My friend Bob just authored a very interesting post on his Live in the Philippines online magazine about an apparent bias against American renters in the Philippines. It’s got well over 130 comments already … recommended.
I made a rather strong comment to Bab’s article myself, near the beginning, and I decided I would continue some thoughts on the subject here … as some of these thoughts have been on my mind for some time now.
First of all, just what am I calling and “Ugly American”? Well, I’m not referring to the view you or I get when we look in the mirror … mine might well be called ugly, as for yours … well I don’t want to know … on the Internet, no one knows you’re a dog
The Ugly American I’m talking about is based on a novel … a book which was so popular it kind of named a whole segment of American (and Western, in general, to some extent) society:
The Ugly American is the title of a 1958 political novel by Eugene Burdick and William Lederer. The novel became a bestseller, was influential at the time, and is still in print. The book is a quasi-roman à clef; that is, it presents, in a fictionalized guise, the experience of Americans in Southeast Asia (Vietnam) and allegedly portrays several real people who are represented by pseudonyms….
One of the major themes behind the story (later made into a classic movie starring Marlon Brando is ..
.. In the novel, (set in a fictional country which resembled Burma) a Burmese journalist says “For some reason, the [American] people I meet in my country are not the same as the ones I knew in the United States. A mysterious change seems to come over Americans when they go to a foreign land. They isolate themselves socially. They live pretentiously. They’re loud and ostentatious.”…
And boy can I identify with that summation after living here in the Philippines for almost five years now.
I have a few good American friends here in the Philippines … but a lot fewer than you might think. That’s due to a number of factors. here’s a few for your consideration and reflection.
- There are a lot of American (and other Western) ne’re-do-wells here. In particular, child support evaders (otherwise known as dead beat dads). If I ran the Philippines, I would not admit any foreigners unless they could produce a clean bill of health regarding court judgments. There is an attempt to bar evaders from criminal cases, but civil judgments are not even touched upon. I have just about zero respect for a man who father’s children and then runs off to evade his responsibility just because it’s convenient.
- There are a lot of Western men here who came here specifically for the purpose of finding wives or girlfriends who are submissive. It’s carried to the extremes of physical and mental spousal abuse more often than many might believe. These same fellows are the ones who will sit and talk for hours about the evils and worthlessness of “American Women” …forgetting they are talking trash about their own mothers, and sisters (as well as mine).
- There are a lot of Western men where whose sole purpose in life seems to be telling the world how backwards the Philippines are and how wonderful things are back in the USA. One really wonders at times why they ever came here … beats me why they don’t just go home instead of bending the ear of every foreigner they meet about how bad things are in the Philippines.
- I am as thrifty as most anyone is, or at least I like to think so, but I am not so cheap as to try to pick the pockets of people much poorer than I. A lot of American men don’t share these same scruples it seems. Many Americans are mad that the Philippines no longer allows foreigners to avail of the Philippine government-imposed Senior Citizen discounts. Not only that, I have witnessed Westerners arguing and insisting on extra discounts from hard-working Filipinos (like cab) drivers because they, the Americans had some disability or another. Just how cheap can you get?
- A great many Americans that I have run into are foul-mouthed and overly vocal. Regardless of the fact that US language standards now seem to include the “F-word” in every other sentence, there are many who don’t appreciate it .. Filipino or foreigner. “Speaks” (pun intended) pretty poorly for the level of education of many Americans these days when they can’t seem to express a thought without vile cuss words and racial epithets.
- Last, but hardly least, Americans are, to my mind, spoiled from birth and often brought up to be chronic complainers as well. Life, for anyone, is not a continual bed of roses. We all come up against things which really are inconvenient and annoy us greatly. But to spend the day complaining and finding fault about life here seems to me a pretty boring and unattractive hobby. The thrust of Bob’s article that started this whole thought process was a comment that many Davao City landlords seemed reluctant to rent to Americans. I can understand why.
So that’s my thought for a Monday morning rant … I’m sure some others have some views. Just keep the comments away from personal abuse and denigration of the Filipino and everything you happen to know is wrong with Filipinos.
The airlines have the same number of seats available outbound as inbound, and for those of you totally fed up and disillusioned with all the litany of things you have found wrong with living here in the Philippines, I’ll be happy to provide a free ride to the airport if you show me your one-way ticket home.
Just remember, this ain’t paradise. So please, for those of you who want to come here to ‘show the Filipino how it is to be done”, do me a personal favor and stay beck there in the land of plenty, where everyone knows everything and the streets are paved with gold. Do not be an Ugly American.