Being an expat foreigner in the Philippines, I am considered rich. Perhaps because Filipinos think there is a money tree in my backyard, spouting bills of 500 and 1000 pesos every day.
What I tell them jokingly most of the times: Go to the plant shop nearby and buy your own 😉
Filipinos and money, is a never ending ‘love’ story…
Note: Not all Filipinos are like I am writing about in this article.
Filipinos and money, a difficult combination
As you probably know, many Filipinos have no concept of being self-reliant or self-sufficient. It is standard operating procedure to assume that rich people should give them money, instead of trying to get a job and work for it. This can be seen all over the country.
OFW, Overseas Foreign Worker
Many families have one, or sometimes more, family members working abroad. It is part of Filipino culture to support the family, especially the parents, because they fed you, send you to school and the like. Once such sibling is abroad and sends money home, the whole family does not need to have a job anymore (they think). They will all benefit of the money send to them. The sibling, sending the money, will even be asked to send more, because it is never enough.
Wrong spending habits
While us, foreigners, save some money every month to buy expensive items we want or need, only very few Filipinos are saving some for the future or for unexpected costs.
Many Filipinos in the Philippines make damn good money. Salaries of 25,000 pesos are not rare. Yet it keeps on amazing me that a few days after they are paid, the money is finished.
It is easy: Every 15th and 30th of the month it is PAYDAY. Malls and department stores are always planning their sales on these days or the weekend after these days. Which is normal marketing, this happens also in the rest of the world.
Check (fast food) restaurants around and immediately after payday: They are loaded, from early morning to late night. The excuse is: Why not treat ourselves once or twice a month.
Problem is that they cannot afford such spending. Their debts have to wait until there is some money left; even electricity and water bills have to wait. Spending money they do not have, is the most important.
Some Sari-Sari storeowners are only giving credit if the client gives his bankcard as a security and on payday, the Sari-Sari owner accompanies the client to the bank and will receive his money first.
Moreover, it never ceases to amaze me how just 3 days after payday, they go to their employer asking for an advance again, because their last paycheck was short because of the deduction of the advance from last period.
“Sir, my wife needs an ultrasound scan”. “For what?”, will be the question, “So we can know if it’s a boy or girl, and have the snapshots for posting on Facebook. Sir, all our friends get ultrasounds. It’s a Filipino tradition these days.”
But what’s even funnier is, they’ve got the latest iPhone in their pocket and wearing brand name shoes and clothes that cost 5 times more than they’re worth.
Filipinos prioritize giving the illusion they are much better off financially than they really are. This is why they continually spend money they don’t have on things they can’t afford, like that awesome cell phone, the latest hair style, the latest trending fashion, manicures, pedicures, facials, and to make sure it’s seen by their Facebook friends. So when it comes to things like food, rent, school tuition, etc, they put on the sad face and go to their employer, their cousin’s foreigner husband, or their foreigner employer to “borrow” money.
If you try to help them with good common sense advice on how to budget, plan, and be responsible, you can be sure they are shut off, not listening, and do not care about such friendly and well intended advice.
“I need money for the tuition for my child, sir” “You know exactly when your tuition is due every semester, yet you bought the newest iPhone 2 months ago, to replace the iPhone you bought 6 months ago. The cost of that iPhone would have paid for how many semesters? And now you’re coming to me to realistically pay for your iPhone, not your tuition. Because you spent your tuition money on the iPhone, because you refuse to be responsible.”
What is so knee-slapping hilarious about these ‘dumb’ people is, they don’t realize we actually can see the money they spend so frivolously. Secondly, I honestly think they believe that having the best of everything, so they can show off their new stuff, is a total necessity. Well, the only thing it shows me is how good they are at getting other people to give them money. Moreover, they actually believe that it is honorable. They have no clue how fucking pathetic it is.
9 times out of 10, the need for all the most UNNECESSARY THINGS are what they have their hand out for. When a Filipino comes to you with their problem, it is usually for something they do not NEED, but just WANT.
Borrowing is part of the culture
It is something I have never been able to understand completely. I think we can all admit there have been times in our lives when we tossed out common sense and practicality to get something we really wanted. We can recognize that when it happens, and most of us learn from it, and get more responsible and disciplined with maturity. We all know that borrowing money costs extra money, interest are high and need to be paid. The so-called 5-6 lenders are doing well. They are the ones who know how to get rich and are misusing the Filipino ‘culture’. Many of these lenders are Pakistani or Indian. A general name for them is ‘Bombay”.
But most Filipinos make irresponsibility, no common sense, and social climbing a way of life.
Just another reason why it is so easy to see why things are so desperately fucked up in the Philippines.
Go to a Car dealer and all you see is the prices for cars, or motorbikes, just the down payment number mentioned and in small letters how much per month. They never mention how many months one has to pay. Filipinos do not seem to care. They buy and buy and buy more, and all on installment basis, not realizing that the items have to be paid twice or trice because of the long time they have to pay.
Check on bank websites and search for repossessed cars and motorbikes. You will be amazed how many items you will find. The same goes for real estate. Filipinos ‘borrow’ too much and buy too much on installment that in the end the items are taken back from them without compensation. But hey, that’s the Filipino culture!! Their financial problems will never be solved.
And here lies a nice task for government, schools and the like: Teach them and encourage them to save money first before buying something, they do not NEED. Most of these people do not have a sense of responsibility because their parents never learned them. What can and will a parent do, who only knows how to swindle and lie, to teach their children? These children learn primarily how to be dependent all the time!
And that’s because someone, somewhere is always willing to bail them out, be it Aunties, Uncles, big sister abroad etc. While the Filipino culture perpetuates this sense of entitlement and dependency, they will forever have their palms up to anyone who cares….or not even care! It is worth a try. And I am sure that a lot of these money “need, emergencies” are just a form of sport for the Filipino, see if and how much they can get away with, see if the dumb Kano brother in law or the sucker OFW sister opens his or her wallet.
Conclusion: Most Filipinos set the wrong priorities all the time. Gadgets are more important than tuition fees for the children or even food on the table.
And as long as there are morons, be it family or others, helping these people, they will never learn.
NOTE: the above is strictly my opinion, living as an expat in the Philippines. Comments are welcome.