For this particular post, I’m going to be real with you.
While being a digital nomad in the metro sounds like a pretty neat gig, it’s not that easy.
I guess this is no surprise already? What I usually do when I visit cafes is to check out the area’s signal on my phone and if it at least says “4G,” then probably the signal in that place would be fast enough for me to perform some online tasks. It pays to be observant if the signal in a particular area is decent enough.
Sometimes even 4G+ can be deceiving because it doesn’t actually provide upload or download speeds equivalent to the signal indicated.
Moreover, it also depends on your job if it would require a really fast internet connection.
I think in places like Metro Manila, the best place to go digital nomad-ing is through a work-from-home setup. This way, you somehow have an assurance that your internet connection would be stable. The reason why I go to cafes and explore from time to time is because I don’t like getting glued just to one particular place all the time.
Digital nomads aren’t spared from the typical daily traffic that we all experience. It can be just as frustrating.
I guess the only thing I can say about this particular issue is — let’s try to keep our sanity in check with all the stressors caused by traffic problems.
A leeway to explore
Okay — something a little more positive.
When you’re a digital nomad, you have more time to explore places. For the past weeks, I’ve been working during the morning in cafes at Intramuros, and in the afternoon, I explore the old sites and museums. I haven’t thoroughly seen all the sides and corners of Intramuros, and this is absolutely something I want to continue doing along the way.
By exploring, I also mean going beyond your usual tasks. I’m also able to do volunteer work thanks to the flexibility of my regular work. Last May 2019, I was able to go to Mindanao for a volunteer engagement in peacebuilding. During down times, I was still able to perform some tasks in my regular work.
I have another volunteer engagement every Saturday in a non-profit where we execute programs in a community. These are all possible through a flexible working schedule.
I think the infrastructure and systems are still far-off for Metro Manila to become digital nomad-friendly. Internet connection is terrible, transportation system is like chopsuey, and the general work environment hasn’t really come into terms with the word ‘digital’.
Nonetheless, we’re building that up. I won’t be surprised that someday we’re also going to be a “smart” city. But we have to dig deep for our inner voices and potential.