Thursday, May 31, 2007


A very nice lady sent me a copy of a newspaper column by a British journalist named Matthew Sutherland. Seems Mr. Sutherland is a long time resident here. He wrote a humorous column about life for expatriates in the Philippines. He talked about the uniqueness of Filipino names, eating balut, and even other Pinoy eating habits. I found it entertaining, even educational. She must really like his writing as the column was ten years old. She suggested I might do something similar in my column.

I told her I could not write that kind of column. It would be easy to find humor in the differences between our cultures but writing about it would be inappropriate. You are my host; I am your guest. As your guest I do not make fun of your culture. I do not criticize this country or its people. The Philippine people have treated me well. They have been excellent hosts. I want to be a good guest. If I do not like life here I can always go back to America.

Everyday people, expatiates and Filipinos, sit around and complain about the things they see wrong here. I even had one Filipino apologize for the graft and corruption in his country. You need a little perspective. The problems you face here are not unique to the Philippines. Every country had had them or has them now.

There was an American TV show called the “Untouchables”. The show was based on a group of historically real “honest” policemen. Why was this so unusual? At that time almost all policemen, judges and politicians, in America, were crooks or on the payroll of a crook. There are those that say one of your Philippine Presidential elections was “bought”. Do not know if that is true but I do know American President Kennedy bought his Presidential election. He even joked about it later saying his father refused to pay for a landslide victory. Dishonesty and greed are human sins NOT Pinoy traits. Like other countries you will solve your problems and you will solve them the Pinoy way.

There are a lot of very intelligent Filipinos working hard to make this a better country. These patriots know the problems and the possible solutions far better than I. As I told my friend Dindo Generoso, who is constantly trying to improve conditions here in Dumaguete, I may not know how to solve these problems, but I will hold your coat while you do. My role in the Philippines is to be a good guest, respect and honor my host and not create more problems. I hope I am doing that.

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