From the Philippines to Malaysia: Beyond Toxicity Doc Gelo
Mabuhay! People call me Doc Gelo. I am a licensed General Physician from the Philippines, a Medical Lecturer and a Multi-Award-Winning Blogger. I have been living in Penang, Malaysia for 3 years now.
1. Why did you move abroad?
I woke up one day and decided to move abroad. Kidding! On a serious note, I took a chance of applying to a job posted online to work as a Lecturer in a Medical University in Penang, Malaysia. And guess what? I don’t even know a single thing about Penang back then! My only concept of Malaysia during that time was the iconic Petronas Twin Towers, nonetheless I did not pass up on the opportunity and as they say, the rest is history.
2. How do you make a living?
For 9 years now, I have been teaching medical subjects -6 years in the Philippines and 3 years and counting in Penang, Malaysia. I have been teaching Anatomy, Physiology, Basic Pathology, General Medical Microbiology, Applied Medical Microbiology, Medical Parasitology and a few more premedical subjects. I take pride in being a part of edcuating tomorrow’s world leaders.
3. How often do you communicate with home and how?
I try to make phone calls, send text messages and emails, I also use skype as often as I can. Communicating via social networks such as facebook, twitter and instagram also keep me in touch with people from home.
4. What's your favorite thing about being an expat in Malaysia?
Malaysia is a cultural melting pot in Southeast Asia and being exposed to her diversities is a priceless learning experience. I and my family have attended several festivities and traditional celebrations, have witnessed the various acts of faith and have been to different places of worship, museums and heritage sites, and most of all, we have tasted Malay, Chinese and Indian dishes from a few but remarkbale states of Malaysia that we’ve been to.
My present work place and apartment are only a bus-and-ferry-ride away to George Town, Penang that’s inscripted as one of UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites. Every weekend and holiday spent in that amazing island is memorable, every corner is picturesque.
Malaysia’s geographical location also opened doors for us to travel cheaply to neighboring Asian countries, mostly on foot. We’ve experienced crossing Malaysia-Thailand borders and Malaysia-Singapore borders via commuter vans and public buses that’s completely unique compared to traveling on air.
5. What’s the worst thing about being an expat in Malaysia?
Homesickness. Apparently, it’s not an exclusive issue to foreigners living in Malaysia.
6. What do you miss most?
I miss most my family and everything else in my country, The Philippines.
7. What did you do to meet people and integrate in your new home?
Because of blogging and fortunately winning the Best Expat Blog Award from Ministry of Tourism Malaysia for 2012 and 2013, I have met Malaysian bloggers and a few Malaysian executives from hotels and other establishments.
Other than my students, colleagues and bosses at work, I am also blessed to have met generous and selfless Malaysians as my apartment-owner, school van-driver and the school owner and teachers of my son who have been so helpful particularly in times of need.
8. What custom/ habits do you find most strange about your adopted culture?
I do not to consider my adopted culture as strange or weird but unique. I always keep an open mind to be emphatic. No culture, of course is ever perfect and free of flaws. Acceptance and appreciation are better values than its negative counterparts.
9. What is a myth about your adopted country?
As mentioned earlier, I have no initial perceptions about Malaysia until I set foot to Penang. Perhaps, now I conclude that Malaysia is definitely more than her iconic Petronas Twin Towers. There’s more than meets the eye.
10. Is the cost of living higher or lower than the last country you lived in and how has that made a difference in your life?
Honestly, Malaysian Ringgit has more purchasing power than Philippine Peso so it goes without saying that cost of living in Malaysia is a lot cheaper than in Manila.
11. What advice would you give other expats?
For anyone who would like to work and eventually settle in any state in Malaysia, be prepared for a whole lot of adventure! Travel opportunities, cultural immersion and infinite possibilities await!
12. When and why did you start your blog?
I started blogging on May 8, 2007 and it has evolved into my own domain, www.docgelo.com, simply to document happy and memorable moments. I wish someday, when my son, Gabby grows older and wiser, he will read and look back at our days on my blog.
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