Jonny: The Philippines Expat
Please tell us a little bit about yourself. Who you are, where you come from, when you moved to the Philippines, etc.
I’m Jonny, 26 and originally from London, England. I moved to Cebu City, The Philippines in September 2012 for a work opportunity and haven’t looked back since – it was a big change to my life but this feels like home now.
When and why did you decide to start blogging about your experiences?
I had already planned on writing a blog before I left as some of my friends were encouraging me to do so, and it was one of the first things I did when I entered the country. Initially it was just a way for me to keep in touch with my friends and family in the UK, but I’ve now realized that my blog can be much more than that. This year I plan on doing a number of useful articles for expats and travelers in order to improve the content and to act as a local guide for others.
Do you have any favorite blog entries of yours?
It’s hard to choose a favorite, but when I re-read Sleepless in Cebu it makes me feel some nostalgia over the excitement I had when I first came here. A favorite travel post I did would also be the one on my trip to Boracay due to the memories of my experience. I think my writing has improved a lot though since I’ve started and I’m quite pleased with my recent review of La Vie Parisienne.
Tell us about the ways your new life in the Philippines differs from that back home. Did you have trouble getting used to the new circumstances? Did you experience culture shock?
On a day to day basis my life isn’t that different as I’m still working in an office from Monday to Friday. The biggest difference is not seeing my friends or family on a regular basis and the constantly hot climate. I also get a lot more attention everywhere I go as a foreigner here, which made me feel very self conscious at first but I’m accustomed to it now. People here are very different to British people, for example they often don’t understand sarcasm as it’s not a part of their humour. People here are also more used to American accents as opposed to British ones, so I often have to repeat myself.
Do you think you were fully prepared for what awaited you in the Philippines? If you could, would you change some decisions/preparations you made?
No I don’t think I was, although in many ways that was part of the excitement: not knowing what awaited me. You can never really prepare for a significant life change because you simply don’t know how it will affect you and what it will be like. There’s nothing I would have done to prepare differently and coming out here was the best decision I ever made.
Every expat knows that expat life comes with some hilarious anecdotes and funny experiences. Care to share one with us?
Well, if you start a story with the expectation that it’s going to be ‘hilarious’ then it inevitably isn’t! However I was once asked where I was from, to which I replied ‘Britain’. Their answer was ‘Oh, I didn’t realize they spoke English there!’ I was quite speechless. The Philippines is very focused around the US but still, it was the last thing I expected to hear.
Which three tips would you like to give future expats before they embark on their new life in the Philippines?
For me, any experience you have is amplified if you share it with others. Travelling on your own is one thing but it can be a lonely place, so it’s a good idea to make an effort to make friends here or come with others.
How is the expat community in the Philippines? Did you have a hard time finding like-minded people or fellow expats?
There is a very large expat community here as you can imagine, and they aren’t hard to find either. When I first came in 2012 there were a lot fewer than there are now and the community continues to grow. There’s a mix of people doing different things but normally the expats are from 35 to retirement age and above. Pretty much everyone I’ve met is either running a call center or retired, except for myself and a handful of others in the company I work for.
How would you summarize your expat life in the Philippines in a single, catchy sentence?
I’m earning my way to paradise!