Now that I’ve live in Dumaguete for about 6 months, I can’t help but look at my life and realize I don’t know too many people here. Some of it is logistics; we spent the first few months getting settled, finding a rental house, filling the house with stuff, buying a car, etc.
But the truth be told, I am just not that social a person. When married in the past, somehow most of my single friends faded and I developed married friends, aka friends of the wife 🙂 Divorce happens, and the friends stayed with her 🙂
When I was divorced I was too busy raising kids and futilely trying to date. So the last thing I worried about was guys to hang out with.
When I married Janet, I was more concerned that she meet people she could befriend and we ended up as part of a large community of Fil-Am couples. While I thought I was doing it just for Janet, one day I woke up to discover that I actually had a bunch of new friends, several of whom I actually liked!
Here in the Philippines, while making friends hasn’t been a top priority, it has been on my mind. Drinking buddies aren’t hard to find here and I actually have a nice group of guys I meet with once a month to share a beer or two (OK, more for some) and swap stories and problems. There are several popular hangouts for expats in Dumaguete, and you can go to those places at nearly any time of the day or night and find guys drinking and talking in a variety of languages. But I never was a bar guy and don’t intend to become one in my dotage. Now I am sure many of these guys are good people, but if you’re slamming San Miguels at 10:00 AM you might not be my type and at 10:00 PM I’m probably in bed, so I’m not your type.
Also I’m married, so creating couples friends is as important or more important that making individual friends. Janet and I have gone out with other couples on occasion; sometimes there’s a connection -sometimes not. The juries still out.
Then there was my stated intention before I moved here that I wanted to have Filipino friends; maybe even more Filipino than expat friends, I thought. It still hasn’t happened but then I am barely social with people who speak my own language. Oh, people in my neighborhood are friendly and say hello when I am out and about walking, but I haven’t yet converted that into anything more. Perhaps I should start hanging out at the local Sari Sari and share a beer. I say this seriously; I know several guys who do this. Ultimately it’s clear that this sort of effort is on me. Despite their friendly nature, Filipinos are shy around foreigners and so if I really want friends I will have to make the effort.
And then there’s the family. Janet has a large one and we see them often. I do consider them friends but there’s a language barrier, a cultural barrier – and yes, an economic barrier.
Now, none of this is coming from a place of loneliness or sadness. I have tons to do and never get bored. And let’s not forget I have a very cute wife 🙂 Next week we’re meeting some U.S. friends and that should be fun and we have a ton of other American friends who know there is a guest room if and when they come to the Philippines. But still it would be nice to expand the friendship base to a few more people here.
BTW, I don’t have my normal photo that’s relevant to this blog piece displayed at the top, because when I searched Google for “Philippines expats” it mostly showed images of people I know 🙂