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Meeting Foreigners In Davao

I have now been here almost 9 months and have had a lot to get accustomed to. I also belong to 2 Foreigner organizations.

One is called Friends of Mindanao. It is a group that is organized as a networking group. They also look for ways for the members to help local charitable associations. At most meetings there is a speaker. It might be a member to speak about there occupation in their home country and what they did. Other times they have guest speakers. This group meets the 1st and 3rd Wednesday morning at Coffee Shop 51 in Victoria Mall’s parking lot, left side next to Metro Bank.

The other is Davao Area Expat Association. This group is more about support and information about being a Foreigner living in the Philippines. They have guest speakers to help inform and answer questions from the members. They also schedule social activities for the members, such as Bowling, Billiards, house parties, Poker nights (for fun, no real money), evenings out at a Restaurant Bar.

I have made some good friends through these groups and it was proved at my open house Wedding Party.

There are a lot of other foreigners here in Davao. This is something Ellen has comments on and I have noticed living here that many foreigners isolate themselves from other foreigners.

When walking through the Mall, or anywhere else, when I see a Foreigner I try to first try to make eye contact. Then I will say hello and see if they want to meet and chat a little. I have noticed many will do all possible to avoid contact.

Since I do not speak the local languages Bisaya or Tagalog, I enjoy talking to people that speak English. Even at home my family prefers to speak in Bisaya which at times is annoying.

I have tried to find reasons people from other countries avoid contact and cannot think of a reason. Is it because they are inapt in conversation, afraid of someone trying to con them, totally socially afraid of others….. I do not know.

Even though most Filipinos are nice, and most can speak English, a lot have such an accent it is hard to understand them.

It is nice to have friend with a common language and common goals. One main goal is to survive here.

7 Responses to “Meeting Foreigners In Davao”

  1. Ellen says:

    Hi Bruce, I am still confused and you probably are in a better position to find reasons why.

    Let me be blunt here – and these are what I was told: 1 – Most foreigners are probably nobody where they came from, but here, the Filipinos treat them like they are the high and almighty. Other expats know this and so they try to stay away from each other. 2 – There are expats who are braggers, high talkers, name droppers – and they are the con artists targetting other gullible and innocent foreigners who are new here. These types try their tactics on local businessmen, and they usually fall on deaf ears. This is actually sad. Because of the acts of a few expats, there now exist mistrusts between local Filipino businessmen and expats.
    3 – Some are narrowminded and then they feed their one-sided opinions on new foreigners coming in, causing more narrow-mindedness.

    So, what do you think?

  2. Bruce says:

    You have made some comments I have heard too. One person I know comments that there are some expats here that were socially inept in their home country and do not know how to communicate here. Also I do find people brag anout themselves or tell things since there is no one to prove otherwise.
    There is also a problem with filipinos, alot think all foreigners are RICH. I tell them if a foreigner is a millionare, why would they move here. There is a fear that foreigners are charged more in stores than locals.
    What ever the reason, I try to be friendly to all I meet. If they want to chat with me and get to know me fine, if not, their loss.

  3. I have noticed this too and always wondered what the reasons are. Not only in the Philippines but all over South East Asia. I might generalize now, but usually Americans are the most social people I know.
    ps. I am not American 🙂

    • Bruce says:

      I think it has to do with language. Since English is the international language, if someone from a country they are shy or embarrased to speak english. Here I find people from anywhere, if they speak english, they will be more communitative.

  4. bob white says:

    I would like to talk with u as i am an american who has lived her in davao for almost 3 years. Hope we can meet sometime and hope u email me back

  5. Paul says:

    All stories here are so familiar by me as well.

    I’m a dutch national staying in Panabo City for almost 3 years now.
    The difference with most of us here is that I’m not retired( I’m 42 ) and working for a company abroad.

    The most difficult part for me is where are all those foreigners stay. It looks they hide or are scared over here. Once in a while I meet one and try to have a talk. Until this time I was able to make 1 good friend since he shares the same interests as me. Most are not interestered in making contact, are highly religious( I’m definitly not ) or differ to much from me.

    What I’m looking for is a group of people who’re interested in meeting each other by going out once in a while. Just a guy night. I’m married but taking always the ladies with us makes the evening less fun in my point of view.
    Eventhough I’m staying in Panabo City I’m still interested in meeting people from Davao City. Because that’s the place to be.

  6. TBG says:


    I’m a Davaoeña in my 30s with a European bf (also in his 30s). We shuffle between Europe and Davao, staying for at most 4 mos at a time in Davao. In the 5 years we’ve been together, it’s always been a struggle for us to find foreigner friends of the younger set. No offense meant, but I’m sure you understand what I mean. I do have my share of friends, but they’re mostly sorority sisters and a select high school/college friends. I’d prefer a more dynamic group of foreigners or young expats since he’s more comfortable relating with them and he doesn’t have to deal with the whole language barrier issue. His Bisaya is non existent. I just can’t be bothered to teach him as English is also the default language at home.

    I guess what I’m trying to say is that I want his stay to be bearable every time we’re there. It’s been an issue that he’d rather not go home with me for this particular reason – no friends and not much to do. We are both freelancers in the IT field and we jetset a lot. We are not the typical couple that’s for sure. During our last stay, we managed to meet some really nice young foreigners – a mix of MA students doing their practicum (conflict studies is very popular and Mindanao is always an ideal place for practicum), and the occasional peace builders. We ended up creating a group for ourselves and met up as often as we could, easing the transition for them. Younger people have certainly different issues compared to those who moved to settle/marry here. The age range I’m talking about is from 25- 35. They’ve all gone back to their respective countries now. I’m not sure if we’d come across such a group again this time.

    I’m even thinking of putting up a proper Meetup group, but since it’s a paid thing, I want to make sure if there are interested folks in the said age range.

    Your thoughts are most welcome.

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