First impressions of the Philippines

Sreychea Heang, Kim Kotara

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Two Cambodian Rappler interns share their first impressions of Manila and Filipinos' way of life

We have been in the Philippines for more than a month and still, we are constantly being surprised by this country.

For Cambodians like ourselves, the Philippines is very interesting. Despite the fact that we are in the same region, Southeast Asia, it is still quite different from our own country.

Here are 3 things that struck us about this country:

Traffic and transportation

This, perhaps, is the most different and scariest. Filipinos drive very fast. Traffic is at its worst during rush hours, and roads are filled mostly with cars, jeepneys and buses. We don’t see a lot of motorbikes.

Yes, the motorbike. In Cambodia, motorbikes outnumber the cars on the streets. We can even say, that this is our main mode of transportation. Almost every family has one.

“Wow!” This was our reaction when we first rode the MRT from Ortigas to Ayala. There were so many people inside the train that movement was almost impossible.

In Cambodia, our trains are quite old and are used only to transport goods. Though the railways are being rehabilitated by the government, we doubt if they will be functional anytime soon.

We were also surprised to see many cars with tints. According to our Filipino friends, this is for privacy reasons. In Cambodia, however, we have a traffic law that prohibits the use of tinted car windows. The rule is for the safety of the pedestrians — so drivers can clearly see the traffic even at night time.

Shopping lifestyle

In terms of lifestyle, we are amazed at how Filipinos love shopping. We think it’s one of their favorite hobbies. The malls here are always crowded. People just go back and forth like it’s a Water Festival (a famous festival in Cambodia).

In our country, most people go to the malls only on weekends. The malls are usually empty on weekdays, unlike here.

Manila, we think, is a very good place for shopping. Those who love shopping will defintely fall in love with the place.

We find Filipinos very friendly. Even if it’s the first time we’ve met them, it feels like we’re already close friends. In Cambodia, people don’t talk much. It takes time for most Cambodians to become warm to strangers.

Another interesting observation is the way Filipinos use umbrellas. Filipinos care a lot about their skin and they use the umbrella to protect themselves from sunlight and rain. In our country, umbrellas are used only during the rainy season.

More to explore

So far, our time in the Philippines has been a blast. Though we faced  some challenges–like the language–our stay has been great.

We are happy to learn and live in a new environment. The key is to learn how to adjust, adapt and enjoy. There is more to explore in this country. –

Sreychea Heang and Kotara Kim are Rappler interns from Cambodia.

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