Thursday, September 01, 2011

Indonesia vs. the Philippines


I just spent 10 days in Jakarta and here is what I have to say in the way of comparing it to the Philippines:
The good things about Indonesia vs. RP
All the infrastructure is much newer. The downtown Jakarta is a modern, Dubai- like super city. The hotels and the malls are 22nd century caliber. The roads are new and wide and there are wide spaces everywhere. It is not as crowded as Manila. The air is much cleaner and fresher because Jakarta is so green, as well.
The people are classy and they dress well. The girls are not ashamed to put on latest fashions and parade around. They do not play down their beauty and do not humble themselves or self-efface.
The starkest difference is in the way they treat foreigners:
1) They speak to foreigners of all colors in Bahasa- the Malay language of Malaysia, Brunei and Indonesia. Their logic seems to be very simple , and it makes sense to me- if you are here, you are a foreigner and we are in our own country. It is your responsibility to adjust yourself to us, not the other way around. Of course, in big companies, big hotels and at the airport, people address tourists in English but those that live there or just associate with local people on a daily basis must speak the language or you will not be able to function normally. That’s just the way it is. A Filipino, otoh, will almost never speak to a foreigner in Filipino even though a foreigner is in the Filipino’s country.

2) Foreigners of all colors and nationalities are usually treated as equals in Indonesia. Something that average Filipinos have a problem with. Most Filipinos try and accommodate foreigners, allow them to live in their country without the foreigners learning the language or the culture and feel perfectly OK if foreigners do not try to integrate. Worship of foreign cultures is widespread in the Philippines. The Spanish caste structure, although formally abolished is still very much ingrained, with Spanish –looking people being deemed as “gwapo” and brown Malay looking people often thought of as “not gwapo”. In Indonesia, this does not seem to be happening. An average Indonesia does not feel either proud of what he is or ashamed. This must be because of Islam. Many people in the West malign the Islamic civilization but it has many good things- among many things it teaches that:

a) There is no difference between a black man and a white man( and that transfers into “no difference between a brown and a white man”)
b) There is no difference between and Arab and a non Arab. Again, that transfers into “ no difference between different races and/or cultures.

The people feel very comfortable about their culture and do not think that movies and songs in Bahasa are “corny”. They are neither proud nor ashamed but simply live out their culture in a natural and tranquil way.
The Indonesian type Islam is of a mild variety. During the Ramadan, non Muslims can eat and drink in public and that does not evoke negative reactions or cause arrests as in Saudi or Kuwait.
Now, the advantages of the Philippines:
1) Visas. While the people in Indonesia are OK with foreigners, staying long term in Indonesia is problematic. Stiff penalties are there for visa violators. Just try and google Indonesian Visa and you will see the mind boggling list of requirements that are seemingly designed to keep foreigners away and to discourage that they stay there too long. And even those that have money still face huge bureaucratic hurdles and seemingly impossible to fulfill requirement. In contrast, the Philippine immigration is very friendly and much more welcoming, and it encourages foreign investment, retirement and tourism.
Marriage of a foreign man to an Indonesian woman does not afford any privileges to the man visa or employment-wise. The woman cannot sponsor the man to be a citizen or a permanent resident of any kind. If you are an average foreign guy, you will not have any special rights just because you married an Indonesian lady. Not only that, in Indonesia, there are no marriages between people of different religions that are allowed.
In contrast, a foreigner who marries a Filipina/o, can apply to stay in the country forever and can also qualify for a one year balikbayan visa ad infinitum, provided once a year he leaves the country with his/her spouse and comes back with him/ her. All kinds of permanent and semi- permanent visas are available in RP and it is not hard to qualify. Tourist visas and extensions are easy to get. Most Filipinos feel that foreigners in their country (provided they behave) are an asset, and are a matter of pride and benefit. And if one wants to marry a Filipina/o, there is no law that one needs to be a Catholic. People of all religions can marry and mingle socially with ease.
These are some notes that I have jotted down.

31 comments:

Anonymous said...

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Anonymous said...

"The Indonesian type Islam is of a mild variety."

There is no such thing.

Indonesia waged a brutal war against East Timor-Leste for decades, destroying economic infrastructure and killing thousands.

Why?

Well, because Timor-Leste is a Catholic nation on the eastern half of an island that is Muslim, as is the rest of Indonesia.

Muslims, 100% of the time, cannot play nicely with neighbours. If one were to remove all conflicts on this planet where one party were Muslim, the number of armed conflicts on earth would drop -90%.

Anonymous said...

Indonesian invasion of east timor has nothing to do with religion.. many personnel in Indonesia armed forces are christians, hindus, and buddhas..
It's all got to do with the cold war tension, and Indonesia not wanting a possible communist state nearby.. Also president suharto fears that an independent island within the archipelago might inspire provinces to break away from the nation..
Btw, I'm christian Indonesian..

Anonymous said...

Indonesian invasion of east timor has nothing to do with religion.. many personnel in Indonesia armed forces are christians, hindus, and buddhas..
It's all got to do with the cold war tension, and Indonesia not wanting a possible communist state nearby.. Also president suharto fears that an independent island within the archipelago might inspire provinces to break away from the nation..
Btw, I'm christian Indonesian..

Anonymous said...

By the way if you come to Dili, capital of east timor, there is a huge bronze statue of Jesus donated by Indonesian government in the 80s/90s

Anonymous said...

I'm an Indonesian citizen who lived 10 years in the Philippines, 7 years in the States, and now in Indonesia. I love all the 3 countries. I only have to say that Indonesia is unique in many ways; world's biggest muslim-majority country that does not practice Islamic laws, world's 3rd largest democracy, a developing country that does not rely on exports of goods and services for growth, but relies on its domestic consumption, a country where 20& of the population (about 40 million people) are richer than singaporeans, a country where most people used to practice Hinduism and Budhism and still proudly keeps (and some muslims still practice some of) the tranditions of these religions regardless of no being a muslim-majority country.

In summary, its uniqueness is manily driven by the combination of its consumer behaviour, population size, religious and cultural backgrounds, abundance of its natural resources, geographical location, and political background.

BTW, regardless the law, inter-religious marriages are common in Indonesia, and not a crime. Yes, Indonesian government does accomodate it, but does not prohibit it. People find a way to get around it, such as doing it overseas. Once, the marriage is done, the government will legally recognize the marriage.

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Anonymous said...

Staying 10 days in Jakarta as a tourist does not give you the proper and truthful insights about this country:

1. "The hotels and the malls are 22nd century caliber": What does this shit mean?

2. The roads are new and wide and there are wide spaces everywhere": In case you were blinded by reality, the traffic and road congestion in Jakarta is the worst in Asia.

3. "It is not as crowded as Manila": Where exactly did you stay in Jakarta for you to say such a stupid thing? Are you blind, Jakarta has 11 million people and still growing fast...

4. "The air is much cleaner and fresher because Jakarta is so green, as well.": Again, did you just stay inside your hotel and lounge in its garden and pool all day to say this shit? Every morning, Jakarta is covered by smog everywhere. And exacttly where is the green that you saw?

5. "They speak to foreigners of all colors in Bahasa- the Malay language of Malaysia, Brunei and Indonesia." Naturalmente! it is the only language that most of them know! how can an Indonesian speak english to foreigners if they don't know that language? Such a crappy insight!

6. "Foreigners of all colors and nationalities are usually treated as equals in Indonesia. Something that average Filipinos have a problem with.": I suppose you were unaware of the massive violence and physical harm that native Indonesians inflicted on their own compatriot Indochinese people in the late 2000's?

CRAP, CRAP, CRAP and more CRAP

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Goshio Arago said...

Jakarta is indeed better seriously,

juan enrico said...

Just come to jakarta n witness it yourself...been to manila....check the malls/hotels etc...it is supermodern....no joking a lots filipinos live here.....they love this city so much...inside the building you see only luxury n huge open space..n it most part of the city.....not manila only focus on 1 spot...the rest are forgotten....

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Anonymous said...

Never been to Jakarta, but I'm not a big fan of too metropolitan places...so I'll just stick to Bali ;) Kind of reminds me of Manila by some pics of it. Bad traffic and bad air just turns me off. Is there like an area in Jakarta where it's like Taguig (Bonifacio Global City), anyway?

Just a few months ago, I heard there were millions marching into the streets protesting against a Christian official in your country...so where's the actual tolerance you speak of? I believe many more Muslims in Philippines are more tolerant than in Indonesia...with the exception of a few rotten ones that happen to have links with your country who killed and destroyed people and towns of other Muslim and Christian Filipinos. More politically charged than anything remotely religious driven.

And on an institutional level, Philippines do not have issues of racism or religion like in your country and Malaysia. Government even granted privilege to Muslims to practice some laws by their creed. I have not heard of any anti Chinese riots in Philippines nor a protest by religions between Christians and Muslims.

The only problem we have is class division. Rich and poor. It's like South America. We speak in English to foreigners because we can, and know we are able to accommodate and understand newcomers to our country. We are known generally for our hospitality. However, I do acknowledge that Indonesia has its own rich cultures and I don't deny that I prefer a lot of Indonesian food than my own.

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