What is Like to be a White American Man in the Philippines?
Being a white man in the Philippines is a very interesting experience. I have travelled to over 30 countries on four continents and have never experienced anything like being in the Philippines.
First the people like Americans. America is generally thought of in a good light in the Philippines. In most countries that I have travelled to Americans are generally perceived in a somewhat negative light.
People are very friendly to you and try to be extra helpful. Anytime you need directions or help finding something the Filipino people are incredibly willing to help. They all seem to want you to have a good stay in their country as a visitor. I was in a mall in Davao and was looking for a particular store and two Filipina’s asked me if I needed help and walked me to the store on the other side of the mall that I was looking for.
You are treated differently than other people in the country. When you go into malls or banks in the Philippines you generally have to go through security. They typically check your bags for dangerous objects and the like. Most of the time as a white American my bag is given a glance and not even inspected or I am simply waived through by security. I was travelling several times by bus through Mindanao and the army would come on the bus and check people. Needless to say they would just ignore me. Now they really have a good reason for this, there really are not white western tourists causing problems or being terrorists. Still the treatment as a foreigner is kind of shocking.
You will get stared at by everyone! Outside of Manila I am constantly stared at by people. Children will come up and stare at you like you are some kind of alien. The young women of the Philippines will also stare at you! This is a strange experience coming from the West. Every time you go to the mall alone the sales girls will try to strike up a conversation with you. You will be asked why you are there and if you have a girlfriend.
If you are alone everyone that you meet will ask you if you have a Filipina girlfriend. If you are taking a taxi or a pedicab the driver will ask you if you have a Filipina girlfriend, if you don’t they will probably have a relative they want to introduce. Every time I have been in the Philippines without someone with me this has come up in the conversation. If I tell them that yes I have a Filipina Wife or girlfriend they will then tell me how wonderful Filipina women are and how they make the best wives in the world.
It is assumed that you have come to the Philippines for a woman. Everyone assumes that the only reason that you are in the Philippines is because you are there for a Filipina. I was travelling alone on a plane from Tokyo to Manila one time and sitting next to two elderly Filipinas who were mother and daughter visiting from the States. They were chatting together in Bisaya about why I was going to the Philippines (they had no idea that I understood parts of the conversation). They were basically trying to determine if I was coming to visit a girlfriend or if I was some sort of sex tourist (it could not have been something else apparently). Finally, the daughter looked at me and said “why are you here”? I pretended I didn’t understand the question and said I was going to Davao. She then asked me why I was going. I explained that I was going to a wedding and she asked me if an American was marrying a Filipina!
It is both funny and sad that every white foreigner is considered to only be in the Philippines for a woman.
If you are average looking in the West you will suddenly feel like Brad Pitt. To you the women in the Philippines are exotic, to them you are exotic. White skin is seen as a good thing and bumps your market value up compared to the West. In the Philippines and all over Asia people use skin whiteners to try and be whiter. If you are blessed with blue eyes and blonde hair you will have even more of an advantage in dating gorgeous Philippine women.
You are probably considered tall by the local population. You will feel like a giant compared to most of the people in the Philippines where the average male height is around 5’4”. So for most Western men you will more than likely be considered tall and thus more attractive.
You will end up paying higher prices at most vendors. People will automatically assume that since you are white and can afford to visit the Philippines you must be rich. It is always advisable to have a local with you to make sure that you are paying an appropriate and fair price.
Street beggars will target you because they think that you will pay. Because you are white it is assumed that you have money and will give it to people. People really believe that all Westerners are rich.
Overall the benefits of being a white foreigner in the Philippines are a real positive and worth any negatives that come with the territory. I really have never been to country that is as accepting of foreigner s as the Philippines. The people of the Philippines are truly amazing and welcoming and I hope that it always stays that way.
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