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Mark E Shellshear, Manila

Who are you?

My name is Mark E Shellshear, born in Australia I am a professional fine artist. I paint in acrylics, sculpt in stone and wood and I teach painting and drawing.

Where, when and why did you move abroad?

I first moved to the Philippines in 1988 to work in a welfare agency. It did not work out so I decide to set up my own agency, Asian Child Care, with my then Filippino wife who was a medical doctor. I had been painting since I was young and was still painting to support myself here in the Philippines.I found a good gallery here, Galeria de las Islas , in Silahis Center in Intramuros owned by an expat American and we have been friends ever since then and I am still represented by that gallery.

What challenges did you face during the move?

None really, I just did it. Ignorance is bliss.

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How did you find somewhere to live?

My present house in Concord Village, I found the house by walking around the village taking down the numbers of the houses for rent , then ringing the owners and negotiating the contract. I found the owner very easy to deal with and I am happy with the house.

When I was here from ’88 until 2001, I did the same thing . I lived in San Pablo City Laguna from ’96 until 2001 and just drove around until I found a house I liked that was for rent and negotiated with the owners, I have never really had any difficulties with owners, but then I am prepared to live with the local people and adopt there ways.

Are there many other expats in your area?

The gallery owner lives near the village that I live in and my studio is within walking distance of my house.

What is your relationship like with the locals?

Good. I live with them and have never had problems.

What do you like about life where you are?

It is always warm and I do not like the cold. I can paint here every day and the gallery markets my paintings. The locals are friendly and I feel part of the community. The beer is great and I like the lifestyle. I would rather live in the province but the gallery is here so Manila is where I am.

What do you dislike about your expat life?

Miss my children and grandchildren.

What is the biggest cultural difference you have experienced between your new country and life back home?

I first left Australia in 1988 and lived here until 2001, I did not miss anything about Australia. I went back to Australia in 2001 to raise my daughter as a single parent as my then wife left us both. I found the next 10 years in Australia very hard and lonely I just did not fit in there any more. We lived in a country town Kingaroy and I continued to fly back to the Philippines on a regular basics. I decided to move back once my daughter finished high school she wanted to stay in Australia and stays with relatives. Even though her mother lives here she has no desire to contact or meet her. I found Australia more difficult to deal with than here, so for the biggest cultural shock was being there not here.

How does shopping (for food/clothes/household items etc.) differ compared to back home?

Well for me it just the same unless I go to the wet market that is very different, but on a whole the supermarkets and big stores are very much like the ones in Australia, the only difference is that here they have staff to help back in Australia very few staff to help.

What do you think of the food in your new country? What are your particular likes or dislikes?

I like the food very much and in my house we only eat Filippino food, rice three times a day. My favorite is Sinigang, do not have any real dislikes maybe balute.

What advice would you give to anyone following in your footsteps?

When you come here just get immersed in the culture and food and leave your culture at the airport. This is an easy country to live in, just be patient . The traffic is continuous but we always get to where we want to go. Every one speaks some English and most are well mannered and we must do likewise. Most westerners who get into trouble here it is mainly because they have an arrogance and expect people to do what they want and push to hard, this is not the west and no matter what we think and try to change these people it will not happen the Spanish and Americans tried. Be polite and respectful and life is more fun in the Philippines.

What are your plans for the future?

I have an exhibition to be part of this October and then next year is my 25th anniversary with Galeria de las Islas in Silahis Center in Intramuros, so I will be painting for that as well as continue to teach drawing and painting.

For more information contact Mark on 0939 481 7458.

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