A cheat sheet for Fil-foreign athletes in PH? Ask Ben Phillips de La Salle

Ben Phillips de La Salle gives Fil’s foreign student-athletes 10 tips for navigating life in the Philippines

MANILA, Philippines — When I first left Ninoy Aquino International Airport, the only thing I knew for sure was how nervous I was halfway around the world and away from home in Cincinnati , Ohio. I wanted to create a short guide that would serve as an initial roadmap for Fil-Ams and Fil-Strangers so that you don’t feel lost and alone in figuring out this new chapter in your life.

My name is Benjamin Phillips III, an MBA student-athlete at De La Salle University, and here are my 10 survival tips:

Before leaving

There are so many things you can do while you’re still at home to prepare for your trip abroad, but these three topics are essential and will help you in the long run.

1. Start learning the language if you still haven’t. Find a personal Tagalog tutor or use a language app (Drops/Rosetta Stone) for beginners. Start listening to OPM (Original Pilipino Music) and read the lyrics to familiarize yourself. Apo Hiking Society is a MUST. Watch Filipino movies and series on Netflix with subtitles as I learned most of my conversational Tagalog from Four sisters and a wedding.

2. Research local UAAP and NCAA schools, their course offerings, culture, history and alumni. Each school shares different aspects of this beautiful country and choosing the right school, or learning more about the school you have chosen, will make you feel more connected to your new home.

3. Get a sturdy pair of sandals (trust me as they will take you far) as they are essential with travel, beaches, floods etc. There will be so much to do when you arrive in the homeland and trying new things is extremely important! New restaurants, museums, (making Tambay in local hangouts), and daily walks are the sandals’ favorite pastime.

is coming now

Yes, the jet lag you experience is real once your adrenaline wears off. Get ready for lots of stares, photos and the nicest people in the world. Welcome to the Philippines, Mabuhay!

4. Be prepared for the weather change. Whether you’re from the Midwest like me, or even the west coast of California, the air and heat are different here. (Sobrang mainit!) Bottled water is a must in the beginning to adjust and stay hydrated.

5. Find local snacks that you love and that remind you of home. Convenience stores and supermarkets have everything you are looking for here. I never leave a 7/11 without Haribo Gummy Bears which I would always eat in the US. Don’t be afraid to try new things either! (I fell in love with Strawberry Hello Pandas and Yan-Yans.)

6. Get a Filipino phone or a Filipino SIM card. This is your Willy Wonka Chocolate Factory golden ticket here in the Philippines. A Filipino phone/Philippine SIM card will help you with local transportation (Grab and Angkas), food delivery (Food Panda), shopping (Mall-Wi-Fi and Shopee) and easier communication with locals and your teams (Viber). Make sure this is a high priority on your to-do list.


Congratulations! You have gone through your first few weeks and are beginning to orient yourself. Now is where your discipline must come into play.

seven. Go to class! Fil-Ams and Fil-Foreigners have a reputation for not encompassing student aspect of a student-athlete. A degree from the Philippines will only benefit your future and open more doors for you than you think, whether it’s an undergraduate course, a master’s degree, or if you want to join me in completing my doctorate here in the Philippines. Connecting with your fellow students and faculty is one of the essentials of coming here. You are not only here for your sport; you are here to represent your school at the highest level and honor your scholarship that many people wish they had. Remember, you’re not here to party and be a fixture on the club scene, especially not in your rookie year when you haven’t won anything yet. Have fun in moderation, but remember that you have a job to do and every decision you make affects your personal brand as well.

8. Make a budget. I talk about it a lot in my own post, Lone Wolf Mentality: A Millennial Mindset, but students and young adults everywhere need a budget they can stick to and follow strictly, especially in a new environment. Even though the cost of living may seem cheaper here than at home, that doesn’t mean you can go crazy and splurge every day. You need to create a list of all your expenses (and yes, that means Starbucks and Jollibee daily trips) to accurately manage your new found financial independence. For the most part, you will be on your own, so knowing exactly where every dollar/peso of your student allowance or other income goes will be imperative to your survival, not just in the Philippines, but throughout your life.

Golden Rule

ten. Treat others as you would like to be treated. It’s an old adage, but one that will last for millennia in all countries. Be humble, smile and share kindness with everyone you meet. You never know whose life you will impact with the platform you are blessed with here. Nothing is impossible! Stay true to your values ​​and beliefs and don’t stray from the good principles you were taught and grew up with. Don’t focus on what someone else has, whether it’s their recommendations or their opportunities, but keep putting your head down and keep working. Your time will come. I came here as an unrecruited and flew so low under the reconnaissance radar that the Dragon Radar of Dragon Ball Z I couldn’t even find my trail, but I continued to work hard every day with a chip on my shoulder that I would do my best to make it out here. I treat every person I meet here as someone I could learn from and gather wisdom from, and it has been the best thing that has ever happened to me in this beautiful country of the Philippines. – Rappler.com

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