Stories of Things Learned after Moving to the US from the Philippines

Much of the information which helps us construct our opinions of the USA is either incomplete or skewed. Real person accounts, even though influenced by subjectivity, often tend to be more detailed. If you are a Filipino expat living in the US or one of millions aspiring to be one, this article should make for an interesting read.

The US is not exactly as seen in the media

There are many stereotypes of Americans, such as the overweight white wasteful urbanite living in a posh house, and the unscrupulous Wall Street trader. Filipinos migrating to the US write back that such stereotypes are overhyped. Expats discover that ordinary Americans are often as nice, open, friendly, family-oriented, educated, and sensible as anywhere else. There are doctors, architects, teachers, policemen, factory workers, artists, and politicians in the US, just as in any other country. They love their children, respect their elders and work to improve their lives every day. Nearly four million Filipinos already live and work in the US and regularly send money to the Philippines, improving lives and contributing to GDP growth.

Hired help is not cheap

Growing up in the Philippines one can get used to hired help doing many of the chores. It is not uncommon to have a maid or two, drivers, runners, delivery guys and so on. Such is not the way of life in the US for anyone except the super rich. Average Americans do nearly all household chores themselves, albeit assisted by appliances. Doctors do not commonly make house calls. Most specialists can only be seen by appointment, and charge by the hour. Qualified professionals such as plumbers and electricians must be booked in advance and cost dearly.

Equality is for real

For all practical purposes everyone is treated equally. In a job application your qualification and credentials matter, not your race or gender. The law applies equally to the rich and the poor. Ordinary people have been known, on occasion, to successfully sue CEOs and senior government officials. Foreign-born naturalized citizens have been selected to positions in government, administrative offices and the military.

America celebrates diversity. You are free to practice your culture, religion and way of life as long as you respect the law of the land. You are not judged for your ancestry, race or skin color. In fact, many US cities have several ethnic communities which have proudly retained their cultural identities through generations.

You can travel to your heart’s content

In purely geographic terms the US is 12.6 times the size of The Philippines, with one fourth the population density. Wide open spaces with exceptional natural beauty are easy to find. The Grand Canyon and Yellowstone National Park are two of many natural treasures. Cities like Miami, Vegas and LA, each with its unique attractions, host millions of tourists every year. The country also annually hosts the world’s most prominent exhibitions and shows on everything from comics to asteroid mining.

You can be who you want to be

Ethnicity, race and gender have no bearing on success. If you really want to pursue something, you can. As long as you are talented you can enter the best universities and have your education funded. Similarly there is an abundance of venture capital funding to support entrepreneurship of all types. You can pursue your chosen skill or profession without limitation or restraint. You can be a golfer or a beautician, a diver or a brewer, a lobbyist or a painter – in the land of opportunity you can truly realize your dream. The only real differentiators are skill and hard work. There are no substitutes for performance. Commitment is at the core of the American ideology. Nobody will hand you the American dream on a plate. You must earn it.