Italy is the Philippines of Europe!

In this blog I have been talking for several weeks about the differences between a Filipino wife and a Western man. But “Western” is a very broad concept.

White people in the Philippines almost treat each other as fellow country men no matter where they come from. I remember a French young man in Rosales, Pangasinan running up to me and almost hugging me as I was the only white man he had probably seen in years. An English guy showed me a similar affection in Tayug, Pangasinan as I was the first person in years he could talk to about soccer.

Nevertheless, while Westerners in the Philippines almost look all the same and almost treat each other as fellow countrymen, due to the fact that the Filipino environment is so utterly different that the huge differences between Northern and Southern Europeans fade into insignificance, in a Western context there are huge differences between a German, for example and a Southern Italian or a Greek, a Spanish or an Albanian.

Italy and particularly Southern Italy, is one of those Western countries where Filipinos probably feel most at ease.

The pictures above show some Italian landscapes that resemble the Philippines: the clear waters of Sabaudia, about 80 km south of Rome, the Vesuvius, a volcano near Naples and a bay near the Amalfi Coast in Southern Italy. These and many other places in Italy kind of resemble similar scenarios that are typical of the Philippines.

So, in terms of landscape, my country and my wife’s share many things in common, apart from the weather.

Here in Italy we have islands, crystal clear water, volcanoes, latin origins like the Spanish who colonized the Philippines for 300 years. Food is one of the core elements of the Italian lifestyle and this is something Italians and Filipinos share in common.

The driving style in cities like Rome and Naples, the fact that Southern Italians don’t like queuing, almost make Filipinos feel at home in my country.

Roughly 108,000 documented Filipinos reside in Italy and estimates on the number of undocumented Filipinos vary widely from 20,000 to 80,000.

In 2008, ISTAT (Istituto Nazionale di Statistica), Italy’s statistics office, reported that there were 113,686 undocumented Filipinos living in Italy.
Although many of Pinoys and Pinays in Italy are clandestine, the Italian government turns a blind eye and doesn’t crack down on Filipinos to whom they appear as a group of immigrants who work hard and mind their own business.

So, yes, under many aspects my country, at least the Southern part of it is Filipino-friendly and certainly one of the reasons why we have so many Filipinos here is because of the huge similarities between the two countries.

Yes, Italy is a Western country but, under many aspects it can be viewed as “the Philippines of Europe”!

The Jollibee in Milan: the “Mecca” of Expatriate Filipinos

As I keep saying in my posts, marrying a Filipina entails marrying a woman who comes from a culture that has been massively shaped by the USA.

In the Philippines there are shopping malls and fast-food restaurants everywhere and if your Filipino spouse moves to your country she will most likely want to spend much of her free time going to the mall or eating out at some fast-food restaurant.

I live in Italy and, theoretically, in my country there are plenty of places where a couple could enjoy romantic moments together, like walking hand in hand on a street of cobblestones under an old street lamp in downtown Rome for example.

Yet, the reason why many Filipinos like going downtown Rome is not the ancient buildings or the streets of cobblestones, rather it is because near the main train station there is a KFC restaurant, it is because of the Mc Donald’s restaurant near the famous Spanish Steps and so on.

But, because most shopping malls and fast-food chains are situated in the outskirts of Rome, most Filipinos would rather go to a mall in the suburbs than to the magnificent historic section of Rome.

Nowadays Filipinos in Italy have one more place to visit in the country and this place is becoming a sort of Mecca where hundreds of Filipinos go on some sort of “pilgrimage” from various parts of Italy: the Jollibee in Milan, the first one in Europe.

Jollibee is the largest fast food chain in the Philippines, operating a nationwide network of over 1100 stores. The company has also embarked on an aggressive international expansion plan in the USA, Vietnam, Hong Kong, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Brunei and now Europe and it’s considered a Top 20 Employer in Asia.

So, even if you come from a country filled with natural or historic beauty and places that would be ideal to spend romantic moments together, there is a much greater chance that you will end up doing some “romantic” window shopping at the mall or, if you live in Europe, you will go on a “pilgrimage” to Milan’s Jollibee!