In Outsourced, this single conversation is a turning point for the main character, who immediately starts embracing life in India. For the rest of us, embracing a culture that is so dramatically different from our own may take a bit more than a single conversation.
The first few months in a new country are difficult, but at first it's easy to be positive. You may find certain aspects of the new culture grating, but in the first months they haven't annoyed you long enough for the irritation to seep into your bones. Once you move past four/five months, the cumulative effect of hundreds of small irritations begins to settle over your mind like a net, and you find yourself trapped in a constant state of resistance.
There are many things about life in Manila an American may resist. You could spend your entire tour should-ing all over everything. There are some aspects I will never love: the environmental catastrophe that is metro Manila, the traffic, and the general lack of structure in most aspects of daily life--with the exception of checking out, which requires one to sign fifteen pieces of paper and visit ten different counters to have one's receipt scribbled upon.
Yet there are many aspects of Manila life that I enjoy, and they are not all related to enjoying the company of my fellow Foreign Service community members. The elastic state of "rules" and "policies" often works in one's favor: take five minutes to stand your ground and you may end up with a discount instead of being ripped off. It doesn't get much better than an hour long massage from a skilled therapist in a clean facility for $10 USD. And it's easy to live in harmony with people who are good-natured, happy, and totally unwilling to engage in conflict.
I may never embrace the smell of car exhaust greeting me when I step outside my door in the morning, but hopefully, in my second six months in Manila, I can learn to embrace the flow of daily life. I have tried resistance, and discovered that it is indeed futile.
Some things in Manila just make sense.