Only in the Philippines

Let me tell you a story.

Whether it is true or not, I will not confirm as this is a public blog. But all I can say is, if it is true, then it only happens in the Philippines.

A fire inspector walks into our office. He looks around and inquires where are the smoke alarms and emergency lights.

Sir, those are preferable, not a requirement,” my secretary replied. “It’s not illegal. We have smoke alarms and emergency lights outside in our corridor, which is actually a requirement.”

The fire inspector once again looks around.

 “I can only give you Php 200,” she said. “This is the only money we can give you.”

He hinted that life is tough and he needed to pay off two other people, his supervisor and his boss’ supervisor. It is clear that he is asking for a hand-out.

In the end, how much do you need?” our straightforward secretary asked.

Php 2,000,” he answered. “And I will make your problems go away.”

“Php 2,000 for what?” our secretary asked.

Php 2,000 and I will not charge you for your smoke alarms and emergency lights. I will also not ask you to refill your fire extinguishers, which by the way you have to purchase from us.”

The fire inspector and his team have an approved vendor for fire extinguishers which they ask for a premium.  Within the premium price is a cut for the fire inspector and a few other people.

I sighed. I was in the other room and I couldn’t really comprehend the extent on the graft and corruption that lay in the Philippines. Php 2,000 for example is an exorbitant amount of money for an imagined lack of requirement. And I knew that if we didn’t pay, the fire inspector would find another reason to ask for even more money.

This is one of the many reasons why the Philippines cannot compete with its Southeast Asian neighbors. Investors would always think that graft and corruption has already been addressed by our new president. Ha!

Personally, I think it is too much.

I refuse to pay the bribe. It’s not that it’s too big because it is not (e.g., the equivalent is around 5 days worth of a regular worker), but I refuse to pay when it is so greedy and blatant.

 If you paid, you are helping a corrupt system.

If you don’t pay, they will make your life hell.

They will not allow you not to pay. Otherwise, you are setting a precedent to other business owners who do pay.

But once you pay, you have to continue.

What sort of shitty business environment is this? I have not seen such bullshit in Taiwan or in Hong Kong. And this problem is not isolated. It is universal.

Okay, off the soapbox now.

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2 thoughts on “Only in the Philippines

  1. Hi Bonita, I stumbled upon your blog when googling what to do in Taipei (and yes, i’m going to follow your one-day-in-taipei guide 😀 ) and just continued reading. I will be going to taipe in 2 week’s time, and still trying to decide if i should stay for 5D4N or 6D5N (tempted to stay for 6D5N but the cost may kill me and what will i do with all that time????)

    just read a few pieces and wanted to share my thoughts with you…i think you have have a lovely relationship with your mum, in that you email her and confide in her a lot,and she also talks to you like a friend.. i have a pretty good relationship with my mum too.. after she retired 2 years ago, she has a lot of free time and loves to travel, and my sis and i fund her holiday trips which makes her so happy and proud of us (she tells everyone that having daughters are good!). I dont confide my problems with her but we joke around a lot.. the only thing she is not happy with is that i dont have a kid yet, she thinks i work too hard (basically she said i sold my soul to the company i work for) and er.. i spend too much 😀

    on… should women be more competent…. i’m malaysian chinese, and there’re plenty of women in the workforce, but you do notice that the ladies in the top positions are indeed quite forceful… when i started working, i used to get odd stares as i was pretty outspoken.. which leads also to the men and relationship thingy… for about 8 years, i didnt dated a malaysian chinese man, not because i didnt want to, but because no one came after me. apparently my outspoken and confident personality scares the men off. i did have relationships, but as my exes were all foreigners on short stints in malaysia and i was not willing to leave the country (to be married la di la), the relationships never went anywhere. I was introduced to my husband when i was 28, (an age where my mum already despaired about me getting a GOOD MALAYSIAN CHINESE MAN), and he was totally unlike any of my exes. Despite that, we dated, and married about 1.5 years into the relationship, because i felt that he is a good man. filial, polite, and (unlikely) to cheat on me (you never know!).. our marriage has turned out well (except for the pesky infertility issue) and years on, i have grown to love him even more than when we dated.. the point of my long story is… I experienced a lot of heartache during my dating years, but all the relationships just make me appreciate my husband more.. and not to judge a book by it’s cover! my mum was so worried that my quiet and reserved hubby is not suitable for her extroverted daughter, but all is fine and dandy now (ok he still doesnt show affection when we’re in front of his parents, but he’s quite chill in front of mine)..

    as you can see, i tend to ramble on… will be coming back to your blog to read some more 🙂

  2. 5D4N would be perfect because it’s enough to do most of the stuff but leaves you enough to do more. Why not go out of Taipei, say Hualien or Alishan. If you can, try to go on an organized tour as to save yourself the hassle. Even if it’s a Chinese tour, if you can’t speak the language, just read the descriptions from a book. You won’t regret it – oh, and do party away in Taipei. It is still the best place to party. 🙂

    It’s terrific that you also have a great relationship with your mom. Yes, that’s what happens – you work hard, you play hard. I’ve worked overseas for 10 years and made tons of money but not a lot of savings. No matter, it’s these little experience that counts and anyway, it’s just money.

    Is your hubby a foreigner or Malaysian Chinese? Hmmm… I do wish I would have a love story like yours. It’s not easy dating while in your early 30s but then again, at least I’ll have stories to tell when I have kids later on. You’re right, strong opinionated women (just read somewhere that I fall into the SWANS category — Strong Women Achievers, No Spouse) find it more difficult to find a partner especially since it’s so hard to find someone who can appreciate a woman who doesn’t fit the normal mold of what a traditional woman should be.

    Anyway, hope I can read more of your story. And feel free to comment when you have time. I may not respond so often, but I love reading comments.

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