Culture Shock – Ariving in the Philippines

Culture Shock- If you have ever flown into a major city in the US at night you know how brightly lit everything looks at night from your aircraft window. Well as we were just about to land at Mactan International Airport near Cebu City,  I looked out the window and noticed a darkened world below , the aircraft was flying along the waterfront and I could clearly see the street lights and buildings below. It was at this point that I experienced my first case of culture shock. After Meeting my future wife at the airport we took a taxi from Cebu City to Bogo where she lived. As we drove along I noticed there were very few neon signs and the ones I did see were dark and dimly lighted as were most of the streets, I remember thinking what have I done, where have I taken myself, this was my second case of culture shock, it was as if I had propelled myself into the 1800s.   The next day we had some business to attend to at the municipality in Bogo, I walked into a city government office and noticed the workers had ancient typewriters and the senses records were kept on huge 24″ or 30″ wide bound paper books maybe 4 inches thick, this was my third case of culture shock. Actually you can find modern offices here complete with computers but they seem to be rare. An example is the huge call centers in Manila Philippines.

Olivetti Typewriter still in use in the Philippines.

This could be a scene right out of the 50s... It is not, this is a current photo... Notice the typewriter and lack of computer, everything is done manually, also most offices are not airconditioned, notice the open window.

When I wanted to take a bath I had my fourth case of culture shock, my bath was by using a large plastic tub with a not so clean ladle or kabo as it is known here and poring it over me. And my fifth case of culture shock is when I found out that in most places in the Philippines water pressure is very low not much more than a trickle and is often off for several hours. The new house we are moving to has water pressure by pump only about 3 times a day and none at night. During the off times we have a tank to store water, it goes down the pipe via gravity feed. It is possible to get a pressurized tank using an air pump to put pressure in the sealed tank that forces the water into the pipes, but no more long showers unless you have a huge tank. I’ve included some photos to illistrate my point.

By the way I have adjusted my ways, I take the usual tub bath use water at low pressure and enjoy my brightly lighted office. You get used to it…

Enjoy the photos….

Dark Philippine Street Scene

Cebu Street Scene at night, it's dark here...

Tub and kabo used for taking a bath.
Philippine Call Center Manila

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Charles Harman 571-970-9195

One comment

  1. I really like to see someone else’s perspective on their first visit to the Philippines. I was lucky to have my wife by my side when I arrived in Manila. It was definatley “culture shock”. We arrived in the afternoon and now the memory of it seems like an old movie I watched years ago.

    I will never forget my first visit and thanks for a glimpse into yours!

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