind enough to donate to this site to help, but it is few and far between. Some promise continued support but that never happens. I do not expect the readers to feel they need to support me. As long as I can find topics about life here I will continue to write. If I “piss” off some, so be it. I do not lie, or sugar coat life here as “the best place to live next to Eden’ unless your in Toril and close to Eden Nature Park. 🙂

      I started this site to tell about my life here and over time have tried to develop it as a guide for others making the move.

  30. Steve in Davao says:

    Bruce, thanks for giving us a place to learn about ourselves. You should be very proud of the service you are providing. Keep bringing us together.

    • Bruce says:


      As I mentioned in a reply to Ian, My site has developed from this is me, to this is life here. Some of my articles has even caused arguments in my home.

      I have also outraged some people and had negative comments from other Blogs. This is fine. I try not to insult anyone and respect the other blogs information and what the present to their readers. I do not steal or plagiarize other ideas as I know. Recently I have been too busy to visit many of the other similar sites I enjoy.

      I write from my experiences and observations living here. Not all experiences or lives are the same. Some Expats have more money so they can live a better life. Some are single and enjoy a different lifestyle then me or others live.

      Some have girlfriends or wives closer in age, some with larger differences. Some have educated ladies or employed and some have ladies with basic education and no work experience. Because of this, each ones situation is different.

      If I am able to open each others minds, and share experiences it will help others in similar situations.

      With this I have made some good friends through this site. Some I have met as with you and some I only communicate via the internet. With all this, I am happy and proud of the footprint I have made through this site.

  31. Gene says:


    Just noticed your last reply to mine. It’s ok really.I get a great salary for playing house maid. Lots of great food as Viol loves cooking. And to be able to spend my life with the greatest wife that a guy could ever have.
    I’d say thats the best salary I could have.
    Besides, it’s nice to be able to help her out round here. And on mornings that she does the choars, she brings me coffee and breakfast in bed.Truly, life doesn’t get any better than than…

  32. Gene says:

    Hi Ian,

    yap I do windows also. But thats only because im taller than Viol. Or atleast thats what she tells me. Hahaha…

  33. alantooth says:

    it’s really hard to understand and speak visayam language, tagalog is our first anguage, i can speak bisaya but when someone is speaking i can’t understand any single words she said, hahahahaha

  34. lccph2000 says:

    hi bruce,

    thanks for a very nice site. i am curious and very much entertained by observations of expats like you on filipinos and the philippines in general. it’s nice to know about how foreigners and most especially westerners like you think about us and our way of life.

    i am a local currently living in the country and i really apologize if you feel offended if filipinos speak in the local language if they are in front of you. i sincerely feel that no offense is meant by it. maybe it’s just a matter of filipinos communicating to other filipinos, a matter of one doing the easiest thing, which is speak one’s first language. maybe the same thing would also happen if two americans converse with each other in a party in france even if the host is french, except if the americans are addressing the host directly. so maybe unless you are addressed directly, filipinos among ourselves always speak in the local language as a matter of convenience. shyness in speaking imperfect english i believe also has nothing to do with it.

    unless of course it’s in a business setting where english is the medium of communication, as in the call centers.

    great website and keep it up.

    • Bruce says:

      I do not mind Filipinos talking to Filipinos in when I am out or when I am not part of their conversation. What upsets me in a social or family setting being left out of conversations and when asked what the topic is, I just get “nothing”

      • alanttooth says:

        maybe they can’t speak your language, it doesn’t mean you’re not part of their conversation or they left you out, just like me, i cant speak your language fluently, it always happens to me my cousins from states tryin to catch me up in yahoo messenger i hef to pause for a while and look for my pocket english dictionary, joke!!!!

        • Bruce says:

          You are right, at times I am not in their conversation, they probably are talking about me.

          • BILLY ESCOBAR says:

            Bruce- don’t be discouraged as people will always speak what is most common and more comfortable to them. In time most formalities wear off such as in the case of you first going to the PI. What you are dealing with is cultural and generational barriers. It seems like you want to have deeper and more personal conversations with your nieces but this is a common problem in society with every country.
            There is no quick way or answer to your issue of being felt left out in the conversations. If you think of how people interact and the fact that people will always feel most comfortable who they can indentify most with. Groups and conversations will always be centered around race, age and interests.
            Even if you learned the language right down to the most perfect accent you will still be left out in some cases. I remember reading about Non japanese people moving and living in Japan, even some half japanese/Brazilian and no matter how proficient they were in Japanese they would still be considered outsiders.
            If you are not willing to learn the language at this point, which i understand because it is difficult after a certain age and time in life. Then I would suggest just continue speaking english, being as honestly polite as you can and like Steve said in other posts don’t let it rot your mind.
            You probably don’t think they know you are frustrated, but your frustration is probably felt by them as well. You said you had to bear another cross and your right, you probably do in this case. The only suggestion I can offer is to get more interested in what your nieces like but it has to be genuine or get them to find something interesting in you. I know everyone on these boards are of a certain “senior” age but I always go with the old adage that once you stop learning in life, your pretty much dead.

            Living plants are flexible, In death, they become dry and brittle.

            Also when you think people are talking about you, most chances they are but how you react will determine how long they will keep talking about you.

            Anyways keep posting your thoughts, your observations are pretty interesting.

  35. Mike in Las Pinas says:

    Hi Bruce,

    Just found your site today and have read a couple of your articles – very good, very interesting!

    I’m a Brit who has spent the past 2 UK winters here in Manila. I came here December ’08 (aged 44) to meet my stunning online Filipina, April (25) plus her family of course, and then returned October ’09 to see the beautiful little daughter we created between us, haha!

    Regarding language issues, you do sound a little down regarding this problem, for sure. I know what you’re talking about, since April’s family all sit around yakking away in Tagalog too. They complain of ‘nosebleed’ whenever they have to speak English. Have you heard that term?

    I have tried pretty hard to learn Tagalog, but it’s a seriously tough language to crack. Sure, the pronunciation is non-intuitive to us Westerners, but worse than that is the diabolical (seemingly random) word ordering of each sentence. And they have about 6 different words for ‘you’. And every verb has a different word depending on the tense you use! OK there are some patterns, but they are hopelessly complex and unreliable. Like the Philippines itself, the language has little logic or structure to it … it’s Tough with a capital ‘T’!

    So anyway, after a lot of effort I gave up. Now I just let their yakking wash over me, and I try to pick out the occasional word and maybe use that to occasionally interrupt and say, “Hey, are you talking about ?” … following which April will generally tell me what’s being said.

    And there’s a running joke here that whenever I hear them say, “Blah blah blah blah si Mike blah blah blah” I just go (literally), “HOI, blah blah blah **si Mike*** blah blah blah???” with raised eyebrows, and then they tell me what they’re saying about me that I should know. It seems to work OK, but much of the time I’m just left to my own thoughts tbh (when the family are around). When it’s just me, April and Anni (our daughter) then obviously English is spoken.

    My suggestion to you is that you try to engage with your Wife at some opportune moment about what was being said at the table (say) just with a view to showing interest and getting up to date with what’s happening. And then don’t be afraid to gently but persistently grill her on some matter that they were discussing, especially if she tries to brush you off. If this annoys her somewhat then hey, now she knows how it feels to be annoyed! Just an idea, give it a go.

    On another subject, I got robbed (pick-pocketed) out of P5k the other day on a Jeepney here in Las Pinas. I guess you guys all have your own cars etc, so you don’t need my warning. But just to say, don’t travel on Jeepneys, especially with a very young and vulnerable (and cute!) baby on your knee, cos you will be wide open to the ‘Laglag Peso’ gang who operate hereabouts!

    Anyway, great site Bruce, think I’ll be a regular visitor here even when I’m back in the freezin’ cold UK (as of mid-March).

    • Bruce says:

      Mike in Las Pinas,
      I do feel a little down. I enjoy conversations. It helps me get to know people, their life, their customs, what they enjoy, do not like and all about life here in my new country. The hard part is I can have great conversations with strangers and so little with my nieces who live in my home. When I ask what is being said, most times I get in reply “nothing.” As you say, learning the language here with different letter pronunciations, grammar and sentence structure, it is a difficult task.

      I have heard of all the crime and pickpocketing in Luzon. Here in Davao I have not heard of any pickpocket problem from foreigners but had heard of a Filipino friend who had a cell phone case on his belt and had his phone stolen on a jeepney ride. That is why I keep mine in my pocket.

      On a side note about honesty here in Davao. I keep my cell phone in the same pocket that I keep my paper money and money clip. A few times in a restaurant, I pulled out my cell phone and my money fell out. Every time it happened a Filipino called my attention to it and then bent over, retrieved my money and handed it to me.

      • Mike in Las Pinas says:

        Hey Bruce,
        One thing I would say regarding your (young?) nieces is that in general young (e.g. teenage) women/girls do go out of their way to avoid discussions with ‘old men’ like us. I have a 16 year old daughter and having chats with her is like getting blood out of a stone! It just isn’t ‘cool’ for them to be discussing their affairs with us old farts. So, don’t feel too bad about your nieces, it just might be a teenage thing (or similar).

        But seriously, try chatting to your wife about the conversation at the last meal (that you understood none of). Ask her to summarise the main points for you. This will keep you up to date with events, allow you to enjoy a good chat with your Missus, and probably bring it home to her just how much the language issue does result in your missing (i.e. she might see how you’re getting isolated).

        Having said that the one value that Pinoys seem to lack almost completely is empathy. Perhaps because life here is so hard, they don’t do empathy!

        Finally, my view (controversial!) is that it’s unreasonable to expect a group of folks to converse in a foreign tongue just because there’s one foreigner there who can’t understand what they’re saying. Even if it’s his house! Me, I’d just let it wash over me BUT I would expect to have a conversation with my wife at some point to establish what I missed (the main points anyway).

        Just giving my view, that’s all ;o)

  36. queeniebee says:

    Hi Bruce, First time writing here, but I’ve discovered your site and find it to be very interesting, with a lot of worthwhile comments from readers contributing too.
    I’m sorry that you’re kind of down about the language barrier, and I never realized that it was such a major issue among many, but now see that it really could be a big problem.
    If I could make a suggestion–you seem like an approachable kind of guy, and someone interested in people. Have you ever considered volunteering at a nearby elementary school? You could trade your English conversational knowledge with simple lessons in the local language. English is taught to the children on a simple level, and your practicing the dialect on a simple level, with less judgement coming from small children might be a help to you. Maybe a barter system between teachers or where you all could learn each others’ conversational dialect together would be good. I know that this approach helped me when I first started out, and it might help you and others too.
    Maybe your wife and extended family would cut you some slack, and meet you halfway at the dinner table if you tried this.
    This may or may not even appeal to you, and that’s fine too, but you could give it a try.
    If I can give any advice in learning the language, never underestimate the abilities of children in your household and extended family to helping you with your language skills. Grammar is not that important, just basic conversation is all you really need to start. You really only need some vocabulary and simple phrases to get started, and they’re always happy to help and they don’t even mind when you goof up!

    • Bruce says:

      Thank you for visiting and commenting. I have seen your comments at the other site we both visit. I hope you will continue to enjoy my writings.
      I like working with kids. I have never thought about what you propose. I have heard some schools and teachers feel insulted when a foreigner offers to volunteer your assistance. It makes them feel they are not qualified to do what they are paid to do.

      If you have any contacts in Davao, I would be happy to assist in any school.

  37. queeniebee says:

    Sorry Bruce, I wouldn’t know of any contacts in Davao. But I can’t imagine any school there not being glad for any attention and interest that you might bring. Something to consider anyway…

    • Bruce says:


      Thank you, I will look into it.

      • queeniebee says:

        Hi Bruce, My husband had an idea for you, he said that possibly you could approach a local high school or technical school and let them know that you are looking for a tutor in Visayan. He seemed to think that many older students would jump at the chance for a small payment and a snack once a week. You could also spend some time conversing with them in English just to let them practice too.
        Another idea anyway, I thought that it was a good possibility to learn too, without expensive lessons.

  38. Terry says:

    I am here in the USA and my Fiance (Filipina) has been here two week’s her and her family had told me to learn Bisaya first because Bisaya can speak Tagalog but Tagalog can not speak Bisaya. As far as learning to speak their language i believe and so many others most that do not wish to learn are just lazy. My Fiance speaks Bisaya Tagalog Japanese and English and i am slowly having her teach me all. I want to learn just as much as i can and for those already retired living their you must have plenty of time to learn. Also there is this site you can go to they teach for free and for those wanting to learn Tagalog use
    you will learn fast. Good luck!

    • Bruce says:

      Since your gf is in the states, you have time to learn before you move here, if it your plan.
      I am glad you are willing to learn both languages. Reading your comment, your logic sounds flawed. If you lean Bisaya only people who speak that language can understand you, if you learn Tagalog all Filipinos can understand you.
      About lazy, ok, many are. There are some that have trouble learning. By reading you will not learn the pronunciation and many voels hare are pronounced different than english speakers. Good luck to your learning.

  39. Marcel says:

    Hi Bruce,

    I just wanted to report back about my progress with Tagalog issue in my house. Luckily for me, after bit of insisting (and couple of big arguments) my asawa ko got the point and started using English all the time. Just recently, we had a get together with some friends, also mixed couples, however this time my wife was only one among filipinas to always use English (not as before when all ladies yapped in Tagalog constantly) and in no time at all other girls started to follow. I can tell you that it was very refreshing that all rest of the guys could join the conversation as well, not as before when ladies and gents separated.

    I have a high hopes that until I learn Tagalog, English will keep as connected because I don’t wanna end up like one of the guys I saw during my last visit to Philippines. We went out to have a picnic by the beach and in this case the white guy came with about 20 Filipino family members. That group was particularity noisy, apparently they had a good time, except this poor white guy just sat there quietly and looked around with resignation in his eyes.
    since I plan to retire there one day myself, I definitely plan to learn Tagalog even before I leave American continent and make sure that English is constantly used in our house over there as well.

  40. Marcel says:

    BTW Bruce, I wonder if you would not mind to write about your experiences from earlier in your marriage with you Pinay wife…
    It would be nice to compare the notes.
    Myself, I have been married to my wife for just a 2 years now, thereof, we are still considered newlyweds.
    There are so many, by themselves very insignificant things we are going trough day by day in our life together that have to do with our cultural differences, which is totally different from what I have experienced with white ladies before…
    For example, sometimes I joke with my wife that she has no sense of humor, does not understand sarcasm. Also from time to time when I comment on something and forget about it next second she remains upset about it for 2 days because she takes everything personally.

    • Bruce says:

      I will try to write about such differences. I too have been with my wife for a little over two years and our second anniversary is this coming June 9th.

  41. Rob says:

    Hi Bruce,
    Found your website very interesting.I live in Australia but visit
    Davao every year for a couple of weeks.I am married to Filipina
    and have a 9yo son. Read your comments about family members
    not speaking English when you are present.
    I have had the same experience, but mainly from younger family
    members. My theory is that younger GenY filipinos lack the respect
    for elders as per traditional filipino values. Maybe they see foreigners as just a source of money,whom they dont have to pay
    respect for.
    Anyway- great website

    • Bruce says:

      Thank you for enjoying my site. I find many older Filipinos, whee they are in a job where they never need english forget it. Also many young Filipinos enjoy speaking English. It depends on the person, not the age. Some feel it is not their language so why bother using it, no matter who only speaks English and some are caring enough to try.

  42. Tom Martin says:

    The communication isolation is the most difficult thing for me living in the Philippines. I have started paying attention to foreigners when they are out with their lovers family in public, particularly in restaurants, and have found that many times they may be sitting with 24 people, but they are alone and isolate. All they are there for is to pay the bill.

    When my next door neighbor is in town he generally invites me to go out to dinner with them at least one time while he is here visiting. On every occassion if not for me he would have been totally isolated. This was particularly noticeable at a birthday party he gave for his lovers son. Family and friends were there, at least 100 people, he had paid for the event held in a local restuarant and except for one lady when the event was over they left and did not say one word to him.

    It is a common problem that I think all foreigners living in the Philippines go through rather if they admit it or not.

    • Bruce says:

      I am glad it is not only me that sees that. I was at a restaurant at a local lodging. There was a foreigner sitting with his lady and 7 female family members. He looked so lonely and bored. All the ladies were eating, talking and laughing and he looks so out of place. Only one or 2 times did his lady tell him what was going on, but only in one or 2 sentences.

  43. Patrick says:

    I have been leaving in the Philippines for 3 years and you do feel so isolated when people are talking around you and you can’t understand. I can speak many Bisayan words, but not at conversation speed. Thanks for the website, I just found it. I am glad to find out I am not alone in Davao/Philippines.

    • Bruce says:

      Welcome and thank you for enjoying my site. If you have any observations or experiences you would like to share with the readers, please email me through the “contact me” tab and I will be happy to publish.

  44. Dan says:

    This was a very interesting discussion. I have been texting my wife-to-be about this issue. I will be living in Surigao and she says not to try to learn Bisaya or Surigaonon, because they are too difficult and Tagalog is the National language, so I should learn that one and then she can help me learn Surigaonon when I come.

  45. jane says:

    i just bumped into your site and got interested. hmmm… i am a Filipina from Mindanao and currently in Cebu working at an american firm. outsourcing is quite booming and i took the opportunity to join the pool of resources Americans need.

    i didnt know you guys are a bit insulted when we start talking in our dialect. it not a wonder now why my boss required us to speak in english whenever we are in the office.

    thanks for this… and ill keep my twang when i talk to my colleagues tomorrow.

  46. Paul says:

    I am glad I don’t understand most of what they are saying. Most people’s conversations are usually gossip anyway, in any language. I have been married to a filipina for 14 years and have had many a christmas and new years where tagalog was the primary language. If it is important enough for me to know my wife will interpret. I have a few foreign friends who speak tagalog well. It doesnt seem to make things any better from what I can see. Ignorance is bliss!

    • Bruce says:

      If you like to be in a situation where everyone is talking but you cannot follow what is being said and cannot be part of it, then it is a great situation for you.

Leave a Reply