Street Level Living Philippines

Posted on June 21, 2010. Filed under: Stories from the Philippines! | Tags: , , , |

Street Level Living

Reality is something we Westerners dodge.

We fight reality for the illusion that is comfort, that is distraction. We are addicted to comfort and distraction to the point that we are shocked when reality comes up to rear it’s “ugly” head.

You may wonder what I am talking about when I mention illusion and distraction but we are sorrounded by it and have been so accustomed to it that we don’t even realize we are blind to the reality of life.

I go back into the magic screen in my mind and re-live some memories of “street level” living in the Philippines.

I find myself on the side of a crowded highway having just stepped off the Jeepney. Waiting with countless poor and yet smiling faces that I have bonded with in this short stream of consciousness that is, and will ever be a part of my life. I travel with the locals on their most popular mode of transportation. The Jeepney is a Filipino Icon in that it efficiently transports people day in and day out to their desired destinations for such a small amount of Pesos. You see in most parts of the Philippines it is unnecessary to even have a car. To the American it is a forein concept indeed to be without one!

The excitement of being on literally the “other side of the world” in a strange land riding in this tin can on wheels with people you don’t know is a thrill and gritty slice of realness that can only be experienced first hand. We waited on the dirty shoulder of the road near a clumsily put together Jeepney stand. Small thin brown skinned people will stare at you, when you catch their glance they will smile sweetly and acknowledge you as if you were “somebody” just because you are a westerner. The Filipino people are so accepting and accommodating that you never feel like you are away from home. You might actually, like me, feel like you are truly home for the very first time.

It is a beautiful contrast (the Philippine experience). Waiting at the side of the road amidst a sea of traffic that is seemingly reckless but somehow perfectly in harmony at the same time. The smell of diesel smoke and the noise of the street will assault you while the grace and peacefulness of the Filipino people make you feel totally at ease.

We waited for a little while for another Jeepney to safely take us to the other side of the six lanes of traffic so we could do some shopping in one of the most modern malls that you will ever see!
We finally boarded hunched over entering through the back, ever clinging to the small handrail that is firmly bolted to the roof of the vehicle. Walking gently so as to not step on the feet of fellow travellers as we endeavor to find a seat on the narrow benches on either side. When seated it is a nice visual to behold. Mothers and daughters going to the store. Young women donning immaculately kept nurses’s uniforms going home from training for the day. Smiling children on their Father’s laps and those who can sleep sitting up are all along for the ride. Happy teenagers riding with their friends having an innocent good time.

When we arrive at the Mall (SM) as they call it. We get off the Jeepney and hurry to the comfort of the Mall.

I don’t know why I wrote this. Sometimes I just sit down at my laptop and want to translate memory to page. I want to convey the experience, the color, sites sounds and smells that are all a part of the experience.
I love the Philippines and miss it so much. There are so many stories, so many experiences and memories that always make me drift back. They always make me homesick for the Philippines.
I go back into the magic screen in my mind and re-live some memories of “street level” living in the Philippines.


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13 Responses to “Street Level Living Philippines”

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Thanks Randall, you brought back memories for me that I had forgotten about. It is amazing the life that the Filipinos live and the attitude they have about life. It is something that the rest of the world should behold. You are doing a good job in at least letting us see a little of that.

I’m glad I could do that! Cool, you stopped by again. Got to get together soon.
Thanks for the comment!

It’s always interesting to know how people from other places view and experience life in the Philippines. What makes your’s more so is your location, which is away from the city. I think most foreigner’s would find it hard to adjust in a place where people knock off at sunset. Looking forward to more of your stories.

I have always been able to adjust to situations. I don’t know, I just take life as it comes and try to appreciate the beauty of a new location, new customs and circumstances.

Do you live in the Philippines? Sounds like you have spent much time in the cities. They are exciting as well. Manila is much better than it was 8 years ago. I actually enjoyed being there. I think the pollution is less than it used to be.

I have come to love Antipolo as well. We have found friends there and spent some time there last year.

Great to hear from you. Thanks Randall

…I’m a filipino working in Singapore with my family and I have been away from home since 1991, although I do occasionaly come to visit my Mom once in awhile . I live in Molo, Iloilo City.I was in Phil. last Feb. 2010. Appreciate your views on my country but just don’t let your guard down. Everywhere you go there will always be bad apples.

You are absolutely right John. Although I love traveling there, I realize at the same time there are dangers everywhere. Some places you don’t want to be after dark!
I am a westerner (from America) and realize it is easy to become a target if you are not wise. I have found a little common sense goes a long way, that goes for anywhere you live. Good comment and would like to know what you are doing in Singapore? I have been there a couple of times. I love Singapore! Can you say “Chicken Rice”?

you bet I do. There are places here that specialize in chicken rice. But the best (according to my taste, that is)can always be found not in those fancy hotels but in those hawkers stalls, you know, patronized by the common people. When was the last time you’ve been here? I’m an architecture graduate and currently working with an Archi firm here.

The first place I ate in Singapore was a little place called Newton Circus. It was about 2:00 a.m.. My now wife and I went there and So Tong (don’t know if I spelled it correctly) It was Squid Stir fried with rice. We also had Chicken Rice which was absolutley wonderful. This was in 2001. I went back in 2007 for a couple of days as well. Singapore can be expensive but very safe and clean.

I almost forgot to mention Laksa! It is my favorite dish of all time. Seafood Laksa is a wonderful experience. A little hot but the Tiger will cool you down, if you know what I mean! Thanks for commenting.

I think I should do a post about safety in the Philippines next. Email me if you have some pointers. Thanks John.

Randal, I pulled a muscle im my right shoulder, cant lift mi right arm or experience a lot of pain. I have switched to typing and using the mouse with my left hand. Really feels strange. You should consider a career in writing, something you can do while living in the Philippines full time. My neighbor on the mountain in Bogo, my house for sale, is an author, consider it. also download free WordPress NEW ebooks here, just do a search. see my web site:

Thank you so much for your description of street level living in the Philippines. Your writing made me feel like I was there, waiting with those peaceful smiling faces, for the jeepney.

Can’t wait to get there.

Thanks for your commment Natalie. Are you a Filipina? If so, where are you from?

Thanks for the kind words.

Randall, I just finished my first WordPress web site, just barely got it up in the last couple of days, still needs a lot of work but it’s getting there. Please check it out and comment on the posts if you can. So it looks like some activity on there
Do you have any questions and answers I can add to the FAQ, I know there are a lot more questions to add in there just can’t think of any at the time. And also if you want to write a post let me know I can get the id and password over to your via email if you want. This site is geared more towards people retiring to the Philippines, so anything related to that would be good.

And I wanted to say excellent post on Street Level Living Philippines”

Charles Harman

Yes! I went in and saw your blog last night. Very good setup. I like the theme. You have alot of knowlegdge about things on the ground there. I am really getting homesick for the country that I love.

Hey, can you check out my new site at That’s where I will do all my future posts and will eventualy shut down this site.
Maybe we can work together on a project soon.

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