I'm entering the 9th month of my stay in The Philippines. I'm happy to say that my family and I have adapted to everything here pretty well. We have collected many friends also. In fact, I personally have more friends here now compared to when I was in Malaysia. I think 1 good reason why it is easier for me to find friends here is because I do look like one of them. Everywhere I go people always come to me and start to speak in Tagalog and since I have learned to speak the language, I can reply to them with my broken Tagalog, and (to my advantage) no one will notice my broken Tagalog because of my face...wha..ha..ha.. They always forgive me and keep talking to me... :)
When I walk with my husband, we are given flyers to buy house because people thought I were a local so my husband can purchase a house/land here. But when my husband informs them that his wife is only filipina look alike, then they don't proceed with the offer anymore. Also, everytime my husband start to speak in broken Tagalog, the other party will look at me asking for clarification expecting me to explain better with correct Tagalog :) But unfortunately I'm not better than my husband in Tagalog so I will just throw a smile and shrug my shoulders while saying, "Hindi ako filipina, po. Ako ay taga-Indonesia." (I'm not filipina. I'm from Indonesia).
Usually people will start to realize that I am not a filipina when I stop replying to them and my face will look puzzled trying my best to understand what they say. Then, softly they will ask me, "Excuse me, po, what is your nationality?" I will reply to them "Indonesia." and then they will either laugh so hard to themselves or they will just switch the language to English and continue with the conversation, and that's how I befriend them most of the times. Many of my newly found friends are parents of my son's classmates. Many of them are also my neighbors. I made friends with people in the wet market and supermarket I always go to buy my groceries. They appreciate me trying to speak in Tagalog. They give me good price because I'm a regular there.
During last December Christmas party that we attended in our subdivision, we met many new neighbors. It was our first time to attend such a party. No one knew that we were not local. This was not a big deal at all because we had such a wonderful time. I even won the raffle :D The food served was very delicious. It was so much food and free of charge. My children were the happiest people on earth for they received so many presents. They met many new friends too.
I tell myself many times that I have to learn to speak Tagalog harder. If I can speak Tagalog fluently, I'm very sure I won't have to say "Hindi ako filipina" too often :) It's perfectly fine if no one knows I am a foreigner.
So far there is 1 thing I haven't tried. It is to ride a jeepney or a tricycle just like everyone else. So, if I can speak a fluent Tagalog and ride a jeepney/tricycle, I think I can consider myself a local already :D