When living in the Philippines doesn’t spark joy anymore

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]My years of living on the road taught me to live a minimal lifestyle and own fewer things. I never had to declutter unless it’s underwear that I have to constantly replace. If you look at most of my backpacking pictures, all my clothes are the same. I never had the urge to watch Tidying Up With Marie Kondo because it was irrelevant to me. I also heard she has a translator who’s always following her and I really hate watching two people talking to each other in different languages. So I unlisted this on Netflix.

But I constantly hear the phrase, “does it spark joy?” from friends and family. And it made a lot of sense. It’s a simple question that has no other meaning but that. Does it spark joy? On one of her books, Marie stated, “discarding is not the point. What matters is keeping those things that bring you joy.” This doesn’t have any other meaning because you only need to look at what makes you happy. You don’t have to put meaning or dwell on the opposite like most of us humans do. We can choose to live each day by choosing joy. It’s that simple.

Since it was easy for me to get rid of stuff (I swear, for me, if it’s a no, then it’s a no. I don’t cling to anything material), I have used this reference to nearly anything and nearly everything. Moroccan teacups, Indian carpets, everything had to go not just because I packed my house in the Philippines to move to Mexico but because they already served their purpose in this chapter of my life. Before packing up, this “spark” extended way beyond material things: My gardener doesn’t spark joy, he gets fired the next day. A gorgeous crawling plant slowly invading my window sill, I gave it away the same hour I felt it didn’t spark joy. Carwash service, dry cleaning, service of a certain restaurant I frequently go to, keto diet, drinking alcohol, smoking cigarettes, Manila, living in the Philippines — when you come to think of it, objects are not the only things you can discard but also your way of life.

It’s funny, isn’t it? When Israel kicked me out because of my unjewishness, the Philippines, the country I was trying to avoid all my formative years was the first place I booked a ticket to. When I left 10 years ago, I swore with all my heart that the Philippines is not the place I will choose to live in. Ever. If you read the linked post above, you will understand that Israel only gave me 10 days to pack my life in Tel Aviv. 10 days to decide where to go next. 10 days to think about the next big move.

I realized that we will always be connected to where we are from and when we come across circumstances like this, we will always turn to our “home.” It’s convenient. It’s easy. We will always be accepted no matter what as opposed to going to some strange country we really love where we need to do a lot of paperwork. 10 days doesn’t even cover the number of documents you will have to process. But I did it. I went to a place I didn’t like because it was an “emergency.”

I lived in the Philippines of the year and each month of that year, I was out of the country. I spent 14 days in Vietnam in January. The next month, I was in Bangkok. The following month, I went to Taiwan. If you check my 2018 highlights on Instagram, through the reposted videos with timestamps, you will see that I barely enjoyed the home I was renting including the car that I bought. You will never see anything about my life at home, how I designed my house, things I do at home – in one full year, that home hardly sparked joy. As soon as I come to that “home,” I am opening my computer and booking a ticket to the next destination. I feel like my partner and I rented the house for our dog.

Foreigners who plan to live in the Philippines will somehow get this post from their Google radar so let me make this clear: I am a Filipino who lived in the Philippines until I was 21 so circumstances are different for you and me. Imagine yourself in your home country, what do you see? That’s the only question you need to answer. If you are happy, then I am happy for you. If you’re not, well, I guess we’re on the same boat.

I once had this conversation with an Australian friend who was very confused about why I didn’t like living in the Philippines. I threw the same statement back: “to be fair, I never really heard you say good things about Melbourne. You always wanted to get out, that’s why you’re here in the Philippines.” I emphasized “living” but I never said it was ugly or I hated it. For me, travel-wise, the Philippines is the most delightful country to travel to (not even one of but only) because of its incomparable beauty. I have been to a lot of countries but nothing’s like the Philippines. There is not a doubt in my head about that.

But living is way too different.

I left the Philippines a few years ago because I couldn’t deal with our impermissive society. I couldn’t go out without a bra even if it was the most comfortable thing in the world for me. I needed to transform into a well-behaved person when my mom’s friends are around. I need to be good in academics because, at that age, it was your only weapon for respect, not for you, but for the people who raised you. There was an unspoken rule that I needed to conform to the general public. I had a career that the people around me would praise me for, not because I was a great human being. I might have been a pain-in-the-a$s teenage girl but I followed the unuttered mandate because my friends were also doing the same. I can never say no because growing up, I was given everything and anything. I can never complain about how I was raised because it was a happy childhood.

I always wanted to leave so at 20, I pushed myself to study in Italy. My mom was very supportive of this but when I lived a different culture, I suddenly didn’t want to study. I unexpectedly realized it was a social currency for me. I instantly connected with people who didn’t have much but are going after something they want to do. Their opinions about studying were not at all, strange for me, considering I grew up in a culture that highlights the importance of a University degree. All those things came rolling when I left the Philippines. The week I arrived in Italy, I miraculously changed all my opinions about my life – it was that fast. My mother was very unhappy about me leaving school to travel the world but what I will always remember is that I was raised by a woman who lived in her own terms. And I did just that. I left. She cut my financial support because there is no way she’s going to pay for my world travels. And it will always be vivid to me that she did not stop me from leaving nor verbally supported it. I knew she will be okay with my “poor” decisions at one point. I went away, off the radar for a few years because my chosen destination had a 14-hour difference from the Philippines. And believe me, that mattered a lot. The disconnection was so helpful in making me explore the many different versions of myself. Without judgment. Without fear.

I once wrote about why we always like to talk about other people instead of us. I don’t know where you are from but where I am from, you will be greeted with, “you know what happened to ano,” (“ano” is “what” and often our go-to word or filler).

“Did you hear about the ano?”

“Diba the neighbour got ano?”  (Diba is “is it not” in English. We like to speak in Taglish.)

There will be so many anos and dibas on the dinner table and since I did not live in the Philippines for a long time, I don’t even know these people they are talking about. It was so easy to ignore it at first until the story becomes a face. It then transforms to “she’s the ano I was telling you about! But keep quiet lang ha, you don’t know anything kunyari. It’s between you and me lang.” Okay, that was too much Taglish but the point is, it’s always going to be “between you and me.” I have always been caught in a situation where I needed to keep quiet when meeting a person even though I know most of the details of his/her life.

The Filipino culture is also very particular about weight, be it men or women. Women get the weight greeting the most but men were not excused. There was this one time that one irrelevant ex-colleague told me, “ang taba mo,” (“you are fat!”).

I looked at her with dismay and told her, “this is what you call fat? I mean look at me!” I don’t feel fat. I am okay with my body. I weigh 118 lbs and that is fat in the Philippines??!!! I am sorry if I don’t meet your standards because I know I am not required to but seriously, look at me: I am what we call fat in the Philippines?!

Weight is an issue anywhere in the world (I guess not in Europe) but let’s look at social media: those who are super skinny are the ones who get millions of followers, hence, the world’s definition of beautiful is skinny. And fat people are not in that equation. But in the Philippines, it is more prevalent. Instead of “hello,” “you are fat” is the normal greeting. I think we are the only culture who blatantly says it in public like it’s a big deal. It’s not even coming from being concerned about the health of the “fat” person but it’s more of a physical shaming.

I look around me and there is no one in the room who practices what they preach. The hypocrisy in my country is so prevailing. We like to do long sermons but in reality, we never religiously follow it. You can’t do that, you can’t do this, it’s bad to do that but man, I witnessed many people express their moral standards publicly but their behavior never conform. This false virtue is coming from one of the good traits of our culture, respect for the elders. This phrase is repeatedly tackled every school year no matter what grade you are in: respect your elders. Respect your elders. Respect your elders. I think we were even asked to write it 100 times on a legal pad!

We’ve been raised to never reason to people who are older than us because, in this culture, older people are always right because of their experiences. Even people who are 40+ years old cannot answer to their sister who is 43 years old. There is always a hierarchy in the culture of the Filipino family. Oh no, we never looked at it as “expressing one’s self” when we answer back. No matter what we say or do, no matter if we are wrong or right, as long as you answered back to someone older to you, that is already considered disrespect. Even if you say it in the most respectful way. God, now that I am writing this, I can’t find reason in that![/vc_column_text][us_separator type=”default” style=”dashed” text=”You might also like” align=”left”][us_grid post_type=”ids” items_layout=”20495″ ids=”6871, 58″][us_separator type=”default” style=”dashed” align=”left”][vc_column_text]As months go by, I noticed I was becoming like it. You see, when I was traveling for an indefinite time, there is no room to have a deeper (not to mention more controversial) relationship with people as I was always moving from place to place. And if I am close to them, these people on the other side of the globe does not have one bit of gossip girl DNA in them. The relationship has always been meaningful as everyone spoke about themselves. I drowned in gossip and I couldn’t get away from it even if I never liked the environment. I thought being different was wrong. That being me was wrong. So I had to ride that boat just to keep up.

There was also a lot of drama in very small things I couldn’t even enumerate them. We grew up in this telenovela culture and we are not even aware it became a big part of our culture. So much that we embody all the drama from the shows. You will hear the television blaring with crying and shouting. And for what?

I also noticed how people were not supportive of each other, let’s say in the blogging community. There were so many cliques. We are only supportive of the social circles we are in but will speak ill of those outside that circle. But hey, nobody does that face to face. There are many obligatory relationships in our culture that even if we don’t like the person, we need to be nice to them when they’re around. This is one thing I never had to follow. I mean, why would you hang out with people you don’t get along with anymore and in the end talk behind their backs because you were agitated by their presence? It was so easy for me to say no, even to the people I grew up with. But this, of course, deemed me different. Rude. Impolite. They’d rather have me around even if I wouldn’t be good company. Who sits down for dinner with people they don’t like? I mean, who does that???

But I did have a great circle who’s supported me, loved me, and accepted me for my ‘indifference.’ I am very lucky to grow up in a community of odd, where everything is accepted with very little judgment. Family is, and will always be difficult. I’ve accepted that. In all types of culture, family is never easy. During my first months back, I have questioned myself about how unwilling I was to adjust to family. That I always wanted to be a lone ranger but my family accepted that about me. However, in our impermissive culture, there are only a few families who let their children do what they want. Our close family tie is the reason why many young people do not reach their 100% potential. Many young professionals lives are still dictated by their parents and they are very obedient about it. I know so many people who want to get out of their parents’ shadows but couldn’t because they feel like it is wrong. That by doing so, they are being disrespectful.

I kinda won in life for having a mother and aunties who let me be and respect my individuality. This led me to accept who I am – to accept it’s okay to be different.

Everything that I was or am told that I couldn’t, shouldn’t, won’t, or can’t do — I do. Everything that was or is ignored and didn’t/doesn’t matter — I make matter. Everything that was or is pushed to the back burner by someone else — I bring to the forefront of my life.  – Alexa Loebel

I have always been afraid to be called someone who does not vigorously support their country but there is no country I support anyway. I’d like to believe I am from everywhere and that wherever I am, there I am. There are so many people who don’t agree with their cultural norms and I have accepted that I am one of them.

And this was one of the driving force that led me to book a ticket to Mexico. Many people ask me how I just go, or how I decide where to go but honestly, I have always relied on how I feel. In my formative years, I put my feelings on high priority when it comes to living the life I want to live. The day that I am unhappy with something is doomsday for me. I can and will never compromise my happiness. Because I’ve done that in the past and it’s very ugly.

Never say never they said. I don’t know if I will go live in the Philippines again but who knows? Nobody knows what life will bring us so I am focusing on today.

And today, I feel like living in the Philippines is not for me. Saying that out loud or writing it is one of the best things I’ve done in my raw life.

To you, who’s reading this, always remember that we are not limited to flourish in our hometown, in our home country, or where we are registered as citizens. We can and we will always thrive somewhere else because we are us — our individuality and our drive will lead the way.

No matter where you are from, don’t you ever force yourself to exist in a world you do not like. Getting by will eat you alive.[/vc_column_text][us_message color=”yellow” icon=”fas|pencil”]
This journal entry is raw and was never edited. If you see any typo and/or grammatical errors, contact the author! She’s really bad in editing her own words. Your help will mean a lot to her!

And if you like her writing, consider donating to Trisha’s coffee fund. It takes her a lot of time to come up with something meaningful to write – a cup of coffee really helps![/us_message][/vc_column][/vc_row]

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  1. Your honesty is refreshing. I admire how bold you are to write about our culture and I totally get it. I am also from Philippines but I chose to live in Sydney. I find people here can truly focus on their craft and passion and change it if that passion has served it’s purpose even when they’re 50 and no judgements. And now that I am a mom, I want that for my kids. They can be whatever they choose to be. This post sparks joy for me! I hope my kids will be brave as you one day. ?

  2. Parehas tayo ng sentiment, Trisha. That’s why I am going to live in the US later this year. I don’t hate being Filipino, but I just don’t like the cultural aspect of it. Foreigners will love it here because they’re being worshipped and pampered, but not so, if you’re also a Filipino yourself. Parang ang labas, racist tayo sa kalahi natin. At saka ung issues, madami niyan sa Pinas, ung tipong naglalakad ka lang sa labas ng bahay mo, pag-uusapan ka na. Never ending conspiracy theories and gossips. Kaya mas gusto ko tumira sa condo, kung san di ko kakilala mga kapitbahay ko and nobody gives a fuck, may sense of privacy. Philippines is a nightmare for an intellectual like me. We Filipinos have strong common sense, and you will notice that pag naitabi mo na sa lahat ng lahi ng mundo. But we’re not that into intellectualization kasi emotional ung culture natin. I crave deep philosophical and intellectual discussions, not the usual drama or slapstick humor ng Pinoy. Corny nga jokes ng Kano kasi masyado silang intellectualized. Pero they don’t crucify intellectuals and they gather all the intelligent people in the world. Dito babarahin ka na mala-Vice Ganda: “Eh di wow”, “Ikaw na magaling”, “Dami mong alam”. Di ko naman sinisiraan ang Pilipino may mga magaganda tayong traits kaso sabi mo nga, living in the Philippines no longer sparks joy. Taga-Manila ako, sawa na din ako sa sight ng Baywalk, Luneta, Mall of Asia, Manila Bay. At saka sa mga Kano wala silang issue sa katawan, and walang pasakalye. Dito kasi ang drama, sabi mo nga, mala-telenovela. Ako kasi ung tipo ng tao na walang paki ke single mom ka or di ka tapos or anong religion mo or may tattoo ka ba, basta mahal natin isa’t isa and ok naman tayo, un na un. Dito kasi daming dramarama. Well, it’s the culture. Iba ang dynamics ng Tinder Philippines sa Tinder America. Parang Big Brother Philippines and Big Brother US. Sa PBB house, maghalikan lang, big deal na, sa Western countries, nagsesex pa sila kahit may camera, wala silang paki. At saka lahat dito mabagal sa Pinas, parang weird sa atin pag mabilis ka eh, unlike sa US, pag mabagal ka mumurahin ka na nila. Pet peeve ko talaga ung mabagal, and sa naging working experience ko, ako lagi pinakamabilis and lagi akong pinaghihinalaan ng kung ano2x. Sino ba namang di mabwibwisit jan. You’ve done your job quickly tapos ikaw pa masama. Kaya di umuunlad Pilipinas. At saka ung obsession sa titles, nakakairita din yan. Ayoko talaga ng mga doctor na Pilipino. Ok ako sa mga nurses and PT’s. The doctors here are purely mechanical, parang ABCD sila mag-isip. Where’s the critical thinking? Yan ang problema sa title for title sake. Gusto matawag na “Doctor” pero wala sa puso ung pagpapagaling. Kaya nagiging joke tayo sa Desperate Housewives eh.

    Philippines is still home. I am proud to be Filipino. But I couldn’t bear living here anymore. Maybe for a short vacation. Sa Boracay since fave ko ang Bora but that’s just it. Same with foreigners who no longer aspired to live in their home countries.

  3. Hi Trisha,
    Pinoy here living abroad for years now. I also hate this gossip girl culture in ph. But I think this is more prevalent in big cities. Whenever I go home, I skip the cities right away and go to the province. Aside from the stunning nature, I also like how people live simple lives in the province (not to be confused with popular tourist destinations in the province like El Nido or Cebu). I will probably not settle in ph anytime soon but it’s mainly because I’m already quite used to first world comforts lol (fast internet, better government services, etc). But I always enjoy going home and talking to locals. I just went to remote islands in Linapacan and met very nice Cuyonon people. Cheers!

  4. I am down with tears rn. Just exactly how i feel. Still mustering up courage and resources to just go and live the life I feel is entirely mine. Mine alone 🙂 thank you for this.

  5. Trisha, i’ve been a reader of your blog for six years now and I can say your blog posts are always spot on, it’s raw and it doesnt sugar coat. I respect you even more for being real and for always being true. All the best to you

  6. “I miss you Aunt”

    That’s what Patricia says to me after a long while we haven’t seen each other. Either I abandoned her or she’s abandoned me… either she’s coming home from traveling or from the vet, and I, always from toxic work…

    “I miss you Auntie,” with a dimpled smile.

    I wish I have her courage and zest for life!

    Not wanting any approval from anyone or anybody… just being herself!

    Not struggling all her life to blend… just being herself!

    Not trying to please the status quo… just being herself…

    Not being attached… just being detached and being herself…

    (She’s right, our country is not the place to be yourself with so much gamut of telenovela life episodes)

    “When Living in the Philippines doesn’t Spark Joy Anymore,” she wrote…

    Having her for myself for some time did spark joy…

    And I just want to say “I miss you too, anak!”

    You always take care of yourself… I love you!

  7. I relate to this article a lot. Though I love my family, shared love and our sense of togetherness AND OF COURSE the food ? I am not a fan of Jakarta. I can only count with one hand of the meaningful friendships I have cultivated there. But I dont think it’s Jakarta’s fault, I think it’s just bc we dont belomg togerher. Great post! Hope it inspires ppl to leave ppl, places n things that dont spark joy.

  8. I have trouble accessing paypal for stupid reasons — but I’d offer to buy you a coffee in person in Mexico sometime next month or so 🙂 Hello from China! I’ve been reading your content for quite a few months now and thanks a lot for creating such amazing content. I can relate to it on so many different levels. Though we might come from very different background, I keep nodding on the parts wherever show the high level values. I’ve been living a rather unconventional life — not exactly the digital nomad but also not anything else. Moving to Mexico myself in May for a while (this will be my 3rd time there and I just LOVE there). Who knows, maybe our paths cross and my coffee offer will always stay if/ whenever you’d like to take up on it.

  9. I adore how true to yourself and how raw you write. I am a writer in our school newspaper. This is just what I need. This is very eye-opening. I love your writing style. It is very refreshing. However, I don’t think that we should let our culture here in the Philippines as it is. I think we should stand up and make a difference. It’s all for the betterment of Filipino individuals. We have to put an end to this toxic culture. We can’t just runaway forever right? or maybe I’m wrong. I don’t know maybe I’m not that experienced yet because I’m just a teen.

  10. did it ever occur to you that somehow you are also depriving your mother the joys of seeing you? of having you around? i would understand if your sap is green at twenty-one, but hey, matanda ka na ma’am; and the way you project yourself by your writing, reeks of selfishness. partida, your mother and your titas gave you the freedom to be yourself and here you are ranting like puberty just hit you?

    and YES i do not know you and how dare me to pass judgment on you! but hey, you wrote this piece of shit and feces begets feces.

  11. I’m sorry to hear this, Trisha. Every country has a culture that we hate or that we can’t tolerate. I do hope that you find peace in whatever you’re doing and that you’ll find happiness in your next destination.

  12. Hi Trisha,

    I am so grateful I found your blog a few years ago. There are so many topics in here that I can relate to talaga. Though this one is probably the closest to what I feel.

    Been away from home for 9 years now and I have to say – reading this article made me reaffirm my decision to leave. I love my family, but I honestly feel I already outgrew living there a long time ago.

    There was just too much social pressure and too much judgement being passed! The first question they ask you, instead of “Kamusta ka na?” (How are you?) is “Kelan ka mag-aasawa, hindi na ka bata” (When are you planning to get married, you’re not young anymore). That really gets to me – I mean, I am my own person and I will decide if I want that for me or not. Also, all the hypocrisy got to me too.

    I really feel that when I left home, it was when I was able to start finding my true self (I’m still a work-in-progress, but hey, I’d rather have this now).

    I want to let you know that there are so many individuals out here who are feeling/experiencing what you are going through.

    I really am grateful to you for being our voice…

    I look forward to your next articles!

  13. I love this raw and open post. It’s important to be able to reflect openly about your own culture and country, and all that entails. Exploring the world opens your eyes, even if the country you come from seems idyllic to others.

  14. It is an easy phrase to say “choose joy” but harder to actually make the decisions to eliminate those things that don’t bring joy. It was a bit eye opening to hear you talk about how it is to live in the Philippines. Certainly far more restrictive than growing up in Canada. I can’t imagine a culture where i might regularly be called out for being fat. I can see why you might decide that the Philippines is no longer for you.

  15. Trisha, to question how a society works is like asking why the grass is green. No one can tell. To leave your birth country just because the way of upbringing doesn’t conform to your beliefs is always a choice. It is not always the right thing to do. We cannot blame your relatives/friends solely because they are narrow-minded. Their way of thinking was formed because of the environment they live in. It is not their fault in the first place why they are like that. Every culture has its fault. I am pretty sure wherever you go, you’ll know that no country or culture is perfect. Changing their mindset is very impossible and complaining of how f*cked up a certain society is wouldn’t do any good. If every Filipino leaves the country with the same sentiments as you do, our race will die. Let’s just wish (AND ACT) that as time passes by, this country we live will change for the better.
    I do not know if this is gonna happen but I am staying here because this is where my family lives. I am open to living abroad too but I will still call this country my home. I super love your writing skills though. I am a fan 🙂

    Rona commenting on behalf of Christopher . His VA.

  16. Sounds like you did the right thing to leave the Philippines, even though it might have been tough to break away from those strong bonds. But only you know what’s good for you and life is short, so follow your heart.

  17. No matter where we are from there will always be cultural expectations thatmay not fit us personally. Best of luck as you start your new chapter in Mexico, it’s a country I’ve come to love.

  18. You are marching to the beat of your own drum and that’s respectful. Everyone is on their own journey and it’s not about judgments, but ultimately doing what’s good for you.

  19. I understand completely. A person can only tread water for so long and if you are unhappy, why not change. I was unhappy in my home state, so I sold all my stuff and hit the road with my wife and three kids. Life has it’s ups and downs still, but on the whole I am way happier because I get to explore the other 49 states in America with my family. Sounds like you are happy changing and are better off exploring the world instead of living in your home country.

  20. I never felt that way about my home or the culture I was raised in, so I don’t completely understand, but the way you described it, it would be very stifling. Everyone should be able to follow their dreams and become who they really want to be, as long as you are a kind and responsible person.

  21. Sometime traveling brings out a different reason within you and after that, you start questioning some of the things that you have so far taken as a part of life. I can see that you too, have done that and not without reason. I do hope you figure your peace somewhere and stay happy. Cheers

  22. That was a good read, Tricia. I hope though you will find more to life than just chasing elusive happiness. I hope that one day you will get to love a place, something or someone so deep that you will want to set up roots and willingly, happily sacrifice for that something or someone. It is really not as simple as just discarding what doesn’t “spark joy”. There’s also concern for others, making sacrifices and taking responsibility. But if you truly love, all these you do with joy in your heart. You won’t need new places or faces because everything your heart desired would be there with you at home. There will come a time when you won’t be able to travel for one reason or another. I hope by then, you have found your peace and purpose. I hope also that, in all your travels, you will find God. Because only then will your restless heart find rest. ❤️ God bless you.

  23. Hey Trisha,

    I hear you and can totally feel your pain. Although I have lived in the Philippines I lived as an expat so probably I didn’t go through what you went through. I love the Philippines maybe coz I only saw its good side. I totally agree to you that no matter where you are from, don’t you ever force yourself to exist in a world you do not like. Getting by will eat you alive. And, that’s why I am too always on the move.

  24. I feel the same way. When my sister decided to move abroad, I couldn’t understand why because we had an “ok” life here. After she moved, I quit my job in Makati and moved back to my parents, in the province, surrounded by a very conservative family, both because I couldn’t afford the apartment by myself and also because my parents are getting old. After about a year, I found myself booking tickets for out of the country vacations. When I get back to the Philippines, I’d book another ticket and spend the next couple of months dreaming about the “upcoming trip”. I usually go to other Asian countries every 3 months, and would stay there for about a week. That’s as far as my budget could afford me. I preferred going alone, as I am an introvert and when I am alone, I am “forced” to interact with locals- something I don’t do when Im with friends or family. My vacations were my “breathing room” but I never considered migrating. It was only a few months ago that I realized I don’t want to live here anymore. When I told my mom I want to move abroad, she said no one will take care of them (her, my father, and 3 aunts who are all old maids). I understood that. They, and my rescued cats and dogs, were the only ones holding me back. But I hated what she said next- that I have to take care of them until theyre all gone. Then, I can do what I want. I cried in my room after she said that. I am a 32 year old, single woman but feel like I’m bound here. So I tried, and I am still trying to “be satisfied” with life here in the Philippines, in my province, which most people I met in Manila haven’t even heard of, in this repetitive daily work and going to bed at 8PM, with everyone around me nagging me about my clothes, and everything I do.

    1. You are already 32 years old. It is time to focus on your life. Make your own decisions. Leave. Go pursue your dreams.

  25. Dear Trisha,

    I’ve been reading your posts. But I’m sad that this country doesn’t spark joy anymore to you. I hope one day you will be able to find that inner peace in your heart. I hope you will also find GOD. Always pray! God Bless you.

  26. There are two kinds of people that you can distinct in this post:

    (1) People who seek pleasure
    (2) People who want to change the ugly stuff

    Both are not mutually exclusive though, however, each individual bears a heavier weight of bias, one than the other. The latter, a much elegant choice, does not really ‘spark joy’, since its pilgrim does not focus on experiencing what the world can offer, rather giving what you can to the expense of your own comfort to build a better society. Evasion is a coward’s elemental reflex. I’d rather be with people who can endure hardships for it is how marvelous things are done.

  27. Thanks your sharing..
    Interesting soul – was refreshing to read the thoughts and vibes of a Filipino/free spirited human being who is able to think outside of the box.

    If you are ever in need of a place to stay for a few days or weeks in the UK while you explore, let me know. Peace & one love to all.

  28. Ciao Trisha,

    Interesting post by an interesting person living an interesting life. I am an Italian man in his mid-40s. I used to live and work in the UK. I moved moved to the Philippines after my divorce, out of an equal mix of disillusionment towards my “rat race” lifestyle in London and delusional optimism towards what (I thought) living in the “land of smiles” would bring me.

    Fast forward 4 years, I am still in the Philippines, settling (“stuck” would perhaps be a more apt definition) in Manila and struggling to find a reason – hell, an excuse, even – to spend more time here. I have a wonderful Filipina girl whom I hope to marry soon. She is working at a very large institution in Ortigas (ADB) and enjoying it, so there is my main excuse to stick around, while she shapes up her career.

    Problem is, I don’t know how long I can put up with all this. My biggest daily hurdle is to deal with the Filipinos, their attitude and their ways. I have lost any hope that this country will ever produce a society capable of self-determination, that is, the ability to shape their collective future out of a number of rational, conscious and deeply-felt decisions.

    Most of the quality jobs are the direct effect of foreign investment. The industrial and political elites keep busking under the sticky warmth of their own absolute power and privilege. The vast majority remains uneducated, impoverished, morally corrupt and – bar very rare exceptions – lacking any desire or ambition larger than their stomachs and their wallets. Whoever harbours any extent of that desire and ambition usually moves out of the country, lest they feel doomed forever.posting whate

    Countries like Vietnam and Cambodia started from far worse socio-ecomic conditions post-WW2 and are rising faster and better than the Philippines, thanks to their people. I have the impression that the Philippines are posting whatever growth _despite_ their people.

    There is still immense beauty and perhaps even some potential on these islands, and its inhabitants. Too bad it’s encrusted, hidden away under so many layers of bad habits, damaging mentality and intellectual laziness.

    I started with all the good intentions and hoped to dig up current Filipino culture until I found gold ore. I must have hit a sewage pipe because, 4 long years on, all I see gushin up is a dark substance that is pitiful at best and poisonous at worst.

  29. I am foreigner and live now 12 years in the Philippines. Throughout the years, I started to get to know the culture. I am from a very progressive and open minded country where we speak out our minds. My open mindedness and criticism has brought me sometimes good and sometimes bad conflicts. Self reflection is the key for progression I think. If people are not ready to self reflect, then Philippines will stay behind among other countries in Asia.

    I like it here though, it’s just very hard sometimes.

  30. I am an English teacher here in Indonesia and I cannot see myself going back to the Philippines. Sadly, the payment and the perks that other countries can give to an expat will never be given by Pinas to us. However, my boyfriend is in the Philippines and we are planning to get married. Sigh!

  31. You’re so brave for writing this but they’re all true. And you’re right, go live somewhere you will be happy and if you aren’t in your home country, then leave. I think one problem with us Filipinos is the financial aspect of it. I know many friends of mine who wanted to move out of their family or the city/country but they feel they don’t have a choice because they have no means to do so. Anyways, I love reading your raw blogs- very real and relatable to me!

  32. we should also consider that being called “payat” or “skinny” is just as RUDE. People shouldn’t be obsessed about other people’s physical bodies in the first place. What’s the use of commenting on someone’s physique anyway??? Most of the time it’s just riddled with malice and superficiality. Or, the comment is just a projection of the commenter’s insecurities. I mean, I understand that people’s words are a reflection of who they are, not who you are, but DAMN it they’re fucking annoying! *I am fresh from being called payat and accused of nagdidiet by a relative AGAIN; hence this angry post.*

  33. I think you’re being selfish. I don’t want you as my daughter. You only think of yourself. Well hello, this world is not all about you. Refer to this post once you’re old, weak, and alone.

  34. I was born and raised in Germany and lived here my whole life. I was raised by a Filipino mother and a German father. Ever since I was only a baby, I would visit the Philippines frequently. And because I grew up with 2 totally opposite cultures, I’m able to see both, the good and bad sides of each country. Basically every issue you’ve listed in this blog post, I was able to fully understand and agree with. Especially the weight issue. It’s insane. Even though, I am fully aware of the Philippines major issues, I surprisingly would still prefer to live in the Philippines once I’m in retirement. Germany is a very sad country to live in when you’re old and dying. The reasons for that is because, just like you said, Filipinos respect elderlies and look out for them as opposed to Germans who couldn’t care less about the wellbeing of elders. In the Philippines, it also feels like time doesn’t exist sometimes. I just feel like the Philippines could provide vital things for me, that Germany wouldn’t be able to. But until then, I’ll work super hard in Germany and travel the world (just like you), before I settle down. 🙂 Thank you so much for writing this blog post. It’s so interesting to hear people’s different perspectives/experiences, especially when it’s so honest, raw and well-written.

  35. ‘I left the Philippines a few years ago because I couldn’t deal with our impermissive society’

    well, alam mo na kung bakit. and i empathize with you

  36. As a foreigner with kids here, Filipino kids, I have to say that this place is an absolute shit hole with zero opportunities for young people unless you’re involved with public service and corruption. Dry few people with money here are either hard working Chinese or corrupt old money Filipinos.
    Even if you’re a bank manager you’re going to be living an extremely modest life.
    I see no future for this place, they were left with an enviable economy by the Americans and have just slid backwards into stupidity and corruption.
    They have the lowest IQ in SE Asia. The lowest performance in maths, grammar and literature.
    Hence the name The Failapines.

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