Filipinos like familiarity. They like doing things that everyone else is doing. Actually this is true with the rest of the world and not just Asian countries, but we are probably more likely to follow. Does that give us a lemming mentality or a crab mentality? Probably a little bit of both if you ask me. Now the average person here is not inherently corrupt like the crab mentality, but they definitely will jump if everyone else is jumping like lemmings on a cliff. An odd example deals with my boss, the same one that "saved the day" at L.A. Cafe a few weeks ago.
Basically when my boss goes out alone here in the Philippines or in other Asian countries, nobody talks to him. He's a decent looking guy and a professional call-center consultant, mind you, but his limitation going out is often the same thing that helps him: He's a white foreigner. Now you might ask what is the significance? Basically Filipinas are scared to be labeled as bar girls, pickup girls, or prostitutes if they are seen alone with a foreigner. It's not as bad as it used to be for them, especially since there are so many foreigners in Manila for long-term business (years). Filipinas now realize that there's about a 20% chance that he's not a tourist. Before I go further, this can apply to Japanese, Arabic, Indian, black, Chinese, and other Asian men as well who are not Filipino. In this case it hurts the chances of my boss. Again, I only say "hurts" because my boss has met his share of quality girls and even some celebrities when he's alone over the years he's been working here. But more often than not, he meets new people when he's out with us.
When the boss is out with us, suddenly the same Filipina girls who were not paying any attention to him or were ignoring him are immediately fascinated with him. Their defenses are broken down to reveal their true feelings now that other Filipinos have "broken the ice" with him. I always catch them staring, as do others with us. It's as if we have put him through some sort of screening process and by hanging out with him it's as if to say "He's cool, he's one of us." Rather than continue to elaborate, I'll assume that you get the picture.
So my advice to all of you foreign guys here in the Philippines who are just simple men who are not interested in meeting money-grubbing bar girls or prostitutes is to always bring friends along. Even if you are only here for a week or two, I suggest that you find an assistant and pay him or her to hang out with you. It will be worth it, I promise you. This assistant can keep the bar girls and the gay men away from you and be the conduit to meeting people worth your time such as young and single yuppie types. Obviously this applies mostly to people in the 25-40 age range. After that, the rules change a little and is beyond the expertise of yours truly.
February 20th, 2005
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