Sunday, November 18, 2007


One of the stereotypes we knew of the Philippines coming in was that things are cheaper here and our dollars would go farther, which was, admittedly, something to look forward to (especially coming from Europe, where the Euro/dollar exchange really cramped our budget).

Check out what you can get for 150 pesos (about $3.70):

A 30-minute taxi ride
A movie ticket
3-5 beers, depending on how classy the bar is
20 jeepney rides
A pedicure
A floating pearl necklace
…and my personal favorite: a cup of coffee at Starbucks

How amazing is it that most things are drastically lower prices, and yet Starbucks costs exactly the same as in the USA. Ana, my host sister, explains that Starbucks is a status symbol here. The upper middle and wealthy class teenagers and college students hang out there. The coffee shop is at least 3-4x the size of ones in the US, and most people camp out at a table for hours at a time. Ana and her friends have studied there for 5-7 hours, after buying only one cup of coffee. So she thinks of the inflated prices as rent!

Other western brands are the same prices as in the US too: the Gap, Zara, Crocs, LaCoste, etc., are in every mall on the top levels, and on the bottom level are the market stands where you can buy the knockoffs at a fraction of the price, if you want to risk being caught with them and paying fines upon entry back into the United States. This applies especially to big-name purses and pirated movies, both of which are big business here. I will have to choose my Christmas presents wisely!

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