Things That Make the Philippines Go ‘Round!

Life in the Philippines

…can be loads of fun. It can also be a bit strange!  Many foreigners who have been visiting these islands for years, and especially those who are permanent residents, know just what to expect from everyday life here. There is a myriad of weirdness here that can both amaze and amuse many the first-time visitor, and a few things that will cause one to scratch their heads until bald. Then there are some things that make even the most ardent lovers of this relished paradise cringe and exclaim “WTH?”

Even though the Philippines is the most westernized culture in all of Asia, and even after many years of direct American influence, some things will never change. There are many days when it seems as though life here is stuck in reverse.  Actually, the longer American influence distances itself from this archipelago (the U.S. left here in 1991), the more the Filipino people seem to revert back to the old Spanish ways. My Spaniard friend who lives here thinks so anyway! He swears it is just like Spain, only a little cheaper but with more poverty.

Everyday when I get out and walk around the village or head into the city, I see things that make me wish I had my camera with me. These “things” can run the gauntlet from comical and funny, to ingenious, to stupid and downright dangerous. And to many of us that live here, we are very familiar with that fine line that can exist between those last two… “stupid and dangerous.” Like the guy who rides his entire family on a motorcycle and carries the child in a bucket (see photo gallery), or the welder working five stories above the ground wearing flip-flops. I’ve seen fisherman in small boats head out into the darkness in rough weather without a PFD, and I have seen parents let their small children play alongside a national highway. Many of these sights have become all too common and this blogger fails to see the photo opportunities with this “new normal.” Maybe I have just evolved into a lazy blogger. Then again, it could be that the Spanish influence is creeping into my DNA.

Once in a while I do happen to capture a photo here and there that boggles the mind and begs the question, “why?”

Below are a few things that is surely to cause one to wonder:

Retired in Samar and the “new Normal!”

Photo credits where due.


2 thoughts on “Things That Make the Philippines Go ‘Round!

  1. Good, funny, and sometimes frustrating subject Randy. I don’t think I see much difference from 1980-1991 when I lived in Angeles City close to Clark and significant US influence until now when I visit. Yeah, maybe in the cities small things like “more” of an adherence to wearing motorcycle helmets but definitely not reverting back to Spanish era practices. Quite the opposite, it always had those aspects. Strangely I think it can almost be refreshing, if not at least interesting how “things get done in the PI.” In the late 80s I spent a few months away from living full time in Philippines and was in Okinawa. Best example I can provide of the difference in the cultural approaches to daily life then was just eating out. For the first month or so, I really appreciated the precise manner and way everything was provided from ordering, to the service, to the consistency in quality, appearance, taste, etc. of even the actual food; however, I was surprised after several weeks just how mundane that could be–always knowing exactly how the evening was going progress, exactly how the service would be, the food, etc…. I actually missed the laissez-faire Filipino approach to daily life after my short appreciation of high quality and punctual service. Hard to explain the total experience, maybe even more difficult to understand if someone hasn’t experienced it themselves. Yeah, it can be terribly frustrating at times also but over-all, give me “not boring”.

  2. You are right, definitely not boring. Your reply indicates that maybe you have only experinced the life around the base and in the city. When you get to the far reaches of the provincial areas, things get much more backwards. There is definitely not much progression going on out here, except for the occasional new mall!

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