English in the Philippines

English Speaking Expats do not feel the Isolation here that they would in Other Asian Countries

That most locals can speak or understand some English in the Philippines is probably the second most attractive benefit of moving to this country, besides the chance to have a great relationship with a beautiful woman. It certainly was a major factor for me when I first decided to check out my chances at meeting an Asian woman.

When I started the hunt for the relationship of my dreams and my sights began to get set on the Asian women who I found to be exotically beautiful, I initially focused on Thailand. I joined the Thai dating sites and though there was  no shortage of women who blew my mind in the looks department, communication was next to impossible. I tried the common translations apps but it became abundantly clear that I could not get to know some one to the extent that I felt I required  in an intimate relationship. I had to study my goals , and they did not include having a pretty fixture by my side that might keep me interested in the bedroom, but would leave me still feeling alone. To me that would never be love.

I then did a little more research and found out that English in the Philippines was common but was not sure to what extent. I decided to sign up with Filipino Cupid , and like probably all men who have tried the same was inundated with responses to my profile. I then set about the task of responding to the ones that piqued my initial interest and was happy to find that in just about all cases I could carry out understandable correspondence. Eventually I moved on to online chats through Skype or Messenger, and again was buoyed by the realization that meaningful communication was possible.

When finally arriving in the Philippines for the first time, I spent a few days in Manila. What I found there, unlike my earlier travels through South America, was that though not all Filipinos spoke English, most Filipinos could grasp my language sufficiently enough to understand what I was talking about. Even whenever there were some communication problems, some one also seemed to be close by that would intervene to smooth out the difficulties. Onward from Manila, I flew into Southern Mindanao and headed out into the remote areas of the Compostella Valley to meet my new “girlfriends” family. There, the ability of Filipinos to speak and understand English was more limited than in the bigger Urban areas of Manila and Davao, but still there was never any real issues with getting my point across. With my new woman in tow, we then set out to a small, very primitive island close to Boracay where I found the English in the Philippines was even futher limited. On that island, the majority of the Filipino residents had little schooling and very few had had much need for learning anything but Tagalog or their native dialect. The exceptions were the part of the island population who made the near daily trip to Boracay to work in the booming tourism sector on the world famous island. So , though the use and understanding of English was far less widespread, again there was usually some one around with English skills passable enough make my stay quite easy.

As the years have passed and I stayed longer and longer, and now permanently in this country, I have come to realize that though English in the Philippines is common, there are limitations that I have had to understand, accept and adapt to.

The actual reality is that though a lot of Filipinos are passable in English, there are few that comprehend the language to the extent that I had begun to take for granted. Most nuances are lost and quite often it is difficult to get across more complicated ideas and concepts. This is especially difficult in the work environment which sometimes involve more technical terms. Adding to the difficulties is that quite often Filipinos do not like to admit that they do not fully understand so tend to just nod and agree, without full understanding. It used to irritate me know end whenafter I would give directions such as “pick that up and walk over to your right with it”, they would immediately pick up the wrong thing and go to the left with it. All the while insisting that they fully understood what I had asked them to do. After identifying this was an issue, and getting over my self centered expectations that my gracious Filipino hosts should grace me with a better understanding of MY language, it has not been hard to adapt to. I now accept  that these people have no responsibility to cater to my needs, and try to appreciate that they are even trying to do so. Truth be told, I have chosen to live in their homeland and should be trying harder myself to learn their language.

In conclusion,with English in the Philippines so widespread, an English speaking person who chooses to live here does not have to face the same feelings of isolation they would feel in other Asian countries. Though sometimes frustrating that some Filipinos will not entirely grasp our communication, it is a far cry from places where even something as simple as a restaurant order is a challenge.