Foreigner's blog on PHL goes viral

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Friday, December 6, 2013

A FOREIGNER'S take on culture in parts of the Philippines, including Cebu province in Central Visayas, has gone viral on the Internet.

Nathan Allen's blog post titled "What I REALLY Think Of The Philippines...," which chronicled a year of living and traveling in the Philippines, gained 27,306 likes on Facebook as of Friday noon.

The post contained photos that included a little girl taking a break from digging through trash in Intramuros, Manila and the skyline of Makati City, and a jeepney in Palawan.

"Yes, there is a lot of poverty. So much poverty. I have really been smacked in the face with it now that I'm finally leaving. I tend to make the most of wherever I am; to overlook the bad and only see the good in every situation - or at least try to," he said.

"If you're a westerner traveling through India and the Philippines for 14 months like I have, this is kind of a necessity," he added.

Allen lamented the lack of education and the Catholic Church's stance on birth control has not helped the situation in the Philippines.

But he also noted a "huge distinction" between the heartbreaking poverty in big cities like Cebu and Manila, and what the experience in the provinces where villagers "simply don't have money."

"You see, many people out in the villages, they are happy. They have very little, and they don't seem to want for more - I believe 'poverty' is in the wanting, the longing for things one doesn't have. The villagers are not impoverished - in many cases they live rich, full lives," he said.

He said families in the provinces have their faith, families and friends, "and (hopefully) plenty of food that they can grow themselves or farm from the sea."

"They live so simply, but again, they are happy. From my perspective, there is a lot to be learned from this simplicity. It illustrated to me how in many cases poverty is just a state of mind," he said.

On the other hand, he said almost all the money in the Philippines is "in the hands of only a few families (dynasties)."

Allen also cited the negative aspects of US "culture" especially in Manila and Cebu, which he said also drove economic growth.

"For the sake of 'fitting in' and looking fabulous, they spend a very disproportionate amount of their income on a Frappuccino at Starbucks or a new pair of designer jeans. Then they take a jeepney (public transportation) back home to the slums in some cases - with barely a roof over their head. Again, this is that 'culture of poverty,' and I think it's a byproduct of U.S. style consumerism," he said.

Allen also said it is not enough for a visitor to spend his or her time in Manila, saying one gets to "really" love the Philippines "once they got out of Manila."

Allen also found the religiosity "overwhelming," noting there are churches in shopping malls.

Yet, he noted some "sins" are acceptable in Philippine culture, saying gambling, drinking, and men with mistresses are "very common."

Allen also noted the acceptance of the gay culture, adding the Philippines is "such a tolerant country with so many widely celebrated gay stars/contributors to society."

However, Allen also lauded the Philippine people for being "the world's most soulful, genuine, hospitable and HAPPY individuals."

He also pointed out the unique traits of Filipinos, including pointing with their lips and using the expression "nosebleed" when a foreigner asks a question in English.

But he also noted other traits such as "Filipino time."

"Everything is communal - Filipinos might feel uncomfortable eating a snack on a crowded bus without offering some to those around them. There is quite a bit of social etiquette in this culture. Dinner for a group is ordered 'family-style,' and you'll always find that nobody wants to be the one to eat the last bite on the plate. Not even I will do this anymore!" he added.

Allen has left the Philippines on December 5.

He posted on his Facebook account, "Sad to leave the Philippines, but SO happy to see my nanay soon!" (JK/Sunnex)


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