Having been to the Philippines 3 times now, mostly to see my partners family I have come to know quite a bit about
the town, the island and the country that she calls home. I will probably talk more about this latest trip in more detail in another post. Of course, Australia is my home and a country I’m generally very proud of. Despite what I have said
in other posts such as ‘Australia is a rip-off country’ etcetera…. I have many thoughts and opinions on the subject
of Australia, its government and the people.
I have become ‘The Educator’ and have just returned from my 3rd
trip to Maranding, Lala, Lanao Del Norte on the island of Mindanao in the Philippines where we conducted the May Marketing Campaign for our new business. This campaign included the presentation of information sessions where I talked about… you
guessed it…. Australia and what it’s like to study, live and work in this great big land ‘down under’.
you know that Australia is an island continent with a land mass of 7.7million square kilometres. If you combined the land mass of all the islands of the Philippines, yes all 7 thousand and something islands the total would fit into the state of Queensland.
Now, at the end of 2011, the population of Australia was around 22,485,300. Compare this with the Philippines of 90something million population and you start to see a vast difference. We gathered this data from various sources including publicly
available census data.
Australia and the Philippines are both former colonies, though by different European nations. Australia was founded in 1788 by the British whereas Philippines was colonised much earlier and in large part by
the Spanish. Philippines has full independence from the Spanish and those who came after, here I mean the good old US of A. Australia is still a constitutional monarchy whose head of state is the Governor-General, a representative of the Queen
Australia now is very multicultural with many people of many different nationalities living and working here. Whereas, the Philippines seems to have a fairly homogeneous culture, of course there are differences
between individuals and tribal groups. If you travel through some villages, especially those in Mindanao a number of locals will stare at anyone that is foreign especially Caucasian. They automatically think that any Caucasian is ‘Americano’
and sometimes they will say “Hey Joe”. I usually just say “I’m Australiano”. Perhaps they are surprised that western tourists would visit such a troubled region but I don’t think it’s just that.
Mostly, there seems a shyness, a reluctance to speak English even though most of their schooling is conducted in English and there is a lot of western television being watched. There is a national language in the Philippines called Tagalog
and there are various tribal/regional languages spoken as well. Case in point, on the island of Mindanao and as far up as Cebu, they speak Visayan. This is the native language of my partner and her family and I have learnt a little, I seem to pick
up a few words every time. Here in Australia, English is the primary language but there are plenty who speak other languages in their own homes. Don’t even get me started on the different versions of English i.e British English, American
English and good old Aussie English.
In my talks to Filipinos as part of the info sessions, I talk about the ‘fair go’ which basically is an idea of equal opportunity, anti-discrimination and understanding your rights.
I also mention that Australia has a relatively low crime rate with strict gun control. You just don’t see guns on the streets here in Australia generally whereas in Philippines guns seem to be everywhere, you will see ordinary people with bulges
on their waists that’s usually a sign of a concealed firearm. Most people there see it as personal protection. You see armed security guards at the entrance to shops, shopping centres and all the attractions. I’m not just talking a
pistol but full on M16s, pump action shotguns and more. See my post ‘Gun Culture’, seems even President Obama has hailed Australias gun laws as the ideal.
Australia is a western democracy where voting is compulsory for all citizens, we are one of only a few countries who do this, most others see this as a form
of control by the state. Strangely, I feel that we not only have a right to vote but a responsibility to vote. Though we may not get the government we want but at least we can say we voted. In Philippines it is not compulsory and most
people think the politicians are corrupt and that votes are bought and paid for.
There is little in the way of social security in Philippines and certainly if you are poor then there seems to be little in the way of justice. No wonder
then that life is cheap and that even cases of murder have to be bought by the family of the victim instead of a government entity such as the police or public prosecutions. Nobody wonders why the roads break up easier than roads here in Australia because
they say all involved take a cut including the engineer.
Australia also has pretty strict enforcement of the laws especially when it comes to road rules whereas in Philippines there seems to be none. People there see enforcement
as just for the purposes of corruption, if they infringe they simply pay the officer and the problem goes away. You see people walking across pedestrian crossings and having cars go right across them. If that happened here in Australia I feel that
the individual pedestrian would scream and shout. Over there though they just seem to accept it and move on.
Despite all the issues and problems, Filipinos generally seem happier and certainly less angry than most Australians.
People bring out food even though they may not have much when a visitor calls and elders are generally more respected in that culture. I have to wonder why??? Are we so spoiled in this country that we complain about little things while not
seeing the big picture like how others live?? I thought that Aussies were great travellers and that travel broadens the horizons but most people seem more focussed on their own issues including mortgages and cars and all that other stuff. Then we carry on when we have a boatload
of refugees, come on and let’s get some perspective.