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More About the Difficult Life of Filipinos

Last week I wrote an article “Difficult Life for Filipinos” where I discussed the low wages and how difficult it is to survive, but they do.

As an American, even when we have a low income, the condition of our life is much better in most cases.  As Americans, we have a level of comfort we need to live and things we will not accept. Besides that, there are health codes and building codes to make sure the conditions are followed. Of course, there are some places that are rat infested and poor conditions, but if the authorities discover these conditions, the property owner arrested and changes will be made.


Many Filipinos, because of their poverty have become more accepting of conditions than we would ever allow. I know someone who is in Davao trying to find a job abroad. With all the applications and testing he has to live here for a few months. He arrived in Davao with some friends and they are sharing a room in a boarding house. He has two roommates. The cost of the room is 1800 pesos per month, which they share. In addition, they pay the electric bill for the room. They feel fortunate that it is more like an apartment. Most boarding houses have one CR that all inhabitants share. The Cr is divided into two rooms, one for a toilet and one for the shower. For my friend, their room has their own CR and kitchen area.


When I saw the photos and saw the conditions of the room, I was appalled. It looks dirty, in need of paint and repairs. When I asked my friend of his impression when he first saw the room, how did he feel of the conditions and all he said was the room was nice and they were fortunate to have an apartment type of rental.He also said the conditions of this boarding room is much better than places he has lived before. It is on a paved street which is kept clean and not a dirt path to a back ally.

I tried to keep my feelings to myself and over the time here and seeing the conditions of many Filipinos homes I realize, what we consider appropriate conditions, Filipinos need much less to feel fortunate and comfortable.

To most Westerners eyes, these conditions are far below the standards we would need. Are we wrong, no; we are just accustomed to better things. In many ways Filipinos are better that, they need less to be happy.  As George Carlin stated in one of his comedy routines, Americans need their “Stuff” and if a friend has more “stuff”, we need to increase our “Stuff.” Then when we have too much “stuff”, we buy a bigger house so we can buy even more “stuff.”

Many years ago, I read from a set of books called “A course in Miracles.” In one of the exercises, it had you look around and list things in either of two columns “what I want” and “what I need.” I remember after a while the “need” list got smaller. At first I put I needed a house or an apartment. Did I actually need that; cannot a person survive with just a dry place to sit or sleep and a covering from the weather?

As we grow up in our home country and as our income increases, we upgrade our living conditions. Just as many have a used car and as we can afford we purchase a new vehicle.  If lucky, we go from an economy car to a mid size or full size vehicle. We might rent a small one-bedroom apartment and eventually own a house. For many Filipinos having four walls, a roof and a CR and they are content.

A long time ago, I received a comment from a Filipina living in America. She mentioned how she could not understand Americans. In many families she noticed, the husband and wife both worked many hours a day to earn enough to have their big house and fancy vehicles, but are not home enough to enjoy their family. Once home the wife would do, the cooking and cleaning and the man would do his chores. By the time they are done, it is bedtime. In the Philippines, most families make sure they have family time and cherish this time. They are together with their children.

Family time and family ties are the most important part of the Filipino life. In America parents, give their kids the TV’s in their rooms with DVD players and video games so the kids are occupied and not bothering the parents who are tired from working all the hours.

I hope someday both lifestyles will merge where Filipinos have better living conditions and Westerners relearn family values.

10 Responses to “More About the Difficult Life of Filipinos”

  1. jeff says:

    You are right, Americans need ” A PLACE FOR THEIR STUFF”. It seems like on every open lot around town (Ohio USA )they have built a self storage facility so people can store their stuff. They make room in their homes so they can buy more stuff. It is a waste but it seems to be the American way. As far as both working and not having time, that seems to be the American way too. I don’t know if it is our glut for stuff or if it is necessary to get by in this economy today. We all want to have more and do better than our parents. But the days of June Cleaver staying home being a homemaker, wife and mother and not working outside the home are over here.

    • Bruce says:

      Jeff,
      I think the “stuff” is two fold, the need for convenient and to prove you are better then the neighbors. Family values have fallen behind the need to have bigger, better and more than everyone else.

  2. Marcel says:

    Bruce said “When I saw the photos and saw the conditions of the room, I was appalled.”
    Actually, what you can see on those pictures is pretty much standard for low income households. What a joy when one needs to use CR urgently. Tabo to wash you bum with. LOL. Been there, done that. Personally, I enjoy Japanese style washlets best.
    Family time? Hard to say… If one needs to pay all bills especially with kids, we end up working whole day. If Filipinos are so lucky to enjoy family time, those are the conditions that they end up living in. what’s better?

    • Bruce says:

      Marcel,
      Exactly, which is better, closer family ties but low finances or working long hours with little family time. I think somewhere in the middle.

  3. ally says:

    like what they say, one coudnt have a cake and eat it as well..most filipinoes nowadys are actually improving..parents might be busy but sunday [church/family day] is allotted for family to be together as well as breakfast or dinner in some cases [usually breakfast so they could talk]..

    filipinoes are generous, too generous to the point that they would prefer to live in a shanty then spend all their money for their family with a bang like having a grand birthday for the child or a trip somewhere..

    • Bruce says:

      Ally,
      Yes and cake is not dessert but eaten with the rest of the meal. hahaha
      I agree what you say, but they save for a birthday, baptism or wedding, sometimes for years to blow on a one day event, but they do not save for emergencies like medical care.

  4. passerby says:

    Its taking the bad for the good be it in America(comfort and abundance > family time) or in the Philippines (family time > comfort and abundance). Can we equate both family and comfort? nope! another chicken and egg dilemma

    • Bruce says:

      Passerby,
      I agree, we all want our level of comfort. In America some need the big house and cars, some are happy with a condo and a small car. Here they need less to be happy and family is most important. That is why I say both places need an even balance id possible.

  5. alantooth says:

    i’ve seen the photos and i think thats is better from where i lived before when i tried to live in a boarding house way back 2006, our house is too far from my company (previous job) i forgot to take pictures, there’s no ventilation, one bed only and i bought my own cabinet, linoleum, electric fan and etc., P800/monthly not included the appliances, i hef my electric fan and iron so i had to pay 50php/appliance grrrrrr!!!!!., hayst!!!

  6. Per says:

    Some wise person said something in the line of that “poverty is not about how little we have, but how much we yearn for the things we dont have”. Reversely, richness is not so much about what we have, but how much we enjoy and feel content with the things we do have.

    Being content is a great asset most people in the west lack. Being happy for what we have and really enjoy life.
    I have lived my life by my device that “I need money to live, but that doesnt mean I need to live for money”. But that is one of the reasons Iv not been very popular with women… Im not a good provider. 😀 So, I have lots of family-time, but no family… I guess there is a balance there somewhere, that I have missed. 😀

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