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Since I arrived here in August 2001, I have noticed many differences between the two cultures. This article is a summary of some of the bigger differences which I hope might be of some interest.

(Note: if you have comments, suggestion, etc. please email me at:   iilbell@yahoo.co.uk or     charles@davidandivy.co.uk)

 Probably the biggest difference is the concept of the family. In the Philippines most people live as part of an extended family. Everyone looks after each other. Old people are cared for in the family, rather than being put into homes. There are people to share the task of looking after both the very young and the very old. So mothers do not have to spend money in the child care, and can easily work if they want to. Each family will normally have a primary bread-winner, who need not necessarily be the father. And other family members are not charged rent, but contribute to the household naturally out of respect and duty. Younger people show respect to older people, and address them “sir” to a man and “ma’am or Madam” to a woman and so on.

 Television is noticeably different. English television is full of bad words and frequently portrays awful people doing awful things. In the Philippines, television frequently portrays violence but always in the context of a moral point, which is made explicitly in most programmes. Actors and actresses are glamorous and careful with their appearance. It seems that in England, role models are often not elevating. This is also true of newspapers, many papers contain degrading tittle-tattle rather than any real news. 

 This might help explain why I find it hard to understand some English accents.

England is substantially less religious than the Philippines. Church attendance is very low, despite the wonderful heritage of saints, cathedral and churches. This must have an impact on overall moral values. In the Philippines, until quite recently it was unacceptable for a boy and a girl to go out together without a chaperone- so as young people do not smoke or drink in public places.

One thing I found bizarre is the excessive rules and regulations in England. Almost everything seems to have rules or laws around it. The burden of bureaucracy is suffocating, and many of the rules and regulations seem mindless in their triviality. They are a severe limit to true freedom; in that respect, the Philippines is much more free than England.

There is no concept of welfare state in the Philippines. Unemployment pay, where people get money from the government for not working, is quite shocking and surely encourages laziness and scrounging. It is very strange that the state gives money to people for having children. A universal state pension is obviously a good thing; only people who have worked can earn a pension in the Philippines. Of course, the cost of this is reflected in the enormous taxes compared to very much lower tax in the Philippines.

 The health service is another thing where concept is very different. In the Philippines you have to pay for a visit to a doctor or hospital or to a health professional, but the service is very much better. You are seen more promptly, and always by people who know what they are doing. Senior Citizens have 25% discount and children below eighteen will pay for medicines. In England prescriptions are free for children, Senior Citizens and pregnant women. Availability of medicine is much better in England.

 Perhaps the best thing about England is the lack of corruption. This is what holds the Philippines back, and keeps it as a third world country. In England there is very little abuse of power. You can even trust the police, who in the Philippines are among the major sponsors of crime, and are regularly in the pay of criminal gangs.

 Corruption has also destroyed much of the nature and wildlife in the Philippines. Nature reserves are not respected, but often destroyed by illegal loggers. The Philippines has many rare birds, plants and animals, but most of them are threatened with extinction through corruption and greed. The regulations protecting nature in England are, in this case very beneficial. The spring flowers and trees are delightful.

 In general the standard of living in England is higher than the Philippines. Much of this is due to the lack of corruption, but some is structural. Wages are much higher, but so are many costs, especially food. Prices of consumer goods are similar in both countries, so in England they are cheaper relative to wages; so, more people have more things here.

 Terrorism is worse in the Philippines. The IRA are a local problem in Northern Ireland, but the terrorist groups in the Philippines such as MILF (Moro Islamic Liberation Front) and the ABU SAYYAF, in their fight for a separate Islamic State, have completely destroyed the tourist business by their evil campaigns (kidnapping for ransom, bombings which kills innocent civilians). Decades of negotiations have failed to resolve the problems and some groups (Abu Sayyaf) have refused to negotiate at all.

 A very visible difference is transport. In the Philippines, very cheap public transport (tricycles and jeepneys)are everywhere. In England, outside cities, public transport is at best useless, at worst non-existent. This makes a car a necessity in England, but it is luxury in the Philippines. This must lead to some people who do not have cars or driving licenses being very isolated.

 Finally I must mention the weather, which is COLD! In the Philippines, apart from high mountains, it is very unusual for temperatures to fall below 18 degrees (not Fahrenheit but Celsius). It is remarkable here when they rise above 18! I enjoyed seeing the snow, though, and wished it could have lasted longer. Next time I will certainly make a SNOWMAN!