Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Odd things around the Philippines

Staying around the Makati area is pretty much a world of mass consumerism (our building is near the Glorietta and SM MegaMalls). But even in this very Western/American-ish environment are some things that are pretty funny or that we didn't quite expect:
  • Electricity
The website for our building said that it had both 220 and 110 Volt outlets. That was correct, however the only 110 outlet was of an "Italian Plug" type and located next to the sink in the bathroom and was labled "For Shaver Only". Not wanting to blow up any laptops, battery chargers or Ipods, I navigated through the mall to a hardware store to find a solution. The solution turned out to be a stepdown transformer, (blue, about 5x5x8, about 7 lbs.) that took 220V in and gave you 110V in both an Italian Plug and 3-Prong outlets. Set me back 799.75 Pesos. All appliances are now safe!! (When we come back in Feb, we'll bring some 110V powerstrips, too!)

  • Curious Cuisine Twists
Craving for Fast Food? Not a problem! Satisfy that appettite with McDonald's McSpaghetti or Pizza Hut's Spam Lover's Pizza. Not enough Spam? Check out the entire Food Court section dedicated to the stuff. Pizza Hut has their own delivery scooters. Oh yeah, Quaker Instant Oatmeal: Shitake Mushroom Flavored. (Please Note: In the 5 days we've been in this country we have not eaten at any place closely resembling an American Establishment. -well, Starbucks of course does have it's own exception to the rule..and they have this thing called Coffee Jelly..hmmm)

  • Being in the top 1% height percentile
You'd never see this in The States (hey, look at Erik and Joe at IMS!), but here I guess it's important to have height requirements for your staff. National Average: Men 5'5"...Women 5"0.5" (thank you Wikipedia!)
  • Heavy Security (And Sleeping Guard Dogs)
Every entrance to malls, shop, grocery stores, restaurant areas etc , has it's own male and female security guards with guns, metal detectors and little wooden sticks to check your bags. I'm not sure what they're looking for, or how they will even find it, because even if you beep, they do nothing. And many times Americans aren't even checked. There is also a large prescence around the area of more heavily armed guys with dogs, which generally would make you feel very safe. However, the dogs they choose to use are cute little floppy-eared black labs who just pant in the heat with a very amused expression on. Woof!
  • Mannerisms
Filipinos will do everything to avoid confrontation or saying "no" to someone. "Yes" is not a positive confirmation of fact. It is at most a "maybe" or "I think so" or "I will try". If someone does not have direct information about a restaurant, for example, they will never say they have never been there, but that they "have friends who have been there who said it was good." Even people working at the airport gate desks are amazingly polite and with the plenty of "please"'s and "We suggest"'s. Men, women, boys and girls all walk in public holding hands or locking arms. They also acknowledge you non-verbaly with their eyebrows. I have yet to accomplish this skill.

  • Can anybody explain this expression?
I don't know if it's a cultural thing, or just the fact that I've never seen a goat in it's natural habitat. I read this in our local Philippine Star newspaper:

"Ask anybody on New Year's Eve if they have resolutions or goals and 9 out of 10 people will say yes. Ask the same people about their resolutions three months later and they'll look at you like a small goat discovering a new fence for the first time." Anybody?

My addition to Kendra's blog about last night's dinner with the team:
Never have I heard such an eruption of raucus, hysterical laughter as when we explained the literal meaning behind the American expression "Love Handles". Then, of course, their minds quickly went further in the gutter...a very free-thinking and outspoken bunch! (Kendra calls Keysia a demonita -little devil girl!)


At 9:58 AM, Blogger Lame Shrill Owl said...

Hmmmm......SPAM....guess they are keeping local MN businesses running. Hormel is based in Austin, MN (about 45 min. from our house). Maybe we should take you to the SPAM muesem if you come visit in June. You can take pictures and show everyone over in Manilla.

So, what is the exchange rate? Is the dollar strong or weak?

Imagine what the Filipinos would think of my 6'4 husband. They might think he is a giant. I thought that when I was in Malta for a month, the people there are much shorter in stature. And at 5'7 I was very tall.

Ok - the goat thing - I imagine it would be similar to a cow/calf findng a new fence. Pretty interesting if it is an electric fence. They are curious, might stiff it, and then touch it, and if it's electric then you hear a bellar and see then jumping back. It's funny whn you see then do it a second time because they were really sure what happened. After that, they pretty much learn.

At 8:40 AM, Blogger Dad said...

On the goat. Perhaps the expression on the goat's face on seeing the fence for the first time is "What on earth is that?" or "I have absolutely no idea what that thing is." So it is with those whose New Year's resolutions have faded into oblivion. The are no longer even recognizable. But it would be interesting, as you speculate, Tim, to know if there is a more specific cultural reference here.

At 12:09 PM, Blogger Tim & Kendra said...

Dad, that explanation might be close. Kendra seems to think it is a Filipino take on the American "Deer in the Headlights" expression (are there deer here? I'm not sure).

Jess, the Filipino peso is about 52/1 American dollars. My quick mental price conversion equation is to divide by 100, round up, then multiply by 2.

My 220/110 volt converter was 799.75 pesos: Move the decimal over 2 to the left (7.9975), round up (8.0), times 2 and you get about $16.00).

At 1:45 PM, Blogger Mean Dr. Lily said...

Just imagine how surprised the fence was the first time it saw a goat.

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