There is something very curious about the Philippines that I had not encountered before in any other country I have lived in; texting, or more accurately, the sheer volume of traffic in this communication medium, especially when interacting with foreigners. The thing about it is that, while I started off not being very keen on the idea, I have slowly grown to love it.
Sure, people have been using text messaging in the US and other countries for a very long time now, but it is mostly reserved for quick messages that do not require a conversation, or for times when you cannot talk, like when you’re on the train or bus, or perhaps in a meeting. In the Philippines, however, it appears to be the primary function of a mobile phone.
When I first arrived here, it seemed to me that people had a bizarre fascination with typing out text after text, but I soon realized that it’s mostly down to simple economics; phone calls are expensive in this country, and texts are invariably free or very cheap. For this reason, many people will choose texting rather than making a call, even if they know that the conversation will require several texts back and forth.
However, this act, borne out of necessity, has definitely taken on a new meaning and there is no doubt in my mind that most people thoroughly enjoy it. I came to this country without any established friendships here and, while that is no longer the case, I met various people along the way – both men and women – that I now proudly call friends. The one thing that the vast majority of my new local friends had in common was the amount of texts they sent at any time of day or night, and the fact that they could keep a text ‘conversation’ going for hours on end.
Also, texting means that there is no language barrier in terms of different ‘strong’ accents, and that you have time for a more ‘measured’ conversation. So, if you’re moving to the Philippines, be prepared to send and receive a lot of texts… you’ll probably get to like it since it allows you time to weigh out a proper response to any questions you may be asked, while allowing you to deal with things in your own time. Texting: a great way of talking without talking.