Life in the Philippines on a Comparative Basis – Part 2: The Bad


In the first part of Life in the Philippines on a Comparative Basis, the writer noted a good number of things that he enjoyed about living in the Philippines. In this second part, he will talk about some of the aspects of life here that he isn’t so thrilled about.  Again, minimal editing has been done – mainly just some of the more egregious grammar and spelling mistakes.  Note: All of the photos in this post were taken while I was in Bayawan.



With all the good things, noted, let me now get into some of the things that drive me crazy living here.

1. Spitting
If you look you will notice that almost everyone here does it, no matter where or when. Especially when they exit a door going out, first thing is spit, men women and children. I walk a lot and am really tired of seeing the blobs everywhere. I was sitting across from a Gasul distributor [natural gas supplier], having a beer and in a 30 minute period the worker came out five times to spit. When the kids run out of their classrooms they spit. Mothers waiting for them spit. It’s disgusting and nauseating.

2. Shouting
Filipinos don’t talk to each other – they shout in each other’s faces. They shout from house to house, all day – every day. They are so loud it raises my blood pressure. So many times I have asked people to talk, not shout. All to no avail.

3. Muffler Noise
It doesn’t matter how small the engine, I nearly always have to stop mid-sentence when loud-mufflered bikes go by because you can’t hear. They take the baffles out of the muffler so it’s just a straight pipe, or they have the home made pipes that are straight pipes. Also the big diesel trucks. I have to block my ears when they go by.

4. Air Horns
They use them anywhere, anytime, and for no reason, or at a time when they think it will make traffic move when all it does is frustrate people. You know the horns I mean: The one’s that just about blow your head off if you’re too close. Almost gives me a heart attack and should be banned.

5. Neighbor Noise
All lined up are rows of amakan, bamboo and plywood houses behind my rental house and all day every day they shout between the houses: ate, dai, bla bla bla, koan ka bla bla. It’s especially annoys me when it’s coming at 5 in the morning. Around that same time, all the stereo systems seem to go on. The radio programs are the worst, they have those commentators that when they finish a phrase there’s some bleating noise comes out. They all seem to have them full volume so everything is distorted. Sometimes I can hear four or five sound systems at the same time. And then they start the sing along so it’s like one big karaoke party at the crack of dawn. WTF?

[Ned:  Uh, you noted you are spending $2,000 a month here and you don’t live in a better neighborhood?  You gotta move, man.]

5. Heeeey Joe!
I walk a lot in rural places twice a week. When I do so, Filipinos feel compelled to say something as I pass by. I don’t know them, and they don’t know me, so what the hell? Then you get the laugh even if you don’t react, and you know they just made some smart-ass remark at my expense. Don’t walk past a school room when the class is on or you’ll get hit without about fifty “Hey Joe’s.” And if you do react, it just makes them laugh all the more and makes the situation a whole lot worse.

[Ned:  Learn the language.  A brief scowl with a “Oy – Dili mangit ug away” (Hey, don’t go looking for a quarrel/dispute) followed by a blazing smile usually gets a lot of laughs. I actually like the “Hey Joe” thing – as soon as I see someone getting ready to do it, I preempt them with a “Hey Juan!”  That’s also good for some laughs.]

6. Dogs – A National Crisis
The poor buggers! They are everywhere, wandering roads and byways by the millions. Sometimes there’s four or five per house. Every single one has fleas and mange and is malnourished. Sometimes they are tied to a one meter chain or kept in a tiny little cage. If I go to someone’s gate there’s like three of them all going ballistic and the owner tries to talk to me like they’re not there, buong ka (are you crazy)? This country is like one big dog farm even when the owners don’t have money for themselves never mind the dogs. It costs 1500p for a spay or neuter, while it should free through government subsidy. I would say it’s one of the biggest crises this country, but it seems like something that is not going to change anytime soon.

[Ned: Don’t get me started. It’s just so damn sad……]

7. Not Lining Up

I don’t know how many times I’ve been in a line up and someone butts in, just kind of drifts in to the side. Or I’m walking up steps or in a crowd and someone steps on the back of my thongs so I almost fall. Filipinos don’t like to give any space. And they don’t line up in a line behind people – they kind of come in from the side.

[Ned:  Don’t forget stopping to check their phone at the bottom of a stairwell, escalator or when getting off of an elevator!]

8. Tossing Trash
When I drive into the town near where I live the road sides are full of veneer bags and rice sacks full of garbage – most them ripped open by dogs and spread all over the place. If you go to a sari-sari store, on either side there’s a line of junk food bags, cigarette butts, discarded water bags, you name it. School playgrounds are just a field of bags and garbage. All because of lack of education and lack of caring. It’s an unbelievable mess!

[Ned: Yeah, it’s pretty horrific.  If they want a boost in tourism, they really need to address the trash thing.]

9. Bakeries where everything tastes the same – Sweet
Things look different but they all taste the same – sweet and sometimes salty. The Philippines really need some education on whole wheat flour. Oh what I would give for multi-grain breads and good bakery stuff.

10. Carrendarias
I try not to eat at them anymore because everything is laced with Magic Sarap (MSG) and salt. I get a skin rash if I eat out at them for a few days.

11. Palm Oil
If you have ever been to Indonesia or Malaysia you will remember seas of palm oil palms. That’s what they do with the land after they slash and burn the rainforest. Really enrages me. Then we get the smoke. So I don’t ever buy palm oil. But why is it so prevalent and sometimes hard to find coconut oil when the Philippines is literally covered with coconut trees? Maybe they export it all to China.

12. Driving
If I wasn’t a defensive driver with a lifetime of experience I would have been killed here years ago. It’s all one lane in both directions where I live, and the frustrated drivers behind the slow trikes pass when they feel like it even when it’s right in front of me. I don’t know how many times I have been on the verge of getting hit. It’s really ignorant and stupid.

13. A Gazillion Churches
Nearly every square block in the Philippines has some kind of religious structure! Why do they need them? Someone tell me. The Baptist ones are always playing music, the Catholic and Iglesia ni Cristo churches are all begging for money. They all have weird rules that dominate your life. Why bother? I look at the sedimentary rock my area is built on and see millions year old fossils of coral and giant clams. Oh really? God created this a few thousand years ago? Ya right. Get a brain – hallelujah.

14. PA Systems
How many meetings have I seen where the room is as big a living room but the speaker is using a microphone and PA system? Churches, seminars, classrooms – for nearly anything. It’s not needed, yet no one questions it.

[Ned: Filipinos love microphones and sound systems.  And name tags.  And rice…]

15. Pork and Goat Pricing
The number one meat eaten in the Philippines is pork. But if you live where I do you see endless numbers of goats wondering about. If you go to the palengki and try to find goat it’s not there, unless it’s a big market. When I do find goat – which is super delicious and low in cholesterol and fat – it’s like three times the price of pork. Why? Pigs require intensive care, special food, they stink and are noisy and the meat is the fattiest and highest in cholesterol of all. Who decides the price of the goat meat? Why is it so expensive? Goats don’t require any real care. Just let them roam about and they breed like flies. WTF? Why not make them half the price of pork and sell the meet everywhere? I’m serious. There are millions of goats here. Three times more than pigs! So, why the high price? Must be cultural.

16. Fat Women
I don’t know why but compared to a few years ago there is an explosion of overweight, chubby, fat and obese women over the age of about 30 in the Philippines! Is it an increase in the middle class due to OFW’s and immigrants? Is it a lack of caring after having kids and the hubby not doing it anymore? Why and why so suddenly? I don’t know, but everywhere I look they are there with flowing blubber.

[Ned: Sheesh, man, cut them some slack.  Especially after seeing all the fat older expats running around with sexxay little Filipina sidekicks. And I think the white rice diet might have something to do with it as well….]

17. Floor Ladies in Stores
I really feel sorry for the poor things for they have to endure ten hours a day six days a week. The floors are as slippery as ice but they still have to wear heels when they should be wearing rubber flats. They wear those stupid nylons, short skirts so they can’t bend over. The makeup is so thick you could peel it off and use it as a mask. All rules from some idiot not living in the real world with no regard whatsoever for human comfort or respect.

[Ned:  I agree.  It’s pretty bad.  A good number of them are supporting their entire family on their pittance of salary, so they also deserve loads of respect.]

How many security guards can you count in a department store? Who opens the door for you in a convenience store and carries automatic weapons at banks?  Searches your bags endlessly, sitting outside of every imaginable building. Imagine what would happen to the unemployment rate if they only had the one necessary security guard? How many bicycle, tricycle, motor drivers, and taxis are there?  They are you everywhere you look. At least 50 percent are redundant and unnecessary.  Need I go on? What a mess!

19. Christmas from September to January
Every retail outlet from September until New Years is playing f……g Christmas music. WTF?? What the hell is wrong with this nation? It doesn’t snow here -there are no reindeer. It’s multi denominational. Why four months? Who decided? Just another nonsensical no brain for no reason just bullshit that nobody bothers to change.

[Ned: Christmas is nice.  Should be a year-round thing. It is weird hearing White Christmas while sweating through your t-shirt in the tropical heat, however….]

Thanks again to the unknown person who sent me this.  Much appreciated.




  1. Attitude, man. It’s all in the attitude. Check out Kyle Jennerman’s Becoming Filipino page on FB. He finds beauty and happiness in the simplest, most depressing-looking areas he finds all over the Philippines. He understands this is not the first rate country he grew up in and adjusts his attitude accordingly.

    1. Attitude is a big part of it. When I first moved here to the Philippines, my now wife texted me with, “Welcome to the Philippines!” I responded callously, saying, “This place is a sh*thole! I hate the Philippines!” Now I love it and I want to stay here for a long time. I’m learning Tagalog/Filipino quite well, I’ve been to some really nice places, and it’s pretty much my new home.

      The air quality isn’t always very good where I’m at, and since I like to run a lot, it’s sort of annoying. However, I’ve adjusted my schedule so that I run late at night–anywhere from 12 am – 2 am, when there aren’t many Jeepneys or vehicles out. Is it safe to do that? Probably not, but I “felt” less safe doing it in the U.S.

  2. I just want to say in light of this pt.2. Today i went to immigration to pick up my sons and my passports after waiting a week to be completed. There was an old man from the US probably easily in his 60’s maybe early 70’s. He had his i would say between 19 and 22 year old wife with him. He was telling me he is leaving in 12 days to go back to the states and never coming back. Said he has been all over the world and the Philippines is the worst amd he camt wait to leave…..i looked at him and said thats terrible but i never want to leave. He looked at me with a smirk and said he has been living here for 16 years. Just as i was about to say to him…if you hate it so much then you must be the dumbest person in the phils since you stayed that long amd didnt leave when you hate it but have a choice weather to go or stay…..the lady took me aside to give the passports…man was he saved. I was going to give him an earful….

  3. The weight gain issue…ahh progress. I have traveled to and from the Philippines since 1988. The economy and standard of living has changed dramatically. Even 20 years ago people were working for 100-120 PHP per day and a JollieBee chicken joy was 120. There was no real middle class. Now there is a booming middle class (just visit MOA) and they spend. Fast food is of course a favorite which triggers obesity.

  4. It does get old hearing the single syllables of moans and grunts which sounds like uneduacated langugage. As was said of early morning radio with the added laugh track the reving of scooters and the incessantly beeping of scooter horns just to see if they work. With all the bad one see’s, I seem to have a truly over abundance of love shown to me by my Pino family.

  5. Why live in a congested neighborhood? That is easily solvable. Then to poke fun and internally belittle people for worshipping God shows some arrogance. Anything related to noise is right. It is a very loud country and you simply have to get use to it. No way around that one.

    There are negative aspects of every culture or country. We tend to miss them around us, but notice them in other places. Very easy to do. There is an old song by Jonny Mercer entitled Accentuat the Positive. Your perspective on a situation forms your attitude and attitude is everything.

  6. It’s nice to hear his view on the negative aspects of living in the Philippines, and I would agree with some of them, (I lived there for only 7 months).

    The one point I would strongly disagree with is his view on churches in the Philippines. I think their views on family and God is what I appreciated most from my time there. I would say a lot of men western men looking for Filipina wives would become frustrated if most of these women were more like western women in respect to how they treat men. I do believe their upbringing, (which a strong sentiment to family and God) make them more suitable for a partner in marriage.

    Of course I made some generalizations with this comment, but I can only take what I have learned from my own personal experience. I dated numerous western women through my life, and am now married to a Filipina for almost 3 years.

  7. It’s all about location. Even here in the US, there are places that you don’t want to live. We live in Washington state, but still you have to be choosy which part you reside. I’ve been here in the US for more than 12 yrs. and my American husband wouldn’t rent cheap apartment before because that’s where you find all the troubles: noise, drunks, and prostitutes, he said. Fortunately, we bought a townhouse 7 yrs. ago which only middle income people can afford. Some of the are Filipinos.
    BTW, I am a 55-yr. old Pinay planning to retire partly in the Philippines soon. The things you mentioned were all true the reason I want to live in the countryside away from all those things. This is just my personal opinion, no offense to anyone! 🙂

  8. I think perhaps the writer might be happier moving to the USA where are leader is a total moron but we have such a great standard of living cough cough! Again if this is the same guy maybe you Oughta quit drinking so much look in a mirror at yourself take your own inventory and quit criticizing what are arguably some of the nicest people in the world do I live in the Philippines at this point? No but that is the plan and I will live by the water on a beautiful beach and be grateful for everything that God has given me especially my absolutely wonderful Filipina wife and child.

  9. The zombie drivers are my pet peeve. But just when I’m feeling fed up, I look next to me and see my 19 year old beauty queen, and all these problems just disappear!

  10. Sounds like a lot of his problems would be solved by him taking the time to choose where he lives; and
    Developing a thicker skin like a Grapefruits instead of an Onions; and
    Developing coping mechanisms for his issues.
    As a Foreigner you cannot change the Philippines or Filipinos they have to want to change their country or themselves for things to improve; and
    We all including Filipinos know thats never going to happen otherwise why do think so many are trying to leave the country.

  11. Thanks Ned for publishing this, Jonie and I had a good laugh reading … I have accepted most of these points as an exercise in patience (and lord knows I have been in sore need of for most of my adult life).. Hope you feel better soon as I just recovered from the same thing :0

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