IT’S very hard to find an expat or foreign manager assigned to the Philippines who does not fall in love with the country, like Steven Tan, the president and chief executive officer of Berjaya Auto Philippines.
“There’s many things to love in the Philippines for someone who likes the outdoors and likes diving, and I love diving immensely,” he said, adding that the country has “large bodies of water and is teeming with wild life.”
It is the Filipinos, however, who have made Tan love the country because of their hospitality that is not common among people in other countries.
“But I think more than that, the people in the Philippines are different in that they are a very sociable and warm people. You can make friends easily here. You don’t find that in many places,” he said.
The proficiency of Filipinos when it comes to English is also a plus factor for expat managers in the Philippines, both in forging personal and professional relations.
He did not even have to learn to speak the native language Tagalog because most Filipinos know how to communicate in English.
“The literacy is high, the language is easy for me. I haven’t learned Tagalog [because]everybody speaks English here,” he said.
“For example, I lived for 12 years in Thailand. And I had to learn Thai because not everybody speaks English there,” Tan added.
While there is a possibility that Tan can be reassigned by the Berjaya Group to another country, he said he wants to say in the Philippines as long as possible. He lived in the Philippines for a total of six years.
“My wish is to stay here as long possible, but if I have to go somewhere and do work somewhere, I will do it. My approach to work is also like a soldier,” he said.
But he will make sure that he will visit the Philippines if he is assigned to another country because the Philippines has been a major part of him and his family.
“The Philippines is a major part of our life and my family as well, not just for me,” Tan said.