The coconuts are piling up! It has been my experience over the past 27 years that there are some fabulous expats who have made the Philippines their home, however, every expat you meet in the Islands is not your friend! All expats in the Philippines do not have any intentions of being your friend and some set out from day one to cause you problems. Call it the Green Eyed Monster, Crab Mentality or plain old being mean as hell, you will meet these guys here. The mentalities of jealousy, if I can't have it-you can't have it and I am going to rain on your parade prevails among more than I care to think about!
What is a Kano? In Negros Occidental, some locals refer to all foreigners as “Kano.” This is actually a shortened form of Amerikano or Americano. You can be from Germany, Australia or the UK or anywhere and still be referred to as a Kano! This is not a racial slur or meant to be with disrespect but it can be, if used in a certain context. The coconut telegraph is basically the gossip or informal news network on the tropical islands. Many think that only Filipinos have a coconut telegraph, however, expats have one, too.
To Greet Or Not To Meet
The times are changing! When walking in the malls and in other places around Bacolod City, I see expats everywhere. A number of expats will look at you, sometimes even look you in the eye and then quickly look away. Some expats see you and you know they see you but they quickly stare over your head like you are not there.
I am a friendly type guy and I have the courtesy to greet expats when I see them, even if only with a nod of my head. Or, I may say, “How's it going?” as I am passing by. If they reply, I will stop, but if not, I keep on trucking about my business. Just because I greet someone or nod my head to acknowledge their existence in my community, this does not mean I am looking to meet them for lunch or be invited to their house for a few cold ones! I remember a time in the Philippines when there were fewer expats actually living here, when expats were much more friendlier to others than nowadays. However, that is just alright with me if other expats are not friendly. If I wanted to surround myself with so many American friends, I would have kept myself at home in Florida!
I had the pleasure of having lunch with one our members of our expats forum the other day and it was a very pleasant experience. He was nice, friendly and had questions to ask about living in the Bacolod area full time. I enjoyed the experience very much and it is always nice meeting those who enjoy our online expat magazine, Retiring to the Philippines! Yes, I have met more than a few over the past 6 months.
The Expat Community
There are some expats in the Bacolod area who refuse to meet up with other expats because they say that they had bad experiences in the past in other areas of the Philippines. For me, this may be extreme but I can respect their opinion. I enjoy a balance. It is nice getting together and talking about sports in our home counties, about the latest political issues and talking about things our own countrymen can relate to, however, I don't require this to be happy in the Philippines! I can read all about it on the internet. We have Dream Satellite, so I can watch the world news!
I enjoy getting together once every month with a small group of expats who have made Bacolod their home. Overall, they are a great group of guys. So are their wives. I can pick and choose who I want to socialize with outside these expat lunches! If I sense a potential conflict, I avoid the people. There are expats who live in the Philippines who enjoy bashing, trashing and putting down the Philippines, Filipinos and the vibrant Filipino culture. When I meet these guys, I wonder why they are here but actually, I already know why and it is for selfish reasons, plain and simple. Frankly, I would like to tell them “Hit the road, Jack, and don't you come back no more!” Nice song by Ray Charles, by the way! However, I have no authority to run these guys out of the islands. By the same token, they have no right in their attempt to dampen the spirit and ruin the excitment of those who really enjoy retiring to and living in the Philippines.
Some expat communities in the Philippines have a very active association. If you run into trouble or need help, there is a hotline you can call and the expats in the community will rally around you and help you sort out things. If they don't have a referral for you, they will locate one!
This past week has been a mixed bag among the expat community members. I meet a few nice guys for the very first time and I also ran into a few guys who I avoid at all costs but I could not just dig a hole and disappear! So, I was still nice and friendly, even though I will always disagree with them on their view of the Philippines!
When you retire to the Philippines or spend quality time here for pleasure, you can also strike the balance you need to being happy concerning socializing with expats. I have met some expats in the Philippines and we have become lifelong friends! That is always nice.
The expats who want to spread gossip and outright lies on the coconut telegraph about you and your Philippine family are best avoided!