The Philippine culture is often referred to as the Manila Effect. It has been portrayed as an ever-glowing beacon of modernity in East Asia, with a highly developed infrastructure, a vibrant and exciting local and international economy, a rapidly aging but technologically vibrant society, a rapidly expanding but extremely peaceable population, and world-class health care and education systems. It has also been hailed as a model of cross-cultural interaction and harmonious coexistence – a truly unique blend of tolerance, mutual understanding, and a wide social consensus towards a common destiny.
But what does this all translate into for the average visitor? When I was recently in Manila, my impressions of the Filipino culture were quite interesting. While the people of the Philippines are warm and welcoming, there were times where my impressions of the people were a bit more negative. For example, when I was in Bacolod, a seaside town that are not far from Panay Island, and there are a number of foreign tourists who venture there to enjoy the beach, there is a noticeable lack of Filipinos. There was one white girl sitting on a bench by the edge of the beach who was simply staring at us, looking at our flags without really making any attempt to speak to anyone.
Another point about the Filipino culture that impressed me was the extreme poverty and hunger that the country is famous for. The contrast between how the people live and how they are taken care of by the government, and the high standards of living the Filipinos proudly portray, really were quite inspiring. In fact, it was quite amazing to see the poverty line close to complete extermination, as families struggle each day just to put food on the table. The poverty is so huge that in some areas the children are forced to eat poop. These are some tough conditions, and it’s great to see how the government is working hard to make sure that their children have every opportunity to grow up well, and do what is right.