As of April 3, 2011, I have been living in the Philippines for five years. Knowing that tidbit of information, Randy asked me to write about something along the lines of how things are different than I expected when I first moved here. Frankly, almost everything is exactly as I expected it to be. I can’t point out any differences, even subtle ones.

I tend to write about things that come up as they come up on my own blog, Retired Kano. To do the same kind of thing here would be kind of boring. Instead, I’m going to harp on something I read at Yahoo Answers a couple of days ago along with an e-mail message I received.

Stereotypes Suck

This was written under the subject of “Retired Americans in the Philippines?” at Yahoo Answers:

Why do so many of the “worst” Americans retire in the Philippines? I grew up in an area with very classy Americans who had money and retired in places like Hawaii, San Diego, New Zealand, ect.

Those are all great places to retire, but why do so many of the fat, bald, broke, dateless, social rejects go to the Philippines. I mean some of these Americans come for prostitution or hang out in bars looking for a much younger woman. I mean there are lots of “good” Americans out there, but why do the worst ones always end up retireing in the Philippines.

I do notice that the Australians and Europeans are a lot more decent than the retired Americans. They seem to be more respectful and are more interested in the culture rather than some of the retired Americans who come here.

Why doesn’t the Philippines attract more “decent” retired Americans?

Anki Bisaya Phrasebook Flashcards

This was obviously a Filipino that hung out in the same places as those “worst” Americans. How else would he even know they exist? There are some scuzzy Americans living in the Philippines, but their numbers are few and there’s less and less of them as time progresses. Of course, he probably didn’t realize that he lumped all the American retirees together, which includes Filipino-Americans who’ve returned to retire. Maybe he did and he just didn’t care.

There are always two sides to a story.

Hidden Cultural Issues

An American who lives in the Philippines, who isn’t one of the “worst” Americans, sent me an e-mail message in response to one of my articles, but not as a comment on the article itself. This is part of what he had to say:

… and you will understand about the hidden issues in the culture. Even you closest relatives will have the main objective of your wallet. You become their health care insurance and ATM machine.

This is absolute bunk. If you act like you’re a rich American while living in the Philippines, you will attract the poorest of the poor and some of those are indeed relatives. If you live like everyone else, without flaunting what you have, you won’t see that kind of attitude. There’s nothing hidden about it. In fact, it’s the most visible part of the culture.

I don’t have a maid (or maids) and I don’t have a driver. Instead, I pay my relatives to cook, clean my house, do my laundry and drive me where I want to go instead of hiring outsiders. As far as how my friends and neighbors perceive me, the only thing they know is that I have a nicer house than they do and I don’t have to work for a living.

Would you consider me, based on what I’ve written, to be one of those “worst” Americans? If so, the former US Navy guy who lives down the hill from me (a Filipino-American) and the former US Navy guy who lives up the hill from me (another Filipino-American) wouldn’t agree with you.