I flew in from Los Angeles just last week, and I gotta say- there’s really no place like home, no matter how crappy home is.
Needless to say, my friends took me out so we could swap stories- they would update me on what’s been going on in the Philippines, and I could tell them about my observations on life in LA. For the most part, they’re very curious on how things are in Los Angeles and the United States. In fact, they’re quite open with the idea of checking it out themselves and come over for a visit some time soon as well.
So we hooked up the weekend after my arrival at one of our favorite spots- Banapple in Katipunan– for stories over coffee and cake.
This is what I had to share about Los Angeles:
1. Despite being such a large city, Los Angeles is so much cleaner than the Philippines- better city-wide sanitation programs, much more trees in and around the city, and everyone doing their part in keeping the environement clean.
2. At the time I was in LA, the sun sets at around 8pm. Now, ain’t that something?
3. Los Angeles weather is generally agreeable with Pinoys- it’s generally cooler, but the temperature can get warm as much as it does here in the Philippines. Though my sister says that it can get even warmer. Warm enough to start brushfires up in the mountains and the other dryer spots. Yikes!
4. Los Angeles is all freeway. You gotta drive from place to place for the most part- which means having a car (and subsequently, driving it around) is definitely a necessity.
5. Traffic violations are stiff: swerving from a car pool lane for example can get you fined US$500, and another US$500 swerving back in. Just before I left, a new law was being enforced: all mobile phones must be hands-free when you’re driving in LA.
6. Speaking of traffic: a traffic jam in LA is like 2pm or 3pm traffic down in EDSA- cars slowing down to 10 or 15mph, so you’re still moving considerably, but definitely nothing compared to standstill jams we have in the Philippines during rush hour.
7. Services as generally expensive: cabs, salons, spas, repairs, plumbing, carpentry, etc. Some of the few things I actually miss from the Philippines- cheap laundry services, cabs whenever I want to take em, a massage every couple weeks, and a haircut every few.
8. Lots of great food places- in fact, Los Angeles is the kind of place that makes you want to start a food blog. You get massive food servings for your money. And there’s a great mix of familiar restaurant chains and local food spots.
You also got a good variety of groceries, supermarkets, local farmers’ markets and specialty stores that carry just about any ingredient you need to cook that recipe you may have seen on The Food Network or Top Chef.
You won’t miss Filipino food since there are also a lot of Pinoy and Asian stores in the general vicinity of Los Angeles- which means you have access at least to the ingredients you’d need for Filipino home cooking. A lot of neighborhoods are even a lot more Pinoy-friendly, with a variety of Asian restaurants and stores- including Philippine fast food outlets
9. Also a real big deal: ever-rising gas prices. A lot of people have also opted to commute more, ride bikes more, and even work from home more.
10. Los Angeles has great opportunities for making cash. Forget about the recession- it’s still economically better than the Philippines by a wide margin. With good enough timing, you can find just about any job you want, or land a series of part-time gigs, or even go completely entrepreneurial if you feel like you can meet the needs of a specific niche.
Bottom Line: Los Angeles California is a great place for Filipinos visiting the United States for the first time. They will find the weather generally to their liking, and the proximity to other Pinoys- particularly family and friends already in the US very appealing.
Also, with the opportunity to make a lot more cash whether through employment, part-time work or business, anyone with the right skill sets and a passion to make money will find it very fulfilling.