Yes, being an American in the Philippines has its disadvantages. In a twist on the word, the disadvantages are that Filipinos try, and sometimes do, take advantage of Americans.
My wife is in the US or I wouldn’t have to worry about it. Being a Filipina herself, and the fact that she dresses just like the other Filipinas, she doesn’t get taken advantage of. She’s been gone two weeks and Filipinos are already taking advantage of me. If I attempt to buy something from a local store, without having a Filipino relative with me, the sales person attempts to charge me more than a Filipino would be charged. This has happened more than once and the only reason I didn’t have to pay what they wanted was because I know how to speak the language and can curse at them as well as any Filipino. They change their tune when I throw the lingo at them.
Today, after I spent quite some time waiting to get my money at the bank, I headed over to the Royal Subic store at the Subic Bay Freeport Zone to go shopping. This was only my second time ever driving there. I had always let my wife drive there in the past because she’s a pain to listen to as a back seat driver. After I finished shopping, I was looking for another store to get things that Royal Subic doesn’t carry when I went down a road I wasn’t familiar with and failed to stop at a stop line. You see, every stop line has either a stop light or a stop sign next to it. This one didn’t have either one. I got pulled over immediately.
The police officer told me why he pulled me over, and after I explained that I didn’t see a stop sign, he said it was in the middle (there wasn’t one in the median because I looked – it turned out it was on the side where it was supposed to be, but wasn’t visible because a SUV was parked in front of it – the police officer didn’t understand my question). I had my brother-in-law with me (June) and he asked the officer for a warning because I wasn’t familiar with the road there. The officer wouldn’t entertain the idea. June knew they could give warnings if they wanted to because he had seen it happen before. I got a ticket and it wasn’t very much (200 pesos or a little over four dollars) but it’s the principle of it that ticks me off. If I had been a Filipino, I would have received a warning, but because I’m an American (and Americans always have money because they’re rich) I couldn’t receive a warning.
I paid the ticket at the treasury office near the exit gate and drove home. I didn’t feel like looking for any other stores at the Freeport Zone after the incident, even though there are some supplies I need that I can’t find out here in the city. I was pretty pissed off. I watched Filipinos speeding past me and driving recklessly not more than 5 minutes before I got pulled over and my vehicle wasn’t the only one that failed to stop, but I was the only one to get pulled over. I shouldn’t complain. I was guilty of breaking a traffic law, even if I was singled out.
Outside of the Freeport Zone, no one obeys the traffic laws and you never see anyone getting pulled over for anything. In fact, I hate driving in the city because of how congested it is, the fact that people stop in the middle of the road just to talk to someone on the side of the road, the people that like to walk in the road and won’t move off to the side for vehicles approaching, double-parked vehicles, and many other obstructions. The roads are barely big enough for two-way traffic when they’re clear. Imagine how they are when they’re not clear.
I wonder if these people would try to take advantage of me if they knew me personally. What if they knew that more than a fifth of my monthly pension goes out for support of other people?