Filipino in Madrid: Jay Juan – My Pinoy Life in Spain

My name is Jay Juan and I live in Madrid, Spain

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Since when have you been staying there?  Can you recount why and how you moved there?

I’ve been here for at least 15-16 years. My parents were here long before. Of course, as a parent, you’d want your child to have a better future and better life than what you had before. That’s why they took us from Philippines to be with them.

Tell us about where you live. What is the place famous for? Are there any notable landmarks, sites, etc. What do you like and not like about living there?

Madrid is one of a kind, very easy to go around. It’s a beautiful, crowded, busy city that’s affordable to travel to compared to other European cities and countries. I like Spain in general because it has everything I want – beautiful beaches in the summer, spectacular mountains in the winter and delicious foods all year.

Tell us about your life there.  What do you do for a living?  What do you do for relaxation?  Describe a typical week. What’s the typical lifestyle over there?

I work as a barman in the restaurant industry, but I also do photography and videography on the side. People love to party here every weekend, but it’s not my thing. I do snowboarding in the winter though! That’s where I get to relax the most.

Is there a Filipino community there?

Yes! A big one, actually. There’s a place where almost 60-70% of Filipinos in the city live. I personally call it Pinoy Town (It’s around somewhere Cuatro Caminos and Tetuan).

What are the main cultural differences between there and the Philippines?

In Spain, we eat breakfast, lunch, and dinner late. A normal lunch time here is around 2:00-2:30pm and a normal dinner time is around 9:00-10:00pm. Also, people here love eating with a glass of wine or beer on the side. And once the stomach’s full, there’s one thing you SHOULD NOT DO. Do not burp!

How were you able to adjust to the culture? Did you pick up anything new (practices, life lessons, etc). Do you still observe Filipino customs and traditions?

Adjusting was a little hard to get used to at first, especially when it came to food. We Filipinos love eating rice with delicious ulam like Adobo, Kare Kare, Sisig, you name it. But sometimes we don’t have time to cook or prepare, so we usually end up buying Jamon Gazpacho, Ensaladas, or even better, Bocadillos (of course with a glass of wine). There’s lots of Filipino restaurants here by the way, but unfortunately, we live far from them.

What advice would you give to Filipinos who want to move there? Give at least 3 tips.

  1. Learn basic Spanish at least.
  2. Find a good group of people/community where you belong or be welcomed. (Filipino churches are a good choice. I recommend visiting Vidapasionada)
  3. Public transportation in Madrid is better. It’s cheaper, and easier to get around than driving with a car.

 How about Filipinos who want to travel there? Also give 3 tips.

  1. You can get around Madrid by foot, especially in the center of the city. All the Landmarks are nearby.
  2. If you want to try Spanish food, go for a place where they only serve tapas so you can taste more dishes in smaller portions.
  3. Avoid taxis because they’re expensive. Use public transportation (metro or bus). If not, then download the Uber or Cabify app (which is still cheaper).

What’s your message to Filipinos across the world?

Fellow countrymen, wherever you are, know this, Filipinos are the best! Basta Filipino, magagaling at matatalino, Kahit saan mapunta, taas noo kahit kanino. Mabuhay tayong lahat!

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