Exploring a country as an expat is undoubtedly one of the best ways you can really get to know new cultures, communities, and lifestyles.
Hollywood movies always paint the Philippines as this tropical paradise where people love to relax by a beach-side swimming pool, with a whole coconut in the right hand and a pair of sunglasses on the left. You’ll be surprised to learn that it actually holds so much more.
Did you know that the country is made up of over 7,500 islands, allowing it to rank among the world’s largest archipelagos?
It is a country of contrasts. You can find yourself in the middle of a bustling city one day, and eating at a peaceful mountain-side diner the next. There are many areas where modern technology and fashion are adopted, yet you may also find regions where local communities continue to celebrate their traditions and showcase years and years of development in the arts, as passed on from one generation to another.
There is so much to explore in a country so easy to love. Take this as your guide to the expat life in Manila.
Communities and Making Friends
Ask anyone who has visited the Philippines to describe its people in one word.
I bet they would say: Friendly.
Philippine communities adopt a collectivistic approach to everyone they meet, meaning that they warmly accept newcomers and visitors alike, so should you need assistance from your co-workers or store assistants when you’re shopping, you do not have to hesitate in asking for a helping hand!
With that said, getting accustomed to the community you have chosen or been assigned to should run soundly. You may find your ‘home away from home’ settled before you know it.
Filipinos Love Their Food
Trying out the offers of Manila, the gourmet capital of the Philippines, is a must. So, if you are a foodie, here are some Philippine-exclusive dishes to warm you up before diving into some more unique finds.
Beef Giniling. First up, we have a common Filipino comfort food, usually served with rice on the side. It is prepared with some ground beef simmered in tomato paste, salt, and soy sauce with diced potatoes and a dash of vegetables added later on. It’s simple, but I can guarantee that the end result will taste phenomenal.
Adobo. The national dish of the Philippines; simply chicken or pork seasoned with general pantry basics, namely soy sauce, vinegar, salt, and other spices, then simmered in the savory marinade until the meat is fully cooked through. Its simple preparation makes it a common household dinner staple. It is also very accommodating towards modifications, hence why your friends may add their own ‘secret ingredients’ to their recipes.
Lechon. Lechon is a slow-roasted pig richly seasoned with lemongrass, garlic, chives, tamarind, and many more. There is no doubt that you will encounter this dish during your stay here since they often serve it at large gatherings alongside other Filipino side-dishes and condiments.
Buko Pie. As the name suggests, buko pie is a pie with sweet, creamy coconut filling on top of a freshly-baked crust. It originates from the province of Laguna, with pie shops like Orient, being the OGs. Trends show that this will forever be a fan-favorite.
Halo-Halo. Nothing can go wrong with some shaved ice, condensed milk, sliced coconut flesh, sweetened beans, ice cream, ube paste, and tropical fruits served on a tall glass bowl with a cherry on top. It is a refreshing treat that provides everyone the ultimate dessert experience. What can I say? Filipinos love their sweets.
After you have tried these dishes, you may be interested in some of the more adventurous options that the Philippines has to offer, like the infamous balut. I would also encourage you to try out the recommendations suggested by your friends, as well as others you have yet to meet. Consider this list the first step in your scavenger hunt on discovering Filipino food culture.
With current circumstances in play, many of us are not encouraged to go outside to reduce the risks of further COVID-19 spread. This does not mean that your options are restricted. Let us introduce you to MyKuya’s PaBili service, a feature of the MyKuya app that enables you to find a Kuya or Ate on demand to head over to any restaurant in town and order, pick up, and deliver your desired dishes right to you! If you would like to create your own rendition of a traditional Filipino recipe, MyKuya also has both Grocery Delivery and Personal Shopper services to help you gather the ingredients and equipment you need to get started.
You can download the app here.
Kuya is Tagalog for brother, as Ate is for sister. Consider them an extension of your arms as one would to their siblings. They’re here to lend a helping hand.
Finally, Settling In
This guide cannot be complete without explaining the living conditions. It is likely that your business would recommend that you move into either an apartment unit or a furnished home in a residential complex.
Moving into a new home can get overwhelming with the seemingly unending list of to-dos to ensure the living space is perfect for your new life, from setting up the Wi-Fi router and making sure the bathrooms are functional, to unpacking goods you brought in and moving around large furniture to suit your comfort.
It is a big responsibility, and I want to reassure you that you are not alone. MyKuya also houses trained and experienced handymen, carpenters, painters, electricians, and plumbers who can help you with any of your more technical tasks. There are also dedicated technicians to AC cleaning, and cleaners to help you sanitize surfaces and organize your space.
Know that Kuya and Ate are only one click away. We are happy to help you settle in during this unprecedented time and beyond, so feel free to reach out anytime.
MyKuya wishes you good luck upon starting a new life here in the Philippines. It is a leap of faith into unknown grounds, away from your comfort zone.
Rest assured that you will grow to love the Philippines for all its colors, flavours, and quirks. Take the opportunity to foster your independence, explore new environments, make new friends, and create memories that will last a lifetime. Welcome, or should I say, Mabuhay!