Back home in Manila, and feeling out of place

Meanie!!Meanie!! because pex PEx Veteran ⭐⭐
By Raul Dancel, Philippines Correspondent In Manila


A month in Manila, and I am dazed and confused - even terrified.
For seven years, Singapore was my home, and it was very good to me. It kept me safe and comfortable, and I knew I could always count on it.

I could always jog around Yishun park in the wee hours of the morning, certain no one with a gun in his hand would jump out of a bush to relieve me of my iPhone and running shoes.
I knew that when I turned on the tap, water would flow from it - sweet water I could drink. I never had to worry about an hours-long blackout in the middle of a hot, humid, mosquito-infested night.
Buses mostly arrived on the dot, and the train schedules were so predictable I could arrange to meet someone right inside the train. All I had to do was provide the time I'd get on the train at my station and which carriage I would be in - near the front, somewhere in the middle, or further back.
Then, last month, The Straits Times sent me to Manila to work from there as its Philippines Correspondent.

I grew up in Manila. I spent more than three-fourths of my 40-odd years there.
In the past seven years, however, Manila had been more or less like Las Vegas or Disneyland: I returned to break the monotony, enjoy the place, even when I suspected I was being had.
I could stand all the inanities and profanities Manila could throw at me because I knew that, in the end, I would be heading back to Singapore.
In Singapore, I always enjoyed the cab ride from the airport to my humble flat in Yishun after each long vacation in Manila.

In that precious hour, I'd peer out the window and take in everything I missed about Singapore: the clean streets; the wide, smooth roads; the Lego-like, perfectly stacked HDB blocks; the magnificent skyline; and the uncle behind the wheel talking about everything from the weather to politics and foreign affairs.

I left Singapore on Feb 18, and I don't think I'll be back any time soon. The uncertainty has been particularly jarring.

I know Manila, and I speak its language, but having been away for seven years has frankly made it somewhat a stranger, and I think it finds me odd as well.
I sometimes speak in a funny way, for instance.
Here in Manila, words like "take-away", "having here", "lift" and "going back", not to mention "tapao" and calling any senior citizen "uncle" and white guy "ang moh", are taken differently.
Here, it's "take-out", "dine-in", "elevator" and "heading home". "Uncle" is reserved for your father's brother. "Ang moh"? That's just an alien word.
The other day I told a cashier at a KFC outlet that I'd "take away" my two-piece chicken with rice, and she insisted I meant "take out". I said "take away" three more times before I gave up when she started looking at me like I didn't know how to speak English properly.
"Take out," I conceded.
So far, I have managed not to say "lift" when looking for the "elevator", and I haven't asked anyone packing their bags and getting ready to head home if they're "going back".
But I still ask for the "toilet" or "loo" whereas people here say
"restroom" or "comfort room". The euphemism, though, is misplaced because over here, these rooms rarely offer either "rest" or "comfort".
The toilets at the malls are fine, but anywhere else, it's pretty much a lottery draw: You'll be lucky if you can find a cubicle with toilet paper or one, just one, unclogged receptacle.
Over the past month, I've been trying to stay true to my Singapore etiquette, but it just makes me look like a self-righteous weirdo here.

Here, a moving escalator is meant to be stood on. People don't clear the right-hand side to give way to others in a hurry. The escalator moves so you won't have to - that's the philosophy here. Anyone trying to hurry on an escalator is considered boorish and pushy.
Out on the street, zebra crossings are little more than street art. Pedestrians don't use them. They cross the road whenever and wherever they like and as if they just woke up with a hangover and are heading for the "comfort room", half-asleep.

People are often seen crossing the road right below an overhead bridge, too.
Motorists who honk at jaywalkers are lucky to get the evil eye. More often, the response is a sharp rebuke: "Go fly!" Or, "Buy the road, jerk!"

Manila's many other peculiarities are now becoming familiar once more.
Like the security guards. They're everywhere, guarding every doorway they can plant their shiny, black, plastic boots on.

They stand at the entrances of malls and carparks, in their white and blue uniforms, poking through bags with little sticks and metal detectors and patting everyone in a manner that verges on groping.
They guard banks, restaurants, schools, grocery stores, Internet cafes, street corners, gated communities. I have yet to see a pair, though, in front of a comfort room.

The irony is that, despite their ubiquitous presence, they seem to do little more than impede the flow of human traffic. They mostly just stand at their posts and go through the motions.
Yet, through it all, despite the occasional aggravation and the mild culture shock, I know that after seven years away, I'm back home.

Manila may have its warts and quirks, but when I take a step back, I know that these are precisely what makes the place interesting. It's not Singapore, I know that too.

- See more at: http://www.stasiareport.com/the-big-story/asia-report/philippines/story/back-home-manila-and-feeling-out-place-20140323#sthash.JvzcKF4g.dpuf


******

Ano take away niyo dito mga pexers? :)

@mods kung may similar thread pls delete.
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Comments

  • istarbaksistarbaks Member PEx Influencer ⭐⭐⭐
    Ang take ko? Medyo maarte sya... 1/4 ng buhay nya sya nawalay sa pinas, na pareho namang asya ang tinigilan, feeling out of place na? Para namang wala syang nababalitaan sa pagbabago ng pinas (o kung wala mang pagbabago).

    I'd say hindi pa sya marunong mag adjust sa iba't ibang kultura ng iba't ibang bansa. Singapore at pinas lang eh out of place na? Sus, ako nga mahigit kalahati ng buhay ko (and counting) wala ako sa pinas eh di ko naman nararamdamang out of place ako. Sure, may mga pagbabago like pagtaas ng pamasahe. Pero ganun pa rin ang pagsakay at pagbaba. Nabago na ba salitang "para"? Masyado lang nyang feel ang Singapore kaya nakalimutan na nya mamuhay sa pinas.

    Kung in terms of employment ang sinabi nya, baka tumango-tango pa ako. Dahil, ako man, hindi ko yata magagawa pang magtrabaho sa pinas dahil sa kaibhan ng sweldo at benefits, pati na rin yung pag commute sa work.

    Ewan ko lang sa ibang readers, pero ako wala akong simpatiya sa kanya. Hindi rin naman bago yung mga issues na inungkat nya kaya wala lang...

    :glee:
  • Meanie!!Meanie!! because pex PEx Veteran ⭐⭐
    Ang sa akin naman, tama naman na on the surface, maraming advantages ang SG vs Pinas - and how I wish ma-adopt natin yung ibang sinasabi niya pero yung mga pinopoint out niya kasi like 'take out' and 'sekyu' parang mababaw. Hindi na tuloy uubra yung 'this is my home' dahil sa mga yan.
  • Larry LegendLarry Legend Member PEx Legend ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
    Similar thread already exists on http://www.pinoyexchange.com/forums/showthread.php?t=706407. All discussion for this topic should be moved there. Mods please lock this thread.
  • Meanie!!Meanie!! because pex PEx Veteran ⭐⭐
    ^ Thank you, Larry. @mods paki-delete nalang dun nalang kami sa lafi.
  • istarbaksistarbaks Member PEx Influencer ⭐⭐⭐
    Meanie!! wrote: »
    ^ Thank you, Larry. @mods paki-delete nalang dun nalang kami sa lafi.

    merge na lang, wag naman delete. [email protected], sa mobile phone pa ako nag type nung nasa itaas tapos idi-delete lang.... konting habag naman dyan :D
  • The_trutherThe_truther nothing but the truth PExer
    Raul committed the GRAVEST SIN of all: to criticize Filipinos or Filipino society.

    It is a fact: Filipinos do not take criticism at all. Even if one is just expressing frustration or venting, Filipinos will take criticism personally. Any criticizer will be bullied to oblivion.

    Criticizing Filipino society just adds salt to fresh wounds. The onion-skinned brigade have nowhere to go; highlighting the ills of their society only reminds them of things they cannot change.

    Moral lesson to all this: Filipino ex-pats should just shut up and never criticize Filipinos or the Philippines. Just be grateful that they have a choice: to leave or stay. The onion-skinned brigade do not.

    ~The_truther
  • nikkilovenikkilove Member PEx Influencer ⭐⭐⭐
    ok lang, na may ibang thread dito sa BP, may World War Z dun sa lafi thread, :glee:

    kasi naman yung ni nitpick nya, oa naman.

    nakipagtalo pa dun sa kfc ng take away. where i live, its "to go", pero alam ko pa rin naman, na paguwi ko, kelangan kong i-switch back to "take out".

    alam naman nyang "take out", ang tawag natin dun, makikipagtalo pa sya.

    pati mga sekyu, tinira pa nya, eh inaano ba sya ng mga sekyu?

    actually, worried ngako na walang sekyu. ano ba nangyari sa Boston school and sa Colorado-Batman premier shooting.

    depende din kasi sa criticism. pag criticism na maka inarte lang, makakainisan ka talaga.

    pero like what i said, kanya kanyang peculiarities yan. feel nyang ma culture shock, eh di pagbigyan. :glee:
  • istarbaksistarbaks Member PEx Influencer ⭐⭐⭐
    ^^ tatang, hindi naman criicism yun eh... inarte lang. promise :glee:
  • crocopiecrocopie Luis Suarez No. 7 PEx Influencer ⭐⭐⭐
    The problem is, the criticizer is just as pikon as the critici-zee.

    Stop being hypocrites and work together to solve the problem.
  • emoticonsemoticons Member PExer
    Parang Di naman masyadong matagal ang 7 years para makalimutan kaagad ang pilipinas :rotflmao:

    Kaya Siguro Di masyadong sineryoso ng mga readers

    Besides, I-compare ba naman ang first world at third world? Buti sana Kung India, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, mga ganun, Pwede pa!
  • emoticonsemoticons Member PExer
    nikkilove wrote: »
    ok lang, na may ibang thread dito sa BP, may World War Z dun sa lafi thread, :glee:

    kasi naman yung ni nitpick nya, oa naman.

    nakipagtalo pa dun sa kfc ng take away. where i live, its "to go", pero alam ko pa rin naman, na paguwi ko, kelangan kong i-switch back to "take out".

    alam naman nyang "take out", ang tawag natin dun, makikipagtalo pa sya.

    pati mga sekyu, tinira pa nya, eh inaano ba sya ng mga sekyu?

    actually, worried ngako na walang sekyu. ano ba nangyari sa Boston school and sa Colorado-Batman premier shooting.

    depende din kasi sa criticism. pag criticism na maka inarte lang, makakainisan ka talaga.

    pero like what i said, kanya kanyang peculiarities yan. feel nyang ma culture shock, eh di pagbigyan. :glee:

    At Saka kahit Europa, America, Canada, at Australia, iba-iba rin tawag sa isang bagay. Kagaya ng word na elevator, apartment, guy (bloke)... So bakit parang big deal sa Kanya yung kaibahan ng English dito? Kahit nga sa amerika, May mga regional differences din sa lengwahe!
  • Carlos_BCarlos_B Member PExer
    if he was a little kid when he left manila maiintindihan ko kaartehan niya pero he was in his 30's na nung umalis e. this makes him like every other pinoy na tumira somewhere outside pinas, pagbalik ng pinas "doon sa ano hindi ganito" mode sila.
  • kensamorkensamor Beneath the towering pines PEx Influencer ⭐⭐⭐
    When in Rome....

    The author made himself out of place.
  • Carlos_BCarlos_B Member PExer
    ^ when in Rome....eat real Italian food :lol:
  • scottstorchscottstorch omnipotent PExer
    ^ :lol:

    When I was in Rome, we call the toilet WC or banio most of the time. :bop:
    "Dove il banio?"

    I can relate to the author with his usage of "having here" or take-away :glee: sa atin kasi dine in or take-out.
    Para namang napakatagal na nyang nawala sa Pinas. :glee:

    I agree naman na sa atin maraming mga security guards and their "ubiquitous presence :bonkself:" is a normal setting in most of our establishments. Dito naman walang ganyan, puro CCTV.

    OA lang sya masyado leh
  • BeerhandBopBeerhandBop I Am WHIP PEx Influencer ⭐⭐⭐
    also i just realized that the author is a guy... or.. more likely than not, a ghey.

    grabeng kaartehan.. tsk tsk.
  • Taga-dagatTaga-dagat Member PExer
    7 years. Antagaaaal nyang nawala ha.
  • isQuashisQuash siguro nga PEx Influencer ⭐⭐⭐
    oks lang naman sa akin ang mga hinaing niya kung tipong sa isang wow na wow na bansa siya nakatira.

    singapore lang pala. :lol:
  • lonely_pinoylonely_pinoy wag kang ganyan PExer
    Take out, take away, to go......well I think this is rocket science. that person should be settled at least four hours away fr the phils like japan para at least may jetlag naman.
  • TDJakesTDJakes Member PExer
    the main problem is that Filipinos always want to compare the Philippines to 1st world country. Hey, did you forget that the Philippines is NOT a first world country. It's nowhere near as wealthy as Singapore. I think Singapore is the wealthiest country on Earth, per capita. When did you ever think that the Philippines was comparable to the wealthiest country on Earth?? Be realistic and compare Manila to cities that it's actually comparable to, like Jakarta and Mumbai. Manila is actually better than those cities. It's not as nice as Bangkok, but I think the next step is to become like Bangkok. I think Manila can get there in 10 years.

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