How to Successfully Adapt To Life In Dumaguete - Retire Dumaguete and SiquijorSuccesfully Adapt To Life in Dumaguete

Adapting to life in the Philippines

Of all the information you need to know about coming to live in this destination, arguably what’s most important is knowing how to successfully adapt to your new life in Dumaguete. If you come from Europe, North America, or Australia, you will have expectations in certain areas that, quite frankly, will never be realized here. Good quality service, even in the most basic areas such as restaurant service, is difficult to find here. It’s more likely the waiting staff will be huddled with their backs to you laughing and joking rather than taking care of patrons. And it’s very important to accept that’s OK, because that’s the way it is. It’s an example of what’s never going to change, so it’s wise to accept it rather than fight it. An interesting example is when new Expats are asked to “wait for a while” for anything. When, for example, opening a bank account, that “wait for a while” time frame could be a minute, an hour, or perhaps never.

So What Do You Need to Know To Adapt to Life in Dumaguete?:


When you want to arrange for the installation of Wi-Fi and go to the company for service, they, in turn, will refer you to an agent who will hopefully get back to you in a week if you’re lucky. And after a regular blackout, the Wi-Fi connection could be lost on resumption. You then need to physically visit the company providing the service, file a report, and wait for up to a week to be reconnected.


It’s frustrating after waiting in line for a long time at a supermarket, when the person in front of you has a credit card that doesn’t work and cash is instead required. Items are then taken out of the shopper’s basket and calculations are done until it tabulates with what cash is available. Next time you are stuck in such a line, look around and observe the behavior of locals and Expats. Locals will be comfortable, while most Expats will have their arms folded, jaws tightly drawn and, while steam will not be blowing from their ears, many will have a frustrated expression in their eyes. It’s understandable why both segments of the community behave as they do. It’s been their norm for years, and it formed their behavioral patterns. You want to get money from an ATM machine and you “fall in line.” Then you notice only one of the three ATM s is working, you may wonder why that is. You will also become understandably frustrated when, after another fifteen minutes of patiently waiting, you dutifully enter all relevant numbers only to finally read on the screen “Sorry this ATM is currently out of order.” Why didn’t it tell you before you wasted all that time standing in line, going through the pattern, only to then be told it’s not working?


Another error we often make in the early stages is assuming because English is generally spoken, the locals understand what we are saying to them. That assumption regularly leads to confusion. We have learned the hard way to always ask for clarification so that everybody is on the same page.


Please know that poor service is never intended to be disrespectful or rude. It’s simply the way it is here. That’s challenging for any foreigner to understand, let alone accept. An important aspect for successful adaptation is to never be confrontational with any Filipino. How I wish I could say when I first came here, I’ve always lived by that wise rule. It’s critically important never to be impatient or express anger. They are incredibly polite and hospitable and never understand the mindset of someone who is angry and confrontational. While they will smile politely at you, and even apologize, you will have estranged them forever. That never has good consequences.

These are some examples of what you need to be aware of and deal appropriately with if you want to successfully adapt to life in Dumaguete. While it’s understandable to become frustrated, it’s a complete waste of time and energy. The Utopian goal would be to eventually arrive at a position where, rather than fighting these situations, you accept them as part of your new life. And surely, it’s a small price to pay for the numerous upsides we have living here? Please note I’m not trying to be sanctimoniousness. There’s no right or wrong to any of this. It’s simply the way its always been. We come here looking for a new way of life. Part of that includes us needing to accept the way things are done here. There is so much good we experience compared to any disadvantages. The sooner we learn to overcome our frustrations, the better will be the quality of all our lives.

michael's life in dumaguete

Shortly after arriving into Dumaguete, Michael  intuitively knew it was the right place for him. Everything seemed to be right. It was and is. In addition to enjoying the way of life, he also met a special Pinay, and is living contentedly with her near the city.

He now operates Veritas Consulting Group, a company dedicated to helping other expats and Returning Filipinos with their transition to life in Dumaguete City and surrounding areas

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