Having lived here in Melbourne now for 3 yrs, these are just some of the observations I’ve made of life here as compared to my home country, the Philippines.
** Disclaimer: I don’t claim this as fact, these are just personal observations I’ve had based on my own experiences.
Both countries have their pros and cons..
One thing that I did NOT miss about the Philippines was dealing w/ government offices.. In Australia even if you’re new to the country, its easy to find information on processes and requirements needed because everything can be found online, making the task quick and painless.. In the Philippines its the exact opposite… Unless you know someone inside, or can bribe someone to help you out, going through the government offices is a painful process as you try to find out the steps and requirements or where to get the info you need, at times even having to go back again and again just to get things done..Still, its impressive how Filipinos make the best of these situations.. Like when I went to get my passport renewed, I didn’t know that there were specific requirements for the clothing and size of the passport picture, but appropriately enough, someone put up a business just outside the place, where they can quickly take your passport pic meeting the exact requirements so you don’t have to waste a trip there.. They even provided a collared blouse you can put over your clothes for the picture.. So the government’s inefficiency, is the Pinoy’s chance to earn money..Another thing I’ve missed in the Philippines is the shopping!! Until now I still cannot get over why malls close so early in Australia.. Even on weekends its closed by 5/6 pm. Living in Makati with Glorietta/Greenbelt just a short walk away, I’ve missed being able to just walk around and do some window shopping..
In Australia the only time malls are open after 5 is every Thursday/Friday or when its Boxing day. The malls aren’t even impressive!! When the relocation agent brought me to Chadstone, the “biggest shopping centre in the Southern Hemisphere” in AU, I was silently thinking “is this it? Kawawa naman tingin na nila malaki ito”
Another main difference from Asian countries is the work ethics.. In general, Aussies are not as obsessed with work as Asians are. I heard this expression before which I think sums it up perfectly: people here don’t live to work, they work to live. Once it reaches 5 pm, majority of the people are packing up to leave or have left already even if they have unfinished work.. For them, overtime is only done if there’s no choice, but its not something that should be the norm.. Why do it now when you still have tomorrow to finish it..I’ll admit I wasn’t used to this at first and thought it a disadvantage for Aussies, because they lose their competitiveness over people overseas. But in time I got to appreciate this mindset because it really allows you to improve the quality of your life. Before in the Philippines I was all about work.. I was stressed out, I got irritated easily and I didn’t have time for anything else. But now I have time to plan out and prepare my meals so I eat healthier, I can finish up early at work and still go for yoga or dance class… I go home at nights not worrying about work I have to deal with the next day.. And I now am able to take more vacation breaks without feeling guilty about the work I will be leaving behind.. I LOVE IT!! 😀
But one thing I do miss about the Asian culture is how close knit families are.. I always took that for granted, I hated it whenever we had our weekly family gatherings back home.. But it can be sad to not have those relationships to rely on when you need help or support.. In the Philippines especially, its normal to financially help out not only immediate family members, but even cousins, aunts, uncles or even distant relatives..But here you’re more or less on your own (especially when it comes to money).. And meeting w/ relatives is not a regular thing, its done maybe once or twice a year, or on special occassions only..I’ve never been patriotic or particularly proud to be a Filipino.. I’m one of the many afflicted w/ the colonial mentality that assumes that everything is better in a western country… But living here and being able to compare the two cultures has made me realize that despite the frustrations or self pity we may feel for coming from a 3rd world country, the things that identify us as Filipinos (or in my case Fil-Chi) are not all bad, and might actually help us thrive when in a different country =)