Tuesday, July 22, 2014

pros & cons: manila

A short list, but you've got to start somewhere so let's just jump right in.

pro: the weather!
It's beautiful. This may be because I hate winter, but the warm, sunny days are perfect!

con: the weather.
It's rainy season right now, and the Philippines sees about 20 typhoons a year. These can mean some pretty nasty weather and are a huge danger for those that live in settlement housing, causing displacement, damage to infrastructure, loss of property and even loss of life.

pro: so many western things
As I learn to navigate the rings of malls and specialty shops, and get to know the big expat community, it's easier and easier to find all the things I love from home. Maybe the brands won't be what I'm used to, but that's not usually a problem.

con: so many western things often sell out and are restocked way later in the season
You want it? Buy it now. Actually, buy two. One time I found stroopwafels and that was amazing.

pro: easy transfer of driver's licence
Even though mine will forever say I weigh in at 63 kg because I was pregnant, all I had to do was pick up a form and fill it out, walk to another building for a "medical", wait for awhile ma'am, step on a scale, wait for awhile ma'am, read letters on the wall wearing my glasses, walk back to the main building, hand in the paperwork, sign some things, sit and wait, sign some more things beside that first place, sit and wait, sign yet more things beside that place, sit and wait, pay, sit and wait even more, pick up my fancy new plastic licence! So yes, maybe it sounds like a long process, but I don't even think they actually looked at my Ontario licence - so I get the feeling that anyone can be licensed here. And I get that feeling because... 

con: traffic
There's so much of it and it is not pretty. We've got:

  • maniacal drivers
  • jeepneys
  • lack of signage
  • lanes that end or do not connect past an intersection
  • lanes that don't really matter. If your vehicle can fit, you get in every last small space you can see.
  • so many cars
  • optional turn signals
  • motorcycles that sneak in everywhere
  • sloooow and erratic three-wheeled vehicles in some parts of the city
Although I have my licence, I still have yet to drive here. Jeff drives, and he's done a great job navigating the "rules" of the road here. I suppose if you don't like it you could hire someone to do your driving for you.

pro: household helpers
You can hire people to do all the things you don't want to do and it's affordable. Gardeners, drivers, helpers or all-arounders (to clean the house, pay your bills, shop, run errands, water your plants, take care of your cat or even your kids... whatever you need), yayas (nannys), pool guys, you name it. You can even hire people to come to your home and give you a manicure or pedicure, a massage, even take your blood if needed.

That said, a big con is major income inequality.
I live in a neighbourhood that's private property, which is right beside a gated community, which is right beside an informal settlement. To say there is a major divide between the rich and the poor in this city is an understatement. I know I am very fortunate.

In the same breath, they say the Filipino spirit is unbreakable, and most people we meet are incredibly friendly, welcoming, and so helpful. It's an adventure living here and I can't wait to explore more of the over 7000 islands the Philippines has to offer!

1 comment:

  1. Wow, great list. I don't know much about the Philippines. Thanks for sharing! That weather looks crazy!