Pros and Cons of Being a British-Filipino in the Philippines

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In my opinion, there are a lot of things in life that are beyond our control. One thing we absolutely have no control over is our birth and who we are when we start out in this world. The reality is, all of us are born under different circumstances, these variables give our lives it’s unique story and along with it, it’s own challenges. This can’t be any more true in my case, see my dad was British while mom was Filipina, I am a mix of both worlds. Being Filipino-British living in the Philippines has a lot of pros and cons, here are some of them:

PRO: As a Kid, I got to Travel a Lot

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Dad was born in Scotland yet he was based in Hong Kong. I was born in Hong Kong, yet I and my siblings were based in the Philippines. Confusing as it may seem being linked to different places, it meant for me as a kid that we got to visit a lot of different places. It meant taking fun trips and seeing new things, and this childhood made travelling for me as second nature, something very natural.

CON: Early Childhood Friends we’re Rare if None

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Up until the 5th grade of school, my family has been traveling a lot, that meant parts of the year we were in different places. Now back in the late 80s and early 90s, there was no internet, you literally have to go out of the house to see your friends. That made my mom and sister my playmates for a long time since I travel with them. Other times you would just end up a kid playing alone with your toys.

PRO: Best of Both Worlds

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Growing up with my fathers’ impeccable politeness and punctuality, adding my mom’s love for family and hospitality was my biggest take away in life. See my parents have that innately, because of their own cultures. And when I grew up, it became my core values. To this day, I still live up to my mom’s guidelines when having a visitor at home. Likewise, I still live with my dad’s motto: “ If you cannot be on time, be early.”

Food was another thing awesome! I got to enjoy the food that both my dad and mom loved. Anywhere from fish and chips to chicken adobo, the food we ate before was so diverse that it was exciting to know what we are having for lunch or dinner.

CON: You are a Subject of Racism in Both Worlds

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Ironically, the same thing that makes you a better person makes you the nail that sticks out. I have had my fair share of racist encounters.

Around 2010, I was applying online to join the armed forces of my dad’s country as a pilot. I passed the online assessment but surprisingly I got a letter that said “You have passed however, flying positions are for full-blooded citizens only. Please consider our ground positions…” To this date, being an airline pilot, I still have no evidence linking bloodline to flying skills. I will leave it at that. It’s good to note though, that the UK armed forces have eased restriction since 2018, offering more chances to foreigners and commonwealth citizens (How to Join the Royal Navy as a Commonwealth Citizen

Living in the Philippines, and looking nowhere near an average Filipino, I literally grew up hearing “Hey Joe!”. “Hey Joe” was a popular “greeting” some excited Filipino would say to just about anyone who looks white.There are a lot of different greeting Filipinos use to greet a foreigners, “Hey Joe!” was the one that stuck to me. I grew up and was patient with it, up until I had enough when I started talking back in Filipino and turned tables around. I was now the one laughing at racists with their humiliated faces and futile excuses to get away from me while I try to insist on a conversation in Filipino. It’s a funny thing when that happens, and more importantly, people learn their lessons.

PRO: Being a Perpetual Ice Breaker

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Not looking anywhere like a local, yet speaking more fluent Filipino than locals is a funny sight, believe me. Despite being a funny sight, this blessed me with a lot friends wherever I was in the Philippines. The fact remains that even with isolated cases of racism in the Philippines, my countrymen are hospitable.”Hospitality. This is the most common terminology that describes how Filipinos welcome foreigners or tourists who visit the country. This trait of the Filipinos towards their visitors is undeniably exceptional.” When I fly a plane and land somewhere new in the Philippines, they look at me funny at first until I start talking in Filipino, add a sincere smile and it’s game over, everyone laughs and we’re all friends even without knowing each other’s name. See breaking the Ice in anything is very important, and being British-Filipino helped a lot in life.

CON: Some Things in the Philippines are Difficult

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Imagine having a size of 12 feet and looking for a pair of shoes in the mall. I bet my dollar that in your 5 attempts, at most you’d see 2 shops with your size and not necessarily in the style you want.

Imagine commuting to school and riding Jeepneys being 6 feet tall, there your crouching skills would definitely be tested. Riding in Tricycles are a whole new ball game. I always ride behind the driver. Riding inside the tricycle cab is a guarantee you’d get your head bashed good on your way to your destination.

Growing up in the city and commuting constantly, you look foreign and 100% become the “target” to petty theft. I have had my fair share of scary moments myself and was lucky to walk away from something unfortunate. Over the years this made me street smart and trust me, I can sense a shady situation a mile away. I know where never to go, and where I think it’s generally safe to go. My dad, who spent his retirement in the Philippines also learned how to be street smart in the Philippines, sometimes though, the hard way. By the time he was an ace in being street smart, he always went to commute the streets without a wallet. This confused would-be thieves, they had no idea my dad kept his money is a small plastic bag which was so discrete, I never knew of it for years until he showed me his little trick.

I can add more to our list right there of my pros and cons but by this time you certainly got the picture. One thing for sure, growing up British-Filipino was such a blessing to me. I was blessed to infuse both of my mom’s and dad’s culture to make it my own, and I am enjoying life because of it. Challenges come in life not to torment us, challenges come to show us that we can become better than who we are yesterday. Welcome challenges in your life, they are like vitamins, they are good for you!

If you are on the same boat as I am, tell me your own pros and cons! Follow me for more interesting articles on life, flying, and pretty much anything under the sun!



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Paul Burns

Paul Burns

A husband, a dad and an Aviator. Live, Love, Fly!!