8 things you should know about the Philippines

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After living in a developed “first world” country (USA) and a developing “third world” country (Philippines),  I have realized a few things.  I have noticed that no matter where you go there will be things you love and things you hate.  No place on Earth is perfect.  But there are many things that are undeniably better in the the high-tech developed world than in the poor developing world.  There is much less crime in the developed world.  Honestly, most of the crimes in the Philippines are not even reported.  The mortality rate is much higher in the developing world.  More people die of basic ailments and accidents.  In the US, a person with a debilitating disease or disability can not only live a long life but even be extremely successful.  Poverty is in EVERY country but there is a difference between relative poverty (relative to others in your country) and absolute poverty (severe deprivation of food, sanitation, health, education and shelter).  The first world is 100x better.

The bottom line is you won’t realize how great your life is until you decide to live in a poor country.  Visiting for a vacation is a totally different thing than living there permanently.  Whenever tourists go to the Philippines they think it is amazing.  It is beautiful. It is an unforgettable experience.  It is so awesome that may decide to settle in our country.  If you live there, you see the good, the bad and the ugly.  You will notice the living conditions of the average citizen through the news, radio shows, your neighbors and your extended family.

I lived in the Philippines for 25 years before moving to the US and I can tell you what you need to know before you move the Philippines.

1 .  Food poisoning.  It actually happens a lot in the Philippines but it is just not considered a big deal.  Even when you eat in a decent restaurant you will experience it often.  After a while your body starts to adapt but you will still experience it at least once a year.  Foreigners new to the country experiences it way more often.

2.  Crowds everywhere. Philippines is very crowded.  Even in the provincial/rural areas it is still crowded.  The draw back of over crowding is more than just long lines.  More people means more crimes.  Make sure you watch your wallet in the cities.

3.  People always mind your business. This is one of the thing that I hate the most.  Even as a kid I noticed that all the neighbors would watch everything we did and would end up finding out personal things about us.  As an adult its no different.  When I was living with my sister the neighbors would analyze everything we did.  Asking questions that are none of their business and assuming things that may or may not be true. Even if we were outside working on the garden, people pass by staring.. and staring.  It is extremely uncomfortable.  This happens all the time.  They are very nosy. Whenever a filipina has any foreigner with her, people want to check them out.

4.  Discomfort. In the Philippines, having stable electricity and Internet connectivity are comforts that many do not have.  Something so basic in the first world don’t work nearly as well in the Philippines.  Whenever a typhoon comes, it may cut the electricity for 5 hours or a whole night.  It is unavoidable.  Internet connectivity practically disappear every time there is a heavy rain.  During a typhoon, Internet and cellphone signals are also affected.

5.  Calamities. Typhoons happen every year in the Philippines.  A typhoon can hit any part of the Philippines.  Those most affected by it are people who live on smaller islands and those in big the cities where there is no good drainage system.  There are also earthquake, floods and 18 active volcanoes.

6.  Crime. I have direct experience crimes happening in my own country.  Every country has crime, but you are more likely to experience it in densely populated areas where there is a high level of poverty.

7.  Utilities.  The cost of utilities (electric and gas) are higher in the Philippines than what we pay here in US.  When I was living with my sister, we had a small refrigerator, a manual washing machine, a small oven that we occasionally use for baking and a 1 small air conditioner for a room.   The cost was $150 month.  Our stove was powered by a gas tank.  In the US, our single-family, 3 bedroom house with basement has a central air conditioning unit, with 2 tvs, 5 laptops, a full sized electric stove that I use every night for cooking many lights on in the home due to 4+ people living in it, a washer and dryer. We are paying $150 during the winter and $190 in the summer.

8.  Poverty. In the Philippines you will see homeless children sleeping in the streets.  The street kids live off the scraps of random strangers.  But the homeless are not the only ones affected by the slow economy.  The average Filipino wage is barely enough to live on with the relatively high cost of living.

All of these things you should be considered before living in the Philippines.  If you don’t mind any of the items mentioned then you will have a great life in paradise.  Overall if you decide to live in another country, study the statistics of how many people leave their own country before you make your final move.

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