One thing that comes to mind with almost all expats before coming to the Philippines to settle is to live the easy life. I have written about the so-called “Easy Life” previously and got some mixed reviews, mostly from those who have not been around the islands long or have only visited here. To qualify both my writings and opinions, I make it known that I first came to the Western Pacific in 1974, married into this culture in 1986, and have been coming and going ever since. I am no stranger to “Expectations of the Third Kind” and I must affirm this almost daily.
First off, expectations while living here should be grouped into three categories.
- Expect This
- Don’t Expect That
What inspired me to write this post was a one-two combination of the “Expect This” and “Don’t Expect That”, both of which came together early this morning. Yesterday I purchased a Lotto ticket while waiting on the wife to finish up at the grocery store. Sometimes when she just runs in to pick up a few items, I hang outside and occasionally pick up a Lotto ticket across the street. There are many conveniently located Official Lotto Offices here in Calbayog City. She got her things and I got mine and we continued about our normal day. After turning in for the evening, I slept for about 4 hours until I became restless and was wide awake. I really think my afternoon naps are getting longer and interfering with my sleep cycle . I can blame my friend and fellow retired shipmate (and blog contributor for another blog) who resides up in the Subic Bay area for the introduction to taking long battle naps, as he calls them, and the occasional 2nd nap in the same day. It’s a retiree thing (which is worthy of another post altogether).
Anyway, it was about 2:00 am and all I could think of was whether the Lotto ticket that I had left on my laptop was a really hot ticket and could it be responsible for the dim glow coming from the living room. So I fell out of bed, made a quick detour, then headed to the command center (my desk) to investigate the winning numbers. I determined that one of our cats was responsible for disturbing my wireless mouse and waking my laptop from its sleep mode which accounted for the dim illumination in the room. I immediately signed on and headed straight to the Philippines Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) site and once I finally got there, I discovered the unexpected…which falls into the “Don’t Expect That” category. I won the Lotto! Well okay, I didn’t win the jackpot but I did hit three of six numbers, which does pay! Remember I said I woke at approximately 2:00 am? Well, it took me nearly 20 minutes just to get connected to the PCSO website. After about my 5th attempt at connecting, I finally did a Ookla speed test on my connection and I was getting a lethargic .62mbps download speed. Things were moving so slow though that the app would crash (timeout) before it even got well into the upload portion of the test. Now you are probably thinking “what is the correlation here between winning the lottery and slow internet speed tests?” Well, I will tell you. The slow internet thingy falls into my “Expect This” category. Hopefully now you can see how two categories of expectations can easily collide with one another when least expected. To the more confused readers who are now scratching their heads wondering why I am grouping problems with the internet into the “Expect This” item. Well, that’s exactly what the gist of this entire article is about. “Expectations of the Third Kind!”
When one arrives here to settle, there are certain things that need to be understood – things that are specific to living here. You see, I hold the personal conviction that Mr. Murphy (Murphy’s Laws) was an undocumented Irish immigrant to Acapulco in the late 1500’s who then devised and smuggled his complete set of “laws of influence” on the Manila Galleons bound for the Philippines. Those tangible things that we all refer to as “expectations” should be left on the dock in one’s home country. One should not bother filling up his baggage with them as you will find and entirely new set of expectations awaiting you upon your arrival and upon settling in.
The reason I put internet problems into the “Expect This” category is simple. When you come to rely on something (like the internet) to work properly, Mr. Murphy and the local telecom companies (I use Globe) have already colluded to make your life as miserable as possible so, if you re-train yourself to expect the unexpected and to adopt the “bahala na” attitude (philosophical analysis) you will thoroughly come to enjoy your time in the Philippines with far fewer disappointments. If you have trouble accomplishing this “changing of the mindset”, maybe you should re-consider the establishment of a permanent residence in the Philippines.
Things that belong in the “Expect This” category include:
- Many Fiestas and parties
- Heat and humidity
- “Sorry Sir, Out of Stock.”
- Hot dogs in your spaghetti
- Poor internet service
Things that belong in the “Don’t Expect This” category include (not all-inclusive):
- Good internet service
- Reliable electrical service
- Good customer service at restaurants
- Good supply of Western foods
- Mozarella cheese on your pizza
- Cleanliness and good sanitation
- Organized, polite and courteous driving
- Everyone speaks English
- To win the Lottery
Can you begin to understand the correlations here? If you answered yes to that question, then you too can become acclimated to the inevitable after you settle here. Nothing will be as you expect it to be, and there will be those things that happen that will be totally unexpected. Everything else will fall into the indifferent category, which by the way will exponentially become the largest category of expectations as you accumulate the years of living here in paradise. It’s what you would come to expect living in the “Land of Not Quite Right.”
Oh, and my lotto winnings….I will head into Calbayog City sometime today and happily submit my ticket for my payout. I will request a lump sum payment in the amount of P20. Maybe I will have better luck next week, but I’ll keep this one in the “Don’t Expect That” category.