Finding a job in a developing country
It’s not easy for Filipinos to find jobs in a developing country like Philippines, let alone as a foreigner. In Manila I met expats with diplomatic jobs, and big corporate jobs. I also met the cocky kids of these expats. Unfortunately I also met a few of these kids who were on vacation in Palawan. My ears are still burning.
The moral and ethical dilemma
After working in capacity building projects one learns what it means not to take a job from someone. In developing countries I don’t believe I can, nor should take nor have a job that a local can do. I would rather be paid to teach someone what I know, so they can than teach others; and then move on.
In this case Palawan. It’s a small island. There’s not much to do. And jobs are not plentiful. Many have suggested … why not open a business here? Well, lot’s of reason why not to. One, cash, or lack of it. Especially when it involves not owning anything. In the Philippines there are basically two ways to own a business. Marry a local, or start a co-op with 5 Filipinos. Then hand over all your cash, and …
No thanks. In Manila I met three foreigners who had lost everything. Including their wives trying to open a business. Strangely I don’t get a good vibe about having a business in the Philippines.
Also I only have a tourist visa. And to work in the Philippines with only a tourist visa is illegal. I am not interested in illigal work in the Philippines. I don’t need the hassle. I would really be off to a bad start if the Philippines really was home, and I was working illegally. But, desperate times may make this all change quite soon …
Expat’s and the non politically correct reality of life overseas
So said a friend from another country. In reality he is right, it’s just not often put that way.
A local expat suggested I do private TEFL work. I really wonder if anyone has sense sometimes. Filipino’s speak English, and it’s an official language. Then I found out about the underbelly TEFL work going on. Koreans. One can give private lessons to Koreans who come to the Philippine’s for cheap language lessons. A foreigner is worth even more. But …
You are again illegally working. So when said Korean (or any nationality) stops paying you, what can you do? Nothing. And if you do threaten them. The person you are tutoring can just say “Go away, I call immigration tell them you working”. What’s worse is you probably taught them how to say that!
NGO work exists. But again, its a connections thing. And for some reason, they don’t publicize themselves that much in the Philippines. The Philippines is separate from SEA in many respects. Work I believe is one of them. It’s a huge obstacle to overcome. Not just for me, but for Filipinos too.
Working for yourself in a developing country
Photography work is not too hard to come by. As is website development. In the Philippines reputation dictates a higher payout. So if one particular local photographer has a reputation, they charge a fortune even for the most basic of photo shoots. Likewise for website work. In fact for the latter it’s not unheard of for people to charge many $100’s for very simple things. The local business has no clue, but pays anyway as they are baffled by tech talk in both photo work, and web work.
What’s more most of this “ego and rep for money” comes from local people. I’ve seen terrible portfolios come with huge price tags. And the business/person pays out based on the price tag – it must be good if it cost that much – Expats do the same thing, though a little more subtlety.
Personally I take the expose approach and am quite up front with the cost of things. What’s more, as mentioned earlier, I prefer to pass my skills on. But, there’s still a buy buy, for now now mentality in the Philippines. People prefer to buy a service than learn a skill. At least from my experience in these sectors.
Maybe I need to knock the development mentality of my approach out of my head! And go with the flow?
The future for me and work
For the moment I will continue to ask questions, and gather info about earning/living on an island. But I’m for sure starting to side on Palawan not being one of the greatest places to find work. To invest a fortune, if you have it, and can take a loss just in case, yes it could well be a gold mine. I don’t have the capital, nor do I want that risk.
I also have a terrible feeling that in under 5 years it (El Nido) will become another Boracay and loose it’s charm.
To make the odd website, take some photographs of people, business and brochures. Sure. But it doesn’t exactly spell longevity. At least not in El Nido. Then again, connections are needed no matter where you are in the world these days. So it might just not be Palawan, but; my way of thinking that needs to change in this regard …
Walking on water – the meaning of a good life