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Things I Wish I Knew Before Moving To The Philippines

Things I Wish I Knew Before Moving  To The Philippines 4

Things I Wish I Knew Before Moving  To The Philippines

By Erica Villas of Girl Unspotted

After living in the Philippines for nearly six years, I could honestly say that I like it, despite a number of things I’m not entirely a fan of. Forfeiting my ticket home was kind of an impulsive decision, and with hindsight, there are definitely a few things I wish I knew before committing to that. Not that it would have changed my mind, but it would have been nice to know nonetheless.

1.) Your diet will be compromised.


Us Filipinos love to eat. And if there’s one thing Filipinos know about their food is that everything is better fried. That said, it’s quite a struggle to find balance with my diet. Especially for college students, unless you’re willing to splurge a little more on your weekly budget, then eating healthy is going to be a problem. Not only are the healthy meals pricey, but they’re not easy to find either. Cooked or not, healthy ingredients are not always readily available.

2.) The country runs on extreme bureaucracy.

Not that it’s always a bad thing, but when they make you go through five different windows with about 20 people in each line, just to process some minor documents, it could get really inconvenient. I understand it could be a scheme to provide more jobs for people, but it’s very time consuming and unnecessary especially when some certain process can be simplified. For example, I recently applied for my Nursing license. I took the board exams a year ago before I got married, and to me, it just makes sense that once they print my license, it would be nice if they use my new last name. But in the Philippines, you can’t just do that. So after waiting for three months to get my license with my maiden name, I have to file another application again to change my name and wait another three months for them to process it. Now that’s just silly.

3.) Filipino culture thinks it’s okay to be bullies.


Ok, they don’t entirely advocate it, but the sense of humor here tends to be more on the blunt side. Somehow, it’s not considered rude to tell someone they’re fat. No no, not in a subtle “did you gain weight” type of way…but in a blatant “you’re fat” no shame type. If you turn on the tv, the idea of comedy includes making fun of someone’s broken English, skin complexion, or general physical appearance.

4.)  The public buses aren’t all that bad.

For my first few years here, I would refuse to go out of my way and commute via public transportation. I wasn’t entirely spoiled, but that was probably the hardest part when I decided it’s time to step out of my comfort zone. I’ve heard too many stories that I avoided the idea as much as I could get away with. But I realized how much I’ve been missing out– all the places I could reach! Soon enough, I managed to get comfortable with it and long bus rides are now my favorite. Since then, I’ve been able to make a journey to different provinces with or without the company of anyone!

5.) You will fall in love.


The truth is, I was born in the Philippines and spent a part of my childhood here. But moving to a different country at a young age where I adapted entirely to their culture, it wasn’t easy to get reacquainted to my birthplace. I expected the worst, you know, the ones that they show in the news. But the more I’ve gotten to know the beautiful places here, the more I opened up my heart to it. It’s such a beautiful country, and if you know where to look, people are incredibly kind and goodhearted. So yes, I’ve fallen in love. Because here I am, six years later, ready to see the rest of the archipelago. Yes, there are things about this place that I absolutely cannot stand, but I suppose that applies to any place. And would knowing all these things I listed stop me from coming? Absolutely not.

About Erica of Girl Unspotted

Erica is a third culture kid who grew up in the land of the free, but moved around too much to consider any place “home”. She’s a nurse by profession and an adventurer at heart. Currently sojourned with her husband in her birth country, Philippines,  Erica has an undying affinity for virgin beaches, secret waterfalls, small rustic villages, abandoned buildings, long bus rides, hole in the wall restaurants, hikes to extraordinary views, and substantial conversations with strangers.

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17 thoughts on “Things I Wish I Knew Before Moving To The Philippines

  1. Bureaucracy here is really a nightmare I would like to avoid as much as I can. Of course, we cannot go without extolling the natural beauty of the country which in unparalleled.

  2. I get the same feel on diet when I am in my hometown in Baguio as I have all the access to my favorite food. You’ll definitely fall in love with the Philippines because of its numerous natural attractions.

  3. The public bus isn’t all that bad. I also believe the same – minus the traffic. lolz. I’ve read some of Erica’s blog posts and the most recent I have encountered was about Colibra Island.

  4. I absolutely agree with you that our diet will be compromise coz I have been to philippines a few times and there are too many nice food there. The lechon, seafood and also desserts.

  5. About the bully thing, that’s really frustrating, especially online, there are soo many haters! the Smart Shamers, the Grammar Nazis, and just a lot of mean people. It’s so discouraging.

  6. I definitely agree on #1 especially for us Cebuanos where lechon is superior, seafoods are readily available, and mangoes are sweeter (although mangoes from Guimaras are also exquisite).

  7. I agree with the issue on bureaucracy. Hopefully this, along with other public services, will improve over the next months. Every country has its good and bad. With the Philippines, you’ll see the good in its many natural resources and the warm-hearted and hospitable people.

  8. That bureaucracy is annoying. Especially with long lines. But yes I can image you would fall in love there! Seeing those pictures! About the bullying… That’s awkward to me. Why would that be humor or fun. But every one has his own kind of humor I guess 🙂
    I though that Dutch people were straight lol.

  9. Its embarrassing but I think number three is almost true. You can also notice that on social media’s. They will even say that they are not bullies, but one comment and one share they are not aware that they are bullying that person. I am a Filipino so I want that to stopped. But I do hope you won’t generalized that all Filipinos are like that. We still have a lot of personalities that I think you would love.

  10. Lovely insight of life on Philippines. I was surprised to find out how many similarities my country (Serbia) and Philippines share. Specially buses.. you have to get used to them (it may not be pleasant, specially in the morning, when everyone goes to school or work) but i love bus drives

  11. Yeah, the part about Pinoys being ‘bullies’ is pretty true. But usually, the ones who will say the “hard core” things like you’re fat would be that unknown tita that you always see in family gatherings, and friends who you’ve cultivated and awesome and tight relationship with. :3

    PS: DIET?! What Diet?! hahaha! But yeah, I find it hard to budget a healthy meal, especially if you want to get away from the usual Pakbet and Bulanlang(veggie soup). Oh, and of course, you can’t forget the rice. hence, carbs all around and no more diet. :3

  12. On the bullying side, blame it on the liberal kind of democracy. We were made to believe that we have the right to express our opinion w/o regard to the human right of the other person.

  13. Wow , that last photo is breath taking ! What a spot ! Your whole story reminds me of the place where I live . On an spanish island in the Atlantic ocean , all what you are talking about ( bureaucracy , different understanding of humour) reminds me so of their attitude. Mañana ( tomorrow) is there favourite word . But at the end , looking at all the beautiful things and adapting slowly to their life rythm , you feel HOME . The nature is so beautiful there , how easy to get used to 🙂

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