Expat in Bacolod is the name of this blog and this is a slightly tongue in cheek post. Some of you, not many, have commented that it’s not all about Bacolod and the Philippines. Correct!
It’s about an expat in Bacolod, me, and I happen to be a writer these days hence the sub-title under the title of the blog. I would dearly love to write every single post about Bacolod as it’s a wonderful place with wonderful people (the City of Smiles) and it’s the principal city of a beautiful island, Negros Island. I have said it before and here goes again, I love it here.
But look, I can’t write every single day about Bacolod because it’s where I now live. It’s an everyday occurrence to me. It would be akin to joining the Facebook posters who tell the world what they are eating 🙂 I do post when there is something interesting to say otherwise I am rather tied up with my other writing duties and promoting my new book. In any event, to those who are really keen to get a flavor of this locality why not read my book about Bacolod?
You can find it below. It’s called How to Drive Like an Idiot in Bacolod: An Expat’s Experiences of Driving in the Philippines and How to Survive.
Drive Idiot Book
Some of you have contacted me privately via email and I hope I have helped with your queries. Those people have come from all corners of the globe, the UK, US, Australia, Taiwan and Russia.
They all have one thing in common – they want to know more about Bacolod because they are thinking of settling here. Now Bacolod is a great place, make no mistake but it continues to frustrate the hell out of me at times.
That is my #1 tip to all those thinking of coming, get used to the differences rapidly or lose your hair. Even worse, you could stress so much you will have a heart attack. Chill when you get here and stay chilled.
I am learning to live with the rough as well as the smooth. The latter outweighs the former. Two examples of typical frustration can be found in TV scheduling and brownouts (power cuts or outages).
Finally, BeinSports arrived here and I set my alarm for 3 am Saturday morning as it was 8 pm in the UK. Why? Chelsea vs Liverpool FC. Groggily, I staggered downstairs, turned to the channel – nothing, nada, zip! Save for a blank screen.
Back to bed, thinking I’ll watch the replay scheduled for 3 pm Saturday. Grogginess now a distant memory, I settled down to watch the replay.
The schedule said three pm but this is the Philippines! Get used to it Steve, I said to myself.
As for scheduled and unscheduled brownouts, that’s for another post. They frustrate me no end.
But, I do love it here 🙂
It’s different than the UK or the US, bit that’s not too surprising. It’s a different country, different culture. Hell, it’s even in Asia 🙂
I have gotten used to seeing men pee in the street and quails running around at will even in my suburban street. I like it all.
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When I got married here the fun began 🙂
On our application for the marriage license it asked for my nationality. I put USA. The manager looks at it and raises her eyebrow – ‘Are you a USA citizen or an American citizen?”
ME: Uh, USA stands for United States of America.
HER: I (feathers very ruffled) KNOW what it stands for. Are you a USA or American citizen?
ME: (I knew there was no winning this) I am an American citizen.
HER: I WILL change it and YOU will initial it!
ME: Yes, mum.
We were to have a 2pm CIVIL wedding at a resort. My gwapa bride at 2pm was still having her makeup applied. I went out to see to the guest. Hardly, anyone was there – my best man, my soon to be brother-in-law was nowhere to be seen. I am in a tux, and I had rented him one as well. He shows up at 4pm in the black jacket, T-shirt, and jeans and sandals – drunk. Fortunately, the 80 yo Barangay captain, a friend of mine, took over for the best man.
The minister (remember I said Civil wedding) arrives at 5pm.
HIM: You must be the groom?
ME: (I wanted to say – Really, what was your first clue? I didn’t) Yes, and you are?
HIM; I am the minister. You look not happy.
ME: We were to get married at 2pm . . .
HIM: (He laughed a good hearty one which saved his ass from a verbal lashing 🙂 ) Welcome to the Philippines, nothing happens on time here unless it’s on Filipino time.
5:30pm we begin. He was obviously inexperienced and he was not told it was a Civil wedding.
He had to keep looking through his ‘book’ as to what to say. At one point he stumbled finding, “For richer or poorer, for, uh . . .” I laughed and finished the vows, myself, to my beautiful bride.
The people are beautiful, wonderful and fantastic to be with – as long as you leave your Western desires behind you. A word of caution to those that were in business in the West and think you see a ‘wonderful business opportunity’ here – YOU were not the first Westerner to see it. LOL go easy and cautiously to keep your Western sanity 🙂
Great story and wise advice, G.
I can only concur with all that you say, the Philippines and Bacolod in particular are a world away from life in the UK. It helps that you are of a not too aggressive character, that will aid you no end. Some things can be annoying but so can some things back home. I am convinced that to live a nice, peaceful life here you must be accepting of everything here even if you are not too keen on something. The locals will respond to a nice smiling face rather than a grumpy old Brit, American, Canadian, Australian or wherever you are from.
The brownouts are a pain but it is very common here so we have to deal with it or get in a strop every time….sooooo draining. The Bein sports issue is the harder to deal with because it is avoidable. We pay extra for live football so when a match we want to see is due to be screened at silly o’clock – we expect it to be on. No excuses for this and just a nod in the direction of taking customers for granted.
All in all, it is a very happy life here but I think the individual needs to bring with him a laid back (as much as possible) attitude to settling here.
Spot on, Tony! Esp. the bit about the footy 🙂
Thanks for sharing your experience with Bacolod. I hope I can see this place with my own eyes.