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The joy of a 15-minute drive from Alabang to Makati on a Sunday morning.
Chills down the spine at a perfect rendition of a favorite song performed by any one of an infinite number of highly talented Filipino performers.
A quiet cappuccino in a porcelain mug alone at a table before the busy workday starts.
A genuine act of kindness and generosity from a local Filipino to a foreigner like me.
The cooling fury of a thunderstorm in the middle of a dry summer day.
A bright warm sunny day in the middle of a week of dark rainy days during the wet season.
The shiny black marble floor at the Dusit Hotel.
The smile of a Thailand- based expatriate who marvels and appreciates the fact that most of the people here understand his English.
A relaxed sense of well-being after a P100 one-hour massage
During a side trip outside of Manila, the realization that there really is an exotic side to the Philippines.
The undimmed brilliance and sparkle of the stars in the night sky at Puerto Gallera.
The first cold San Miguel beer after a hard set of singles tennis or a round of golf in the middle of the day.
The wonderful classic music found only on 98.7FM.
The smile of appreciation from a street kid who was given a toy or an ice cream.
Seeing a brand new bus with a clean exhaust on the South Superhighway. A shady tree to park under during the middle of the day. An unblemished ripe mango that has just fallen from one of the many trees in Alabang. A maid (helper) who has really learned to cook well your favorite home country cuisine.
The occasional stretch of truly smooth road where you can actually read (or write) while sitting in the back of the car.
A perfectly restored or repaired item you thought was unsalvageable until you gave it to a Filipino craftsman.
Taxiing for takeoff from NAIA after a really tough week of work. Glimpsing Manila from the air on your trip back from overseas, when your suitcase contains lots of winter wear.
The spectacular Christmas lights and displays on some of the homes in some of the villages.
A fine bottle of wine at a truly fine price on a Friday night in Manila, having spent the past work week in Singapore where alcohol is so expensive. Discovering a new Filipino nickname you have not heard of before. Exchanging smiles as you take one of your few jeepney rides and realize that it really is effective transport.
<LI class=MsoNormal>The temptation to buy when you discover how easy it is to find and own a classic car or motorcycle here.
<LI class=MsoNormal>Legally driving on a car- ban day using the "talisman" of a special license plate or window sticker.
Passing through a clean and well-organized Philippine town after leaving Manila. Enjoying the comfort of a Barong instead of wearing a formal dinner jacket Calamansi-and-soda that has not been sweetened too much. Real Noritake China at one fifth of the US price. Driving the upper level of the Skyway late on a Saturday night. A Boracay sunset with a Tanduay and coke in one hand and someone special in the other.
A boutique store without the customary loud background music playing.
Your first glimpse of the brilliant undersea life on your very first scuba dive.
Female caddies on the golf course, who provide smiles, giggles and an umbrella when it is needed. The marvelous scenery and green perfection of any number of great Philippine golf courses. Indulging in the creature comforts of manicure, pedicure, face massage or foot massage for less than the price of a mixed drink in the United States.
- Coming across a truly well trained receptionist who says "just a minute please I will transfer your call."
I did, however, ask around informally. Here are some things that many foreigners tend to find grating or, in some cases, even aggravating. No doubt the Filipino readers will view these with a certain degree of detachment and realize, as we do, that there are LOTS of things one could say about Americans in general. Here goes for the "peeves" though:
- Phone handlers who ask your name ("Sir, who is calling?"), then pass you along to another person who repeats the same question, and then on to a third person. Obviously, your name is NOT passed along with the phone calls. Clerks who are idle and chatting or bored, and whose standard response to any question is "out of stock."
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Sweet spaghetti sauce and, for that matter, the sweetness of other normally savory dishes
Food handlers who take orders and don't write anything down (of course, the orders arrive wrong in some way!)
Dirty road or street signs that can't be read even during daytime, and are all but visible during the night. Trucks with bright lights at the REAR, which blind drivers of vehicles trailing behind.
The popular and incorrect reply to a phone caller: "for a while". It is doubly bad when the caller is left on hold or unattended for a period of time.
Too many needlessly leaking faucets or pipes in a country where water is scarce and also expensive.
Devil-may-care littering by the rich in Alabang as they stand on a street corner and discard a Marlboro pack, and by the working class who carelessly discard paper anywhere they please.
The "territorial" need to fill all spaces with loud music: a small kiosk has a blaring stereo as does each shop beside it. There may be TV or stereo vendors in the main area of a mall playing their music, and on top of this cacophony the mall itself may have music playing.
Taxi drivers who refuse to use the meter and blatantly overcharge you because you are a foreigner.
The apparent unwillingness of most vehicle drivers to execute 90 degree turns, preferring instead 45 degree turns that block traffic and alter rights of way.
Food servers who obviously have never read their own menus because they can't explain a thing about them.
Lettuce heads which are more akin to Brussels Sprouts in size and to truffles in price.
Inclination of tradesmen to defer maintenance up to the point there is failure or breakdown. They seem to prefer to repair or replace the item in question even if there is no downtime or service breakdown.
The silly and convoluted payment and queuing techniques at Landmark and other seemingly enlightened retail establishments.
Junk food, which has taken over from native fare, and blue jeans and T-shirts that have replaced native dress. The sign on some trucks "No smoking within 50 feet" when most of the population knows metric and not English measurement. Filipinos in their 30's and older seem to speak better English than those in their 20's. (Why?)
Too many claims of high blood pressure by too many workers
Staples - letters stapled into envelopes or multiple staples in each bag of purchases.
Excessive demands of personal servitude by Filipinos who can afford it - such as the man at Polo Club who had his manservant tie his shoes for him while he sat in a chair.
Yayas who treat their charges as if they were still toddlers. Poorly equipped gardeners who are expected to cut a lawn using hand clippers.
When asked for directions, the respondent may roll the eyes and 'point" with his puckering lips in a general direction. No explanations, and that is your reply. Rich kids with amahs who place small white towels onto their backs and under their shirts.
- Drivers who enter intersections without looking and with the utmost confidence that what they don't see cannot hurt them. They assume that others will stop for them.