Surprising Things You’ll Learn From Family Living in the Philippines
When you have family living in the Philippines, perhaps as foreign exchange students or as expats, then it may take a while to get used to your loved ones being away. Some of the things that you will learn when a close family member is living abroad in the Philippines is that it’s a small world, it’s easy to send gifts or money, and expect to hear stories of culture shock.
It’s a Small World
Although your loved ones may be thousands of miles away, modern telecommunication makes it easy to stay in touch. One of the best ways is Skype, which allows you to see and hear them without worrying about cost.
Easy to Send Stuff
Fortunately, it’s not difficult to get stuff get stuff to family in the Philippines for special occasions. If it’s a gift, say, for a birthday, then you just use the postal system. If you need to send money to the Philippines, then a wire transfer will be the most efficient way to go about it.
For some strange reason, we automatically assume that other people are similar to us, regardless of where they live in the world. After all, when we meet people from a different ethnic group or who have immigrated to the United States, we usually find that they are not that different from us.
What we don’t take into account is how established social norms have created a sense of homogeneity. The reason we entertain the notion that people all over the world are fairly similar is that America has been a cultural melting pot for hundreds of years and that all countries share many characteristics associated with Western culture.
However, there are some significant ways that the culture of the Philippines is different from our own:
- Family support in hard times: We like to think that we have close family ties in the US, but we often rely on our own resources when experiencing tough times. For example, we often rely on self-help books, psychotherapists, and support groups to manage to keep our chin up when we are in a personal crisis. But the people of the Philippines have a completely different way of dealing with their personal troubles. Family support rather than external aid helps people manage difficult times in their life.
- Exceptional warmth: Filipinos are friendly to everyone. Your family members will tell you how their neighbors quickly welcomed them and adopted them as friends. In the US, we are often too busy to pay attention to the people moving into the next house or apartment.
- Committed friendships. When you make a friend in the Philippines, they naturally assume it’s for keeps. Here, in the US, someone may be a good friend for a few years while they work at the same place, attend the same school, or live in the same neighborhood, but when they move away, we don’t always stay in touch.
- Shocking candor: When you meet someone that is extremely tall or short, fat or thin, you usually don’t comment on it—unless you’re out to pick a fight. Commenting on another person’s appearance is considered rude. Filipinos, however, openly comment on appearance. “You’ve gained a lot of weight since I last saw you,” is something that one person might say to another in the Philippines. This is not considered rude but merely taken in stride, as an observational comment. In fact, this open commentary is not just restricted to friends. Anyone is fair game. Americans are often shocked and surprised when people they have just met comment on how tall or fat they are or on what big hands or feet they have.
- Expect frequent touching: In the US, only people who know each other well are likely to touch each other. In the Philippines, a casual acquaintance may think nothing about pinching or poking you. When they first arrive in the Philippines, American mothers with young children are often surprised to find complete strangers coming over to tousle their children’s hair or stroke their cheeks.
In conclusion, when a family member goes to live in the Philippines for a while, you will be surprised at what a difference there can be in cultures, which is something that you will experience for yourself if you fly out to visit them.