After spending a couple of days in Makati, it’s still overcrowded and noisy, but we are starting to adjust. We switched from the impression of the absolute mess to the well-ordered mess. There are a lot of us here coming from a variety of backgrounds, really many of us, but there is nobody being stepped on, no one is pushed, no one is in a hurry or bumped. Everyone is very respectful of the rules.
We wait for the bus in lines without exceeding the bus stop point, watching our mobile phone screen. At the post office, we wait our turn sitting on a bench, watching our mobile phone screen, for the person sitting at the right end of the bench to access at the wicket under the instructions of the teller, each person then moves one row to the right in order to continue to wait wisely for their turn. No dog poop on the sidewalk and regardless of its type — biodegradable or non-biodegradable, plastic or non-plastic, wet or dry, big or small —nobody leaves litter on the roadway or throws waste out of vehicles. The Makati streets are clean and geometric. Even traffic jams seem to be lived with a relaxed acceptance of the daily life, the horns are naturally heard continuously but more to indicate a presence than show an irritation. Perhaps more surprising for Latin origin people like us, we have never heard insults driving! We must admit that the security guards armed to the teeth are helpful to get a solid understanding of the basic common courtesy rules which apply here.
Meanwhile at the supermarket everyone pretends that it could be a pleasure time, the check-out line is populated by people who do not complain, do not grumble under their breath or, in any case, not strong enough to be heard. While the cashier takes her time, everyone is mute and watching their mobile phone screen. It is useless to hide it – one will often need patience. Because in Makati, there is plenty of room for slow people! For us, getting into the rhythm is not always easy. We need to create a radical paradigm shift to accept the idea that slowness does not always synonymous with inefficiency.
So, first step, we must learn to be disciplined, more patient, more flexible and make sure that the cell phone has a good access to the Internet. Filipinos people watching all the time their cell phone screen. According to a study released by Hootsuite a United Kingdom-based company, with roughly 76 million active social media users the Philippines is the “social networking capital of the world”. Time spent online daily is 10 hours and 2 minutes, the highest in the world. The worldwide average is 6 hours and 42 minutes. 75 million of Filipinos are on Facebook. Even if most of the time Filipinos are watching their cell phone screen, their friendliness level is simply impressive. They are very social people, curious, open and very happy. Social interactions are a basic part of daily life here, even with strangers that we are!
The name “Makati” emerged via the Tagalog word kati, which stands for tide, referring to the tide of the Pasig River located to the North of Makati City. It is indeed a real alternate, periodic and daily great amplitude movement that operates there. We meet people in suits, people in exotic fancy dress, people with flipflops, workers coming from the other side of Metro Manila, expatriates from all over the world, students, etc. The inhabitants of the cities of Metro Manila are generally bilingual – Tagalog and English. Due to more than 300 years of Spanish colonial rule over the Philippines, the Tagalog language has incorporated a significant number of Spanish words and expressions. The language also includes words and phrases that are rooted in English. Without talking about language barrier, communication is often difficult when providing several items of information in the same sentence or even in a series of short sentences, at best 20% of the information will be considered. Here, one should remain patient and therefore take the time to repeat and repeat again.
When it comes to Restaurant, we can find all sorts and at all price levels, – Japanese, Korean, Chinese, Filipino, Mediterranean, Italian, French, etc. It is still too early for us to talk about quality because we did not yet venture into our new culinary territory. Unsurprisingly, rice is an essential part of local gastronomy. As such, Filipinos eat rice 3 times a day, even Macdo offers rice instead of French fries! Because here too, as an ironic social indicator of increased wealth, the wave of fast food flooded into the Capital.
For our first steps in the Philippines, we slowly learned to smile with the Filipinos and to tell us that living in Manila must be an unsuspected happiness that we will reach one day. Our suitcases should dump in Bonifacio Global City (BCG), a city adjacent to Makati but offering more open spaces. It is said that if Makati can be described as Hong Kong of Metro Manila; BGC can be compared to Singapore without the water that surrounds the city.