11 Things in the Philippines Filipinos Miss When They Settle Abroad

Whether you are a permanent resident or an overseas Filipino worker, there are things back home in the Philippines that seem irreplaceable. Even with more Filipinos based abroad and goods normally available in the Philippines are now found in shelves at Asian shops and Filipino stores, there’s still that something that can only be fulfilled when you’re back home.

As OFWs learn new things and better understand different cultures, it also means giving up a lot of things they are familiar with. Here are some of the things Filipinos abroad miss back home as they settle overseas and adopt their new way of life.

1. Exotic Filipino food
Home-cooked meals or street foods are often in the top list of things Filipinos abroad miss back home. Even though Filipino restaurants begin sprouting in places with greater concentration of kababayans, there are types of delicacies not found there. Sour mango dipped in bagoong, ginanggang na saging, tuyo at champorado and lechon are some of the foods not normally served elsewhere. Add the animated chatter with family or friends and the warm comfortable confines at home or a familiar dining spot.

2. Philippine climate
Filipinos often complain about the hot and humid weather and dream about making snowman or spoiled by a mild breeze that allows people to relax under the sun. Filipinos also deal with typhoons, floods and other natural calamities. But tourists label the Philippines as a tropical paradise that offer warm days all year round and that bodes well with warm hospitality Filipinos show to visitors. No wonder Pinoys now living in places with bitter winters make warm fond memories of home.

3. Unique means of transport
Iconic jeepneys, kuliglig, tricycles, habal-habal and other modes of public transport can only be found in the Philippines. Jeepneys not only move you from one place to another at cheaper cost, but their structure also allows occasional conversations with manong driver, ask favor to pass the fare, and whistle or knock to get off at your desired destination.

4. ‘Gimiks’ and get togethers
Beach resorts, karaoke bars, movie group dates, fiestas and birthday, graduation and wedding parties, the list goes on on where Filipinos back home take their fellowships and gatherings. No wonder OFWs would love to be part of these activities to have catch up and share hearty laughter with friends and family members. Filipinos abroad may have their own means of entertainment but nothing compares to how we do it at home.

5. TV shows and teleseryes
Watching television is a popular habit among Filipinos back home. Engaging noon time shows bring so much fun at home and teleseryes pitting the bidas and contrabidas are strictly part of the daily routine that glues kababayans to their TV sets back home. Filipinos get so attached to their favorite TV shows that even when they’re abroad they continue to follow them — whether shared on Facebook, YouTube or on a paid subscription.

6. Chicken cackles and fighting cocks
Early morning wake up calls are composed of the noise hens, roosters, ducks and backyard animals make. In a neighborhood where a breeder of fighting cocks lives, expect a loud cackle. But more than just nature’s alarm clocks, Filipinos abroad who used to visit cockfighting arenas or even at illegal tupada back home in the Philippines, they also miss the game — complete with the presence of sentensyador and kristo — even if such habit is often met with the usual frown from their wives.

7. Christmas season
There’s a reason why Filipinos abroad flock to book flights back to the Philippines during December. Nothing compares to the festive atmosphere brought by the Christmas season. Simbang gabi novena, Christmas parties, pyrotechnics, exchanging of gifts, endless piles of food at the table, family reunions, old Christmas songs and pesky carolers, they all get the credit for making Christmas in the Philippines truly a season that’s worth visiting.

8. Barrio fiestas
People in villages celebrating a patron saint’s feast are more cohesive, close-knit and manifest genuine hospitality. You don’t have to know the homeowner to be invited; everyone’s welcome to partake of the food and drinks. They are also decorated with hour-long processions, peryas or carnivals, beauty pageants or basketball tournaments. That is why fiestas are also celebrated overseas among Filipinos who come from the same locality in the Philippines, even if in a more subdued manner.

9. Lechons and boodle fights
It’s not a repetition of #1. Lechon is more than just food, it’s an epitome of Filipino food culture that’s characterized as abundant and communal eating experience. Healthwise aside, lechon unites a group — family, high school class or former colleagues — that it often gets the center stage when making group photos.

From a mere military tradition of eating, Filipinos extended where boodle fights will take place. Devoid of spoon, fork and plates, Filipinos prefer to stand up consuming food placed on top of banana leaves over an extended table.

10. Filipino street food
You name it, the street across the market has it: balut, halo halo, kwek-kwek, puto bumbong isaw, betamax, fishballs, adidas, pinaypay na saging, mango with shrimp paste, kikiam, banana cue, scramble, sorbetes and buko juice. You enjoy it with the company of friends, siblings or colleagues while going home or simply passing time. Often times, remembering these episodes makes us think how simple life has been back then.

11. Family gatherings
Who could forget this as main reason why we miss the Philippines? The weekend bonding at Jollibee after going to church. Celebrating birthdays in high school at with friends in complete attendance. Taking trips to the beach and picnics at the park. Or giggling in front o the TV. While there are also sad and tense moments we shared with our family. But it’s our happy moments with them that we like to remember.

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