I enjoy working in my local community to give back as is my physical makeup thanks to my father who is a legacy in this arena. This article is purely to acknowledge some fine folks and a successful company, or should I say corporation which is SM Prime Holdings which primary success has come in their large number of modern Malls here in the Philippines.
First, I would like to thank Marc, the operational GM at the Baguio SM mall for helping to get the corporate office to renovate our city children’s park here in Baguio City. Marc is now working with an associate of mine who has a foundation here to help the deaf population. With a little luck SM will donate some greatly needed computers and I-pads in the very near future.
Also a thanks to David the store manager of SM appliances also here in Baguio for getting the corporate office to pay for transportation of a donated Refrigerator/Freezer to a local orphanage as every little bit of help is a gift.
SM we all say, keep up the good work.
If you come to the Philippines and are of the Christian religion, you’re in luck. There is every sect of Christianity here with the predominant religion being Roman Catholic to the tune of approximately 80%. There is every conceivable church from the Baptist church, Evangelistic churches, Latter Day Saints, Protestants, and the Seventh Day Adventists. There are two major Philippine-born religions in Christianity which are the Iglesia ni Cristo and El Shaddai. The Roman Catholic church is everywhere and it is not uncommon to see dozens of these churches even in small provincial areas. In the major cities, some of these churches are spectacular. To join the Catholic church here is not necessary, just attend a Mass or go into the church and there will always be people around to attend to you. Mass schedules are usually posted somewhere in the church. Sunday Masses in many of the churches are continuous.
The religion of Islam also is prevalent with approximately 5% of the people of this religion, but the concentration of Muslims is predominantly in southern Mindanao. Quite a few Islamic folks have migrated to areas where they can practice their religion and profession in peace. In Baguio where we live, the Muslim population consists of accomplished business people, and their businesses seem to me to be traditionally owned and managed by the women. There are mosques in almost every major city here.
Buddhism and Hinduism are practiced here, and the combination of the two are around 5% of the population. Jewish temples also exist in Manila, one in Angeles City on Clark Economic Zone, and one in Cebu City. Chabad are sort of the Jewish equivalent of missionaries as their mission is to provide a place where Jews can come to worship and socialise. They are expanding their locations around the country.
Some of the churches such as Iglesia ni Cristo and the Latter Day Saints (Mormons) have rigid requirements for joining with obligations to their church members such as helping fellow members and financial obligations as well. The Iglesia ni Cristo by far and away are the most strict of the religions here as one is never allowed to marry outside of their religion. And if they do, are ex-communicated from their church.
So if you come to the Philippines and want to join a church, you will rarely not find a branch of your particular sect no matter where you are. Below are the statistics of the breakdown percentages of the different religions.
So in conclusion if you’re Seventh Day of Adventist or a Roman Catholic or Islamic or Buddhist or Jewish, just ask anyone in your community where the closest temple is and enjoy.
Atheists and Agnostics
The norm for most ex-pats is to gravitate to other ex-pats. If you are in a provincial area there are usually less ex-pats, but you’ll probably get to know very quickly the few that are there. In the larger communities, the ex-pats often have clubs, traditional weekly or even bi-weekly lunches, and sometimes break down their socialization according to nationality. In the several communities that I have lived in, there has been everything from French clubs to ex-pat women’s clubs, to military Veterans clubs, and others. Because of the American military’s presence until the mid 1990’s, there are still VFW posts and American Legion posts in every major city. In Manila, there is even an Elk’s Club!
Many ex-pats decide they want to get involved in projects to help the community and that is normally the common bond with other ex-pats. Also, there is everything from bridge clubs to golfing clubs and just about anything one might have an interest in considering there is a large ex-pat community in this country. It would be fair to say that most of the ex-pats would be around 50 years of age and above while the younger ex-pat population are mostly people that have employment or businesses here so the largest portion are seniors.
Befriending Filipinos is not hard in most major cities, but it is more difficult in the provinces where few foreigners are living. The reason it might be more difficult to make friends in the provinces is that economically you might be considered “wealthy” in certain areas so therefore, the friendships you make might tend to take advantage of your financial capability as much as your good nature . Take it slow when making friends if living in small provincial areas, and expect that you might, from time to time, be hit up for cash if friends with people from lower income brackets. Don’t take it personally if you find that your friends have manoeuvred you into the position of being the local lending institution. Just remember that in such situations, you can always smile politely when asked for a “loan” and very politely say that you have left your wallet at home..or you don’t have enough cash on hand…or you have not yet been paid…anything that politely rebuts the request for a loan without your friend loosing face. Eventually, people will get the message and stop asking to “borrow” money! In bigger cities, finding local friends is much easier as you would likely be on a more equal financial footing (no requests for “loans”!) and in many cases, friendships might be more rewarding from a cultural perspective as well.
Many ex-pats have been known to come to the Philippines to find companionship. We will put this aspect of life in the islands into a different category than ordinary friendship, and will address this issue in a different article at a later time.
Romance and companionship aside, if you come to the Philippines and are looking to make friends among ex-pats as well as Filipinos, to put down roots and get involved in communities, you are not going to have any problems accomplishing that goal!