Fernanda Costa – an Outsiders Perspective on the Philippines
Last updated August 21, 2019
In this episode, Derek is joined by Fernanda Costa and she will give an outsider’s perspective on Manila, Philippines.
- Fernanda is based in London and came to Manila for the first time, three weeks ago trying to settle in and do business here.
- Fernanda knew very little about the Philippines before she came over. She was handed the project management of a project she’s doing with her company and she had very little time to prepare.
- Some people told her to be careful with security which she thought was ridiculous because she came from Rio de Janeiro.
- Fernanda’s first impression was that everybody speaks English which makes things extremely easy. The Philippines is very westernized and people are very approachable. The people in the Philippines are also very professional and responsive.
- Transportation can be challenging in the Philippines and the traffic Is horrible.
- The quality of Wi-Fi outside cities is not that good.
- Filipinos have been somewhat purged of their own culture. It’s quite different to the rest of Southeast Asia wherein they have a huge variety of cuisine and cultural identity. But then again, if you look at it from a business point of view it puts the Philippines in an incredible advantage.
- According to Fernanda, in terms of doing business in the Philippines, it is an easy country to work in. The people are very pleasant and it is a very affordable country to live in. In terms of getting good people and expertise, it’s definitely a place that should be under people’s radar.
- The Philippines’ grasp of the English language is incredible but it is always helpful to hire an interpreter especially if you’re in provinces wherein people speak different dialects.
- In terms of getting good people, the Philippines has a very good talent pool.
- Transportation in the Philippines can be quite challenging especially outside Metro Manila.
Hi and welcome to another episode of Outsource Accelerator. My name is Derek Gallimore. And today this is episode 33. We are joined by Fernanda Costa. Now this is a bit of an outsider’s perspective on Manila and the Philippines. I think this is a really valuable episode because it gives you insight into actually what the Philippines is, how it ticks from an outsider’s perspective. So, we go into Fernanda’s story within the podcast so we won’t dwell on that too much. But effectively Fernanda is based in London and came to Manila for the first time three weeks ago trying to settle in and do business here. Or suddenly come with her business. So, it’s really interesting perspective that I just wanted to get a snapshot of within this podcast so hope you enjoy. And if you want any more information or you want to contact Fernanda then go to our show notes which is outsourceaccelerator.com/podcast/episode33. Enjoy.
Derek: Today I’m joined by Fernanda. Hi Fernanda.
Derek: And we know each other previously but it’s, it’s quite interesting how our paths have crossed now that we first started speaking because you were coming to the Philippines for work and you wanted to feel out the Philippines before you came and it’s now a few things. And so, I wanted to get you on the podcast really because I see a lot of value in showing people what the Philippines is like and especially from your firsthand experience in contrast. So, and as a bit of background you live in London and you’re from Brazil. So, I just want to hear. I suppose initially your expectations for the Philippines that you had from what you had heard and things like that and then how it contrasted to your initial experiences and I guess I suppose to frame this, you have now been staying and working in Manila or close to Manila for the last two or three weeks.
Fernanda: Yeah that’s right. So. I knew very little about the Philippines before I came over. I was handed the project management of a project I’m doing with my company and it was a very little time to prepare. So, everything was a little bit of a surprise and in fact I don’t like to arrive in to a country knowing so little. But in a way, I had no knowledge other than some people telling me to be careful with security which is obviously ridiculous because I came from Rio de Janeiro. So, the first impressions was you know everybody speaks English which makes things extremely easy. I felt the Philippines very westernized and people very approachable. And yeah, I mean it felt, it felt just easy and you know I feel I have felt really safe I have been here for nearly three weeks now and I have had some you know conversations business conversations and people here are very professional and very responsive.
Derek: What was it about the original, I mean you don’t need to name names but in terms of getting advice often I hear this that the Philippines people would caution about the danger level of the Philippines and maybe also with the recent presidential change.
Derek: Did you just hear murmurs that you need to be careful in the Philippines?
Fernanda: Yeah, I guess its a little misunderstanding because people hear about what is happening which is now I understand geographically is Mindanao and is an island and is quite far away from where I’m working in Manila and there something happened a casino a few weeks ago at the same time that was happening awful things happened in London. In fact, in London, in the bridge that I cross pretty much every day’s work. So, you know danger is very relative. And I have to say I have felt very safe here and because of the nature of the work I’m doing I’m visiting very poor communities, urban poor communities outside of Manila and still I feel very safe. So, you know I mean you know in a way pleasantly surprised that I you know I feel so safe.
Derek: Great. And so, safety is one thing I suppose logistics is another thing. How do you find the logistics in the Philippines?
Fernanda: Yeah that’s a little bit more challenging when you come out of Manila because Manila is obviously enormous and the traffic is the worst thing ever is just like if you’ve got time when you’ve got your phone with you then you’re, you’re okay but otherwise it can be quite challenging. What I found most challenging is because I’m working in Santa Rosa Laguna is there is no taxis. So, transport can be challenging because you got tricycles and then you have people who own cars. But it doesn’t seem that there is yet a sort of like a middle market. So, there is a big gap in the market there for like you know Grab and Uber to take hold.
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Derek: There’s still a lot of maturation needed.
Fernanda: Yeah. So logistically if you’re working in the Philippines and you’re not working in the main cities and you’re not working for a multinational, things can be difficult like that. I know so I find that quality of the Wi-Fi outside of the you know of the city can be a little bit.
Derek: That is a big issue.
Derek: Telecoms is very difficult here.
Derek: The general Internet is very lacking. And so, what about languages. Because I know that before, prior to you coming here you inquired about translators and things like that. And so, language wise and culturally wise how you do you find the Philippines?
Fernanda: So, language generally you know in the business sense everybody speaks English very well. The level of English is really high in comparison to other places. When you’re working with poor communities which in the case of my line of work or work of sanitation we are having a translator does helps. Because the Philippines has several dialects languages that are spoken throughout the country which is in fact a bunch of islands joined together as a country. So, it’s helpful to have someone that speaks a few languages but they very much depends on your line of work if you’re working in Manila you can just get by with English no problem. In fact, today the Filipinos speak English like they prefer even to speak English to you. So, it’s not a problem.
Derek: It’s incredible how culturally aligned and English-ised it is.
Fernanda: Yes, surprisingly so in a way I find that’s, you know in places like I am which is like new neighborhoods, they are like sort of sort of like fairly rich sort of residential areas outside of Manila which is Santa Rosa Laguna Nuvali. It’s a bit sterile, a lot of shopping malls and a lot of fast food and to me it lacks the charm that I experienced going away to two different islands and seeing local culture. So, like the local food is delicious is just that in places like that. In cities, there are like sort of new. You don’t get that you get to more of like you know lots of Starbucks and you know.
Derek: I do I really have that position as well from an anthropological point of view if you can call it that like they’re quite. They have been somewhat purged of their own culture which is very sad. And it’s. It’s quite differentiated to the rest of Southeast Asia where they have a huge variety of cuisine and cultural identity whereas here it’s being a little bit purged which is very sad. But then if you. If you look at it from a business point of view it puts them in an incredible advantage when it is sanitized and so culturally aligned and the English is so pervasive, you know.
Fernanda: Yeah, I mean I wonder I was wondering this today whether it’s because the Philippines is a bunch of very different cultures coming together in one country. And whenever you have countries down amalgamation of cultures you end up with no clear identity and even the definition of the language the Filipino language is as if they say it’s like majority of Tagalog which is one of the dialect spoken here. This is what I’ve learned in the last few weeks and it’s been a crash course into the culture. And I think that’s, that’s why you end up with this kind of fairly bland country but I only scraped the surface so I’m sure that if it took more time to get to know regions it would be a lot more interesting.
Derek: It is very culturally rich.
Fernanda: Yeah. But I mean in terms of doing business here I definitely think you know this very little heart about the Philippines that I mean is such an easy country to work. And you know very pleasant to be here and affordable and you know, in terms of getting good people and expertise. It’s definitely like a place that should be under people’s radar.
Derek: Yeah, to put that, the grouping of country thing in perspective there’s seven thousand one hundred nine islands here or something. And it was the Spanish, wasn’t it? About 500 years ago that found these groups of islands which were all very diverse cultures and clearly well they weren’t even countries back then. That drew a circle around it and called it the Philippines after the King Philippe of Spain. And then so after that point they were effectively forced to become one national identity and then from there I think there’s about a hundred plus dialect which are very different. And then, yeah it’s incredibly diverse. And then say finally maybe if you can just summarize and you’ve come over for business. How do you see it as a business environment? And I suppose you’re slightly edging more towards manufacturing side of business here. Is it a conducive environment?
Fernanda: Yeah, I mean absolutely, I think in terms of our expertise we’ve seen that so there is definitely like quality in the services offered and I think that’s for small businesses. Just takes a little bit of time to find the right partnerships and I find that having local expertise as in someone like a company or someone to help you with the sort of importation or getting local talent, it really does help to have this sort of like…
Derek: The middleman.
Fernanda: Yeah, the middleman. You know yeah that helps you find the right people. So that just setting up those relationships can take a little bit of time but then after that it becomes you know a lot easier to operate here and I find that for, for us it’s just a beginning and I think that you know it definitely is a promising market for us to both like to work out and also to operate from really.
Derek: Thank you Fernanda, that’s great.
Fernanda: Thank you.
Okay. I hope you got some valuable insight from that episode. It’s really interesting I think to get an outsider’s perspective on what the Philippines is like because people come with a lot of preconceived ideas and it really can be quite different to that. So if you do want to get in touch with Fernanda and then go to our show notes and you can find all the information at outsourceaccelerator.com/podcast/episode33. And if you want to ask any questions to us here outsource accelerator please just send us an email to email@example.com and we’ll get straight back to you. See you next time.