Your guide to understanding the Philippines
Copyright 2016 by Mark Nelson
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Marrying a Filipina: What You Need to Know
If you are in communication with an exotic tropical beauty across the seas or on the other side of the globe, congratulations! Filipinas are definitely enchanting creatures. They know how to treat their partners right and Filipinos male and female are known the world over for the level of care and compassion that they provide.
It is not an accident why Filipinos excel in the nursing field in the United States and in Europe. There are certain elements in Filipino culture that plays a big importance in helping others and caring for others.
A key part of this is a Filipino trait of pakikisama or getting along. There is a certain aspect of Filipino culture that one defined his or her identity based on group identity or how a person goes along within that larger group. This is the reason why Filipinos make great nurses, ship cruise and other occupations that require getting along and providing one on one service.
With that said, if you are thinking of marrying a Filipina, you need to know few things about Filipina and Filipino culture so you don’t get shocked and you avoid misunderstandings down the road. Western culture is dramatically different from Filipina culture in at least 3 separate issues.
Marry a Filipina and You marry Her Family
Unlike in the United States, children leave the home when they turn 18. Either they leave voluntarily or they get booted out. Filipinos tend to remain close with their family all through their adult lives. In fact it is expected for unmarried daughter or son to live with his or her parents until he or she gets married. In fact in many situations due to financial issues, adult children never leave, either support their parents or parents support them for life.
So you have to be aware with this because a key part of a Filipina’s assumption and mentality is that you marry your family when marrying a Filipina. This means that you become part of the family so you become part of the emotional support structure and also become part of the financial support structure.
If members of the family come from the Philippines to visit the States or Europe, guess what? You have to accommodate them and this doesn’t just mean making sure they stay with you a couple of nights you might have to house them for their whole stay while they are over.
So you don’t just marrying a Filipina you marry her family so you need to wrap your mind around that concept so that there are no misunderstandings down the road.
Marrying a Filipina: Children are the Center of the Filipino Family
It is a very common source of conflict among interracial and intercultural couples. Many foreign men don’t understand the fact that once their wife gives birth the center of the family becomes the child. This is a very Filipino culture trait.
The word for family is based on the root word for offspring. The same goes with the word for relatives. It is all based on the word anak. That’s how powerful, that’s how important children are in Philippine culture.
So you have to understand this and you have to remember this when you are marrying a Filipina. Especially once you have children. The focus will no longer be with you as a couple or you and wife as individuals but your family as a whole and the family is defined as the children.
Marrying a Filipina: Filipina loyalty
Filipinas are very loyal. In the Unite States and Europe it’s fairly common for women to desert their man if he doesn’t make enough money or if he runs into certain problems or addictions. Not so in the Philippines. On average, Filipinas are extremely loyal, this means that they really take he vow of through thick or thin very seriously.
There are many cases of Filipinas ending up taking a job and supporting their man because their husband got laid off or got disabled. This is a very common trait and they are very more than willing and able to step up to the plate.
However, there is a flip side to this. The flip side is that when marrying a Filipina you must do your best to provide for your family as much as your woman would step up for you and help you and you are also expected to fulfill your role as the primary provider for your family there are many cases where the woman ends up being the breadwinner but guess what? There will be tension there because she is loyal and she is willing to fulfill her role but she’s not happy for the fact that she is doing your role.
How to Tell if Your Online Filipina Isn’t the Real Deal
It’s a very familiar story. Canadian, American, European, or Australian guy goes to Yahoo! and spots the profile of fine looking exotic Filipina. They talk via chat at first. Once they become comfortable with each other, they start talking via Skype. A few weeks pass by and they are in an online relationship.
While many of these online relationships are the real deal and some Filipinos are migrating overseas because of such relationships, it is an alarming percentage of these that are fraudulent in nature. In other words, the Filipino is actually just trying to milk the foreign online boyfriend or girlfriend for that matter for some spare cash. Here are some red flags to look for when trying to determine if your online “Pinay” girlfriend or “Pinoy” boyfriend is the real deal or not.
Same Set of Photos
If your online buddy is sending you the same set of photos, you need to be suspicious. Somebody who is real would have fresh photos. After all, how hard is it to turn on your webcam and take a snapshot? Mobile phones are very common in the Philippines and it doesn’t take much effort or brain power for somebody to turn on their mobile phone and take a snapshot and send that picture via email.
So be very careful and suspicious if the person keeps sending you photos that look like they came from the same set. Ask for different poses, ask for different settings; if they are reluctant then look at this as a red flag.
If the person is sending you different photos and different poses but they seemed dated meaning the photos look like they were shot 5 to 10 years then there’s a problem. This person might actually be much older than they are passing themselves of to be. The problem here is not that they are concern about their age; the problem is that they are lying to you. So if you see old photos that look dated, you need to be very careful. What are the signs of dated photos? Like old hairstyles or outdated fashions.
Inconsistent or Changing Personal Details
If your online dating Filipina friend is sending you new photos and even talking to you on webcam, the person is not lying to you in regards to who they are or how old they are so you can breathe sigh of relief on those points. However, you’re still not out on the clear. This person, if they continuously change their story, might be trying to hide something from you.
One of the most common things that Filipinos or Filipinas hide from their online friends is their marriage status. It’s not uncommon to find somebody who is already married but trying to find somebody better online. If you’re okay with this, then that’s definitely something between you and that person. However, if you don’t like being lied to, this might be a big issue.
Won’t Go on Webcam
If you’re online Filipina relationship wouldn’t want to go on webcam, that’s a big red flag. If this happens, drop the person. Chances are either it’s a guy pretending to be a girl, a person who use somebody else’s picture or there are some serious shenanigans going on. Either way, you don’t want to be a part of it and you just need to drop that person and find another Filipino or Filipina online.
Kapal ng Mukha
If you are a foreigner travelling in the Philippines or you’re a Filipino that grew up in another country and hasn’t really had serious contact with your mother culture, the concept of kapal ng mukha might be quite shocking to you. At the very least, you don’t want a Filipino say this to you because it is a serious put down.
In fact, in the Filipino constellation of values, proprieties and social niceties, being labeled as a person that has a thick face or makapal na mukha is one of the worst things somebody can do for you. The problem with being called makapal ang mukha is that other Filipinos would shun you. It’s very similar with the concept of hiya.
You’re “nakakahiya” because your shame would rub off on them. Also, it’s a put down as a way of reminding you of what you should be doing or what kind of moral, if not necessarily legal lines, you should be operating within. It’s a very serious put down to say the least.
No Hiya or No Moral Propriety
Keep in mind that just like the concept of hiya, there is really no exact translation for the concept of kapal ng mukha. In America, it basically means thick skin but thick skin in the US can actually be a very positive compliment because thin-skinned and overly sensitive are viewed by many Americans as a negative trait. However, in the Philippines when somebody says you have a “makapal na mukha” or “ang kapal ng mukha mo”, it’s not a compliment. It means that you have lost your moral compass and your shame. In other words, you do things that no self-respecting Filipino would do.
What’s worse is it rubs off your family as well as your friendship groups so you basically become scum. Kapal ng mukha is really more of a judgement on your character and your ability to stay within this strict constellation of right Filipino values.
No Moral Graces
A subsegment of kapal ng mukha is even if you’re not a distinct evil person, you tend to do things in such a way that you rock the boat that it makes you morally suspect. In other words, you play the role so fast and loose that people have a tough time trusting that you would stay within this moral cosmology that most Filipinos consciously or subconsciously operate in. This is a good way to Confucianism.
Confucius is a Chinese philosopher who set up a moral code that is followed in Korea, China, Japan, parts of Vietnam and certain parts of Asia where Chinese settled. Confucianism is all about moral propriety and order.
It enables the individual to exercise self-control even if there’s no law or no specific contractual obligation that they act a certain way. You just act a certain way because that’s the way you’re supposed to act. This is the kind of animus that operates within the concept of kapal ng mukha.
You are just supposed to act a certain way that regulates your social order and morals. The fear is that if enough Pinoys are makapal ang mukha, the social order will break down. That is why there’s a lot of shame involved when somebody says that you have makapal na mukha.
Many Filipinos have been known to leave their town or even leave the country because they are labeled as makapal ang mukha. That’s how powerful this put down is.
In the pantheon of Filipino cultural traits, one of the top ranked Filipino traits that you really need to be aware of is the concept of hiya. It is right up there with utang ng loob. If you have no concept of hiya, you can really cause a lot of troubles and problems for yourself.
Filipinos have a very distinct set of moral values and they operate within a defined moral constellation and even more important than the law is the concept of hiya.
Hiya, on a personal and social level, is supposed to set limits in a person’s behavior. There are just certain things that you don’t do. In addition, there are just certain obligations that you should do. If you do or don’t do certain things, you run afoul of this concept of hiya.
Hiya cannot really be translated into English because it is so deep. A very shallow translation of hiya is shame but it doesn’t really do justice to how pervasive, intense and deep hiya is. In this short space, try to flesh out some facets of this really interesting and deep-seated Filipino cultural trait.
Deeper Than Shame
One key thing about hiya is that it’s deeper and more profound than shame. Shame is a negative cultural trait in the United States and Europe. It is supposed to be a range of emotions that you feel when you transgress some sort of social line.
In the Philippines, hiya can take the form of shame but it’s also a positive moral trait in the sense that you can run afoul of hiya if you fail to do certain things.
You can transgress certain social niceties and encounter the concept of hiya or you can fail to do certain things and people would say to you “mahiya ka” meaning you should have hiya.
The most common example is the failure to support your parents or somebody that has done you a favor in the past as well as the failure to show loyalty. There’s a longer list of things that you fail to do that would cause hiya.
Sense of Moral Propriety and Losing Face
In a very real sense, hiya is very ancient. It’s kind of like Koreans’, Japanese’s and Chinese’s concept of “face”. People have a certain face and it’s not just personal but it’s also your family. If you do certain things and conduct yourself a certain way, not only are you putting on yourself and making people not trust you or look down upon you but they also do the same with your family. That’s how intense hiya is and this conception of hiya is very Asian.
Hiya’s Positive and Negative Aspects
Hiya can push you to do the right thing. You might not do certain things because you are compelled by the law or contractual relations but you do these certain things because you don’t want to put to shame. You don’t want to lose face and don’t want people to look down upon you or your family.
In one sense, this is the positive element of hiya. However, hiya can also lead to rude behavior. There are certain distorted effects of hiya which makes many people think that it causes hiya to say thank you and say please.
It’s not uncommon for people to snatch a condiment off your table and not even say “please” or “May I take your ketchup? Somebody might ram their shopping carts into you at a grocery store and not say sorry. Thankfully, there are relatively rare manifestations of the distorted view of hiya but in this conceptualization of this Filipino trait, hiya has morphed into an extreme form of pride.
In other words, even if you’re in the wrong, you’re so fearful of hiya that you don’t want to set things right by subscribing to certain niceties by saying “sorry” or “please”.
Utang ng Loob
Simply put, you’re not Filipino if you do not understand the concept of utang ng loob. Next to the concept of hiya, one of the most distinctive Filipino cultural traits is the concept of utang ng loob. It is a Filipino value that is just assumed among Filipinos.
The way Filipinos deal and do business with each other or set up alliances and friendships all turn whether expressly or implicitly along the axis of this cultural trait of utang ng loob.
If you are a foreigner who is doing business in the Philippines, a traveler or somebody who is married to a Filipino or a Filipina, it’s a good idea to wrap your mind around this concept or else you might run into certain problems down the road. You might eventually find your in-laws or your friends shunning you or being mad at you while you are clueless.
Getting a clear idea of how utang ng loob works goes a long way in helping you maintain smooth relationships with Filipinos.
Deeper than Debt of Gratitude
One of the biggest misconceptions about the Filipino concept of utang ng loob is that it’s simply a debt of gratitude. In America, the debt of gratitude is summed up as “I scratch your back, you scratch my back.” In short, it’s like saying one good turn deserves another. While these are important, they don’t really do any justice to the concept of utang ng loob.
The problem with mutual assistance in the United States is that it tends to be fairly narrow and limited. In short, if somebody does you a favor there is a fixed limit to how many times you are going to return the favor.
In fact, in the US it’s not uncommon to believe in the concept of “we’re even”, meaning if I do you a favor and you do me a favor back, that’s it and we’re even.
The concept of parity is very big, meaning if I do you a favor and the favor is worth ten bucks and you do me a favor that is worth ten bucks, chances are we’re even. That’s how Americans tend to operate. They tend to limit the favor.
In the Philippines, it doesn’t work that way. If I do you a favor and it’s like worth ten bucks, it is not uncommon for the Filipino that did you a favor to expect a hundred bucks back. Not just that, they will expect you to keep repeating the favor.
That’s how different utang ng loob is. It may seem unfair to westerns’ eyes but if you violate this, you can quickly find yourself with a lot of enemies.
Long Term and Long Lasting Tie
Thanks to the other strong Filipino cultural construct of pakikisama, utang ng loob is a long term bond. If somebody gives you a gift, it is expected that you have some sort of obligation to that person for a long time.
It is not just a onetime thing and not just like a question of “Hey! You did me a favor in the past.” It’s supposed to be a tie that lasts for a long period of time. Obviously, the more intensive the favor is—like getting you a job, a special permit or a contract— the stronger the expected return would be.
It’s not just financial but also emotional and social because if you break that bond, your Filipino friend would say you are a “walang utang na loob” person and other Filipinos would have a tough time trusting you.
The Downside: Prone to Abuse
Since there many disparities with utang ng loob, it is not uncommon to see this practice be pre-cursored to straight out bribery. It is not uncommon for military generals to get cars as gifts or for government officials to get gift baskets or houses every single year because this is such a deeply engrained Filipino cultural trait.
It really is the gateway to all sorts of rent seeking behavior, special policy making and other forms of corruption. This is not at all a criticism but just a realistic observation of an otherwise noble cultural trait.
Why do Many Filipinos use Spoons as Knives?
If you have ever eaten at Jollibee, McDonalds or any fast food joint for that matter in the Philippines, you would see Filipinos have very different eating styles. Some Filipinos eat with their bare hands and then wash afterwards.
Others use standard fork and knife set up which is fairly common in western countries while others use a very typical Filipino eating style by eating with spoon and fork. In many occasions, many first time visitors would be surprised when they see that many Filipinos use spoons as knives. What accounts for this distinctive Filipino eating style?
Spoons Are Mandatory
Due to the fact that rice is a staple in the Philippines, spoons are basically a necessity. In fact, it is mandatory. It is almost impossible for you to go to a restaurant here and not see spoons available for diners. While it is possible to eat rice without spoons, it can be messy and burdensome. This is why spoons whether disposable or washable are available. Due to the fact that spoons are mandatory, it is not uncommon for people to use spoons to cut their meat because knives are often in less supply than spoons.
Spoons Are Used with a Right Hand
Since Filipinos tend to use spoons with a right hand, this eating utensil is more prone to usage. You have more force on your right hand when eating and as a result, if you are trying to cut a piece of meat or a vegetable and there’s no knife available, you are more likely to use a spoon. This makes a lot of sense and this is why it is a fairly common practice.
Convenience and Economy
The food service industry in the Philippines is just like any other industry. It all runs according to the laws of economics and since knives are in less supply than spoons for a variety of reasons, it’s more convenient and economically feasible to offer spoons.
As a result, it’s more convenient for Filipinos to use spoons instead of having to ask at the front counter for a knife when they are going to cut their meat or vegetable. There you have it. That is why in many occasions, Filipinos use spoons as knives.
The Filipino Family and Tita Baby
If you are related to a Filipino family through marriage or you are born into a Filipino family, chances are quite high that you would have a Tita Baby in your family. This is an aunt who has a nickname of “Baby” or in fairly rare situations, whose formal legal name is “Baby”.
In fact, if you do a survey of most Filipinos born from the 1960s onward, chances are quite high that they would have a Tita Baby at least on one side of the family whether it’s the father’s side or the mother’s side. In fact, in many cases, they would have an aunt named Tita Baby on both sides of the family.
So what gives? Why do people use the name Tita Baby and why is it so popular? Well, naming conventions are fairly common in the Philippines. There are certain periods of time where parents would use certain names.
Also, nicknames go through a certain period of popularity. From the 1960s on to maybe the 1990s, using the nickname “Baby” for one of the children in the family was fairly common.
In fact, a common name for an infant child is “Baby” until the child grows up. In many cases, the child never outgrows the nickname. This is part of the reason why many families have a Tita Baby.
For many Filipinos, this fact is a source of a common bond. It’s something people can relate with because it’s distinctly Filipino and it helps Filipinos regardless wherever in the world they’re located, thanks to the Filipino Diaspora bond with each other and find common ground.
Tito Boy in Every Filipino Family
If you have Filipino friends or married into a Filipino family, ask around; chances are quite good that you would have a Tito Boy in your family. In fact, if you have family members that were born from the 1940s to the 1990s, chances are quite high that you would have a Tito Boy in the family and not just one side of your family because in many cases, you would have a Tito Boy on both sides of your family.
Just like with the nickname “baby”, the reason why the nickname “boy” is quite common in the Filipino families is that at least one of the children didn’t outgrow the nickname.
Of course, this is a male child but through the years this child didn’t outgrow the nickname. Either this person was the “bunso” or the youngest male or occupied a special position in the family where he will always be treated as the baby of the family.
Another situation is when the first male child is born and there’s quite a gap between that male child and the next male child so that first child doesn’t outgrow the nickname “boy”.
Another peculiar thing about this very common Filipino nickname is the fact that “boy” is viewed rather harmlessly in the Philippines. If you are named “boy”, it is not at all insulting or demeaning. In fact, the term for a male domestic helper, for the longest time, was “boy”.
There are gasoline boys working at gasoline stations and restaurant boys, you name it. In fact, stores would put an advertisement looking for a “boy” to hire. This is a grown man but they still call the position that of a “boy”.
In America, it’s quite the opposite. If you’re a grown person and you are called boy, it is very insulting. In fact, in the south, it takes on racist dimensions because in the slave days, white southerners would often call fully grown black men “boy”. It was an insult to their manhood and their maturity. In the racist southern mind during the America’s slavery days, labeling a fully grown black man as a “boy” was a form of enslavement and control.
Despite its very negative history in the United States, no such negative connotations attached to the nickname “boy” in the Philippines.
Filipinos’ Peculiar Use of the Phrase “For a While”
If you have ever been in touch with Filipino call center workers either because you called up with an inquiry regarding your bill or you received a cold call from a company trying to sell you something, you would notice that many Filipinos use the phrase “For a while”.
Americans would use wait a minute, wait a second, hold on a moment but Filipinos would use “For a while”. This can be quite shocking for many Americans and Europeans. Why? Time is a commodity in these developed markets. As the saying goes, time is money.
Time has been reduced to a factor that determines productivity and determines the value of one’s efforts. It is one of the most important assets a person has. The distinct Filipino meaning behind “hold a while” and the Filipino propensity to use the term reveals a lot about Filipino culture and its relationship with time.
Filipinos value their time just like with any other cultures in the world; however, the way we value time is quite different. Unlike Americans who look at time as a finite resource that once it’s gone it’s gone forever, Filipinos tend to look at time as something that is self-generating.
In other words, there will be more where it came from; that you may have been late to the work today but tomorrow is another day, that there will always be a tomorrow.
While this mentality is amusing and makes many people feel good and is viewed as one gem of the Filipino character, well other people, often critics, look at this as one cultural weakness of Filipinos. We have a distinctly un-American way of looking at time.
That’s why when Filipinos use the phrase “For a while”, they actually mean hold on a moment or please hold but we tend to use the phrase “For a while”. If you say that to an American, they would think that they are going to be waiting for a long time.
This is a classic and amusing case of a culture shock between totally distinct cultures with two totally different assumptions and perspectives on the value of time. At a very real level, both are actually right.
Filipinos Love Nicknames
If you have had a distinct pleasure of visiting or staying in the Philippines during elections, you would know quickly how pervasive Filipinos love for nicknames. You would see all sorts of placards, election materials and posters of the candidate and five times out of ten or higher, they’re not using their legal name but use their nickname rather.
Very famous politicians like Bong Revilla, Lito Lapid, Jinggoy Estrada, Erap Estrada, Noynoy Aquino and others use nicknames. They don’t use their real names. Jinggoy’s real name is Jose Estrada. Erap Estrada’s real name is Joseph Ejercito. Bong Revilla’s real name is Ramon Revilla. Lito Lapid’s real name is Miguel Lapid.
So why the penchant for nicknames? Well, it all boils down to two things: familiarity and distinction. Filipino culture is really all about personal relationships and personal rapport. This is why at some levels, elections here are more like popularity contests rather than serious conflict between different ideological ideas and concrete visions for different future pathways for the country, its economy and its culture.
Politics, just like showbiz and business, all involve around personal interactions and personal outreach. Using nicknames to address each other instantly builds an intimate bond. It tells people that “Hey! I know that person!” on a personal level.
This is why politicians love to give themselves nicknames because on a subconscious level it opens up the Filipino psyche and makes that candidate a little bit more attractive or down to earth and human.
The other dimension to the popularity of nicknames is the fact that Filipinos tend to have very formal names especially during the olden days.
Names like Facundo, Protecio, Honesto, Rigoberto and others and as tastes and fashions change, those names usually don’t make the transition and as a result, you would have a very awkward name. Filipinos have a slang phrase for it: “mabantot ang pangalan mo” which means your name stinks.
To help your personal brand whether the different changes in tastes and fashions for names, people adopt nicknames.
Distinctly Filipino Naming Conventions
Shakespeare wrote, “What’s in a name where a rose would smell just as sweet?” Gandhi said, “You could tell a lot about a country by the way they treat their animals.” These two quotes are actually quite related when it comes to the Philippines.
On its face, these two quotes seem to be talking about two totally different concepts and thematically miles apart but when it comes to the Philippines, they actually gel together.
Names matter a lot in the Philippines. Your name is your personal brand and more importantly, it cements you to your small group of people: your family, your clan and your region. Filipinos have a distinctly clannish approach to circles of concern. Many critics of Filipinos would argue that Filipinos don’t have an overarching sense of nationhood.
Filipinos would rather be loyal first to their families, then to their friends, then to their neighborhood, then to their city, then to their region and then maybe if they are based outside the country maybe to the rest of the nation. That argument has serious defects as well as some respectable strengths.
That’s an argument for another time but in this present discussion, names are very important because it helps establish your personal brand within your tight circle of influence. Filipinos take their naming conventions very seriously. This is why for the longest time the name of the child would often be a contraction of the names of the parents.
For example, the parents are named Mary and Joseph, the child would be named Maryjo or if it’s a male child, it would be Jomari. This leads to many different and amusing variations like the name Almark which is actually a contraction of the names Alma and Marco. Filipinos are great with coming up with new names by fusing the parents’ names.
Another interesting thing about Filipino naming conventions is the fact that most Filipinos have Spanish surnames. This gives many people, especially foreigners, the mistaken impression that most Filipinos have Spanish blood running through their veins.
Nothing could be further from the truth. In truth, the Philippine was colonized not by soldiers but by priests. In other words, it was colonized through religion and since there were not too many soldiers around, there was not too much intermixing unlike Mexico where the population is upwards of seventy percent mestizo, the mestizo chunk of the population in the Philippines is very minimal.
So why do Filipinos have a Spanish last name? Well, this was a fairly recent innovation. In fact, it happened in the 1800s which is fairly recent considering that Spain conquered the Philippines in the late 1500s. It took them a while to get around to giving Filipinos Spanish surnames.
The main reason the Spaniards did this was because the Filipinos have an interesting naming convention. When a man had a child, the man would take the name of the child. As you can well imagine, this caused a lot of havoc when it comes to time to collect taxes and more importantly, collect labor to build churches and other colonial structures.
This is why an enterprising governor passed a regulation that governed all of the Philippines where Filipinos in all regions are required to register based on a book of approved Spanish surnames.
This happened in the 1800s. There are certain regions in the Philippines that resisted this or just weren’t thoroughly colonized by the Spaniards. They were outside of colonial control. When you come across Filipinos with distinctly Filipino names and not Spanish names, at least in de facto terms but perhaps not legally, they probably trace their lineage to those areas.
Filipino Gifting Customs
If you ever had pleasure of having a Filipino neighbor or you lived in a mainly Filipino neighborhood, you would realize that Filipinos take gifting or the practice of giving and receiving gifts very seriously.
There is a distinctly Filipino mystique when it comes to giving presents. This is especially visible when it comes to Christmas.
Filipinos really take the Christmas the holiday season very seriously. After all, this is the country that has possibly the longest Christmas season in the world.
In the Philippines, the Christmas season does not start after Thanksgiving Day like in the United States and elsewhere. In the Philippines, Christmas season basically starts on September 1. They call it the “ber” months. So once September rolls around, Christmas season officially kicks in. As a result, when you go to a mall, you would hear Christmas holiday songs.
If you will go in the stores, they would have Christmas décor. That’s how pervasive the Christmas season is in the Philippines and along with the Christmas season is a whole host of gift giving customs.
These gift giving customs really highlight the distinctly charitable and hospitable Filipino nature. If you ever do banking or you’ll go to a particular store and there are security guards, it is Filipino custom to give guards, bank clerks, and bank attendants, anybody who serves you, a special gift or token.
The more well-off you are, the higher the expectation that the token would be something nicer. At the very least, you give people gift certificates or some sort of food item, this is just a taste of how charitable Filipinos are.
In fact, there are many wealthy Filipinos that travel to different parts of the world a lot and they make it a point to always give people that they do business with or people that they see on a fairly regular basis some small tokens from their travel.
So be aware of these Filipino gifting customs because there is some reciprocity expected at some level down the road, so be aware and be mindful.
The “Balato” System
If you’ve gotten the distinct impression that Filipinos are very family oriented, you would be absolutely correct. The Filipino concept of selfhood is very different from western Europeans’ or Americans’ definition of selfhood. While we have a concept of self, that concept is always defined in terms of relationships.
You are defined by your family, the family is defined by the region where you live, by your language group, by your clan; and only fairly recently, redefined by our nation. There is this very strong psychological cocoon that the family provides and this is a very key paradigm that anybody seeking to understand how Filipinos operate and think should focus on.
If you miss the above, you will probably miss most things about Filipinos and misunderstand them. You have to look at the “balato” tradition through this prism. The “balato” tradition is when somebody in a family experiences good fortune; whether it is a promotion, a big business deal, or some sort of financial windfall.
The expectation is that this person should share his or her good fortune with those around that person. This boggles the minds of many Europeans and Americans because these cultures are inherently individualistic; but if you view the “balato” tradition from the typical Filipino, it makes all the sense in the world why Manny Pacquiao would stand at certain streets in General Santos City and handout 500 peso or 1000 peso bills. It’s an expectation.
If you really look at it, it’s a social security system because by handing out your blessings to other people, you are building a larger social network of connections because the “balato” system has an underlying rational.
This rationale is part of the very strong Filipino tradition of “utang ng loob”- debt of gratitude. If somebody helped you in the past, it’s not just your duty to reciprocate but reciprocate many times over.
While this is great in terms of building rudimentary, social security system and social welfare system, it can also of devastating implications when it comes to corruption and nepotism and compromised governmental systems. It also undermines individual initiative and often breeds dependents. So it has its upsides and it has its downsides too.
Filipino Birthday Traditions: The Blowout
If you are fairly new to Filipino culture, either you married into a Filipino family or you are born of Filipino parents who are citizens of other countries, you would probably be surprised at Filipino traditions regarding birthdays.
The Filipino tradition for birthdays is quite different from how birthdays are often celebrated in the United States, Canada, Australia or Europe.
In those societies when somebody has a birthday, that person’s friends and family would get together and pitch in by gives or throw a party for that person. In other words, many people pitching in to throw a party. In the Philippines, it’s completely different.
If it’s your birthday, you have the obligation of spending for the birthday party. You invite people and you spend. This is kind of the Filipino answer to who will spend to an event.
The general rule is that if you are the person inviting, you are the person that will be spending. This is why friends from overseas would come and they would invite their old school friends for get together, the general understanding is that the person who invited will be up for taking the bill. This is no different when it comes to birthdays.
So if you have a Filipino friend and he insists on paying, let him pay because that’s the tradition. However, the expectation of other Filipinos is that when it’s their birthday, they will spend. So it’s kind of a rotating system as opposed to an individual focused system like in other societies. This is part and parcel of how many Filipinos view communal goods-everyone takes turns. This is why the rotating credit system, often popular in other Asian societies, is especially popular among many Filipino office workers and neighbors. Rotating certain monetary and social benefits ensures everyone benefits.
Again, this is all part of a communal mindset subscribed to by many Filipinos.
Filipino Family Alliances: Godparents
In the United States, the custom of having godparents differs from ethnic group to ethnic group. Different religious groups don’t have the concept of godparents while others do; and even the once that do among this group, the most highly assimilated into American culture no longer practice the tradition of godparents.
In the Italian-American community for example, more traditional Italians would have godparents while the more assimilated Italian-American dispense with this concept. In the Philippines, the concept of godparents is very solemn and serious matter.
It is not something to be entered into lightly. There is a large collection of responsibilities one would have when one becomes a godparent. It’s not to be accepted on a whim.
Being a godparent involves serious responsibilities. This is all rooted in the catholic conceptualization of godparents. They are essentially to become moral role models and moral guides to the godchild. In the Philippines, this has taken on a different dimension. This has basically morphed into an alliance of families.
As we mentioned earlier, Filipino culture places a heavy importance on families, that’s the most important asset anybody could have and becoming a godparent involves forming family-based alliances based on this relationship.
In other words, you are adopting another family or group of people into your family although you are not related by blood or marriage. That’s how powerful the concept of godparents is in the Philippines.
So if somebody asks you to become a godparent, either for a baptism or as a marriage sponsor, you need to pay careful attention to who’s asking and whether you’re ready for such a commitment because the responsibilities of a godparent really last for a long time.
We’re talking financial, we’re talking moral, we’re talking about psychological, they are basically a councilor of finance here and you wear many other hats, you’re basically a second set of parents to the person you are sponsoring.
So it can be a good thing, it can also be an inconvenience so it all depends on what you are ready for.
It is a very common scene among Filipinos; if a person who is older enters a room, people who are younger must grab their right hand and place the back of the fingers against their foreheads. This is a sign of respect. The ‘mano po’ has been a standard fixture in Filipino families and polite society for a very long time.
This is not a distinct Filipino practice. In certain parts of Malaysia and Indonesia, subordinates are expected to use a similar gesture when addressing their superiors.
In Japan, people are supposed to bow to each other a certain way as a form of respect. So in terms of salutation and showing of respect, this is just a Filipino version. However, there are certain elements within this practice that are distinctly Filipino and belong to the Filipino context.
Respect for elders
The ‘mano po’ gesture is not restricted to people that you’re related to. In other words, regardless of whether you are related to the older person, you are supposed to show this gesture. Of course, this is reserved to people of highest esteem. The more related you are, the higher the esteem. But among strangers, it’s still perfectly respectable if there’s enough of esteem among the two individuals.
There are regional variations of the ‘mano po’ gesture. Some would argue that this came from Spain because in Spain, it’s not unusual for people to kiss the hand of the superior. This is arguable if this is the actual origin of the Filipino practice of ‘mano po,’ but there are enough distinctions among regions in the Philippines to give rise to the inference that this is probably an indigenous, or at least and Indonesian or Malaysian cultural import.
The significance of ‘mano po’
Social displays of respect and hierarchy are very important to maintain order and to communicate respect. Americans do it, the British do it, in fact, all people do it. The only difference is how they do it. Social hierarchies cannot be maintained when it is chaotic and there is no respect among each other.
So in traditional cultures, this respect is ritualized and formalized into the form of ‘mano po’ in the Philippines, or bowing in Japanese culture. But it’s still present. It’s just a question of how it’s done because shows of respect have a social utility. They keep society unified, and also facilitate communication.
The Ever Present Filipino “Po”
If you have a lot of Filipino friends or you visited the Philippines and you noticed people interact with each other, both in a business setting and on a social setting, you have probably heard the word ‘po’ more than once. In fact, the Filipinos use this word so much that it is really ever present. So what does the Filipino word ‘po’ mean and what is its cultural context?
The Philippines was a Spanish colony for 300 years and during this time, the key elements of Spanish culture zipped in to Philippine culture. One of this is the Spanish preference for using ‘usted’ when dealing with the person with respect.
While Americans would say ‘you’, Spaniards would consider that an insult because that would mean that you are at the same level as the person you’re addressing or worse, that person is lower than you; and more importantly, there is not enough familiarity built up between you and the person you are addressing for you to use the word ‘you’ or ‘tu’.
The Spaniards would prefer that you use the word ‘usted’. This is a honorific way of saying ‘you’ without being insulting. In the same vein, in the Philippines, I could call you ‘ikaw’ and it would have the same kind of colonial type of overhang to it. Unless we know each other really well and we are very familiar with each other or grew up together or in the same family, the preferred way is ‘kayo’ or to use plural. In other words, there is some sort of change in language to communicate respect and this is the essence of ‘po’.
Traditionally, ‘po’ was used only when a younger person is addressing an older person and the person addresses the older person in the third party plural. So instead of ‘ikaw’, it would be ‘kayo po’. If this isn’t a recapitulation of Spanish traditional practices, I don’t know what is. It’s just the Filipino version of the Spanish honorific. Sadly, the traditional uses of ‘po’ have given a way to the modern version of ‘po’.
Traditionally, you would use ‘po’ quite sparingly because it has a fixed context. Its context is you’re dealing with somebody that is older like your parents or somebody you respect and also even people you don’t know but you want to respect, so you use the word ‘po’.
The modern version is you use the word ‘po’ almost as a period, as a punctuation. So even if you are at the same level as somebody you’re dealing with or the person is even below you in rank, in the company or in social standing, the modern usage of ‘po’ compels that you use the word.
It’s a very interesting evolution of the word but I suspect that it’s because of the fact that the word ‘po’ has been democratized. It’s no longer seen as an indicator of traditional Asian social relations but more of a common word that builds endearment among people. In other words, it has become a term of endearment as opposed to a term of respect. Depending on who you ask, that may be a great thing.
Practical Tips for Hiring a Filipina Maid
One of the biggest draws to living in the Philippines is the laid-back lifestyle. If you have relatives in the Philippines who are middle class or upper working class and above, you could see that they have a more leisurely lifestyle. They tend to have a more leisurely pace in their everyday activities. They tend to take things more easily. A lot of this is due to the overarching Filipino culture or we have a laid-back culture and it’s one of our sources of pride and it’s a gem that we should all praise.
Another reason why it’s more laid-back for upper working class and higher status people in the Philippines is the fact that there’s a large labor segment that is devoted to providing services for the household. The most common of course is the domestic helper: A Filipina maid. Many households also have paid drivers and nannies for their children.
This frees up families from certain activities and gives them a more leisurely lifestyle. No big mystery. However, if you want to live this lifestyle you have to do your homework in terms of hiring a Filipina maid in the Philippines. It’s not as simple as in the United States or other countries where you can hire people just by putting out an ad.
There are many cases of a Filipina maid poisoning or stealing from their employers. There are too many horror stories of things that can go wrong. In fact, one of the fairly common criminal scenarios in the Philippines that involves murders sometimes turn on maids that hold a grudge against their employers and conspire with people who actually do the killing.
While it’s true that these nightmare stories form a small minority in the vast number of maid-employer relationships, you just can’t be too sure because you only need to screw it up once for you to see the life of your loved ones or your life put in jeopardy. Follow these tips on how to hire maids in the Philippines:
1. Use social networks
By social networks I don’t mean using Facebook or Twitter, I mean using your friends, your family and neighbors to introduce you or to get word of a domestic helper that’s looking for work. The Philippines is a very tight knit personalized culture, in other words, we tend to make purchasing decisions and major decisions not so much because of some material or marketing brochure that convinced us but because of personal references. That’s how powerful personal credibility goes so use that system. People that make recommendations to you risk losing faith or “hiya” if they steer you to the wrong person.
2. Always check references
If the maid says that she worked for a previous family, call that family and get a background story.
3. Always insist on NBI clearance.
While it’s not a foolproof system, getting an NBI clearance helps dramatically reduce your chances of being victimized by your maid. If your maid had a track record of stealing or causing harm to other people, it would show up on their police blotter through the NBI database. However, many maids with very common names can produce a false-positive so keep your mind open to this possibility.
Following these tips helps ensure that your stay in the Philippines and your use of a maid service will be both productive and safe. Keep the tips above in mind when finding the right domestic help for your household.
How to Protect Yourself Legally in the Philippines.
There are many foreigners who come here and fall in love with the great beaches, the easy going lifestyle and the warm and friendly people and decided to stay for good. That’s all well and good and such foreigners are definitely welcome because the Philippines could use as much legal and ethical investment it can get.
With that said, your decision to stay for good in the Philippines and start your own business might lead you to some legal troubles down the road if you are not mindful of what you’re getting into. Just like anyone else moving to any other country in the world, legalities should always be a key consideration. This doesn’t mean that you should not move to the Philippines, it just means that you should be mindful of how you conduct yourself and do your deals so you don’t get into legal trouble and protect yourself legally.
One of the most common ways foreigners get in trouble in the Philippines is that they fail to get to get important documents notarized. This is crucial. If you get into a contract, regardless of whether the other party is a local or another foreigner doing business in the Philippines, you need to get that document notarized.
Many foreigners would roll their eyes above this requirement because in many other jurisdictions, courts don’t really care about notarization as much as the evidence regarding the deal memorialized in the writing. But this is the Philippines we’re talking about and formalities count for a lot. So if you do a deal or get into an arrangement involving legal rights and money, it’s a good idea to get that document notarized and protect yourself legally.
Another key point to keep in mind is that notarization it requires all people that are parties to the writing to be present. Unfortunately, many Notary Publics dispense with that. They just need one person and normally the person paying for the notarization to be present. In fact, some even forge the names of witnesses on the document.
This is not a standard practice, hopefully, but there are enough people that do this to make the whole process shady and dubious. Unfortunately, if your document is challenged in court and its proven that there were a lot of these shady action done by the notary public, it accounts against you and not the notary public so it’s really important to have all the parties to the writing present when you’re having the writing notarized.
To further protect yourself, make sure you take a video or a picture of the people signing. Take pictures of their government issued ID cards. I know this may seem like an overkill to some people but as the old saying goes, better safe than sorry.
The Art of Selling to Filipinos
Whether you’re a foreigner starting a business in the Philippines, or you are a Filipino-American moving back to the Philippines to start a business, or you’re an OFW trying to sell to fellow Filipinos wherever you are on the planet, you have to know how to sell to Filipinos.
Filipinos are very different in terms of sales dynamics than other cultures. This should not be surprising; after all, we are a distinct culture. The distinct Filipino identity is an amalgam of Spanish, Indonesian, Malaysian, Chinese, Japanese, you name it. Different cultural strands all forged by, and heated by history into a distinct Filipino sensibility outlook and attitude.
If you want to sell well in the Philippines, regardless of whatever product or services you are pushing, you need to master the art of selling to Filipinos. Of course, I cannot fully outline the science of selling to Filipinos within this short blog post space, however I will cover the major areas and then you can fill in the blanks. Once you get the major parts covered everything else pretty much falls into place. The more you practice this sales speech and this sales flow, the better you’ll get at it. Eventually you’ll develop your own distinct style and more importantly you will increase your conversion rate. At the end of the process and at the end of the game, it’s all about the results. So, If something isn’t working out, you just have keep tweaking and measuring results until you get to where you need to go.
How do you sell to Filipinos?
The Philippines is the land of smiles. This is isn’t just true in Bacolod or Negros, but the whole Philippines is all about smiling. Filipinos are such joyful people. That’s not a cultural stereotype, that’s the reality. The Filipinos living in utter squalor, and the worst depth of human misery, can still manage to smile. There is something distinctive about Filipino culture that uses our inner joy to help us not just cope with challenges in life, but also dream of a better future and really push our lives forward to the next day – a day filled with hope. That is reflected in the Pinoy propensity to smile no matter what.
This is why many Filipinos are prized and desired worldwide as nurses. The hospital environment can be very depressing, but if you see somebody – who’s not only a hard worker, but also gets along with people and smiles a lot that makes them stand out. That’s why Pinoys are actually preferred by many hospital chains as nurses or caregivers. It’s all about the smile.
If you are trying to sell, you need to make sure you are wearing a smile. And it has to be a real smile, smile from the heart. Think about the things that are going well and focus on those and let it produce a smile.
2. Gain Interest
You can’t sell unless you gain the interest of somebody. You have to draw attention to yourself. The best way to do this, of course, is to ask questions. But don’t just ask any question, the question must lead towards whatever it is that you are trying to sell.
Credibility is crucial with Filipinos. We are a catholic culture. And the root of Catholic doctrines is all about lineage; it’s all about credibility, succession.
Religious leaders, political leaders, they get their credibility because they are in succession, they are related to somebody else, they flow from a larger narrative. You have to tap into this by making sure that when you approach sales prospects you do it through social networks. You don’t do cold hits. You may be able to sell every once in a while but your chances of success are so much better if you go through family members or friends of friends. This is why Facebook and Tweeter are great mediums for selling to Filipinos or at least establishing initial credibility so you can follow up with a direct sales call.
4. Focus on their need
Filipinos are no different from people all over the world in this respect – it’s all about us. If you want me to buy your product then you have to talk about me: What is in it for me? How will it help my life? How will it add to my personal enjoyment? How will it fix a particular problem that I am challenged with? If you focus too much on your product and not on the person – the target – you are basically blowing it. It’s really important to focus on the needs of the person by asking a lot of questions. Again, these questions must not be like random questions, they must all lead to your solution. In other words, all roads must lead to Rome – you’re not opening your mouth randomly and just putting garbage out there. Every question that must come out of your mouth must actually lead to your solution.
5. Tailored Solution
Your solution is only a tailored solution if you take the answers to your questions and tie it into the features of your product. If you don’t do this, then you’re a failure of a salesperson – really, I’m sorry to say it, but that’s the truth. This is the key to selling. You are selling solutions. You’re not selling candy, you’re not selling Hotdogs, you’re not selling Timeshare – you’re selling a solution. Because a solution is based on a need, and the need is rooted in the psyche of the customer – don’t forget that.
6. Make the payment transaction easy
Avoid putting up obstacles to the payment. Don’t say, “I’ll call you later to discuss this further so I can take a payment”, or “we only take this form of payment”. You have to make it smooth as possible. Don’t come up with a payment obstacles, you already got them. Once you convince them that what you are offering is a tailored solution, you already have them. Don’t snatch defeat from the jaws of victory by putting up sales hurdles like: an oppressive payment terms, or weird payment processing solutions, so on and so forth. Make it easy.
In the Philippines we tend to do a lot of business in cash, or leeway, or some sort of credit arrangement, so make it as easy as possible. But of course still protect yourself so you’re able to collect the money from the sale.
You don’t want to find out about “tampo” the hard way. Most Americans and Europeans hate the silent treatment. They can get annoyed really quickly but that’s what “tampo” is all about. This Filipino trait is a way of showing your dismay or disapproval of something your partner or friend did. It’s all about the silent treatment. “Tampo” can be practiced when you’re living with your girlfriend or your wife and your partner will not talk to you or even look you in the eye for a long period of time. “Tampo” can also be done online.
When you have buddies who you constantly over Skype or Facebook chat and all of a sudden you hear crickets, they might be suffering from a case of “tampo”. The American equivalent is not really much of an equivalent. The closest equivalent to this Filipino trait is sulking but sulking tends to be very individual and very self-focused. “Tampo” is really not about the person being silent with themselves or brooding but directing their silence at you. So it’s more of like an emotional embargo.
Obviously, hurt feelings are at the core of why Filipinos and Filipinas go into “tampo” mode. While both Filipinos and Filipinas express this trait, they express it in different ways and it falls within rough gender lines. Women tend to show their “tampo” and their hurt feelings a certain way while men tend to show their “tampo” in other ways.
Men will still talk to you but you know that they are holding something back or that there is some sort of uneasiness or some sort of discomfort whereas females would completely shut you out. It’s very important that you get to the core of this and not let it fester.
How to deal with “tampo”
There are really three general ways Filipinos and foreigners married to Filipinos or Filipinas deal with “tampo”: a. they can let it play out by giving a time; b. they can give emotional bribes by giving their partners small gifts and tokens or; c. talk it out. As you can well imagine, “c” is the best option. Letting “tampo” play out might work for the first few times your partner displays this trait but eventually, old embers if left alone won’t die out, instead they might flare up into a giant fire.
So it’s really important that you be more proactive in your relationship when “tampo” rears its ugly head. The same goes with bribery. Bribes can only work for so long. If they feel that you have a bad habit or if there is a fundamental flaw in your relationship, no amount of bribes can really make the problem go away. You have to remember, your partner is going into “tampo” mode because they feel hurt for the relationship and they care enough about you to try to communicate to you but “tampo”, it’s the best way they can communicate.
So it’s a good idea to always be proactive and always try to talk it out. You would notice that when you talk out “tampo” issues that it is not the small petty thing, petty event or petty action that triggered “tampo” but something more fundamental, something deeper.
How to Tip in the Philippines
Unlike in the United States where there is a 15% rule in tipping, there is no such rule in the Philippines. Tipping here is a strictly gratuitous meaning if you feel like giving a tip, go ahead and do so. Of course, tipping is desired but it’s not mandatory.
In fact, many Filipinos don’t tip at all regardless of how awesome the service is but if you are a visitor or a Filipino, who want to show your gratitude for good service, good food, or good ambiance, by all means, leave a tip. Here are just some pointers on how to leave a tip in the Philippines. Keep in mind that these are for guidance only. These are not mandatory nor are they setting stone.
Check if there is a service charge
Many establishments actually have a mandatory tip. Normally this comes under the heading of “service charge”. It’s a good idea to look at your receipt for your meal and see if there is an SC or a service charge spelled out in the print out of your receipt. If you see this then you have already given a tip. This is the reason many Filipinos don’t give tips because there is already a service charge charged to their meal.
You are however more than free to give a tip even if there is a service charge already. However, it would make more sense if you weren’t charge a service charge for you to give a tip.
Always base the tip on service and meal value
There are certain that are habitual tip givers. Maybe they worked at a restaurant before and know how it is to live on tips or they just give out of reflex but for the most part, it’s a good idea to always base your tip on the level of service and the quality of your meal.
You can look at tipping as a way of informing both the waiter and the restaurant regarding their overall quality. This way, they can use the tip levels as a gauge and as an informational tool that will push them to increase quality. Think of it as a form of customer feedback.
Don’t Get Scammed by Webcam Vixens
A little bit of a disclaimer, the advice below isn’t restricted to Filipinas or Filipinos. The truth is any nationality can pull these scams. The only reason we are localizing it in terms of Filipinos is this blog post is obviously going on a Filipino blog and focuses on the Philippines. Unfortunately, this global trend of webcam scams has reached Philippine shores and some Filipinos and Filipinas have taken to it like fish to water.
Read the guide below closely because you don’t want to find out the hard way that your exotic Filipino or Filipina webcam friend is actually not who you think they are. Scam friends in the Philippines have a long rich history. Scam friend is somebody who befriends you and constantly hits you up for money. While there are scam friends that target local friends, the more common type is finding a foreign friend.
Back when the United States had bases in the Philippines, scam friends were very common. American servicemen would meet a local Filipina at a bar or some other location and by the time the servicemen is back in the United States, the friend is always asking for a certain favors or writing about certain emergencies and need money. This is a very old scam that predates the internet. In fact, Filipinos have a word for it; it’s called “huthot”. It’s a like a skill in getting money out of somebody rather through deception or sad stories, this people make it their livelihood to get dollars or euros out of their overseas friends.
Unfortunately, the popularity of webcams has made the internet the next arena for Filipino “huthot” skills. It’s a very common story. A foreign guy goes to a yahoo chat, looks up the webcams available, sees a pleasant looking Filipina and exchanges emails with her. After a certain amount of time, the female friend says that she is the guy’s girlfriend and a few weeks pass until she hits them up for cash. Whether it’s a pet dying or a family member dying or going to the hospital, there’s always a long steady procession of disasters, misfortunes, and just bad events. It’s a good idea to pay careful attention to these patterns. You don’t want to get tricked by this common “huthot” approach.
Fake Webcam Females
One alarming development in “huthot” scams is the use of fake webcam females. How can this be? After all, the definition of a webcam is the image of a live person chatting with you in real time. Well, thanks to the magic of technology, that’s no longer the case. Somebody could play a canned video at one end and you might think that you are chatting with a live person via webcam but it’s actually a video and many guys use this using Filipino talent so that they can get guys on the other end to click a link.
When you can click a link, you go to a fake dating site or you go to a webpage that tries to sell you adult webcam memberships. Fake dating site obviously is a bad news. These are websites that look like legitimate dating sites but all the profiles there of females are fake. You join as a free member and all of a sudden, all these females start selling you and of course you have to pay a fee to be able to see their full profile or to send an email back to them. Once you do that, you basically put money in the pocket of the fake site owner because these women don’t exist and one of the most popular ways to promote such websites is to use fake webcam females or even real females. Sadly, many of these come from the Philippines and other developing countries like Thailand.
So be on your toes when dealing with webcams because there are a lot of webcam vixens and tricksters out there who’s out for quick and easy buck.
There’s a joke among Filipinos called Filipino Time. If somebody is late at an event, they would laugh at each other and say “well, it’s Filipino time.” While this is a funny inside joke among Filipinos, it can be construed as source of embarrassment when a foreigner is part of the group and a Filipino member arrives to the function late. You have to remember, Filipinos often think in terms of group pride. So the misdeeds of one is imputed to the rest of the members of the group. Filipinos are hardly alone when it comes to this group identity but it does play a big role in Filipino culture.
So Filipino time is funny when it’s discussed among Filipinos but it’s a cause of embarrassment when respected foreigners and non-Filipinos are become witness to it. What is Filipino time? Filipino time is the inability to show up to any event or appointment on time. In essence, it’s a chronic lateness, chronic tardiness. How bad could it get? We’re talking anything ranging from 15 minutes late all the way to barely showing up. By barely showing up, the person shows up just in time for the event to close down.
A fairly common example of this is church. Many Filipinos would show up right before the closing song for church services. Depending on the event, the reaction of people can be quite severe. It’s not a good idea to exhibit Filipino time when you are the best man at your best friend’s wedding.
Causes of Filipino Time
The most commonly cited cause for this chronic lateness by many Filipinos is that the bad traffic infrastructure in the Philippines. There’s a lot of truth to this because there’s a lot of traffic. In the road systems in the provinces, there’s a lot of faulty infrastructure. So it’s really important to be quite forgiving and understanding regarding Filipino lateness. Of course, this isn’t an excuse. If somebody knows that the traffic is bad constantly then it’s that person’s responsibility to leave the house hours earlier just to make sure that he or she is at the event on time.
Another cause for this chronic lateness is ambiguous times in the events. Many Filipinos setup in terms of time ranges, meaning I’ll meet you between 2 and 4. So the time is actually very soft so people would take liberties regarding the time range. Often time, the person setting appointment is himself or herself late to the appointment.
The final cause for Filipino time is the nature of the event. Some events are more formal, some events are informal. For example, if you are just going to meet friends at a mall, it’s not rude to show up several hours late because it’s kind of an informal event. However, if it’s for your friend’s child baptism, showing up late is a bad move. So it all depends on the nature of the event.
Solutions to Filipino Time
One of the most common solutions to Filipino time is the “call time”. This is where the event organizer uses a time that is actually one to two hours before the actual time everybody’s expected to be there. This way, it pushes everybody to show up early.
A more obvious solution to Filipino time is to make sure that if you are constantly late for this type of event to just leave the house earlier and go out of your way to show up on time by being there earlier.
Learning the Filipino Language – Tagalog
Lеаrnіng tо ѕреаk thе nаtіvе lаnguаgе оf whеrе уоu wіll bе lіvіng іѕ tурісаllу јuѕt оnе оf mаnу thіngѕ оn уоur tо-dо lіѕt whеn mоvіng аbrоаd. Bесоmіng аn еxраt саn bе оnе оf thе mоѕt rеwаrdіng аnd еnrісhіng еxреrіеnсеѕ оf уоur lіfе, but thе јоurnеу іѕ оnе fіllеd wіth а vаѕt rаngе оf еmоtіоnѕ. Onсе thе рhуѕісаl lоgіѕtісѕ оf vіѕаѕ, расkіng, mоvеrѕ, hоtеlѕ, brоkеrѕ, араrtmеntѕ, саrѕ, lісеnѕеѕ аnd еvеrуthіng еlѕе ѕubѕіdеѕ, rеаl lіfе bеgіnѕ.
Thе rеаlіtу mау nоt bе еxасtlу hоw уоu hаd іmаgіnеd іt wаѕ gоіng tо bе. Sоmе thіngѕ mау еxсееd уоur wіldеѕt drеаmѕ, whіlе оthеrѕ fаll ѕhоrt оf уоur еxресtаtіоnѕ. Nаvіgаtіng thе еmоtіоnѕ thаt ассоmраnу thе trаnѕіtіоn саn bе trісkу аnd fruѕtrаtіng. Whеthеr уоu hаvе mоvеd оvеrѕеаѕ fоr wоrk оr vоluntееrіѕm, аѕ аn ассоmраnуіng раrtnеr оr ѕроuѕе, оr аѕ а сhіld/fаmіlу mеmbеr оf аn еxраt, уоu dеѕеrvе thе орроrtunіtу tо lіvе уоur bеѕt lіfе. Whаtеvеr thе сіrсumѕtаnсеѕ іn mоvіng tо а nеw соuntrу, оnе thіng іѕ сеrtаіn: Yоur lіfе wіll bе dіffеrеnt thаn іt wаѕ bеfоrе.
Mаnу реорlе аrе fаmіlіаr wіth thе tеrm “сulturе ѕhосk.” Thаt rеfеrѕ tо thе vаrіоuѕ рhаѕеѕ оf “ѕhосk” реорlе еxреrіеnсе whеn аѕѕіmіlаtіng tо а nеw сulturе. In аddіtіоn, іt іѕ еаѕу fоr реорlе іn thіѕ ѕіtuаtіоn tо ѕtаrt quеѕtіоnіng thеіr bеlіеfѕ, іdеntіtу аnd рurроѕе. Whаt аn аmаzіng орроrtunіtу fоr ѕеlf-dіѕсоvеrу аnd grоwth!
Hеrе аrе ѕоmе ѕіmрlе tірѕ fоr mаkіng уоur іnіtіаl trаnѕіtіоn tо lіvіng аbrоаd mоrе ѕuссеѕѕful:
1. Gеt іnvоlvеd
Fіnd wауѕ tо gеt іnvоlvеd іn уоur nеw соmmunіtу. Cоnnесtіng wіth реорlе, еіthеr lосаlѕ оr оthеr еxраtrіаtеѕ, wіll рrоvіdе fоr а ѕеnѕе оf bеlоngіng аnd іdеntіtу. Invеѕtіgаtе рrоfеѕѕіоnаl оr ѕосіаl оrgаnіzаtіоnѕ оf реорlе wіth ѕіmіlаr іntеrеѕtѕ, оr ѕtаrt уоur оwn! Mоdеrn tесhnоlоgіеѕ рrоvіdе аmаzіng оutlеtѕ tо соnnесt wіth реорlе rіght аt уоur bасkdооr.
It ѕоundѕ trіvіаl, but еxеrсіѕе rеgulаrlу. Whеthеr уоu јоіn а gуm оr јuѕt tаkе а wаlk, еxеrсіѕіng рrоvіdеѕ ѕо mаnу bеnеfіtѕ. It’ѕ аn іnѕtаnt ѕtrеѕѕ-rеlіеvеr аnd іѕ аn оutlеt fоr еmоtіоnаl rеlеаѕе. Yоu еndurе lоtѕ оf рhуѕісаl ѕtrеѕѕ whеn mоvіng tо а nеw соuntrу, аnd tаkіng thе tіmе tо еxеrсіѕе rеgulаrlу саn hеlр mаіntаіn ѕtrеngth аnd hеаlth durіng а рhаѕе whеn уоu nееd іt mоѕt. Yоu mіght еvеn mееt оthеr реорlе whо ѕhаrе уоur hеаlthу hаbіtѕ оr аthlеtіс іntеrеѕtѕ.
3. Dеvеlор а реrѕоnаl ѕuрроrt tеаm
Enrоll реорlе tо ѕuрроrt уоu іn уоur јоurnеу. Hаvіng thе rіght реорlе аvаіlаblе tо уоu whеn уоu nееd thеm mоѕt саn bе kеу tо а ѕuссеѕѕful оvеrѕеаѕ trаnѕіtіоn. Oftеn, thе rіght реорlе аrе nоt сlоѕе frіеndѕ оr fаmіlу mеmbеrѕ bесаuѕе thеу hаvе thеіr оwn tіеѕ tо thе ѕіtuаtіоn. Bоttоm lіnе іѕ, tаlk аbоut whаt уоu’rе fееlіng wіth уоur ѕuрроrt tеаm. It саn hаvе а рrоfоund еffесt оn уоur trаnѕіtіоn еxреrіеnсе.
4. Tаkе ѕіdе trірѕ fоr lеіѕurе
Exрlоrе nеw tеrrіtоrу! Trаvеlіng tо nеаrbу dеѕtіnаtіоnѕ wіll hеlр уоu lеаrn mоrе аbоut thе сulturе аnd hіѕtоrу thаt ѕurrоundѕ уоur nеw hоmе. It аlѕо wіll аllоw fоr а mіnі brеаk frоm ѕоmе оf thе thіngѕ thаt mау bе ѕtrеѕѕіng уоu оut. Yоu mау еvеn fіnd uроn rеturnіng thаt уоu аррrесіаtе уоur nеw hоmе еvеn mоrе thаn уоu thоught. Sіmрlу сhаngіng уоur реrѕресtіvе fоr а fеw dауѕ саn ѕhеd nеw lіght оn уоur ѕіtuаtіоn.
5. Gеt quіеt
Tаkе tіmе tо gеt quіеt. Yоu mау hаvе nоtісеd thаt nо mаttеr whеrе уоu аrе lіvіng оn thе рlаnеt, сhаоѕ аbоundѕ. Whеn wе tаkе thе tіmе tо gеt quіеt wіth оurѕеlvеѕ, wе саn bеgіn tо hеаr whаt іѕ rеаllу gоіng оn іnѕіdе. Sреndіng еvеn 10-15 mіnutеѕ оf quіеt tіmе еасh dау fоr rеflесtіvе thоught саn hеlр уоu gеt іn tоuсh wіth truе fееlіngѕ аnd tар іntо уоur іnnеr сrеаtіvіtу аnd rеѕоurсеfulnеѕѕ.
Keeping Cool like a Local in the Philippines
One thing you would notice when you visit the Philippines is that there are basically only two weather patterns here. Unlike many places in Europe where there are four distinct seasons, spring, summer, fall, and winter; in the Philippines, there are only two distinct seasons, wet and dry, that’s all there is to it. Throughout it all, it’s going to be hot and humid.
Maybe give or take a few couple of months around Christmas time, most months give you a healthy dose of humidity and heat. As you can well imagine, keeping cool is definitely going to be crucial if you visit the Philippines or you move to the Philippines. So how do you keep cool like a local, here are three key ways for you to stay cool and relaxed like a local do.
The ‘sando’ is the Filipino word for undershirt. This is a white shirt usually made of cotton that you wear under your regular shirts and outerwear. The ‘sando’ keeps you cool because you can take of your outer shirt and outerwear and still look decent. It looks like a tank top basically.
Of course, it would look even better on you if you had a little bit of muscles and you’re quite cut but be that as it may, wearing a ‘sando’ is a great way to stay cool in the Philippines.
2. Tuck a face towel at your back
Many Filipinos carry with them this small white towel. It’s a very handy clothing accessory because you can wipe your face when you’re sweaty, you can wipe your hands on it after you have applied some alcohol on your hands or you can blow your nose on it, of course you’re not going to use it after you blow your nose. But, it’s very handy and versatile piece of accessory.
As we mentioned earlier, it’s not a good form to breakout in a sweat. It’s a very hot country but Filipinos don’t consider it attractive if you are sweaty and your clothes are sweaty. One way they get around this is when they use the face towel and put it at their bag. The face towel soaks up sweat so that you remain cool and relaxed and it acts as a cooling piece of clothing.
3. Wear breezy clothing
It’s no accident why the national dress is the ‘Barong Tagalog’. The ‘Barong Tagalog’ is made of translucent materials and it allows air to flow freely through the clothing so you stay nice, light, and cool. Of course, certain fibers are more conducive to cooling but for the most part, based solely on its design, the ‘Barong Tagalog’ is designed to keep you cool like a local.
Getting around in the Philippines: Jeepneys
If there is one mode of transportation that truly displays the Filipino creativity and resourcefulness, it would have to be the jeepney. The jeepney embodies Filipinos love for life, ability to solving problems and sense of humor. If you look at the jeepney, you will get a snapshot of complication of many different cultural traits that make up the typical Filipino. A jeepney is a living testament to the intersection between necessity, historical opportunity and Filipino culture.
The history of the jeepney
During World War II, one of the standard modes of transportation used by American forces in the Philippines against the Japanese was the jeep. The jeep was very rugged and vehicle can handle uneven surfaces and wet and muddy surfaces. As a result, many American troops shuttle back and forth in the Philippines on jeeps and other military transport vehicles. After the war, instead of shipping all these surplus vehicles back to the United States, a lot of the US troops left or sold jeeps to Filipinos.
Before World War II, the transport system in Manila was fairly centralized using electric rail. The power company that services Manila, Meralco, derive its name from the Manila Electric Rail and Light Company. In fact, the electricity was secondary business, its primary business was, you guessed it, public transportation through electric rail. As you can well imagine, thanks to the Japanese retreat and bombing of Manila, the public transport system was destroyed because of the shortage of reliable public transport system, many Filipinos tinkered with the leftover jeeps left by the Americans and used these as public transportation. During their first incarnation, public transport jeeps were fairly short maybe 4 or 3 people on each side. So Filipinos would take the front end of the jeep and replaced the back end by extending it and putting a bench so people can ride on opposite sides at the back of the jeep.
Renamed jeepney this former transportation spread like wildfire throughout the Philippines, interesting really enough. Jeepneys in Bacolod and Cebu look very different in the jeepneys in Manila. The same goes with jeepneys in Mindanao. There are regional design differences which reflect different tastes and also different manufacturers. As the jeepney matured, it became longer and longer, also its engine became stronger. Thanks to Japanese surplus truck engines the guts of typical jeepney is actually a truck engines so you know that there is a lot of horsepower under that galvanized steel. The modern jeepneys are so long that its not unusual to come across jeepney that can seat 16 to 20 or more people.
Jeepneys are cultural statements
Pinoys have a very eclectic taste when it comes to adornment. If you go to an old Spanish era house owned by Filipino family you would see that the decoration is very eclectic, you’d have a little bit of baroque element on one end and a lot of classical elements on the other end and another part of the house.
That’s the typical Pinoy design sensibility, we are very eclectic, we like to mix and match and we’ve even coined a term for it called borloloy or borloloi. When it comes to borloloy designs statements, nothing beats jeepneys. You can see jeepneys with all sorts of steel horses at the front or you could see Mercedes or BMW hood ornaments and logos on the jeepney grill and all sorts of decorations in between. It is not unusual to see many jeepneys with amazing airbrush art on the side.
The subjects of these mobile paintings can range from the family picture of the owner of the jeepney or scenes from movies. The jeepney is a very rich cultural tapestry that exemplifies Filipinos creativity, love of family and love of life.
Amor propio is of course a Spanish phrase. In the Filipino culture it means self love or self-esteem, however the underlying cultural value it represents and embodies is distinctly Asian. Asians have a phrase called saving face; honor is one of the most prized possessions an Asian person is supposed to have. Confucian societies are deeply steeped in this cultural value, honor is extremely big in that cultural context.
However in the Filipino culture context honor is conflated with family honor, you don’t want to bring shame to your family, whatever you do must either bring glory to your family or at least shield them from shame and embarrassment. This is a very Asian concept, the concept of a group pride, but overlaying this profoundly Asian conception is the Spanish conception of self-pride, the person whose pride is insulted or slighted must take proactive steps to save face, and one of these actions of course is the actions of delicadeza.
So if you are involved in a situation where your family’s pride and honor might be compromised, you are expected by polite society to do the right thing and display delicadeza. Depending on the context of the perceived slight to family honor and family name, the correct action may range from quitting an organization, filing lawsuits, quitting your job, stepping down from office or so on and so forth. Amor propio on the other hand is a sense of personal pride and protection of personal and family honor that requires a distinct action or attitude regarding the person who slighted you.
When you act out of amor propio you act to protect your self-esteem and self-pride, usually these are actions that seek to correct the perceived slight. The action can range from separating yourself from a group or working actively against a person or a group, some instances it can involve filing a lawsuit or criminal charges, other situations it can mean starting a competing business or a competing organization. As a foreigner you need to be aware of Filipino culture and the concept of amor propio, and you have to conduct yourself in such a way that you don’t injure the Filipino sense of amor propio.
Of course, this cultural trait varies from person to person but it is present at one level or another with Filipinos as a whole. You have to make it your job to figure out how not to avoid this sense of amor propio because it can make your life quite uncomfortable in Filipino culture terms of the workplace, living arrangements, neighborhood organizations and any other social organization.
That’s why it’s really important to understand how amor propio works and so you don’t step on anybody’s toes unnecessarily.
Philippine history was summarized before by a famous Filipino journalist as 300 years in the convent and 50 years in Hollywood. The 300 years in the convent a phase of Filipino history refers to the 300 plus years of Spanish colonial rule, the Hollywood phase refers to the American colonial experience from 1898 to 1946. While the Spanish and American cultural influence can often be exaggerated by some pundits, columnists and writers. The truth is there are a lot of colonial cultural impacts on the Philippines.
Indeed, the Spanish cultural impact on the Philippines at some levels is stronger than the American impact. One cultural legacy left by the Spaniards is delicadeza, if you plan to work or live in the Philippines you need to know about this cultural trait so you can understand why certain Filipinos react to certain situations in certain ways. Delicadeza is still a fairly strong cultural trait but many commentators bemoan its increasing rarity.
In the Filipino constellation of values, self-respect, self-esteem and pride are very important things, it’s one thing to steal a man’s money, it’s another to deprive him of his pride. While many people can forgive being robbed, many Filipinos draw the line when it comes to being humiliated and deprived of their pride. Pride is a very strong cultural trait in many societies that were products of Spanish colonialism. The concept of a strong feeling of personal pride is prelevant in Latin America, Spain and Italy. One key component of a Filipino sense of pride is delicadeza.
Delicadeza can be defined as doing the right thing, to save face. The concept of saving face is obviously not a Filipino invention, in fact it is deeply Asian, the sense of personal honor is highly important to Japanese, Chinese and Koreans. With that said delicadeza is a Spanish overlay to Asian definitions of honor, so we are talking about the Spanish emphasis on personal pride fueled by the very Asian emphasis on family honor and personal honor.
As you can well imagine this can easily turn into a very explosive mix, the Latin concepts of pride already involve a lot of quick tempers and add to the mix the pride rooted in family honor you can easily see the volatile situations this can lead to. Delicadeza puts an interesting twist on personal pride, you don’t want to be put in the position where you lose face for your family and for yourself, so you do the steps needed to restore family honor.
Delicadeza as a treasured virtue
Delicadeza is a preferred Filipino virtue, Filipinos are supposed to have delicadeza. If put in a certain embarrassing situation Filipinos are supposed to display delicadeza by doing the right thing and either leaving the situation in a graceful manner as possible. In the old days if somebody is accused of corruption or wrongdoing, out of delicadeza the person would quit and of course file a lawsuit or take some sort of action to clear his or her name.
Nowadays many commentators or social critics will bemoan the rising absence of delicadeza, they contrast it with a very pejorative Filipino phrase, “makapal ang mukha” instead of saving face and doing the right thing or taking a formal step so you can preserve your honor.
The opposite is to figuratively thicken your face or magpakapal ng mukha and to continue engaging in dishonorable actions or frowned upon behavior instead of displaying delicadeza. This sense of personal pride is very strong so you can see certain situations where people would quit organizations or take large financial losses out of a sense of delicadeza, so it’s very important to understand the outlines of this cultural trait and most importantly respect it.
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The women of the Philippines – Filipinas – are the 8th Wonder of the World. They are beautiful, they are sexy, and they will always make a man feel like a king. Brett Huffman, an IT engineer for a large call center company, found this out when he was sent to the Philippines to repair a call center in Manila. After he finished the job, he spent the next three weeks traveling around the Philippines and enjoying the tourist sights – and the girls. Brett tries to live by what he calls “Brett’s 10 Laws of Poon,” his guide for successfully navigating through relationships. His first serious relationship was with a beautiful blonde from Los Angeles. Like many relationships, it started off great but soon Brett found out that Julie had problems, serious problems. They stayed together too long – Brett just couldn’t give up the amazing sex.
But the day came when he realized it had to end. The end, though, did not come easy. She stalked him and embarrassed him into meeting him one more time “just to talk.” Julie tried every sexual trick in the book to win Brett back and, even though he gave in briefly, he was able to successfully break it off his time. Soon, Brett was off to the Philippines to do a repair job in the sprawling capital of Manila. The job was simple and Brett was able to finish up in one day. Now he had to decide whether to return to Los Angeles or to start his three-week vacation from Manila. After a rollicking night in Manila, he had no question about his vacation – he would spend the next three weeks exploring and sampling the sexual delights of this tropical paradise.
Brett travels to the sex capital of the country, Angeles City and meets and beds some of the hottest girls around. Then its on to the beaches of Subic Bay and the nightlife there. All in all, when Brett is ready to leave, it is with no regrets, great memories and the knowledge that he would be back. Come take a trip through these tropical islands with him, and let him show you the Philippines and Filipinas. This is a very explicit story with all participants in any sexual act over 18.