Author Topic: Essay of an Englishman  (Read 5275 times)

Offline Manila Cockney

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Essay of an Englishman
« on: April 05, 2008, 11:00:52 AM »
Taken from Business World Manila about 6 years ago.

Alien homeland

When I last returned to the UK on a visit, I realised that I have become a kind of alien in my own homeland. After only two weeks within the clutches of England\'s green and pleasant lands I started  to get itchy feet. I started hankering for the tropical intrigues of my foreign homeland. At the end of the line I have to admit that I have definitely and defiantly become a white Asian.

The UK is so well civilized at many levels, with excellent roads, infrastructure and systems that make daily life an easy affair. But strange as it might seem, this very quickly translates in my being as boredom. Everything is so predictable, refined, organized and easy. The route ahead is laid out like a routine carpet, and 99.9% of the time it all happens as expected. The worst thing that might happen to you is that the price of milk has gone up one penny, or that the  train is two minutes late to your platform.

Then there is the price of everything, which all seems so extortionate when compared to the price of things in the foreign homeland. And I mean really expensive, frighteningly so. Eating out
or drinking in a bar for many people is a once in a blue moon affair. Why even junk food is highly priced.

The magic of the place is still there with its classic architecture spread far and wide, well preserved from bygone eras, and magnificent museums and lots of green parks to wonder and stroll. The stupendous scenery of a temperate climate is all around, and the hotch-potch of  many different English accents is everywhere to be heard. Some of these even I find hard to understand, and some of those have thought I was Dutch from my own worldwide warped stretched English pronunciations.

Everyone in the country towns seem to own a dog, thoroughbreds are everywhere out on walks with their owners, all manicured and pedicured and tassled with smart collars and leads. Even the dogs here are predictable, refined, organized and easygoing. It is definitely evident in the pristine streets of England that English saying that \"A dog is a man\'s best friend\".

The welfare state stands out with its hand-outs for the unemployed, free medical services, subsidized dental services, single parent allowances, housing allowances, free schooling, and much financial  support for the disadvantaged or for the \'unworking\'.

London in some ways is very English and yet very un-English at the same time, since it has become a very cosmopolitan city where citizens of the world from all over the world have come to live and tarry. Sometimes it seems that there are almost no English in parts of London, but this just adds to the intrique of a great city. The London suburb of Brixton is like a mini Jamaica, while parts of the West End are like a mini Middle East, and this has all given a spectacular culinary infusion into the place. All adding a mish-mash of cultures living cheek-by-jowl in the heart of this Englishness, with Buckingham Palace and Big Ben dominating the skylines.

Far away lies the tropical mystery of the foreign homeland. I am starting to miss all that horn blowing, that rustling of the tropical palm trees, those warm sandy beaches, the volcanic scenery, the balut criers at night, all those essences that are a part of the heart and soul of an Asia land.

Once, when I was living in Hong Kong, which I did for ten years, a colleague asked me why I was off again to the Philippines. He confronted me with a gruff statement of fact as he understood it.

\"But isn\'t the Philippines rather uncivilized?\" He levelled at me. \"Yes!\" was my retort, \"and that is partly why I like it.\" \"What on earth do you mean by that?\" he responded somewhat taken
aback by my reply. \"Well, every day is like a magical mystery tour, since so many things
are unpredictable. This, in a strange but vital way, somehow keeps you on your toes. Everyone is wheeling and dealing, and you have to keep your wits about you in every situation. Every step of the day is a part of your life which you are aware of at all times.\" I had bludgeoned on far too long, and started to slow down when my colleague began blinking in a reflection of non-understanding. \"Try it and see for yourself\" I added limply, before adding, \"Hong Kong all happens in a blink of an eye, and before you know it a year has gone by, backed by a stew of stress and hard work. Everything happens so fast you don\'t even notice your life going by, and that is very worrying, isn\'t it?\"

I left my colleague somewhat perplexed, and scurried to the airport, and flew away from the skyrise fastness of the island city, finely laid out far below me and behind me. Within an hour and a half the low rise sprawl of Manila lay seething and inviting. I took a deep breath, switched into \"on-alert\" mode, and waltzed out into the beating sunrays streaming down from high above the bowels of a colorful and chaotic city, in what immediately appears to be an unplanned, unregulated, undisciplined mega urban mess.

However, the plan is to scuttle quickly through this unpredictable, unrefined, disorganized and harsh going environment, and to reach the laid back friendly outlying islands that have hovered largely unchanged for a hundred years. Where the ringing sounds of the city are absent, and the magic of tropical nature is definitely and defiantly king. A land lush with vegetation on the mountain slopes and rich in coral gardens beneath the waves.

The sweaters, scarves and gloves and thick socks for English weather have been left far behind buried at the back of the cupboard at home, and have been replaced by the simple clothing of tropical garb. In  the tropics of the Philippines, light clothing and a frequent outdoor  lifestyle is all par for everyday living, and it is the first ritual drink of calamansi juice that brings me back to the reality of my return to paradise.

While in England I thought I would combine the ambience of an old English pub with a game of billiards, so went in search of one with a decent table, intending to keep my hand in before my return to the billiard rooms of Manila and beyond. I entered this quaint old building and saw the corner of a billiard table in the large room beside the bar counter. I waltzed in and was amused to see a pathetic half size table with dinky toy balls and a child size cue stick. I went to the bar and asked if there was a proper full-sized table anywhere, only to be told that that little excuse for a billiard table was now the norm in the pubs of England. I felt cheated and reluctantly placed my one pound coin in the table coin slot -- five times what I pay in Manila! I was not a happy man and this added to my wish to be back in my world of reality in my alien homeland.

On the day of my departure from London Heathrow airport, the sky was a sickly grey and an icy wind was blowing in from the Artic. A spitting cold rain began to fall as I looked through the glass plate windows of the waiting room. \"Emirates flight number E76 is now boarding.\"

Eventually the plane was over Asia and the final announcement came. \"Please place your seats in the upright position, we are about to land in Manila.\"

I closed my eyes, took a deep breath, switched into \"on-alert\' mode, and beamed a little smile to myself, looking forward to waltzing out into the beating sunrays streaming down from high above onto the bowels of the colorful and chaotic city that is definitely and defiantly now my alien homeland.

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Re: Essay of an Englishman
« Reply #1 on: April 05, 2008, 11:29:08 AM »
I feel the same way about the Philippines, on my earlier long visits, landing in Manila always made me feel at home. Now that i have lived here for almost 3 years this is my home and the UK is now a like a foreign country. There are a few things that I miss, but on balance this is the place for me.

Colin

Offline michael16136

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Re: Essay of an Englishman
« Reply #2 on: April 05, 2008, 02:14:57 PM »
Very well put Mr. Cockney. I guess, at the end of the day, the workable anarchy of the place appeals to me as well. You\'re absolutely correct in your assessment that the whole country somehow avoids the rather pedestrian predictability of--not only England--but most of the West. Everything that you say about England could have been said about the US, about France, and about most of the Western European countries with which I\'m familiar. One thing that\'s true in general of this place is that living here is almost never boring. It may not always be pleasant, and it can be extremely frustrating, but it\'s never dull and I never get the feeling that one day will be much like the last and the next.

Today, I calculated that I\'m paying about $4.20 per gallon for gas which is, I think, even higher than I might be paying in New York but on a par with what I\'d pay in Paris. However, the rest of life is fairly inexpensive and there\'s no doubt that I live better here, for less money, than I possibly could in France or the US. Perhaps I\'m simply more alive here, or at least more alert than I would be elsewhere. Thanks for helping me to realize it.

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Re: Essay of an Englishman
« Reply #3 on: April 05, 2008, 03:54:03 PM »
Excellent thread all. I couldn\'t agree more with what is being said. Here, everything that should be complicated (by western standards) very often turns out remarkably easy BUT all too often the simple things are incredibly complicated or difficult. An example of each. Registration & test for my car this year took ten minutes at Rapide\' service center. Picked up my stickers & insurance 4 days later. Very civilized. On the difficult side try getting a telephone line from PLDT on a new (4-5yr) sub division. Only when 20 houses want it  ???

As for gasoline prices, try getting your tank filled in UK. Last time I was there (3yrs) price was over TWICE the price of here  >:(

It\'s great being retired here as your brains get a constant workout. Don\'t have to worry about \'use it or lose it\'. As my signature below says \'when was the last time you did something for the first time?\' Every day mate...every day
;D 8)

Offline jryals

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Re: Essay of an Englishman
« Reply #4 on: April 05, 2008, 07:35:34 PM »
As I see people talking about gas prices I have to remark on my view here in Korea. Wesday I was in Seoul and saw the fuel gauge was on Empty I pulled in to the nearest station after the attended filled it up and I use diesel not gas witch is lower than gas it came to 95,000 Won  that converts over to 97.47 US or to 4050.14 PHP. This was for 58 liters and that converts over to 15.32 gal. US  thats 6.22 a gal US now thats HIGH in my book. I\'m glad my company is the one paying the bill and not me at these prices.
Life can be full of happiness if YOU let it in

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Re: Essay of an Englishman
« Reply #5 on: April 05, 2008, 07:52:36 PM »
Thats slightly cheaper than UK price by my calculations. No you know why small cars are popular there.

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Re: Essay of an Englishman
« Reply #6 on: April 05, 2008, 09:05:10 PM »

Registration & test for my car this year took ten minutes at Rapide\' service center. Picked up my stickers & insurance 4 days later. Very civilized.

As for gasoline prices, try getting your tank filled in UK. Last time I was there (3yrs) price was over TWICE the price of here  >:(


I don\'t even have to leave the house, my brother-in-law just takes in the papers one day and collects everything the next. They got a bit strict this year and wanted to see the number plate, so we just unscrewed it and he took it in  ;D

I also like the gasoline prices here  :)

Colin

Offline stillbilly2002

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Re: Essay of an Englishman
« Reply #7 on: April 09, 2008, 05:51:52 AM »
Colin,Keith,  great thread WOW.........guess im just a white asian too.......we Americans
  need to visit this thread and site when we get to crying about prices billy2002

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Re: Essay of an Englishman
« Reply #8 on: April 14, 2008, 02:44:53 AM »
Manila Cockney,
 
Your Essay  of an Englishman is Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious  :D.  Easy life is kind of boring ha. Here in Belgium for instance, daily routine is almost same.  In the weekend if the weather is good everyone are on their way to the Coast, park or bbq party. If the weather is cold & windy everyone stays at home (haayyy buhay!).
 
As the saying goes “There\'s no thrill in easy sailing when the skies are clear and blue, there\'s no joy in merely doing things which any one can do. But there is some satisfaction that is mighty sweet to take, when you reach a destination that you never thought you\'d make.\"
 

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Re: Essay of an Englishman
« Reply #9 on: May 28, 2009, 12:55:20 AM »
\"Try it and see for yourself\" I added limply, before adding, \"Hong Kong all happens in a blink of an eye, and before you know it a year has gone by, backed by a stew of stress and hard work. Everything happens so fast you don\'t even notice your life going by, and that is very worrying, isn\'t it?\"

     Can I just say that article was a pleasure and a joy to read..I have tried to explain to my wife the thrill we get flying into Manila and then exiting the airport into the wonderfull chaos that is the traffic and excitement of it all. The \'alert mode\' also has me in stitches in a good natured way because once you have been there you realise there are ways to take care of your precious pennies.

     The rest of your article about london can apply to any European town or city now..it\'s an eye opener to how we are merely \'battery hens\' in a lifelong enslavement to the banks and taxes here..our money is gone before we recieve it for a house and a car...THEY CAN KEEP IT.

     I agree wholeheartedly with your sentiment that I copy pasted above...we need to utilise what we have to get outa the rat race and live a little...

                         Sincere regards,
                              Leprechaun63 and his mrs pinay pie.



 

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Re: Essay of an Englishman
« Reply #10 on: April 09, 2010, 12:27:44 AM »
Good grief, it could have been me writing that article!  The first time I left the UK to travel i stayed away six years, never went back, never saw my parents or old friends. I know it was not a nice thing to do, but I really really did not have any urge to go back there. Eventually I did go \'home\', saw my mum and dad for the first time in forever, and all was well.

For about five days. 

Meeting up with old friends soon wore very thin, as they basically had no interest in anything I had seen or done, and their faces slowly went blank as I told them parts of my adventures, different countries, different episodes.

I had booked flights for a two week stay, but I just had to cut it short and left after ten days, back to the Philippines, back home.

Three days later I met my wife. on the bus to Angeles from Manila!

Some seven years later we moved to the UK to live, and now, eight years after that, we\'re moving back to the PI, back to home;D

My only regret, the only thing I shall miss, is my elderly parents. (and my workshop!)  I shut them off for six years once before, but now I shall make a point of taking the family over at least once a year, if all goes well.

Offline winchester

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Re: Essay of an Englishman
« Reply #11 on: April 09, 2010, 06:35:08 AM »
Nice! It\'s really inspiring reading something like these from fellow PI admirers who rooted from a well developed country. Makes someone feel that he or she is not alone in seeing something great in a poor but wonderful world of the islands of the Philippines where even the impoverished ways of life can sometimes be amusing . Just can\'t wait to get there!! :\'(

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Re: Essay of an Englishman
« Reply #12 on: April 09, 2010, 09:48:26 PM »
Nice! It\'s really inspiring reading something like these from fellow PI admirers who rooted from a well developed country. Makes someone feel that he or she is not alone in seeing something great in a poor but wonderful world of the islands of the Philippines where even the impoverished ways of life can sometimes be amusing . Just can\'t wait to get there!! :\'(
My poor wife has only spent about five weeks in the Philippines out of the last eight years. She really wants to get back there.

I think it is only right we have a spell over there, even if it doesn\'t pan out as well as planned.

And our daughter deserves to see more of her home country, her country of birth. Regardless of her passport colour, she was still born a Filipina.  ;D

 


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