A Newbie’s Insights into Manila

Around Manila
October 6, 2010

This week I have the privilege of meeting up face-to-face with Christine, one of my long-time blog readers.  This is the 4th or 5th time that I’ve converted an online friend into a flesh-and-blood friend.  Blogging can be so one-way at times that I relish any chance to see who’s out there reading what I post!

I get such a kick out of new arrivals’ impression of Manila.  It brings back a flood of memories of my first weeks and the crazy things I too experienced that I now consider normal.  Here’s an excerpt from Christine’s newly launched blog: Meanderings in Manila.

Service is crazy here.  Crazy in a good way and crazy in a bad way.  The good definitely outweighs the bad a million times over.

I say crazy in a bad way but it’s not really a bad way, it is just different.  It’s different because everyone says yes, Ma’am – even if the answer is no.  The trick is to watch the body language.  For example:

Me: “Excuse me, do you have any more straws?”

Person: “Yes Ma’am” (and then walks away)

Me:  Very confused.

So I tried it out again today and then paid close attention to the body language.  Example:

Me: “Excuse me, do you have any more straws?”

Person: “Yes Ma’am” (SHAKES HER HEAD NO) (and then walks away).

Me:  Ahhhhhhhh…..so that’s how it works.

Filipinos HATE to say no.  So, what do they do?  They say yes – all of the time.  Even when they mean no.  It’s frustrating but amusing all at the same time.  You have to repeat yourself OVER and OVER and OVER again just to get something across.  It’s just a language barrier though and I need to pay closer attention to the body language.  You also have to learn how to phrase your question so that they have to answer you with something other than a “yes, ma’am” which is a lot harder than it sounds.

I will get it…..eventually.

Now for the good part:

Everyone is SO nice.  Everyone.  I can take my child anywhere.  Anywhere.  It’s amazing.  It’s important to me that Max is happy so I think that we are going to like it here b/c he seems really happy.

I took him to lunch today – a little Mummy/Max date.   I would never do that in Switzerland.  People jumped over themselves to help us.  They even changed the TV channel to cartoons (while there were only adults in the restaurant) to make him happy.  Workers came out of the kitchen just to smile at the blue eyed boy.  No one batted an eye when he threw his sippy cup across the table.

Can’t wait to show you around town Christine!

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1 Comment

  1. christine says:

    You’re the best!
    See you tomorrow. :)

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