I’ve made a big decision very recently: To live and work in Manila for several months out of the year, with a month in Los Angeles every quarter.
Here are some of the reasons why I’ve decided to go for it:
1. Perfect timing and serendipity
Many of you know that I recently graduated from my master’s program where I studied integrated marketing and specialized in analytics, to deepen my strategic thinking skills and practical experience in my professional field.
2. Contribute my skills
I’ve always been of the mindset that everything we do in this world becomes meaningful when we express gratitude and share what we have with others. I made a commitment that I will stay close to the idea of producing value in this world that can be shared with others, possibly for them to further expand on it, move ideas forward, and distribute it to other people. What better place and time to do it than my birth country?
3. Following growth
Although the Philippines still has a long way to go, the economic climate is changing. Reuters recently published an article examining the growth of foreign direct investment in Southeast Asia. The region has historically been littered with economic and political problems– from underdeveloped infrastructure to corrupt practices– and us Southeast Asians are well aware of that. Those will take time to fully solve, and there’s newfound optimism and buying power in the region that are making it an interesting region for corporate investments in the form of companies looking to relocate their manufacturing operations.
4. Taking risks
Going to the Philippines to me will be like going to a new country. Perhaps even more jarring than going to a place I’ve never been to before, because I will notice familiar landmarks, expressions and customs, but feel like an outsider when it comes to local culture and lifestyle. But if there’s a time in my life to try Manila out as a place to work, then this would be the time.
5. Career growth
I plan on becoming successful and excelling in the work that I do, so it may seem counter-intuitive that I’m going to Manila. When I consulted with people around me, they said either stay put in the US or move to Europe instead. Japan or Shanghai would be options to. This implied that it doesn’t make sense to move outside of these places, because these are the best locations to growth in your career. I am here to prove that you can find success in Manila as you would in a US or European city. The Philippines is worth it.
6. Differentiating experience
While many people seek the opportunities to work abroad, much like I do, not many in the Western world are offered a position in the emerging markets. This is due to the differences in salary where pay is much lower in the latter, and many times an understanding of local culture that is very different from the West is key to success in the corporate world. Of the Western folk who are provided the opportunity to move outside of the West, not many take advantage of it. My move will be a big lifestyle change, and it wasn’t what I envisioned when I thought about moving abroad. But here it is, and I think what I will uncover is more than what I imagined. Here is a chance to make a big impact, as the big fish in a small pond. Here is my attempt to build the profile of an emerging region in such a way that it ladders up to economic growth. People in the States don’t even know where the Philippines is, and can’t even distinguish Manila as a city in the Philippines. When I tell them I am moving to Manila, they think it’s a country. My moving there will inform those who I know, and their friends with whom my story will be shared, where Manila, Philippines is in the context of geography, and through that I hope their horizons will be expanded to encompass a larger part of the world than the dominant West in which they live.