Being in another country for the first time brings a whole new perspective on interacting with others. As an American, our customs are what I would call familiar. I would even go as far as to say a bit cold at times. What I mean is that we tend to say what is on our minds or have no problems with the “me first” attitude.
Today I woke up at 1pm on a Monday, and it feels as if I have been in the Philippines for months. A sense of normality in my routine; outside of not working out or sticking with my “normal” routine back home in Omaha, Nebraska. You see while here in the Philippines, I am here for business. I work overnight, and even though it is close to my normal working hours. It has become a challenge to working these hours for the past few weeks.
You see, not only are the hours quite an adjustment for me. It is very hard for me to locate vegan options in Manila; where I am staying. On the upside, there are plenty of options for grocery stores, as well as S&R; which is a wholesaler like Costco or Sam’s Club. Basically, I cook most of my own meals, with the occasional outing where I can find vegan options. I have found that Soya Bar, Super Bowl (Chinese food), or the Armynavy taco and burrito has some vegan options. These are my go-to places to eat out at this time.
Like when I was in India a year ago. They too eat rice with every meal. Americans do not do this and find it hard to eat that much rice. I did the first week; as it was better than eating nothing. I did find myself eating way more carbohydrates than I am used to. However, now that I was able to go to S&R to purchase food items in bulk. I now have what I need, for the most part, to cook in my room. Closely based on what I would eat at home in a week.
Even with my dietary restrictions, I still love it here. I find the culture is warm, friendly, and even a bit awkward. Let me explain. Here they call you “mam or sir” a lot and overly nice; based on the culture back home. It took a bit to get used to and find it comforting, as it has a sense of respect and order to it. Everyone is polite, respectful, and even smiles all the time. The first weekend that I was here. I took a Grab (same as Uber), and the driver was very kind, funny and protective of where I was going. The driver’s name is Marlon, and I felt very safe and use him while I am traveling in Manila.
There was an area of interest while going to metro Manila; and he clearly stated to me, “this is not safe for you. You cannot get out here”. At first, I did notice the area was not what I would call safe by American standards. This made me feel like he cared about my safety. Not only as a female but as a tourist. The driver stated he would have to escort me to the store, then back to the car. He said that I would be safe here. In the end, it was an experience, and of course, I was safe during this adventure.
Once we got back to the car, Marlon asked where else would I like to go today. I stated that I want to go back to the hotel. At that moment he replied, “no you must not let this ruined your day. I will take you to the Mall of Asia”. At first, I was taken back by this remark. But later realized that he wanted me to have a good experience while here in Manila. So off we went to the Mall of Asia. By the way, this is a huge mall and recommend wearing walking shoes. He dropped me off and picked me back up; in Infront of the Hypermarket store. I actually had a great time and felt completely safe during this trip to Metro Manila.
I just want to share what experiences and how my stay here in Manila is going thus far. I am loving it, and the people are great. But, I am still trying to get used to hearing ma’am a lot. Everywhere I go it is “ma’am”. Philippines are overly nice based on what I am used to in the United States. However, with that stated. I am finding out that much like the rest of the world; the Philippines has a lot going for them. Everywhere I go, guys, open doors or greet you respectfully; always look happy. I will continue to provide my experiences and journey here in the Philippines with you.