Wednesday, 26 May 2010

Local Frustration

I'm going to get slated for this, particularly if my mate Rina reads it (she's Filipina), but I can't hold back any longer: I'm getting really frustrated by the Pinoys. I can't tar them all with the Stupid Brush, but a good 90% of them are downright thick. And a lot of them are lazy. Some of them are even thick and lazy. Maybe it's a bad education system, but there's no excuse for not grasping basic maths. You come across some lummoxes in England who shouldn't be allowed to eat with sharp implements, but these lot take the biscuit: using a calculator to add 50 pesos to 10 pesos, then subtracting the total from 100 when you give them a note that size, as you're stood there intoning "60 pesos" and "40 pesos" in exasperation. It gets a bit much.

It's not just myself who believes they're not as switched-on as the rest of Asia. My mate Ian, an instructor working his way through the continent, has had his frustrations. We were at Coron airport when he fancied a coffee. He asked the girl behind the counter if there was a cake or something sweet to go with his beverage. "No sir" she said. He looked behind her and said "Well what about those cookies behind you?" "Yes sir, we have cookies..." Oh dear. I went in to get a coffee, too. "Is the coffee fresh?" I asked her. "No sir, it is made from beans" was her reply. Oh.

I tried to book ahead for a stay on Siquijor island, and spoke to a girl who brought out the Basil Fawlty in me:
"Hello, do you have a room available this evening, please?"
"Yes, sir."
"How much is it?"
"1200 pesos, sir."
"That's a little expensive, do you have anything cheaper?"
"Yes sir, but it is full."
"OK, can I book the room, but then move to the cheaper room tomorrow?"
"Yes sir, thank you."

She put the phone down. I rang back.

"Excuse me, but do you need my name for the booking?"
"Yes, sir. Thank you."
"It's Warren."
"Thank you."
"And can you confirm..."

The phone went down again. I rang back.

"Hello, I think you put the phone down on me again?"
"Yes, sir."
"Can you confirm I can take the cheaper room tomorrow?"
"I'm sorry sir..?"
"I can change rooms tomorrow?"
"I'm sorry sir, but you are very confusing me now."

Click. Needless to say, I did not stay at the Swiss Stars Guesthouse, Siquijor.

Now I've been told that some Filipinos are taught to listen to keywords, and have set responses. For example, if you said "Can you tell me what time I need to check out of my room, please?" They'd pick up the time, check-out and room and react accordingly. That's fine, but if someone is doing this, I can make allowances if they just tell me their English is not so good? It would also stop me from looking like a pumpkin farmer if a Coron barber explained he hadn't understood my instructions before unleashing the scissors on me. Common sense.

I've nearly been run over on several occasions in the Philippines by fools on scooters, driving with no lights in the dead of night. Why no lights? Because it saves petrol. Silly me, of course it does.

I've witnessed boat boys standing at the bow of a speedboat, pulling on the rope attached to the prow, supposedly to lift the front of the boat further out of the water as it travels. We're not talking budding Leonardo Da Vincis here, not with that limited a grasp of Physics.

There doesn't seem to be much forward planning. Patric in Coron told me that, if he offered his boat man 5000 pesos now, or 1000 pesos a week for the rest of the year, he'd ask for the 5000 now. Subsistence living is partly something to do with it, but when the tips are given out at the dive shop, theirs are gone by sundown. No saving, or putting money away for the future.

You see plenty of Pinoys lying about in the shade all day. Tricycle drivers, once they've made enough for the day, seem to think they can just go to sleep in their cabs...instead of continuing to work and make more cash. It's a very lazy culture here, they're not an industrious people.

Like I say, it's not all of them, but it seems to be the majority. On the flip side of the coin, I've met plenty of Pinoys running their own businesses, making successful plans for themselves...but it's a shame more don't do likewise. Until they do, the Philippines will struggle to catch up with its neighbours.

Right, where did I put that tin helmet? Rina is going to kill me when I get back to London.

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