Metro Manila · Expert, Lecturer and Backpacker

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'My credo back then was: if I don't get out of the city every two- to three weeks, I go nuts'


Last City/Megacity before Manila: Brussels (Belgium)
Next City/Megacity after Manila: Berlin (Germany)
Purpose of Stay: Work & Travel
Duration of Stay: 2,5 Years (left 2012)

Steve's Story

With my graduate school degree in the pocket, I was torn between seeing more of the world and finally starting to earn some money. When the opportunity opened to combine work and travel, it took me only one night to make my decision: Manila and Southeast Asia it is.

I sent out quite some applications but was not yet sure, what I really wanted to pursue, so I kept it broad. When talking to some of my friends, I was asked if I would like to go to Manila and work of a Non-Governmental Organization there. Information were scarce, so were other options, so I went for  it - and never regretted it. I was only supposed to stay in Manila for a couple of month on a limited contract. Three months turned into half a year and before I knew what hit me, I looked back at more than two years of work and travel experience in Manila, the Philippines and Southeast Asia.

Never will I forget - nor get tired to tell the story - about my first day in Manila. It was so hot and humid when I arrived at the airport. A future colleague of mine picked me up at the airport - lucky me who would have never found the taxi stand in all that chaos anyway. On the way from the airport to the very posh neighbourhood, I would spend the next few months in, my colleague told me all about the safety precautions and what crimes are taking place in the city. The next morning, I was so scared that I did not even want to leave my flat anymore. Now, I am laughing at myself when I think back.

Lucky for me, my office was mainly composed of Local Megacitizens. For several months, all I did was to discover the local culture and food as well as the Hotspots after work. Having never been to Asia before, there was a lot to discover and learn. The warmth and hospitality of the Filipino people is truly something I will never forget as well. It is just so easy to fit in, if you allow it. Sure, you will be treated differently because you are a foreigner - at first. Once you get to know the people (and they do make it easy to), there is not a lot distinguishing you from them anymore.

After I got another contract, I also decided to start lecturing in one of the top notch universities of the country. Due to my specialization and European education that was not a huge problem and soon enough I was standing in front of my own class of students. I was lucky enough to get introduced to this university by a close friend of mine. Another Megacitizen friend of mine later on went from school to school and ask if they hire - both ways do work.

Apart from life in the city, I tried to escape Manila as often as possible. My credo back then was: 'if I don't get out of the city every two- to three weeks, I go nuts'. Thanks to the large number of accessible beautiful places, I did not have to turn crazy all too often. Although it is not doable for a weekend trip, my all-time favourite place to be - I will return! - is Sagada in the Mountain Province. A lot of adventure, good coffee and an unimaginable scenery are awaiting you!

It only took a few weeks after leaving Manila before I felt home sick. The Megacity and its surroundings became my second home and sooner than later, I will return - this time for leisure only because there is still so much to see.