My life in the Philippines wasn’t too bad. Before I migrated to the UK, I was working for a stable company while living in the busy city. It’s a beautiful country with wonderful people living under the sunny weather. The worsening conditions of the traffic and the economy made me think twice about staying. My husband, on the other hand, was living an amazing bachelor life in Tochigi, Japan but we both decided to leave the two countries and live together in the UK. This post would give you few ideas of what it’s like to live in England as an expatriate from the Philippines.
There are no 4 seasons in the Philippines; only rainy or sunny (others would call it wet or dry). The archipelago gets too much sun when the country is already tropical. We avoid the heat of it, that’s why you will not see a person enjoying the heat of the sun at noon time without a hat or an umbrella in hand. We have regular storm signals and typhoons that could get very destructive and claim thousands of lives. Somehow, there are cool parts of the country like Baguio City or Tagaytay City.
I enjoy the changing of the seasons here. Like right now when it’s nearly winter, I can’t wait for summer. When it’s the hottest day in summer, I can’t wait for spring to come back again. I love autumn and I find the colours incredible – probably because back in the Philippines, it’s only green most of the time.
I used to travel every day for an average of 3 hours a day (two-way). The worst I could remember was when I sat on the bus for 4 hours because traffic was that crazy. Sometimes, I could rely on MRT but it becomes a hassle when we had to queue for hours because they regulated the number passengers not to mention the busy trains where I had to squeeze in just to get to work. There is no discount for being a regular bus or train passenger nor would they repay you when trains are delayed. Without traffic, I could get to my destination in half an hour.
The country has all the kind of public transportation you need. From the trains and buses up to tricycle and the habal-habal, costing not as high as the UK transportation services.
Unlike in the Philippines, I no longer waste my time in travelling to work. I take the train to get to Birmingham New Street that normally would only take 18 minutes and it takes 15 minutes to get to work. I have a swift card, so my daily train ticket is cheaper. That is something I don’t think we have in Manila. The trains here could be unreliable too. There were times when the delays were not tolerable and it could get busy yet people are always calm about the situation. In the Philippines, some passengers would end up fighting because of the can of sardines like situation.
I used to have a private health card in the Philippines, issued by the company I worked for. But without that, Filipinos can only get the healthcare they need by spending a fortune on private hospitals, or going to public ones where you cannot guarantee a good service and immediate attention.
Luckily for the British Citizens, they can avail the NHS with no costs. Unlucky for expats like me, I had to pay a compulsory fee when we applied for Leave to Remain. I had to go to the Hospital once for my ear infection and stayed for 7 hours waiting to get checked by a doctor but to no avail. That horrible experience leaves me thinking health care in the Philippines is better as long as you have the budget because a private care in the UK is much more expensive than in the Philippines.
I am a proud to say that I am a product of public school. From preschool, elementary and secondary school up to the government funded Polytechnic University of the Philippines, which unbeknownst to many, is one of the top universities in the Philippines. I used to pay an incredible 12 Philippine pesos per unit (18 pence). Per semester, I would spend no more than 800 pesos for tuition fee although the books and other school requirements could cost up to 7 thousand pesos per semester.
I never studied in the UK but my son, who started going to preschool last year, has already exceeded the total amount of money I spent in my entire university years! In preschool we pay about £40 a day (2,800 pesos). The childcare expenses could get very expensive too but what choice do I have left? I got to go to work and make a living. Fortunately, since my son turned 3, we qualified for free 30 hours of childcare services. That saves us approximately £400 a month.
There are many good and bad Filipino traits that I don’t observe with the British people. In the Philippines, you will meet tambays, tsismosas, racists, drunk, gambling and the hypocrite religious people. However, there is also where I find the people who are very helpful to one another, who respect and care for their family and the elders, hardworking employees who put a lot of dedication at their jobs no matter what the pay is, people who like to eat and know how to cook rice perfectly, people who find joys in the simplest things in life. Filipino people are truly unique in our own ways and despite our imperfections, no one can deny that we are one of the most genuine people in this world.
There are many reasons why the British and Filipino people are very much not alike – maybe the culture, the weather, or the government. I noticed that British people are polite, friendly and the respect for equality is truly important here. People mind their own businesses and can be sarcastic at times. The drivers, as well as the pedestrians, are well trained and are more careful on the road compared to the drivers and pedestrians in the Philippines. At work, employees are also hardworking but they value their time well so working overtime without the extra pay is not a thing to do. Filipinos are known to be late on their appointments but I can’t say that most British people are punctual. I like that people here are independent are responsible.
I can’t believe it’s been two years since we stepped our feet in this country. A lot has happened and I am very excited for more to come.
If you would ask me “Is the grass greener in UK?” I would be lying if I say no.