Being a Filipino expat abroad is kind of exciting and fun for a certain people, being a Filipino expat has different types of life abroad, one is overseas Filipino worker (OFW) and the other one is immigrant because of marriage/Family. Generally, OFW left the Philippines to have a better life for the family back home while immigrant through marriage left the Philippines to build their own family and start a new life abroad. But whatever kind of life we have abroad we can’t deny the fact that we always dreaming to go back in our homeland when we feel homesick. The Philippines may not be perfect and admitted that it’s poor country but we can’t also deny the fact that the Philippines is a very special country to our heart. Many Filipinos even other races keep coming back to the Philippines because we found many special things there that we cannot experience to other countries, we even planning and dreaming to save enough money abroad then retire to the Philippines someday. But before we go on a retirement plan to the Philippines what do you miss the most in the Philippines? Below is the list of things that I miss the most in the Philippines.
1. Christmas Celebration
Who would not miss Christmas in the Philippines? The Philippines has the longest Christmas celebration in the world, we start it in September and ending around January after three kings. From September Filipino started to put Christmas decorations inside and outside their house, and sometimes people started to go caroling from October but mostly they do caroling after Halloween. And who would not miss the simbang gabi also called Misa de Gallo (dawn masses) in the Philippines, they said if you complete the 9 morning mass you can make a wish after that. We celebrate on Christmas Eve at exactly 12 am in the morning December 25, most of the parents are in charge to prepare food for the whole family, but nowadays people are much excited to give present to kids and loved ones. Kids are excited to wear their new clothes for Christmas day and feel bad if they don’t have new clothes for Christmas. I also remember when I started to have a Godchild (inaanak), I begin to save malulutong na pera (crisp bills) for all my inaanak and pamangkin and kids who go house to house, I also re-packaging candies and chocolates inside the ice plastic bag to give it away to all kids who are asking for a present and I also do buy cheap stuff in the tiangge and wrap it for the present of my relatives. In the morning of Christmas day if you want to see many kids wearing their new pamasko outfit, just go outside your house and be a Santa Claus, but don’t also forget the joking words of Filipino every Christmas which is hiding strategy of stingy Ninong and ninang, lol! If somebody has no money they remain inside the house to hide to all the kids. In the 90’s only kids got present in the Philippines but in this new generation young people also give present to adults especially to their Lola and Lolo. Christmas is also special for all Filipino workers because this is the time that they can get a bonus, 13th-month pay, free groceries from their employer and Christmas party with lots of raffle prizes. Christmas in the Philippines is one of the kind, isn’t it?
2. New Year’s Eve Celebration
And who would not miss the New Year’s Eve celebration in the Philippines, from December 28 Filipino are very busy buying round fruits to put in the table for the celebration of New Year’s Eve. In our family and Barangay, New Year’s Eve is much special than Christmas because this is the beginning of the year and we prepare many kinds of food and fruits but always avoiding to prepare some food that Filipino believe don’t give prosperous new year. Aside from the fun part of preparing round fruits and food for the New Year’s Eve, Filipino also like to have some sticky delicacies in the table symbolizing that the good fortune will stick around throughout the year, we also put coins in the table and bed then keep the coins for the whole year. Rice, eggs, and cotton are also part of the good luck in the table for the new years eve. And of course Filipino love to have noisy New Year’s Eve to scare away bad spirit, firecrackers are not allowed now everywhere in the Philippines so to make noise, people are just clanging their pans and pots, horn their vehicle or tie the empty cans at the back of their tricycle to drag it in the road to cause as much noise as possible. All houses windows and doors are open when the 12 o’clock strike, radio and videoke are on and torotot (child trumpet) is number 1 noisemaker of the kids for the new year. There’s a lot of New Year’s Filipino tradition, a different place has a different belief but the best thing I love to New Year’s Eve celebration in the Philippines is it’s also a family gathering because we all believe that in New Year’s Eve all family member must celebrate together, we even go to all the house of our relatives every new year to greet them a happy new year or try their food.
3. The People
Who would not miss the people in the Philippines? As US immigrant I can’t avoid comparing the people in the Philippines to the people in the US, although American people are also nice and friendly but it’s still no match to the people in the Philippines. In the US you don’t know who your neighbors are, you can’t even see them sitting outside their porch maybe because they are busy at work or they prefer to stay inside because of cold weather or to avoid suspicious people in the neighborhood, lol! But in the Philippines, you know all your neighbors, and every morning it seems that there is meeting outside the porch of their favorite meeting place (tambayan), every morning you can even see a bunch of people at the side of the road busy talking or waiting for the fish vendor or pandesal vendor. I miss the people in the Philippines because they are very friendly, cheerful and love to interact to anyone whether native or foreigners. The Filipino hospitality is very well known around the world and not only that, Filipino is also known for treating their guest warmly that’s why tourist from all over the world love the people in the Philippines because of that qualities, more than the food and beautiful places. And there’s a lot more reason why I miss people in the Philippines and my definition to that is Filipinos are “awesome”.
Who among you doesn’t miss the weather in the Philippines? When I move to the US I’ve learned how to appreciate the warm weather in the Philippines. I thought a cold country with snow is fun but no, lol! At first, snow is fun but once you experience it you gonna say to yourself I hate snow, I hate cold weather, the summer season in the US is nice too but many times it’s very hot and it’s like your burning. The Philippines has 2 seasons and that is a dry season (summer) and wet season (rainy monsoon). But even if we have the wet season it doesn’t mean rain every day even if it’s wet season the warm weather still feel, but of course, we love summer than the rainy season because it’s time to go on a beach and resort everywhere in the country. During December to March the weather in the Philippines is cool, yes my husband said it’s cool and nice but not cold but for the Filipino, it is very cold lol! And we Filipino always saying “Simoy Pasko na” when we feel the cool breeze weather during ber months.
5. Food And Street Food
Who would not miss street food in the Philippines, it’s cheap and affordable. I’m sure if you move to other country and think Isaw, Adidas, Kwek-Kwek etc. it feels like your drooling. But some immigrants still do some way to make their own version of our famous street food when they are craving. Same to Filipino dishes that we miss the most, although there are a little bit differences to the taste of some ingredients we still manage to cook our Filipino dishes in abroad. My favorite dish is afritada and adobo, even I can cook it here in the US, I still miss the original taste that I can only taste in the Philippines. I don’t know if it is because of magic sarap or the authentic ingredients made in the Philippines. And of course who would not miss the Jollibee and Mang inasal in the Philippines. Yes, Filipino can eat Jollibee to other country but admit that the original taste of Jollibee in the Philippines is very different to the taste of Jollibee abroad.
I miss the malls in the Philippines because malls close to our area is no match to the malls in my area to the Philippines. Here in the US, the malls seem abandoned building sometimes, people roaming around is very few and sometimes no one is roaming around and the sales staffs are not as many as sales staff to SM or Robinsons. Filipino family also love to hang inside the malls especially weekends you normally see the whole family eating together or shopping together in the mall. All malls in the Philippines are equipped with almost everything Filipino basic needs, for example, SM, I love to shop to SM mall because everything I need is there, I don’t need to take another trip to look for other stuff in other malls. In other malls we can also find government agencies like DFA, PAG-IBIG, NBI etc. this is a brilliant idea of malls owners and government so that Filipino people would no longer to do government transactions in a different area. Filipino love convenience and accessibility that’s why Philippine malls owner gives the people demands and needs.
7. Family And Friends
I miss my family every day, here in the US family members are scattered everywhere, most of the family members are living in a different state, and although they call each other once in a while it’s still sad that they don’t see each other. Unlike in the Philippines most of the time all family members are living in the same barangay or the same compound. And if one of the family is living in a far place we still manage to visit each other especially if there is occasion. I’m living in Lipa City Batangas and my neighbors are all relatives, and others are just living in the same Barangay. If there is an occasion to the family, everybody is present. That’s why I miss my family because here in the US it’s just me and my husband and our daughter that’s why it’s lonely sometimes because this is my first time to leave my family in the Philippines. I also miss my friends because we have a strong bond and we are like a sister, we have a lot of good memory together. I don’t have friends where I live. And who would not think and miss a little bit, the noisy unrespectful loud music and videoke of the neighbor, only in the Philippines, lol! It’s annoying but you gonna miss it when you move to a very quiet place abroad.
Oh fiesta, Filipino love fiesta especially in the provinces. I am from Batangas and fiesta is one of the occasions that we cannot ignore. Traditional fiesta celebrated to honor the saint in each barangay or city, people also celebrate fiesta as thank you for all the blessings that they got for the whole year. In Filipino fiesta, you can see and taste different kinds of Filipino cuisine and dessert, and my favorite dish in every fiesta is afritada and buko salad. Fiesta also becomes a family and friends gathering because everybody is invited, and relatives from other places mean to attend fiesta to see the relatives and of course to enjoy the fiesta food too. Fiesta has a lot of gimmicks, 1 month before fiesta the whole barangay put colorful banderitas (small banner) to tell the people from other places that fiesta to the barangay is coming, they also pay celebrities to entertain the whole community, sponsoring the contest, marching band etc.
9. Jeepney And Tricycle
Who would not miss the local transportation in the Philippines, everybody experience it unless you are born with own car. I miss Jeepney and tricycle because it’s only in the Philippines, Filipino can travel anywhere even without own car because we have jeepney and tricycle all over the country. Filipino can transport any kind of stuff even furniture or appliances without needing own vehicle because jeepney and tricycle can handle everything. That’s what all Filipino miss in the Philippines especially people who don’t drive yet abroad. Car in the US is very important; it is their first need because they need a car for them to be able to work. In the Philippines, we can work even without own car because jeepney and tricycle are everywhere.
10. Filipino Party
Filipino party is the best; it’s one of the things that I also miss the most. In my province, if there is a party like a birthday party everybody is welcome, we don’t need to give them invitation to attend the birthday party. I remember the 1-year birthday party of my daughter in my parents’ house, there’s a lot of visitors came. It seems fiesta and everybody is so happy and full especially the kids because we have games, clowns and unlimited ice cream, cotton candy and many more. Kids and adults are so thankful because they really enjoyed the party. Although there is a Filipino party sometime in my area here abroad, the party in the Philippines is still number one because all family, relatives, and friends are present.
11. Beaches And Resort
Who would not miss beaches and resort to the Philippines, I don’t know how to swim but I also enjoy friends and family outing in the beach and resort to the Philippines. Maybe for many Filipino, it’s fun to go on a beach because of beautiful place but for me, it’s fun to go a beach and resort because of the bonding moment with my family or sometimes with my friends. But no doubt the Philippines has the most beautiful beaches in the world. But to be honest I’ve never been to Boracay or El Nido, I just been to some beautiful beaches in Batangas like Laiya San Juan, Matabungkay and some resort in Lemery Batangas and Quezon but my favorite is Laiya Batangas.
12. Filipino Dessert
I really miss Filipino dessert, but not so badly but honestly sometimes I’m craving to buko salad and Ube halaya. I can make leche flan in the US that’s why I don’t miss it much. Every fiesta even Christmas and new year in my parents’ house we always have different kind of dessert and Buko salad is always present because it’s everybody’s favorite. There’s a lot of dessert in the Philippines that Filipino really miss but Buko salad and Ube halaya is my special highlight. How about you? What Filipino dessert do you miss the most?
13. Fresh Fruits
Fresh fruits in the Philippines are everywhere, even foreigners they love fresh fruits in the Philippines. We can buy fresh fruits in the market and even at the side of the road. Fresh mango, young coconut, and rambutan are my favorite fruits, although I can eat mango from Walmart but its mango from Mexico, it’s still good to eat Philippine fresh fruits. In the Philippines, we can buy a fresh mango that just harvests from the tree even rambutan and other fruits. The Philippines is very rich to fruits, most people in the province have their own fruit tree inside their fence especially mango tree that neighbor and kid love to pick if the tree owner is not around, lol!
14. Local Language
Who would not miss the Tagalog local language? If you move to other countries it’s normal that you will miss talking Tagalog especially if you are living or around with English speaking people. At first, maybe you are excited and challenged to talk different language like English but there was a time that you will always miss our Tagalog language, you will wish to talk somebody who has the same language. I’m just lucky because my daughter can understand Tagalog and she is interested to learn Tagalog that’s why I talk to her in Tagalog every day. I feel happy every time I meet Filipina in my area and we talk Tagalog because no matter what I will not forget Tagalog. Tagalog will always be my favorite language that I want to teach to my daughter and to my husband.
15. Food Vendor
Who among you miss the vendors in your area? A lot of vendors in the Philippines who sell any kind of stuff but what I miss the most is food vendors, I miss banana cue vendor, ice cream vendor, and even balot, isaw vendor, corn vendor, and the taho vendor, they are always passing by in front of our house and sometimes they stand by to my parents’ house porch. Porch of my parents is the favorite hangout of everybody in our neighbors even vendors because we have a sari-sari store before and my mother love to chitchat to any kind of people. There was a time that some vendors give fresh fruits, fish and other stuff to us because they always rest to our porch and they already become friends of my mother and other neighbors to our place, that’s why every fiesta we always have additional visitors. Filipino are very smart and resourceful when it comes to extra income, vendors who sell house to house are so amazing and don’t mind the heat of the sun even the exhausting long walk, there is no like them in the US.
16. Tiangge (Shopping bazaar)
If you are a simple person like me, I’m sure you also miss tiangge in the Philippines. Tiangge literally mean market or bazaar where you can find a lot of stuff at a very low price. In every town there is tiangge especially if the Fiesta is coming, and we have night market before in lipa city it’s open from 6 pm until midnight I think but because of some reason, they close the night market. I love tiangge not only because of low prices it is because I can buy a lot of stuff there especially a variety of clothes with the unique style that I cannot find to malls and even here in the US. But no doubt I also very much love the sale and clearance stuff in the US, I love sale in the US because no matter how high the price of the item if the season has changed they will mark down the price so very low and many times they mark down the item price to $1 which cannot happen to the Philippine malls. That’s why many Filipino better choose to buy in tiangge than buying stuff to malls in the Philippines because in tiangge their 1 thousand pesos can buy a lot of stuff for all of their kids while in the mall 1 thousand pesos is just enough for 1 kid. But honestly just to be fair, the quality of mall stuff is better than tiangge quality stuff but that’s ok because that’s what we can get to the price we can afford, if you want good quality go to the mall and if you want cheap and fine quality let’s go to tiangge lol!. But I do shopping to malls and tiangge which I miss in the Philippines.
17. Family Sundays
I miss being with my family every Sunday, we use to go to church either San Sebastian cathedral church or Mt Carmel Mary Mediatrix of all grace Church then after the mass we will go to Jollibee or SM Malls. This is something very simple but I miss the most to do when I am away to the Philippines. In the Philippines, Filipino is 80% Catholic that’s why every Sunday going to church is one of the bonding moment of the whole family. It doesn’t matter if we don’t memorize the bible or the song in the church what important is we go to church to listen, learn and pray either we are alone or with the family. And what I also miss every Sunday to the Philippines is, there’s a lot of places to go, you can choose the place you want to go just name it and know your budget.
Who would not miss their hometown, I’m sure no one, right? I miss my hometown because I have lots of relatives and friends there, been living there all my life. I also miss my hometown because here in the town where I live is very different from my hometown in the Philippines, Here if you go outside you cannot see any people, you can just see cars on the road but sometimes I can also see 1 person outside their house maybe just checking the mail or walking their dog or mowing the grass. Like what I’ve said earlier people in the US don’t know their neighbor and they are contented to just stay inside the house. While in my place in the Philippines everybody knows each other especially the older people. They even know the life of other people in their Barangay, lol! But I’m sure if you move to other countries you also gonna miss your hometown and people there. You gonna miss many events to your place like basketball league every summer, fiesta events, people who always asking you where you going when they see you wearing new clothes, people who ask you if you want coffee when they see you in front of their porch, people who are willing to carry your heavy stuff when they see you going down in the tricycle and good people you normally see drinking beer and kwatro kantos in their porch and asking you “tagay muna!” and a lot more reason to miss the hometown.
I’m sure Filipino miss a lot of more to the Philippines, Filipino are very sentimental and really love the family that’s why it’s so hard for us to leave the country for any reason but because we love our family many Filipino are forced to work abroad for the future of our loved one, and the immigrant, of course, need to leave the country for the sake of new family and new life. The listed above is just based on my own experience, I am pretty sure you also miss something more than in my list. I am curious what do you miss the most in the Philippines, please don’t hesitate to comment down below what do you miss the most in the Philippines?
Thanks a lot!