15 September 2019

Australians - Starting a business in the Philippines



I think many Australians like the idea of starting up a business in the Philippines. They love the idea of being the ex-pat living the good life in Asia and having something small and cosy to earn a living off. Something laid-back and low-pressure compared to how life was back in the rat race!



Australian expats running a successful business in Philippines



And I think a lot of the illusion comes from the time that this Australian has spent here on holidays in Philippines and enjoying the romance. Travel.....new places....comfort and cuddles....leisure. Plus seeing money go further here than it does back in Australia. Cost of living is maybe a 1/3 of what it is in Australia, so the assumption is that one can live well in Philippines on 1/3 of the money and effort of life before.

And it is a good life, that's a fact. Weather is great. Filipino people are friendly. The ladies are lovely. And Philippines life has a stress-free vibe about it. I still remember my first month or so living here. I felt no stress at all! The household was me and Mila, three kids, one helper. We soon bought a car and hired a chap to drive the car. We spent a lot of time touring around exploring. I also discovered the joys of sitting outside with a San Miguel beer and watching the kids goof around.

And there's a way of life here, where it's OK to just do nothing if you feel like doing nothing. No one makes you feel guilty if you're not productive every minute. If you're a tambay then no one will ever criticise you for a sedentary life. If you wish to take a nap during the day, you take a nap. Goodness me! Do that in Australia and everyone thinks you're lazy! The ol' Protestant Work Ethic means you need to work hard and don't complain, and never be caught napping!

So yes, there's a strong impression and assumption that life is easy therefore business will be easy. Filipinos generally appear relaxed and appears not to be in a hurry, therefore so will be a business in Philippines.


Can you live the easy life in the Philippines?

Well, yes. If you're independently wealthy, then sure. Again, no one will criticise you and there's no culture of looking-busy. And yes, you can employ staff at affordable rates to do all sorts of things, whether domestic or in your Philippines-based business. No one will expect you to do hands-on work when you're the boss. Those who've owned bars in Philippines have soon realised that their job is largely on the other side of the bar drinking on talking $#!+ with customers.

However, you will find that if you want a business to be successful you will have to put a great deal of work in especially maintaining standards. Many a business owner has found to his horror that his trusted employees are stealing from him or just generally providing shoddy customer service when he isn't around to supervise. These are the businesses which lose money rather than making it, and will definitely lose customers.....more so if you're targeting Australians and other westerners.


Showing the locals the right way to do it!

This is probably the biggest mistake of all. Many an Australian expat comes to the Philippines loaded with business experience (or just a sense of overall superiority) and thinks he'll show up these Filipinos with western acumen. Serve the good stuff that Aussies like. Do it Aussie style. And the locals will all go "WOWWW!!" and shift their business across. Welllllllll, not likely.

If you target Australians and other westerners? Sure. If you can reach them and the market is large enough, sure. But getting out there and trying to compete with locals in their own game? Think again!

I brought Australian mangoes here a few times to show the locals what the good stuff is. Guess what? They didn't like them! Do they want pies and sausages? Yes, the westerners do. My mate Roy at Welsh Deli makes a great array of English-style sausages and meat pies. I got him doing a beef, bacon and cheese and they're excellent! Asked him the other day if he ever sold to Filipinos? Never! They don't want them.

Had a former client tell me he thought there would be a market here for trailers like we have in Australia. He just assumed they would like them. Suspect they would not. And if they did, they would only make them cheaper.

And my poor ol' mate Ross the Aussie builder (RIP) who tried to compete with locals found that (a) he couldn't work so cheap and (b) they were uncomfortable dealing with him. Plus, his workers only took advantage of him. We're just realising why a roof his men did years ago always leaked, and it was because he couldn't get up there to see they'd left it full of holes when trying to screw it down!)

Big issue, the first point above. How cheaply can you live or do you want to live? Are you OK living like your competitors live? Can you survive on the amount of calories a 5'2" 48kg Filipino can live on? Are you OK washing under a tap in the yard and sleeping on a thin mattress on the floor with a number of others? Have you ever seen how tradesmen on building sites live? Aussies would want to be put up in a motel and have pub meals. My mate Ross ended up dying because he couldn't pay for proper health care.


Successful Australian business in Philippines

Can it be done?

Yes, definitely! Look at amazingly successful and high-quality Registered Migration Agency practice Down Under Visa! Apart from the brilliance (and good looks) of Jeff Harvie, we're successful because our target market is Australians! We have something unique we can offer to Australians which is hard to find in Australia or even elsewhere in the Philippines, and that is an Aussie RMA with a Filipina wife and a Manila office.

Now, if I was targeting work visas and student visas to Filipinos? Maybe not so successful! Maybe they would prefer to deal with one of my Australian Filipino colleagues who specialise in that area. Maybe easier for them to deal with them, eg speaking in Tagalog.

Yes, there are Aussies who do really well here. I'm not talking about the superannuated and investment-weighted retirees. I mean those who set up shop and make some good money. And I'll include my pie-man Roy here, and a few others. They found something westerners want and will pay for, then went and did it really well. Look for what the marketers call a "market window". An unfilled area of the market where you believe you can do well in. Generally, like me and Roy, it will be to your "own people". Not in any way being racist. Just that business success means knowing your target market intimately.

For example, could I run a fashion outlet? Hairdressing salon? Nightclub that plays rap "music"? Not a snowflakes chance in hell could I do any of those, because I know NOTHING about those things and I suspect I couldn't relate well to the clients! Anyone who has met me can see that. Not a fashionista with a cool hairdo, and I detest rapping. With Aussie Filipina couples? Obviously I'm in my element. I don't handle student visas from India, because any Indian RMA will do it better than me and their clients will be happier talking to them. Not racist. Just about finding your ideal place. And it is NOT in competing head-to-head with locals.




01 September 2019

The Philippines School System - For Australians



We've got kids in schools here in the Philippines. Very different to the school system in Australia. A mix of good and bad, like most things you could say. Nothing can be done to change it, but it takes a bit of adjustment to when you've only experienced Australian schools.

I will say that Filipino kids seem to me to be better-behaved and more respectful than typical Australian school kids, but I think that comes down to how respect for elders is part of Philippines culture.



Schools in Philippines, filipino schools
Gorgeous collection of Filipino schoolkids


Schools in Philippines

You have extremes in Philippines, from some of the overcrowded and under-resourced public schools to the really expensive private schools and everything in between. And you have Filipino schools which are highly ethical, and others who will pass your child with wonderful grades even if they don't know very much at all. Let's go over some of the differences.

Public Schools


We had one of our kids in a Philippines public school many years ago, and nearly put a child into one on another occasion. Oh, and had one of our household helpers with a child in a public school once. So I have some brief observations only:

  • Often classes are overcrowded and child may not get a desk
  • The overcrowding means not much teacher-time for individual attention
  • Filipino public school teachers tend to offer to tutor your kids (for a fee, of course) after hours to get them up to speed
  • Expect (as a rich white person) to be flattered and invited to be the class PTA (like P&C) president or similar, because they want donations! We donated a P500 toilet bowl once (I think the school had two toilets for hundreds of kids....must have been a bit smelly!) and our child got remarkably high grades despite being a poor scholar!
  • Sometimes public schools have two "shifts", ie one from 5:00 or 6:00 am until about midday and one from then until about 7:00pm at night. They do this because demand outstrips classroom space. 

Private Schools


Philippines private schools go from the under-resourced and overcrowded right through to smaller classes and excellent resources. And they go from highly ethical to downright corrupt. 

What do I mean by "corrupt"? Well, private schools in Philippines are a business. They are there to make money for the school owners. More students = more fees, and parents (being parents) tend to blame the school if their kids are not doing well. Couldn't possibly be because little Marcelito is as dumb as a post or is just plain lazy. Must be poor teaching! Student doesn't do well, and they take their kids and their fees elsewhere. You may well find your child, who doesn't appear to be overflowing with knowledge, still ends up with fantastic grades in some schools. 

A bigger, better and more established private school will set and maintain standards and cannot be "bought"!

They will, however, tend to listen to you when you have legitimate concerns and will address matters more so than the public school teacher in Australia will do.


Philippines Schools - Some notable differences


English Instruction

Not sure about public schools, although I gather it's generally the same. Philippines schools teach in English! Filipino and Araling Panlipunan (exciting stories about the founding fathers of the Philippines Republic) are taught in Tagalog, but everything else is English. The grammar may be a bit questionable, and you can expect pronunciation like "Pirrrrst, sekond, tirddddd, porrrrrt....". Could be worse! They could say "Righhhhtoh, dja-avagoodweegend?" 

Parrot-Fashion Learning

Filipino students tend to learn a lot of memory-facts, ie the date of Jose Rizal's birth, the names of Emelio Aguinaldo's parents, English terms like "predicate" (heard my 5 year old daughter saying that yesterday) and other words I've never even heard of, names and dates of birth of composers, etc. What they lack is instruction indepth. Very little theory. Very little intellectual exploration of subject matter. They know English grammatical terms that I've never heard of, yet their grammar is usually poor. They even learn to recite reports off by heart! 

Bluntly? You can teach a parrot to repeat what you say, but the parrot has no understanding of what it means. I really dislike the fact that Filipino kids are taught to remember and repeat, but not to understand the substance behind the subject. But there's nothing I can do about it!

Regular Exams

Unlike Australian kids, Filipino school kids have a lot of exams. I think they have them four times a year, and they will do well if they remember Jose Rizal's birthday and what a "predicate" is. And once the exams are over, they usually forget whatever they had to remember because they then move on to the next set of memory exercises. 

Projects instead of "Assignments" 

They seem to spend a lot of time with colours and illustration boards! We have two kids in Year 10, and they still colour things in. They still cut out things from magazines and stick them on sheets of cardboard. Applying their knowledge to researching a topic in more depth? I don't see as much of it happening as I would have expected.

AND parents and/or older siblings will do projects for kids, and think nothing of it! 

Extracurricular Activities and sources of grades

I'm accustomed to marks and grades being earned through a demonstration of knowledge of a subject. Knowledge of facts and knowledge of how to apply that knowledge. To me? That's why you study in the first place. Yet in Philippines they give marks for:
  • Classroom participation (ie putting hand up and answering questions)
  • Dance performances, musical performances, drama performances
  • Sport participation
  • C.A.T. participation (ie marching with wooden rifles....watch out, enemies!)
Extracurricular marks could add significantly to overall grades, ie maybe 5 - 10%. Dancing or marching with a wooden rifle could push a child over the edge from failure to a safe passmark. A kid could actually fail an exam yet pass the subject for something that has nothing to do with the subject itself. 


Conclusion


I suppose my hope for our kids is that if they're interested in what they're doing they'll retain knowledge and their curiosity will take over. Worries me when I see Philippines college graduates knowing very little about what they've learned. Yes, this style continues into tertiary education too. We had a niece in her final year of a management degree be unable to cope with work in our office doing basic clerical work.

I have no solutions to offer, sorry. It is how it is, and they won't change it for li'l ol' me. I write this more to explain how it all works for those Australians who are new to Philippines schooling to help you to understand.






11 August 2019

Karaoke - Love it or hate it



What Filipino home would be without a karaoke machine? What gathering or party would exist in the  Philippines without karaoke/videoke making an appearance at some stage?


videoke and karaoke in the Philippines


I can remember many years ago when I first heard of karaoke, and sorry to say I thought it was a really dumb idea. No issue with singing or with music. Music has always played a major part of my life. Always a rock 'n' roll boy. Used to go and see bands in Sydney when I was a teenager all the time. I think it was the idea of singing to a TV screen that I had trouble getting my head around. Seemed like a very strange thing to do.

Oddly enough though, I used to sing as a kid. Not in front of anybody. Far too humiliating, and I suppose it was just part of growing up in 1970's suburban Australia was that many decisions you made were to avoid ridicule. Certainly a more critical and meaner lot than Filipinos tend to be.

So question is: Does Jeff ever pick up the microphone and sing?

Yes, I most definitely do. When and how? I had sworn never to ever sing to a TV screen over many years, and I had stuck to it. Then in 2010 at a party at a friend's place in Philippines I finally decided to have a go, much to the amazement of my wife and especially my kids. Jaws were dropping like flies! I even had a go at Martin Nievera's "Be My Lady", and seemed to manage the high notes.

Know what's odd? Never been able to hit those high notes since. The song requires someone who has a broad range, and I have my limitations. I suspect it was the quantity of red wine consumed that encouraged me at the beginning was sufficient to hide the fact I probably wasn't hitting those high notes as well as I thought I was. I guess we'll never know!


Karaoke in the Philippines


Is karaoke common in the Philippines? That would be an understatement! Almost everyone has a go, and a notable thing is you never hear criticism even when someone is clearly tone-deaf. Even those who invent notes that don't exist and cause the paint peel off the walls, they still get a clap and assorted words of encouragement. Me? I wince if I hear a single bad note in a song on shows like American Idol. Filipinos? Seem to never notice.

Therefore to get a household where everyone there has some singing talent, this is fairly rare. A few average singers and a whole lot of people who sing like they're "singing through a large sock full of custard with a mouthful of buwad (dried fish)" (credited to Perry Gamsby from Philippine Dreams) is more the norm. And the more alcohol consumed at a gathering, the worse it gets as the voices deteriorate and bravery increases. Add some heavy Filipino accents to English songs, and you can get a very unpleasant sound bellowing across the neighbourhood!

In fact when my daughter Remy first came to Australia, we played her the amazing Wing (singing Mama Mia, I'm fairly sure). How did Remy react? She started singing along! Didn't get the point at all! (Click on the link if you don't know what I'm referring to). This is because she grew up surrounded by singers who would make Wing seem like Celine Dion in comparison!

But basically, nearly everyone sings in the Philippines. Alcohol helps, but it's not a vital component. Birthday parties...house blessings.....even funerals. Yes, people will sing at the wake in the days before the funeral, and back at the house afterwards. Open coffin on display in one room, and a rental videoke machine set up outside for the mourners to enjoy.

And families with machines at home (like the Harvie family) will usually have a machine hooked up to the TV set and an amplifier. Requests of "Can we sing tonight, dad?" are pretty common. Remy and myself are the most enthusiastic, and Maggie (5 years old) is catching up. Remy and I sing "Way Back Into Love" and "What's up?" as duets, and Maggie likes "Eternal Flame" and "500 Miles" with me. And I'm so glad that all the kids have forgotten "Let It Go" from that awful "Frozen" cartoon movie.

Can be a great deal of fun, and it brings people together. Much better that a house full of people all glued to phones and devices.




28 July 2019

Forgiveness - That great Filipino tradition



Filipinos and Forgiveness


I touched on this before when I wrote about family tambays.

We had one of our nieces go off the rails many years ago. She was 14. Fell into a bad crowd. Was disappearing for days on end and they couldn't find her. She was openly defiant of her father. I was always fond of her since I met her at the age of 7 and she was very sweet. Got her Tita Mila (my wife and her auntie) to write to her. I asked her to add the line "....and your family will all turn their backs on you" as a threat. Veiled threats are good parenting, I've always found.





Then Mila said no, because she would never believe it. No one ever tosses a family member out. They'll give them hell. The more physical will give kids a good walloping with a belt, rattan or some part of the banana plant. But to turn their backs on them? Not that I've ever seen.


Australia and Philippines - and Forgiveness

Yes, I grew up in Australia. My parents generation? They were born in the 1930's. Grandma was born in 1911. Yes, they had their black-sheep. My great-Uncle made the terrible error of marrying a Catholic, and appeared to have been on the outer for many decades. His mother said the Irish are hoarding guns and would take over once the Pope gave the order, etc. And my fathers relatives? Never met a single one of them. Not sure what terrible crime they all committed. Apparently my grandmother on his side lived a few km away and no doubt I grew up walking past her. Had cousins 4 - 5 km away, and only ran into cousin Kerrie on Facebook recently!

Yet my generation became even less forgiving. Lost contact with father since I was a teenager. Organised his funeral for him a few years ago because no one else would. Spent more years avoiding my brother than not avoiding him. Grandparents, lost touch. Uncle, cousins, etc lost touch decades ago and am still not in touch.

Filipinos? Very unusual to have estranged family members. Family is the one constant, and the most stable aspect of Filipino society. Can't rely on the Government, but can always rely on each other.

We all have an historically-based sense of superiority in us, regardless of how much we try to deny it. I'm talking about descendants of the British Empire, and no doubt other former colonisers. We have this Great White Father syndrome that thinks we are the civilisers from the advanced societies, and the lesser-nations need to learn from us. I'd like to think this has lessened in myself over the years. And I suppose the proof of the pudding is in the eating as they say. All theories aside, look at the end results.

Families: Wise westerners are estranged from half their family members. Filipinos love and support and are supported by most of their own.

Marriages: Wise westerners with groovy stuff like no-fault divorce have a 40%+ divorce rate. Filipinos stick together and forgive each other their imperfections.

So who are the wise ones??


Middle Ground?


Yes, Filipinos can fight and squabble, and there are plenty of hurt feelings. There are also the bullies and the bullied. Confrontation is rare, and I DO believe that there are times when someone should be given a few home-truths. The tambay is a prime example. So is the womaniser. I've always been a person who clears the air, who says what needs to be said. And usually the kindest thing you can do for someone troubled is to confront them and say the harsh words that need to be said.

The issue though is forgiveness! A wonderful quality, and one that doesn't come naturally from earthly sources. Yet once it becomes part of your nature, it becomes fairly permanent. This is my personal BLOG and not a business thing, so hope anyone reading will allow me to speak my mind. You can believe as you wish, but then so can I. When you see yourself as an imperfect person....a sinner, as it were....it's much easier to forgive others. And unless you're a total narcissist, you KNOW you're far from perfect! I have an imperfect wife, and I remain endlessly grateful that I do! She has a highly imperfect husband, so why would someone like me deserve a perfect wife? I consider myself very lucky for all that I have! If she gets something wrong, then forgiveness comes quite naturally.

And my kids? Can be selfish monsters. Could cheerfully throttle them at times. I have one particular daughter who went right off the rails at age 15, and it took several years for her to sort herself out. Never lost hope, and she's now the kindest and most forgiving person you could ever meet and I'm very proud of her. Could have given up, and glad I never did. And I'm lucky to have a family who doesn't give up on me either.

So yes, my own middle-ground is to face things and fix things, but to ask for my trespasses to be forgiven as I forgive those who trespass against me! Pretty good deal that one! I deserve as much forgiveness as I'm prepared to give to others. No more, no less.



22 July 2019

Tambay - The not-so-productive Filipino male


The Philippines Tambay - The Less-Desirable Male





The Philippines Tambay. Every family has a few of them. These are the non-productive family members who have no jobs and no ambition, usually young Filipino males 18-35. The only time they show enthusiasm is when there's food, beer/gin/brandy and some company to "celebrate" with. Everybody's friend when there's free food and grog, and the very last person you want your daughter to get involved with. Oh, and usually quite skilled at bringing babies into the world that they will never support.

Again, every family has a few of them. And it really is something unimpressive to me.


Lazy People - Always a Cost

Living costs money! We consume! We eat food. We drink. We need clothes. We need medical care.
It all costs. And if you produce nothing yourself, other than defecation and carbon dioxide, then someone else's labours are going to go toward your support. I don't know.....something in the way I was brought up. I can't feel for a second that this is OK.

I have enough trouble with royalty and heirs to parents wealth in the west. Always have. Yet at least in those cases you know there is plenty to go around. If some prince or princess on the UK public purse had to get a job and pay their own way, it wouldn't made a dent in the vast wealth that exists. However we're generally talking about people who live off poor people! For someone to keep the family tambay fed and clothed, it means they work harder. Or if they can't work harder, it means they may do without something. Maybe that's food or education for their kids or medicine for themselves. I can't feel that this is OK!

We "cured" one once. Has a job now (working for us), and has some purpose. Years ago when I first met him? Spent a lot of time sleeping, and a lot of time with his silly mates (barkada, ie similarly lazy friends). Lived off elderly parents and an older sister who spent her entire adult life working overseas to send money back to pay for the likes of him. This paid for him to sleep and to be the life-of-the-party wherever he went. A 30 year old man shouldn't live like this!




What surprises me is no one says anything about it all! The tambay isn't embarrassed. They will even be quite proud of the fact they're living off a hard-working OFW sibling and contributing nothing. Their elderly parents can work right in front of them, and you will be lucky if they manage to wash a few dishes on occasions. But family always come first, and it takes more than laziness to see someone kicked out. And the tambay knows this too.


Philippines - A land of contrasts

I've always said that everything here is black or white. Not much in between. I'm talking about the nature of people you meet. Someone is either a candidate for sainthood or one of the devil's barkadas. Honest and kind, or a lying user-and-abuser. Faithful and moral, or a complete [I'll leave the word out!]. Ambitious, or can't see past the next five minutes. Working like a slave for the betterment of their families, or a lazy tambay.

Yeah, I definitely don't like it. I'm not known for keeping my mouth shut when something seems terribly wrong. My thinking is that evil pervades when good men do nothing, and someone doing nothing whilst someone else sacrifices for them? This may not fit a definition of "evil", but it's in the same camp. But I know nothing will change. All I'm certain of is that these people will not get my support. My adult kids work for a living, just as I do. And I married a worker! To each their own, I suppose. All I can say is that there are no welcome stumps nor is their any endless food and Red Horse supply at my door for any tambay and never will be!


15 July 2019

Filipina Girls - Romantics Always



Filipina Girls


I often make posts on Quora. Usually about visas, but also about things that capture my interest. Sometimes a post really annoys me, and one the other day did just that.






It's a modern-day cute lovers-thing to celebrate a "monthsary" when a couple have been together for a month. Someone had asked the question about whether the popularity of the monthsary was because of the short-lived nature of Filipino relationships.

I disagreed with this, and explained myself I thought fairly well.

OK, I can't especially speak for the motivation of young Filipino men. I would say driven by the desire for sex and being cool, like most young men are and were. Surprise surprise! But the driving force behind relationships here is usually the woman....the Filipina. And they are made of sterner stuff than the implication that relationships in the Philippines are short-lived.

The girls? They are ROMANTIC! Most girls give their hearts truly only once in their lives. Their first love is usually their first AND last love. First boyfriend in highschool usually becomes husband and the two grow old together. I look around most couples I know here, and I see ladies who are loyal and committed.

Does that mean they take crap? Does that match the awful cliche of the subservient "Asian woman" who believes herself inferior to men and was "trained from birth that her purpose in life is to serve men"? If these ladies exist, I've never met one here! The ladies I meet here are tough! Highly capable and courageous. They do whatever it takes to protect and advance their families. They work like Trojans, and truly are the Proverbs 31:10-31 woman you read about. Works hard for her family, and is honoured and respected by those around her.

This is a country where a 50 year wedding anniversary doesn't make the newspapers. It just means they're both in their 70's. They married. They stuck together through thick and thin, for better for worse, and doing that for 50 years is not an achievement of a weak woman who gives up easily on a relationship. Not at all.





I married a good woman. A virtuous woman who's price is far above rubies. She never stops moving, always making things happen. And fiercely loyal to me! Watch out for anyone who would hurt me, con me or disrespect me while I have my Filipina terrier on guard! Couldn't wish for a better wife, nor a better friend. How many of you can truly say you married your best friend? I know I did. And she comes from a long line of strong and capable women with busy hands and minds always thinking of the future and how to make it better for those that they love. And no doubt our daughters will go on to be the same, with such a great role model.



01 July 2019

If I were a rich man...


White man in Philippines....MUST be rich



rich man in the philippines perception that all foreigners are rich


Regardless of how "rich" you are or not, you will always be seen as rich in Philippines. You're Australian, ie a "foreigner"? That makes you rich. And compared to the locals you are, and no one seems to be able to get past that. People see you, and they see dollars.

And yes, some wish to part you and your hard-earned money. Scammers are everywhere, even within families. But it's not always like that, nor is it necessarily meant offensively. Although I have to say I really don't like any reference to being "rich" and I'll explain why.


"Rich" - Philippines versus Australia


Different attitudes toward being "rich" between Philippines and Australia, you find. Philippines? I think the "rich" like being known as rich, and are happy that people treat them differently. Australians? Not so much.

Australians are egalitarian by nature. We believe in a level playing field, where everyone gets their equal share of rights and their equal share of respect. We have a natural disdain for "classes", and don't like it when we see anybody treated as lower than others or even as higher than others.

Philippines? Most of the time the rich are very showy about it all. They wear branded clothes....showy rings and necklaces etc. You will see them in S&R (imported groceries store in Philippines) with household helpers wearing uniforms pushing their shopping trollies for them. For many there is no "I'm just like everyone else" attitude.

Australia? Australians understand this, but Filipinos would not know unless they'd been to Australia and seen how things work for us.

We Aussies like to see everyone at the same level. We don't believe that wealth and human-worth have any correlation at all. If someone is less-affluent (we would NEVER use the word "poor"), we will lift them up. If someone is "rich" and acts in a proud (mayabang, for the Filipinos) manner, we will humble them. And we can be quite blunt about it and will refuse to bow down to anybody just because they have a bigger house or a better job than us. We have respect for humble people and contempt for arrogant people.

I think a lot of this comes from Australia being a former colony of England. England has long been a class-riddled society, with the "common" people expected to "know their place" and not to "get ideas above their station", ie the station in life. If you were born the son of a tradesman then you became a tradesman too and you humbled yourself before the rich-and-privileged. Australians reacted to this, and thus you have a society which appreciates the man who has money and power yet acts just like everyone else. Our politicians ensure that they attend football games and are seen drinking beer in the pub with ordinary people.


A humble rich white man in the Philippines



I'm an Australian in the Philippines. I've had to adjust to staff calling me "sir". I don't like it, but it's the way things work here. If you are TOO humble, staff can get the wrong idea and assume you have romantic ideas about them if they are female or think that you are a bit stupid if they are male. So you accept this, and you make yourself a bit aloof. It prevents future problems in most cases, although we still get it wrong regularly. Too soft, and people take advantage. They are used to rich people being hard and strict, so you need to at least hold back a bit.

I’ll explain what I find hard to take. I don’t like being identified as “rich”. I don’t like being seen first and foremost as being “rich”, and when people can’t look past that aspect of you. I wish more people could just see me as Jeff the person! Jeff the husband of Mila. Jeff the dad. Jeff the kind person. Jeff the soft-hearted. 

I had someone say hello to me the other week. They told me they wish they were like me, ie “rich”. She made it clear she wanted donations for the school where she worked, too. She will never know me....who I am....whether I’m even nice. Yeah, I’m sick of it. Love the Philippines, but miss the anonymity I had in Australia which allowed me to be seen as me.