How to Take the Philippines

If you’re looking for clean streets, a thriving vibrant economy with great infrastructure as well as the best services, then don’t look to Metro Manila or many other parts of the Philippines. Having said that, there are some that would argue that a thriving economy is starting to happen and some economic indicators are suggesting a growing economy. All I can say to that is OK, I’m hearing you; but till I see the difference at street level, I will hold back from saying whether it is true or not.

If you come here and take this country and its capital as it is with an open mind and a willingness to understand the UN-understandable, then it could be a trip you will remember fondly for the rest of your days.

Only after a very prolonged stay here will it begin to fall into place. Little makes sense on the surface in the Philippines and it’s not a place you can grasp quickly. Simple things can become complex, attitudes hard to fathom out and you will witness a collective insanity that some have little patience with. When you get out of the capital, things become a little less chaotic, but you never totally leave behind just a little insanity.

It’s likely that you won’t make head or tail of this land and its people. That is until you agree to one thing, and once you learn this, it gets easier. Do not compare the Philippines with anywhere and certainly don’t compare it with the west. The day you make that pact is the day it starts to fall into place as an observer.

Just as with learning Filipino, the language, the difficulty lies in the fact that non-Filipinos always look for a direct translation, but in Filipino much is not directly translatable. In many ways, that sums up the nature of trying to understand and learn about this country, its people and its culture. You will often not get any such direct translation and not understand many of the ways and thinking of the people here. Changing it? Well, don’t even try.

All too often, I have come across visitors that are angry or simply tired at the lack of decent service and strange ways of operating that make relatively simple tasks difficult. Even a Filipino will tell you that discipline is not the strongest point of the Filipino. But I’m inclined to ask, is the sole judgment of a country down to how good the customer relations are?

You will find many failings here, but if you think too much about that, you could be missing other things.

There is a collective insanity that is all around in such as the way they drive, and the lack of civility in catching trains, and making their way on foot even. Not things easily explained, you simply have to see. Metro Manila is one of the most overcrowded cities in the world, and yes, it sometimes brings out the worse in some.

But when you analyze it and look under the surface, you begin to understand it just a little. The explanations are not always the best, but there are explanations even if sometimes a little dubious and bizarre, but sometimes, the explanation may change the way you look at it.

As you are driven through a city like Manila, the sights and sounds and smells will make you open mouthed for much of the journey and you will constantly find yourself saying, “that’s crazy”, and you would be right, much of it is.

But to let a little insanity put you off would be equally as insane. I will attempt to enlighten the would-be visitor, investor or retiree as to the best ways to adjust, adapt and learn how to take this place, and therefore, with an open mind, you just may be able to appreciate this land to the full. Or at the very least, understand it a little better.


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Filed under Impressions, Manila, Philippines

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