1. Say Goodbye to Carpeting. I know it sounds silly but take one last good roll around on it at home 'cause you wont see that again for a long while. Have you ever seen people sweep dirt floors? You will...
2. Say Goodbye to Dairy Products. I was so excited to try my first ice cream in the Philippines. You know how you get that anticipatory taste in your mouth and if the thing you put in it is not right it's a real let-down...
3. If you like to study gospel-related books, learn to love your scriptures. Buendia Chapel has a fantastic library that few seem to know about (check out the old Improvement Eras! They're marvelous!) but the only materials readily available are from the PBO (Presiding Bishoprics Office) in Manila, or the Mission Office, and that's all regular Church distibution stuff-nothing fancy. The Mission Home actually has some great stuff, too, but access is seldom. I still remember when a chapter of Hugh Nibley's Mormonism and Early Christianity circulated through the mission-no one knew who it was by or what to make of it.
4. Hold on Mr. Food Negatives! Now most people may not have tasted boiled duck embryos, or dog, or squid, or shark, or even mangos before, but you're in for a real treat. The Philippines has some of the most incredibly wonderful fruits and foods you've ever tasted. It was sad to see Missionaries who let the food become a barrier to appreciating the culture of this land. Check out some of the recipes in that section of this site. They are some of my favorites. Be open-minded.
5. Do You Like Sprite? There is a thriving soda market in the Philippines. Try the SARSI brand, it's great! This is a real blessing-carbonated beverages can't grow bacterias, water can.
6. Of All the Ingenious Things... You can hardly begin to imagine the creativity of the Pilipino people. I had a pair of Levis made for me, complete with tags and all. I tried using green thread instead of orange, it was a nice effect. These people can make just about anything. One Elder I knew got a pair of shoes made with real tire tread as the soles. I went for the kid-skin pair. You won't find many department stores there (except for downtown Manila-start praying now for a province or even an island!).
7. You Wouldn't Believe the People. The openess of their society is exemplary. Even those who don't want to hear the Gospel will still invite you in to watch the PBA (Philippine Basketball Association) games and have a snack. Last I heard the baptism rate in this country was somewhere around a stake a month (that 2,000+ !!). They are so sweet and humble. of course, there are the military insurgents and anti-americans there, but "they that be with us are greater than they that be against us".
8. Transportation is Fun! I have heard of missionaries in the States that have to rent a U-Haul for tranfers. Forget that action! You have no choice but to live with what you can carry. Public transportation is the way in the Philippines. Buses, Taxis, Jeepneys, Tricycles, or old reliable Feet are the methods of choice there. Each of these listed have their own quirks, but each one will get you where you need to go-and at a bargain rate, too! But watch out for that reverse US citizen discount!
9. Hot Hot Hot. It takes something like 6 months to get acclimated to the weather. You've never been so humid and hot in your life. Rainy season comes along and it gets down to 75-80F and all the Philipinos are grabbing blankets to stay warm at night-that will be you, too, in time. Did I mention how often (or is that seldom) you will see the sun during rainy season?