As you can imagine, Philippine shores are a far cry from those at home in the UK, so the differences that can be expected once you arrive in this tropical paradise are seemingly endless; however, with the right guidance (and perhaps more than a little patience, given the literal and figurative distance between the two nations), there is absolutely no reason why you and your family wouldn’t be able to slot right in to local society and the way of doing things.
With the consideration that the Filipino people have long been accustomed to “foreigners” (this term being the first cultural difference that will be addressed here in this blog series) immigrating to these idyllic isles, they pretty much know what to expect from us Brits (not to mention those arriving from Germany, the USA, perhaps Holland, and several of the more developed Asian nations), even if they occasionally paint us with the same brush as they might Australians or New Zealanders (we do all say “mate”, after all…). But, when the tables are turned, we arrive here fresh off the plane with little to no idea what’s going on.
I referenced “foreigners” because, for me personally, this was (and to a certain extent, still is) one of the bigger hurdles that I had to jump in order to begin settling into my new home in Manila. Back home, the word is often used to describe someone from another country – even countries on the European continent that are easily accessible and often politically aligned, to a certain extent – in a not-too-friendly manner. The long and short of it is that the word ‘foreigner’ is more often than not exclusionary, divisive, and downright prejudice.
I have been assured on many occasions that this simply isn’t the case here, and the word is used literally to mean someone from a foreign country, and on the numerous occasions I have tried to explain my own interpretation of the word to Filipinos (even FilAms – Filipinos who were raised and/or educated in the US), I was met with confusion and the insistence that this is simply not the case.
As I mentioned, from time to time my head does still turn when I hear the terms being used, but the Philippines truly is, as they often say, the land of smiles, the land of hospitality, and one of the friendliest groups of people that you will come across anywhere in the world, but you can rest assured that it is nothing more than a literal definition being used for convenience.
So, leave your “old world” definitions back in colder climes, embrace your new label, appreciate the differences that will be detailed in this series of blogs, and begin to love your new life in the Philippines, because believe me… In no time at all, you will.