The “Bayanihan” Spirit and its Effects on your Marriage

The Bayanihan is a Filipino tradition derived from a Tagalog word “bayan”, meaning country or city. The term bayanihan literally means “being in a “bayan”” and refers to the spirit of helping one another in times of need without expecting anything in return.

The concept of Bayanihan is specifically related to a country’s tradition where the village’s people lend a hand to a family who is moving into a new home. The relocation does not only entail moving the family’s personal furniture and clothes, but it may involve moving the family’s entire house to a new location!

Here in Rome I see this spirit at work all the time.

When we moved from our old apartment into the new one we didn’t pay a cent to hire a moving company. Dozens of Filipino friends helped us out under all aspects: loading, unloading, disassembling and assembling again cabinets etc., they even used their cars or vans to carry all of our stuff and all we needed to do was to prepare some “meryenda”.

When a fellow Filipino gets married everyone has a share in organizing the event (from looking for a suitable venue where the wedding feast will take place to preparing meals).

How does it affect your interracial marriage with a Filipina?

Just as the “bayan” may help you in case you move your stuff from one apartment to another or, perhaps, when you are organizing your wedding anniversary or when you get ill or experience a natural calamity, you are also expected to LEND A HELPING HAND TO OTHERS, ON A PRETTY MUCH REGULAR BASIS, WITHOUT EXPECTING ANYTHING IN RETURN.

For example, in this period, my wife and I are very busy helping two young couples who will get married next spring and we take care of all the details. We have taken them to several venues, some of which are situated out-of-town, to help them find one that suits them at reasonable cost, and that has involved using our car and spending much money in gas as well as entire afternoons.

Because I am a native Italian, Filipino friends often ask me to help them translate or process papers or accompany them when they need to appear in front of a public official for some bureaucratic matters they need to deal with.

Even when someone hosts a party in his own house the rule is often K.K.B. or “Kanya-Kanyang Baon” (each one is expected to bring something to eat or drink) and parties may take place up to 3 times a week (or even more).

This means that, if you are in a relationship with a Filipina, you will be spending a good share of your time TO HELP OTHERS AT ABSOLUTELY NO COST, which means that you will have to take away a good chunk of time from personal pursuits, even time you might be spending in lucrative activities or for leisure, to help other Filipinos.

The bright side of it is that, when you need help, many helping hands will be there for you. Whether you focus on the sacrifices you’ll have to make or on the blessings of being a “kabayan” (or “part of the “bayan””), comes down to your ATTITUDE AND HOW READY YOU REALLY ARE TO EMBRACE YOUR SPOUSE’S CULTURE AND, ULTIMATELY, HOW DETERMINED YOU REALLY ARE TO MAKE YOUR MARRIAGE WITH A FILIPINA WORK.

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