Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Decision Made - Moving to the Philippines

Motorcycle Touring Through the Philippines.

How does one end up riding a motorcycle through the Philippines you might ask?

Have you ever had one of those jobs where you can't seem to decide if having that job is a good thing or a bad thing? You go to work every day, and sometimes you enjoy the work, and the people you're working with, but there are things about the place you are working that you simply detest. The politics of it all and the bola-bola gets so thick that you feel like you need to wear a pair of knee-high rubber boots to wade through it. However, even with a pair of knee-high rubber boots you still can't get rid of the stench, both literally and figuratively.

Well, it just so happens that I found myself with one of these kinds of jobs. On the plus side it was a job, which is more than a lot of people have these days. I was getting paid good money. I worked with a group of pretty decent guys. The job was challenging to say the least, which is something I enjoy most of the time, and I enjoyed the job most of the time.

On the negative side, I was living in a country that did not seem to have any sort of moral compass, as my dad would have put it. Farmers would water their fruits and vegetables with toxic chemicals to increase their yield at the expense of their consumer's livers. Livestock was routinely fed steroids to provide leaner meat. Fish farms fed their stock expired birth control pills to fatten up their fish. Waste products were reused and put back into the food supply chain. Even products that were never intended to be part of the food supply chain were ground up, or broken down in such a way that they could be inconspicuously added to actual food products.

The scary part of all this food manipulation, was that there was no way to tell if you were eating tainted food products or not. There were no governmental controls, and even if there were laws on the books or an agency to enforce those laws, they were never enforced. And if they were, they could easily be circumvented especially if you had the right friends in the right places.

The only time tainted food became an issue was, for example, when half of a wedding party got ill from eating tainted meat and one of guests who got sick happened to be a member of the government or had a close friend in the government. The sick guest would call for justice and if his governmental contacts were higher than the venue owner / caterer of the wedding party, then justice would be served usually quickly and severely. In addition, the government, not wanting to miss a good public relations opportunity would use this application of justice as a perfect example, of how they were cleaning up the system.

The government officials would make speeches on the television telling everyone they were cleaning up the system and not to do these bad things, or you will be punished. What they actually meant by cleaning up the system was this. We are not going to do anything or enforce any laws, but if you get caught because you are stupid enough to sell your tainted food to government officials or friends of high-ranking government officials, and you don't have a higher government official in your pocket; your punishment will be severe.

The severity of the punishment was unquestionable. This severity was obviously the public relations portion, since it was not uncommon for the death sentence to be carried out. It always kind of reminded me of the old English kings who put their criminals (and enemies of the state) heads on a stake exactly outside of town. Who needs a functioning legal system when you can just scare the Bola-Bola out of everyone?

There were other negatives and reasons that I decided it was time to forgo my current job and ride a motorcycle around the Philippines, but I am not sure that is what this writing should be about, should it? I am purposely not naming the country as I might want and or need to go back to work there again. I don't think the citizens of a said country would want me telling personal stories and experiences about what a negative and Bola-Bola place it could be would they?

All that being said, I believe every country has its negatives. If you were to replace tainted food in the above writing with say, tainted financial products, then everyone would know I was talking about the US wouldn't they?

Well, I will leave this post where it is and see if first, anyone reads it. And second, if anyone might have any ideas on which direction, the continued writing might take? On the other hand, someone may suggest I find something else to do with my time?


  1. I enjoyed reading this segment of yours. I too have contemplated living in the Philippines. If it does take place it likely would be only for say 3 to 6 months at a time. Like you I've lived abroad but not as many places.

  2. Glad you enjoyed it. Check out some of the links and do some research if you are considering an extended stay in the Philippines. I love it here, but like any place you have your good and bad.

    1. DJ; My wife is a expat from Visayas region. About a year ago she and a sibling built a vacation home in Negros Occidental. We have friends nearby who also have built a vacation home in that provence. I like the laid back attitude to a point.