An Engineer in the Philippines and in the UAE, Part 1

In teaching workers how to do their part of the production process, Michael Sanders uses some of the same principles I’ve used for decades in language teaching. Meet the students where they are, not where the university catalogue says they should be, take everything down to the simplest level—including advanced concepts—and start there. But Mike has ideas which could transform the Filipino economy.

We spoke over Facebook Messenger while he was at home in Abu Dhabi and I was home in Tagaytay.

Mike’s story

 Why don’t you start by telling us why you came to the Philippines?

What brought me … Read More

Twenty Years in and out of Korea

George is an old friend from Korea. We talked recently via Skype. He was in Seoul, and I was in Metro Manila.

George’s story

In Korea the business legal environment is much fairer to foreigners than it was in the past, when our attorneys used to be embarrassed. They were truly our advocates, but they’d have to say, “Yes, this person didn’t follow the contract and you are being harmed. But as a foreigner you probably won’t get a fair shot in the court system.” Often we just had to comply with whatever our business partner or supplier or service … Read More

Caught in the Middle

In 1986 Hong Kong was reported to have more McDonald’s outlets per square mile than any other place in the world. In one of them Mary, a quiet woman in her thirties, talked about the two years she spent on the mainland working for two different companies. Thirty years after her arrival in China, we can still learn from her attempts to straddle the cultural divide, as well as the effect living in a different culture had on her. She has a great sense of humor.

Mary’s story

In 1983, after I finished my Chinese course in Hong Kong, I … Read More

No Gold-Plated Chopsticks

In 1986 a New Zealander named Mark was living on the island of Gulangyu and running a small firm which assisted foreign companies trying to set up businesses in Xiamen’s Special Economic Zone. Much of what Mark said then is still applicable today, particularly when seen in the context of intercultural negotiations of all kinds.   

The idea of my company is to help middle-sized foreign companies do business here. Unfortunately, with the world’s economic downturn, there are not as many wanting to come here. Our business is very slow. The big corporations, which are still coming into the country, don’t … Read More

From Academia to Video Games and Beyond

In 2011 was looking around for interesting Filipinas to interview, and someone suggested Iris Orpi. Sometime soon I hope to interview both her and her illustrator about their book, The Espresso Effect. But here she tells what you might call a coming-of-age story. Iris kindly supplied all the photographs.

Iris’s Story

I was really in love with math. As a student I was always the one in class thinking “really? wow.” My bachelor’s degree took me only three years, which was an accomplishment, so I graduated at nineteen years of age. I applied for the graduate program and for … Read More