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Archive for the Category "Culture"

The lackadaisical attitude of many Filipino parents can prove costly Jun 16

At around 11:22 this morning I opened my Facebook to see what everyone was up to. I noticed I had a new friend request, so I clicked on it to see who it was. I didn’t recognize the person, so I deleted the request. After I deleted the request I happened to look down and I noticed a picture on the person’s timeline. I looked and thought to myself,

“That looks like…hmmmmm…I wonder.”

I thought maybe the little girl in the picture was my friend’s daughter (who lives here in the Philippines with her mother). I had met the little girl and her mother a few weeks ago while my friend was here visiting. Anyway, I copied the profile link and sent him a message with the link asking if it was his “baby momma”. After sending it my mind starts to wonder,

“Why does she want to add me? Please don’t let her be a drama queen like his other baby momma. I have enough of that with my kids’ mother. I don’t need more.”

Well, at around ten after one this afternoon he finally answers me and it was indeed his baby momma here. It turns out that she had also sent me a private message, which must have been deleted when I deleted the friend request, that I never saw. Apparently, the daughter was in the hospital (turns out it is a clinic).

He asked me if I had 5K (5,000 pesos) to pay half the bill, so she could get the kid out on a promissory note and take her home.  Well, not only am I not rich, but I am borderline poverty level lately. Between not making much money, paying for my kid’s private school and the price of food lately, I am getting killed. So, 5,000 extra pesos is just not something I could even dream of right now. Much less have.

After telling him the bad news I felt bad and really wanted to help him any way I could. He is just a super nice guy and he’s not only helped me in the past, but he has gone above and beyond in the generousity department.  So, I started to ask some questions about the situation. He gave me what information he could and I asked for her cell number, so I could text her and get more information. He mentioned that she messaged me on Facebook, but I never saw it. I went searching and found it and messaged her.

It turns out that she (and her daughter) were at a medical clinic not far from where I used to live (a few months ago). I couldn’t be sure, but I think I actually went there for treatment once. Anyway, according to the mother, the little girl had a Urinary Tract Infection (UTI) and ascaris bacteria in her stool.  Now, UTI’s are extremely common in the Philippines among women, or at least they always claim to have one whenever something hurts down in that region. So, that wasn’t concerning me too much. However, the ascaris bacteria (round worms) did concern me. How did this little girl get that? So, I did a little research and apparently it is prevalent in places, like the Philippines, that have tropical climates. The poor sanitation and hygene that is so pervasive in the Philippines is also a major contributing factor to getting Ascaris Lumbricoides.

Anyway, the mother sent me a photo of the doctor bill, which as it turns out, totaled out at over 10,000 pesos. I have to say I was a bit shocked. I started to go through the itemized list of charges and saw Paracetamol listed at 300 pesos. That threw me through a loop because it is an over the counter drug, which is not expensive. I guess they charged her for an entire bottle instead of the few tablets she probably received.

To make this long story a little shorter let’s jump ahead to some of the information the mother gave me when I first asked her how the child got sick. First she tells me the little girl chews her fingernails. Now, I do the same thing as does my eldest daughter (who is 9 years old at the time of this writing). I told the mother to buy a nail clipper and cut the child’s nails short and make sure she washes her hands thoroughly a few times per day.

Then the story changed to the child went outside with no shoes on. Well, this is another extremely common phenomenon in the Philippines. I constantly see adults walking around with no shoes. Kids walk around with no shoes and quite often no pants or underwear on. I taught my kids, from the time they were able to take their first steps, to keep their shoes on inside and outside of the house. I am constantly reminding people to put their shoes on. I used to yell at my ex, her sisters, nieces and nephews, etc… to all put their shoes on in my home. I used to yell about it because I didn’t want anyone to slip and fall on the tile floors. Why? Because the CR floor is almost constantly wet. That water gets tracked throughout the rest of the house and in the rainy season it gets tracked in from outside. Yes, even though we have rugs the water still finds its way across the house. It’s just one of those things you learn to deal with when you live in the Philippines as an expat.

Anyway, I am getting off topic. I started to get madder and madder at the mother because I knew that if she had even the slightest bit of concern for her daughter and stopped living like the typical lower rungs of society Filipino, then this wouldn’t have happened. It feels like everytime I turn around I see a parent not paying attention to their child and the child getting into some kind of danger our trouble. I once saw a 4 year old playing in the street and the mother had no idea because her back was turned to the child as she was being tsismosa with a sari-sari store owner.

I was shocked to see her actually take responsibility for her failings as a parent, but that didn’t abate my anger or excuse her. I legitimately wanted to help, but the more I talked to her the angrier I got.  I finally suggested to her to ask the doctor if she could sign a promissory note, but she said that she was too shy because she already promised him she would pay today. You see, my friend had already told her I would come with money. He did this without even talking to me first, I assume in an effort to calm her down and shut her up. When I was unable to help it left them in a hell of a bind. He doesn’t get paid until next week and she doesn’t have much money, nevermind 5,000 or 10,000 pesos.

Later she messages me on Facebook and says the doctor will let her do a promissory note for half, but he wants the other half in cash up front. Sure. He was already promised half by the American on the telephone (my friend). So, of course he is not going to settle for a 10K promissory note now. What you have to understand about Filipino culture is a great many of them just assume that all foreigners are rich. This is because so many Filipinos are poor and most of the foreigners they see are here on vacation spending money they saved up for years to get. The Filipinos don’t know the foreigners had to save it up and all they see is them spending it on nice hotels, fancy restaurants and gifts for the pretty Filipinas who are expecting this kind of treatment because they have received it from foreigners in the past or their friends have.

Anyway, in the end I stopped answering her after telling her to contact my friend. I had stuff to do and I couldn’t help and I was just getting angrier and angrier because her lack of concern for her child’s well being led to this poor kid getting sick which resulted in my friend having to come up with 10,000 pesos. Ridiculous and frankly, it should be criminal.

Setting 4 Filipino kids straight on their disrespect while buying drinking water Jan 05

One of my biggest complaints about living in the Philippines is how we’re treated by some members of the population here. I wrote a pretty detailed account of it in a blog post but the kids are what really get me. The lack of respect is astounding. Recently, I started calling people out on their disrespectful behavior.

In the Philippines you don’t want to drink the tap water. Most people will buy filtered water, which they call mineral water, to use as drinking water.  Obviously, I am no exception to that practice. Usually, you can call and have it delivered to your door. Some companies charge a delivery fee and others do not.  Two doors down is a sari-sari store, which like most sari-sari stores, sells “mineral water”. Because it is only a few doors down I usually carry down the empty container and carry back the full container to my house. It’s faster than waiting on a delivery.

5-gallon water container like we use in the philippines

Special thanks to for the image. Tomorrow I will replace it with a picture I will take.


Tonight, like so many other nights, the lady who runs the store was out of water so I walked across the street to another sari-sari and they were also out. I had two choices at this point; go home and call for delivery or walk a block down the street and transfer (pour) the water from their container to my own. I have to do this because the water companies put their logo/sticker on the containers and most sari-sari’s will not remove or replace the sticker so they’re unwilling to trade a container from a different company.

Well, I had decided to walk down the street and while waiting online I embarrassed Jessica, Jenn’s sister, by lightly scolding four kids (about 10 years old or so).

I am standing in the street, near the curb, waiting and I hear, from off to my left,


I knew they meant me but I ignored them because I consider that to be disrespectful. You don’t speak, like that, to someone you don’t know and who is older than you. That’s not how I was raised and my mother would probably flog me if I tried it and she found out.

A few seconds pass they do it again but this time I didn’t ignore them. This time I turned my head, I lean over slightly and say to them,

“Where I come from we don’t address a stranger who is older than us by saying ‘Hey!’ Instead, we say, ‘Good evening Kuya.'”

Upon hearing this the lady who runs the sari-sari store smiles and chuckles and the older gentleman outside (customer) does the same. I knew they agreed with me and were probably happy I corrected these four fine young misguided boys. They obviously thought it was a bit funny as well.

Poor Jessica got a little embarrassed but she’s seen me in action before so she smiled a bit as well. One kids, however,  turned from Filipino brown to shit red.  No, I am not going to elaborate on that visual. ha ha ha

I waited a few seconds and then I said,

“It’s called respect.”

Then I hear, in a soft voice,

“Sorry kuya.”

I am not sure if he meant it or not but he sounded genuine so I let it go and I said,

“It’s alright.”

We made a little, and I do mean a little, small talk after that. The store lady was ready for me by then and I helped her with the water transfer, 5-gallons of water is heavy and she was a bit too old to be doing it herself. I made sure to show her the proper respect, as I always do, by calling her “ate” and saying “Salamat po” loud enough for the kids to hear me. In other words, I was setting an example for them.

As I was walking passed them to go home they said,

“Good night Kuya.”

I returned the respect by wishing them the same. They kept calling after me asking me if it was heavy and offering to help. I wasn’t sure how sincere they were being so I just told them I could handle it and I kept walking. I suspected their offer was less than genuine and I can imagine what they said once I was out of earshot.

At any rate, I call on Filipino parents everywhere. Teach your kids to respect not just their elders but all strangers.

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Some Filipinos don’t appreciate kindness Jan 14

January 14, 2012 @ 3 PM

Jenn and the kids and everyone are gone so I took a walk down the street to the only sari-sari store that sells ice cream. I have been having cravings for the new Vanilla Cornetto Disk lately and so I indulged myself. LOL

So as I was getting close another lady was walking up and I could see her visibly increase her walking speed to get there before me. I am used to that sort of thing so I let her pass. I smiled a bit when I heard her order a Vanilla Cornetto Disk. Small world.

So while she is ordering her ice cream another lady walks up and gets in line behind me. She was a bit elderly and not in the greatest shape so I decided to be nice and let her go first. I even addressed her as “ate” (respectful term used to address a woman older than the person speaking) when I invited her to go ahead of me. She steps up and doesn’t even bother to say thank you nor does she even acknowledge me with a smile or anything else.

Now at this point I had to grin wider and chuckle a bit because I am used to that as well but when she ordered….you guessed it….3 Vanilla Cornetto Disks I looked to the heavens and smiled thinking….”You evil jerk!” I knew what was coming next.

The old lady walks off and I step up and dubiously I ordered my Vanilla Cornetto Disk. And low and behold my suspicions were confirmed when I heard those dreaded words…

“Sorry sir. Out of stock.”

Now this wouldn’t be so bad if they had another Cornetto flavor I like but they didn’t have any of those either. All they had was the Java flavored one and I am NOT a coffee fan.

So not only did I not get my ice cream but my being nice to a Filipino not only bit me in the butt, it also showed me how unappreciative some people can be. I think it’s only fair to state that not all Filipinos are this way but I have had more than my fair share of similar incidents.

Having been brought up by my mother to hold doors for a lady and pull out her chair and stuff like that I constantly find myself doing those things or helping an elderly lady or a lady with a child get her bags on and off a jeepney and other such acts of generosity. But time and again whenever I do any of those things in the Philippines I never get a Thank You or even a polite smile. Well, 90% of the time I don’t.

Eat Bulaga! Juan for All, All for Juan Jan 11

Eat Bulaga! Juan for All, All for Juan

So I was uploading videos to You Tube for my father’s website and at around 2 PM Jenn yells for me to come down. My first thought was,


Lately she’s been calling me down to help her with the baby, who has been sick, and it’s getting a bit nerve wracking because I can’t get anything done. At any rate I go downstairs and she tells me how they’re making fun of someone on TV and she figured I would be interested. Normally, she would be wrong but once I realized what was going on I figured it would make a great post and well….here it is.

So, I start watching it and I ask a few questions and find out that on Eat Bulaga’s Juan for All, All for Juan segment they are visiting the house of a British guy and his Filipina wife who live in the Pasig section of Manila.

Eat Bulaga is a popular daytime TV show (on the GMA network) in the Philippines. The Juan for All, All for Juan segment features two comedians (Jose Manalo and Wally Bayola) who travel to the home of a lucky winner and bring them prizes like cash, gift certificates, free groceries, etc…

Jose Manalo and Wally Bayola

Jose Manalo and Wally Bayola

So anyway, this poor guy is sitting there with his wife and all these kids are around and everyone is happy and smiling and this poor guy is trying to be a good sport about it all but his smile gets increasingly more and more fake. You can tell he’s not happy to be in this situation.

They were asking him a ton of questions about his finances, his living situation etc… Then they start in making fun of him some and doing the typical “I am getting a nosebleed.” routine Filipinos do when they have to speak English because they’re talking to a foreigner. I can sympathize with the guy because I’ve been in similar situations and it’s all rather childish.

Filipinos have this tendency to slip back into Tagalog when they don’t have to speak English. Some will speak English around a foreigner just to show they’re smart or educated or whatever the reason is. Again, it’s rather childish but that’s how they act in those situations.  Two lines they use often are,

  • “Don’t English me I’m panic.” which is supposed to be a joke.
  • “Nosebleed” as if having to speak English is hurting their brain or something and it causes a nosebleed. This is also a joke but sometimes I wonder.
And if you try talking to them in Tagalog they will laugh and giggle like little kids. I guess it’s funny for them to hear a foreigner speaking Tagalog. I have no idea why other than to repeat my comment about them being childish. I mean you don’t see Americans or British or anyone laughing when a Filipino speaks English so why do Filipinos find it funny when a foreigner speaks Tagalog other than to just assume they’re being childish?
(An interesting side note to that is one of my students from China did the same thing to me this morning when I said the Chinese word for Cell Phone to her during class. She started to giggle like a schoolgirl so maybe it’s an Asian thing. I don’t know.)
If you’d like to watch the full segment here is where you can see it.


Are Filipinos pyromaniacs? Jan 07

One of the things you see quite often living in the Philippines is burning piles of leaves and/or garbage.  The reason they burn garbage and leaves is because people in the Philippines don’t have the luxury of a garbage pickup twice a week like we have in the United States. Also most people don’t have big garbage cans because when you have them they are promptly stolen. TRUST ME! Been there done that. So instead they use big empty rice sacks that they keep outside in lieu of garbage cans.

But I see AND SMELL burning piles so often that I am starting to think it’s more than just an economic thing. I am starting to think they have this deep rooted desire to see flames and smoke. I wrote a post recently about New Years and kids/adults with firecrackers and fireworks but today I saw something that made me realize it’s more than those two isolated incidents.

I was walking my dog and I saw 2 separate burning piles, a field with a good 10 square feet of scorched grass with a giant branch burning, and then when I got outside the gate I was surprised (although not sure why) to see two kids playing with a lighter and some paper.

As I walked my dog I thought about it and maybe it just never hit me before but I realized I see this kind of thing pretty damn regularly since moving to the Philippines.  When I say I realized it I mean the extent to which they use fire and burn stuff. I have always known they burn stuff like garbage and leaves because I complain about it constantly.

As if it’s not bad enough that they are choking out the entire street but it’s also incredibly bad for the environment. It’s doubly hysterical because then Filipinos will complain about big companies destroying the environment here but they litter incessantly, drive around in diesel powered jeepneys, and lord knows what else.

UPDATE – January 13, 2012 @ 10 PM

I was out walking my dog and we stroll down by the basketball court and there is a group of teenagers sitting there in the dark and they are lighting a fire right there in the basketball court against a wall.

At first I just shook my head but then I realized they were actually doing it to keep warm. Now for the record none of them were homeless or anything like that. They were just hanging out and I guess they were too lazy or stupid to go home and get a jacket or whatever.

I could understand if they were homeless or out camping but they were a block or two from their houses and in the middle of a basketball court.

UPDATE – January 18, 2012

I just read an article about a 32-year old Filipino man who died from tetanus due to a wound he received lighting New Years fireworks.  Apparently, he never went to the doctor for a tetanus shot and by the time he got to the hospital (3 weeks later) he ended up dead.

UPDATE – January 20, 2012 @ 11:00 PM

I just got home from walking the dog and I saw 2 teenagers lighting a fire, to keep warm, about 4 feet from a bamboo church. Why the flames had to be 3 feet high…I HAVE NO IDEA!

UPDATE – February 8, 2012 @ 3:00 PM

I was walking my dog and I noticed the trike drivers were burning a small pile of leaves and across the street from them a young girl was lighting a much larger pile on fire. I guess it would have made too much sense to combine the piles and light one fire.

At any rate here is a video of the bigger pile burning.  OK, so I didn’t film the Filipino but you can see the pile of leaves burning. I know I could have gotten closer but with the sun shining I could barely see the screen on the phone so I didn’t notice I was too far away. Actually, I wasn’t that far away. I was on the opposite curb.