Posts in English, Tagalog and Italian About How to have a Successful Marriage and About the Philippines and its Culture BLOG IN INGLESE, ITALIANO E TAGALOG SU COME AVERE SUCCESSO NEL MATRIMONIO E SULLE FILIPPINE E LA SUA CULTURA
Filipino people have a way with finding creative solutions to all kinds of problems.
This Filipino trait is known as diskarte.
A serious problem most people have at the moment here in Italy is how and where to find face masks to protect themselves from Covid 19.
I don’t have any problems in this regard because my wife comes from the land of diskarte so I have my personal collection of homemade face masks.
Face masks are almost impossible to find in this country at the moment but, a couple of weeks before the nation-wide lockdown was introduced, I already had my Filipino-made masks.
I am not quite sure about the actual effectiveness of these masks against the virus, but grocery stores won’t let me in without one, so these ones should do their job and grant me access to the nearest supermarket.
Ang isa sa pinakamalaking mga hamon sa aking pag-aasawa, bilang foreign na asawa ng isang Pilipina, ay na ang misis ko ay galing sa isang kultura na mahilig sa maraming pakikisama at pakikihalubilo samantala ako ay mas mahilig sa pagbubukod sa sarili at medyo reserbado ako.
Pwede kayang gumana ang relasyon sa pagitan ng isang babae na mahilig sa maraming pakikisama at isang lalaki na mas mahiyain at hindi gaanong mahilig sa maraming pakikisama?
Heto ang ilang mga bentaha ng pagiging isang lalaki na mas mahilig sa pagbubukod ng sarili kaysa sa labis ng pakikihalubilo at kung gaano, sa totoo, kapaki-pakinabang ito sa pag-aasawa.
Pinahahalagan ng isang taong hindi masyadong mahilig sa labis ng pakikihalubilo ang pagkakaroon ng de-kalidad na mga relasyon
Kahit mahilig ako sa pagbubukod ng sarili hindi naman hermit ako: mayroon akong mga kaibigan, kaya lang, sa halip na magkaroon ng napakaraming mababaw na mga relasyon, mayroon akong kaunting mga kaibigan pero ang mga iyon ay de-kalidad na mga kaibigan.
Ang posibleng mangyari sa mga taong may labis na pakikisama (at least sa ilan sa kanila) at na may napakaraming mga mababaw na relasyon sila ay na madaling pinuputol nila ang relasyon sa isang kaibigan kung may kaunting di-pagkakaunawaan dahil, tutal, marami silang kaibigan at option.
Sa kabilang banda mas malaki ang posibilidad na ang mas reserbadong uri ng tao na mas mahilig sa pagkakaroon ng kaunting kaibigan ay gagawa ng lahat ng makakaya para maging matalik at de-kalidad ang kanyang mga relasyon at kung may problema lulutasin iyon imbes na tumakas at, bilang resulta, gagawa siya lahat ng paraan para maging matalik na kaibigan ang kanyang kabiyak at lutasin ang lahat ng uri ng hamon at problema.
Ang taong hindi masyadong mahilig sa labis ng pakikihalubilo ay nagbubukod ng sarili nang medyo madalas
at, sa palagay ko, ito ay isang malaking tulong para sa relasyon.
Ang regular na pagbubukod ng sarili ay nagpapahintulot sa akin na nagmuni-muni tungkol sa kung ano ang gumagana o hindi gumagana sa relasyon at bulay-bulayin kung papaano gumawa ng kinakailangang pagbabago
Mas mapayapa ang relasyon sa isang taong hindi masyadong mahilig sa pakikihalubilo
Bilang taong mahilig sa pagbubukod ng sarili komportable ako sa pag-iisa.
Sa pag-aasawa may mga situwasyon kung saan kailangang umalis at ibukod ang sarili, halimbawa kapag sobrang mainit ang ulo ng kabiyak at, syempre, dahil hindi problema para sa akin ang pag-iisa mas madali para sa akin lumayo mula sa misis ko kapag mainit ang situwasyon at hindi kapaki-pakinabang pilitin siya na makipag-usap.
At malaking tulong ito upang maging mapayapa ang relasyon.
So, para sa akin at batay sa aking karanasan, talagang kapaki-pakinabang kapag ang isang taong sobrang mahilig sa pakikihalubilo ay nagiging asawa ng isang taong mas mahilig sa katahimikan.
In the Philippines it is all about food and the expressions kumain ka na? (“have you eaten?”) and kain ka (“have some food”) or “meryenda ka” are the expressions that immediately follow kumusta ka? (“how are you?”) when you visit a Filipino home.
This happens both in the Philippines and among OFW in my country.
Filipinos love food and every street in the Philippines is lined with food stalls and eateries.
Both in the Philippines and in my country Filipinos have social gatherings or salu-salo as often as they can.
In winter salu-salos take place indoors while between spring and autumn Filipinos who live in Rome take advantage of the fact that Rome has plenty of parks and that the weather is, more often than not, ideal to gather outside and mag-ihaw or prepare barbecue marinade.
The basic ingredients used to make barbecue marinade, at least the way they do it here, and the way my Filipino wife does it, are soy sauce, ground black pepper, lemon juice, banana ketchup, garlic, onion and brown sugar.
Filipinos just love it.
The problem is that, for most Filipinos here in Rome, BBQ is something that they cannot afford to do as often as they do it in the Philippines because they live in apartments and, although most apartments here in Rome do have a balcony or a terrace, chances are that neighbors will complain if Filipinos dare using their balcony to BBQ, as Italians like hanging their clothes on the balcony and they hate wearing “smoked” clothes.
The only Filipinos who can BBQ on their terraces or balconies are the ones who have the luck to live on the last floor of an apartment building, in a penthouse (that can be hard to find in Rome and pretty expensive).
What’s the solution then?
There is no other option then than either wait for warmer days and BBQ in a park or buy an electric grill, one of those that can even be used indoors.
My wife and I have one and it does its job, this way my Filipino wife’s cravings for BBQ are satisfied all-year-round…
As husband of a Filipina one of the things I have noticed about Filipino people is that they become very emotionally charged when discussing about religious or political topics and, more in general, when they are convinced that they (or their family) is right and someone else is wrong.
FILIPINOS ARE HIGHLY EMOTIONAL
One of the things that I have repeatedly mentioned in my blog is that Filipinos easily get carried away and lose their cool.
A popular Tagalog expression for this tendency is mainit ang ulo, which basically means that many Filipinosare rather hot-tempered.
I have written an article about how to deal with a Filipina who is mainit ang ulo and has buwanang dalaw (menstruation): when these two things occur simultaneously a Filipina’s husband really needs to hide (or go out to walk his dog….or have a Red Horse beer…or two).
So Filipino people are leaning toward high emotionalism and, therefore, when they discuss a topic, whether this happens in family relationships, in politics or in religion, they can become very palalo or mahilig sa pakikipagtalo (inclined toward arguing).
FILIPINOS TAKE IT PERSONALLY
Filipinos have a strong sense of hiya or shame and so, when someone proves them wrong, their amor propio or self-esteem gets seriously wounded.
I once heard a very interesting expression: “the religious person wants to argue while the”spiritual” person wants to share”.
Speaking of religion and spirituality, there is an interesting passage in the New Testament that says that “the slave of the Lord does not need to fight but to be gentle toward all”, so, even from a biblical perspective, there is no point in arguing.
Now, whether you are spiritual or not, religious or not, my point is that it is not about WHO is right but, rather, it is about WHAT is right.
What’s the point of proving someone wrong? The point is simply to gloat over the fact that one is right while the other is wrong and what’s the use of that gloating? Can one pay the bills with it or eat it for breakfast?
And yet Filipinos take things very personally and often get completely carried away.
ONCE FILIPINOS HAVE INTENSELY ARGUED THEY EASILY FORGET ALL ABOUT THE ISSUE
What I have noticed in my interactions with my wife or with the extended family is that a discussion may get very intense and, after a short while, fizzle out and be followed by a peaceful massage with Omega Pain Killer or Efficascent Oil (two ointments that are very popular in the Philippines and that kill all kinds of pains), which, again, tells me that, more often than not, it was not about the issue.
THE ROOT CAUSE OF THE EMOTIONALISM THAT LIES BEHIND PAKIKIPAGTALO
I think that this tendency that Filipinos have to get very intense when arguing, and more in general, their emotionalism, is the product of the fact that the Filipino society does not encourage inner work, introspection and being internally grounded.
MASAYA VS MALIGAYA
Filipinos would rather do things that cater to the desire to be masaya, or on a high, than things that promote being maligaya or being fulfilled internally.
Also Filipinos are very social and spend very little time alone to reflect and meditate, which are the very things that fuel inner peace. Everything in the Philippines is all about pakikisama or togetherness, as I have abundantly mentioned in my blog.
So, given the very little time left for lonely contemplation and inner growth, it is not surprising that the Filipino society is the sum total of people who are, by and large, very emotional.
AWAYAN, PATAYAN, SUNTUKAN AND BARILAN
Not only do Filipinos argue and debate verbally but, often, pakikipagtalo leads to awayan (quarrel), patayan (killing), suntukan (punching), barilan (shooting) which, of course, is something that massively contributes to keeping the country stuck.
HOW TO FIX EXCESSIVE “PAKIKIPAGTALO”
So, as husband of a Filipina (and neutral observer of the habits and traits of Filipinos), my conclusion is, as I have said many times, that, in order to become less mainit ang ulo, less emotionally charged and less mahilig sa pakikipagtalo, Filipinos need to veer a little more toward less pakikisama and more inner work and a little more toward being maligaya rather than always wanting to feel a shallow sense of masaya, as these things get in the way of inner peace and without inner peace there cannot be peace without.
This is my personal perspective as someone who has been in a long-term relationship with a Filipina.
I would like to conclude this article by quoting the famous psychologist Dr. Wayne Dyer who, talking about self-esteem or the thing Filipinos call amor propio, said that no one canreally wound your self-esteem because self-esteem is located in the “self”, otherwise we would call it “someone else’s esteem”.
There is really no point in debating and wanting to be right, both in personal relationships and in more public ones.
In the end it is not about WHO is right but about WHAT is right and what we can humbly do to find out what it is, align with it, and peacefully share it with others.
One of the hallmark traits of Filipinos is the fact that they spend long hours chit-chatting or, in Tagalog, doing kwentuan.
Life in the Philippines, especially in the kabukiran, is rather idle and people spend a great deal of time engaging in idle conversation.
Filipinos are very social and they are, by and large, much more extrovert than introvert.
They grow up in house compounds where the whole extended family lives and guests come and go all day long and “halika, kwento tayo” (“come in, let’s chat”) is the typical Filipino invitation.
Filipinos, as I’ve said many times, watch a lot of tv and, generally speaking, Filipino TV programs are mostly concerned with arousing curiousity about the latest gossip, scandal and what celebrities like Manny Paquiao or Catriona Gray are doing or not doing. You just have to watch Pinoy TV for 5 minutes and you will notice it immediately.
So they have a strong tendency toward sticking their nose into someone else’s behavior and gossip.
Someone said that, because tsismis is a word that was borrowed from the Spanish language, as there is no native word for gossip, Filipinos take it lightly.
I am not sure if the fact that Filipinos do indeed take this habit lightly can really be chalked up to the etymology of the word, but what I know for sure is that, for the average Filipino, gossiping is not that much of a problem.
Tsismis can take many forms: it can be a light sticking of one’s nose into the affairs of others, not necessarily with the intent of slandering them, or it can build into a more malicious intriga that can lead to paninirang-puri or slander.
A foreigner’s perspective on tsismis
What is my opinion as a foreigner about this Filipino trait? Here is what I have to say about gossip:
I remember the great psychologist Dr. Wayne Dyer saying: “tell me what you are for and I will tell what is going to expand, tell what you are against and I will tell you what is going to expand”.
In other words if a person is against something or someone, he or she cannot be for something.
If we focus on what others are doing (by gossiping about them, especially if this is done to ruin someone’s reputation) we are automatically shifting our focus away from what we should be doing, therefore we can hardly be creative or have a plan for our own lives.
Filipinos put a lot of focus on what others are doing and tsismis or gossip keeps them too busy talking about other people and causes many of them to have little time and energy to come up with a higher vision or purpose for their own lives.
I think that even harmless tsismis which is mere sticking one’s nose into someone’s affairs without the intent of harming them (especially the personal affairs of celebrities), is still a waste of time, focus and energy.
And, of course, intriga and paninirang-puri are even worse:
it has been said that there are two ways to build the tallest building in town: one way is by actually building a house that is taller than the others while another is by tearing down all the other buildings. A person can either show up as the builder or the wrecker. I often see Filipinos as people who are more concerned with “wrecking” than building (and the crab mentality is a strong evidence that this is the case).
Paninirang-puri often creates enemies and friction between families and clans.
So Filipino people, instead of focusing on how they could improve themselves, tend to focus a lot of their energy on what others do.
On a large scale they tend to blame the government and corruption instead of asking themselves how they could personally contribute to improving the community and, on a small scale, they spend a lot of energy and focus on criticizing others and other families.
How tsismis may impact the life of a Filipina’s foreign husband
Because, as the husband of a Filipina, you will inevitably be having a lot of interactions with other Filipinos, you might find yourself in a position where you have to behave in a certain way not to be judged and become the object of tsismis.
I’ve found myself in the position of being the object of gossip because, at the beginning of my relationship I didn’t have a car and I would always hear the whispers of the tsismoso who would say that I was the “Italyano na walang kotse” (which is something that Filipinos frown upon as they have a strong car culture).
So, one of the things you should expect, if you marry a Filipina, is that you will hardly be able to enjoy total intimacy with your spouse, rather you will have to constantly watch out for what other Filipinos have to say, as if they were watching you, waiting for you to make a wrong move and use it as an occasion to tsismis.
You will likely find yourself in a position where you are constantly being observed (and all the more so if you live with the extended family) and where you have to take into account that every move you make could elicit tsismis.
Filipinos, as I’ve said many times, see themselves not as independent agents but as part of an intricate network of connections where it is almost impossible to do something or express an opinion without being judged thereby becoming the object of tsismis.
Ningas Kugon significa più o meno “fuoco di paglia” ed è, fondamentalmente, la tendenza tipica dei filippini ad eccitarsi all’idea di un progetto per, forse, una settimana o due, al massimo pochi mesi.
I filippini gettano le fondamenta di un progetto, poi cambiano idea e gettano le fondamenta di un altro progetto.
Quindi, ad esempio, potrebbe accadere che la moglie filippina di un occidentale proponga al marito di trasferirsi con lei nelle Filippine, prospettandogli di investire in un’attività economica che servirebbe a sostenersi finanziariamente.
In seguito potrebbe cambiare idea e, forse, decidere di rimanere nel paese occidentale del marito (dopo aver speso un bel po’di soldi in un progetto che poi rimane lettera morta). Dopo un po’ ‘potrebbe riconsiderare di nuovo di andare per sempre nelle Filippine. Quindi ripensaci di nuovo.
Più spesso che no i filippini non hanno una missione di vita e una visione chiara. Intraprendono miriadi di progetti che svaniscono facilmente nel nulla e non si concretizzano.
A chi sposa una filippina questo potrebbe costare soldi inutili.
Ad esempio, circa 15 anni fa, mia moglie avviò una specie di mensa di fronte al Bulacan Agricultural State College e fece trasformare il piano terra della sua grande casa in una sorta di ostello per studenti universitari, perché dovevamo trasferirci lì per sempre.
Da allora c’è stata un’alternanza di momenti in cui voleva seguire quel progetto e momenti in cui sembrava essere più interessata a stare qui in Italia e (dopo 15 anni) non so ancora cosa succederà in futuro.
L’espressione ningas kugon descrive in modo appropriato questo tratto filippino: ningas significa sostanzialmente fuoco mentre kugon è fondamentalmente il materiale utilizzato per costruire il tetto di un bahay kubo (una tipica costruzione filippina in bambu) che è, essenzialmente, erba cogon, un tipo di materiale che si accende molto facilmente e, dopo poco si spegne.
Nel mondo occidentale siamo generalmente più inclini a fare piani a lungo termine e seguire tali piani mentre, come ho appena detto, la maggior parte dei filippini sono esattamente l’opposto.
Quindi, per chi fosse interessato a sposare una filippina, una delle tante cose da prendere in considerazione è il fatto che fare piani a lungo termine con una moglie filippina potrebbe rivelarsi estremamente difficile.
As a foreign wife of a Filipina one of the things I admire about Filipinos is the spirit of bayanihan.
Bayanihan is defined as follows: “
The Bayanihan (pronounced as buy-uh-nee-hun) is a Filipino custom derived from a Filipino word “bayan”, which means nation, town or community. The term bayanihan itself literally means “being in a bayan”, which refers to the spirit of communal unity, work and cooperation to achieve a particular goal.
The concept of Bayanihan is traced back to in a country’s tradition which can be observed in rural areas, wherein the town’s people were asked especially the men to lend a hand to a family who will move into a new place. The relocation does not only involves moving the family’s personal belongings but most importantly it concerns the transfer of the family’s entire house to a new location (https://themixedculture.com/2013/09/25/filipinos-bayanihan/)
Well, my wife’s house in Bulacan is a bit difficult to carry because it is made of hollow block and steel, so it is a bit too heavy I guess …
And it is also difficult to move houses here in Italy because almost all Filipinos live in apartments within a building and an entire apartment building can be a little too heavy even for Filipino machos.
But here in Rome, every time a Filipino relocates to a different apartment, the moving service or lipat bahay is free of charge, because many volunteer to help.
Another way Filipinos display the bayanihan spirit is by sharing the news about any job offer they know about through social media
The bayanihan spirit is without a doubt something that us Westerners can learn from Filipinos
Bilang asawa ng isang Pilipina interesado ako sa mga balita na galing sa Pilipinas, kahit medyo matagal na hindi ako umuwi sa Pinas.
Kamakailan binasa ko na pinirmahan daw ang isang kasunduan para sa libreng edukasyon ng mga estudyante ngayong paparating na pasukan.
Kabilang sa saklaw ng kasunduan ang 190 na state universities and colleges (SUCs) at local universities and colleges (LUCs) sa bansa.
Galing ako sa isang bansa kung saan libre ang mataas na pinag-aaralan at mayroon akong mataas na pinag-aralan.
Ngunit ang aking pag-aasawa sa isang Pilipina ay nagturo sa akin ng isang napakahalagang aral, ibig sabihin na walang saysay ang pagkakaroon ng maraming pinag-aralan at kaalaman kung kulang ang isang tao (lalo na ang isang tao na may pamilya at mas lalo na kung ang kanyang pamilya ay international katulad ng pamilya ko) sa karunungan.
Ayon sa isang akda ang karunungan ay ang kakayahang gumamit ng kaalaman sa matagumpay at praktikal na paraan.
Gaya ng sinabi ko, ako ay may maraming pinag-aralan at sa buong buhay ko binasa ko napakaraming tomo (pero hindi ako ang isang tomador….ibang uri ng tomo ang tinutukoy ko, hindi ang toma-toma….lol) ngunit ang unang limang taon ng aking pag-aasawa ay naging medyo mahirap para sa akin dahil naintindihan ko na ang pinag-aralan ko sa kolehyo at ang mga tomo na binasa ko ay hindi nagturo sa akin ng maraming napakahalagang mga bagay na kailangan para magtagumpay sa buhay at sa mga pinakaimportanteng aspekto ng buhay katulad ang mga relasyon.
Ang mataas na edukasyon ay hindi nagturo sa akin kung paano maging mahusay sa pakikipagtalastasan:
Sa pag-aasawa at sa pagpapalaki sa mga anak mas kailangan maging matulin sa pakikinig at mabagal sa pagsasalita (Santiago 1:19) kaysa maging mahusay sa pagsasalita.
Medyo marunong akong magsalita (at nakapagsasalita ako sa tatlong mga wika…akalain ninyo) ngunit medyo kulang ako sa kakayahang magbigay pansin kapag ang iba ang nagsasalita, kaya kinailangan kong pasulungin ang aking pakikinig upang tamasahin ang makabuluhang komunikasyon sa loob ng tahanan at, sa bandang huli, (medyo) nagtagumpay ako.
Sa totoo natatandaan ko na ang aking mga propesor kapwa sa high school at sa unibersidad (lalo na ang aking propesora ng pilosopia) ay daldal nang daldal pero kulang nang kulang sila sa kakayahang makinig sa iba o sa pagpapakita ng personal na interes sa iba, kaya ang aking pagsulong sa ilalim ng aspektong ito ay hindi bunga ng mataas na edukasyon kundi resulta ito ng ibang uri ng pinag-aralan (espiritwal na mga impormasyon at mga impormasyon na may kinalaman sa self-improvement).
Ang mataas na edukasyon ay hindi nagturo sa akin ng empatya
Ang empatya ay binibigyang katuturan bilang ang kakayahang ilagay ang sarili sa kalagayan ng iba.
Dahil ako ay lumaki sa Italy at ang asawa ko ay lumaki sa kabilang ibayo ng mundo (ibig sabihin sa Bulacan) marami akong tendensya dati na umabot sa maling mga konklusyon tungkol sa ugali at paggawi ng asawa ko dahil hindi ako gumawa ng pagsisikap na maunawaan nang malalim ang kanyang kultura at mentalidad at ang aking pagsisikap na maunawaan ang wika at ang kultura ng Pilipinas ay medyo mental na lang at hindi emosyonal.
Ngunit nagsumikap ako na matuto kung papaano magkaroon ng emosyonal na tulay at, dahil dito, naging di-hamak na mas matagumpay ang aking relasyon at buhay pampamilya at ito rin ay isang kakayahan na hindi itinuro sa akin sa high school o sa kolehyo.
Hindi itinuro sa akin ng mataas na pinag-aralan kung papaano kontrolin ang akin mga emosyon at kung paano maging maligaya
Ang mataas na pinag-aaralan ay may kinalaman sa i.q. samantala para maging maligaya at magkaroon ng positibong mga emosyon kailangan ang e.q. o ’emosyonal’ na intelligence.
Maraming tao na may pinag-aralan ay negatibo at nagpopokus sila sa kanilang mga butas o sa mga butas ng iba at ganito rin ako dati, lalo na sa aking pakikitungo sa misis ko. Sa ngayon nagsisikap ako na magpokus sa positibong mga aspekto ng aking buhay at sa magandang mga katangian ng aking kabiyak at ito rin ay ang isang katangian na hindi ko nilinang noong panahon na nasa unibersidad ako ni man itinuro sa akin kung papaano linangin.
Syempre naman napakahalaga ng mataas na pinag-aralan subalit ang pagkakaroon ng isang utak na puno ng impormasyon ay walang saysay kung kulang tayo sa mga katangian tulad ng karunungan, kaunawaan, empatya, di-makasariling pag-iibig, ang pagiging handang makinig at marami pa.
At, sa palagay ko, maraming mga problema ng Pilipinas ay hindi malulutas sa pamamagitan ng libreng mataas na pinag-aralan para sa mas maraming tao dahil hindi kayang solusyonan ng mas maraming kaalaman (lalo na ang kaalaman na medyo teknikal at geeky) ang mga suliranin na idinudulot ng bahala-na mentality, victim mentality, ako muna mentality, corruption, pag-aabuso sa alak at iba pang mga aspekto ng Pinoy mentality na humahadlang sa pagsulong ng Pilipinas.
Ideya ko lang na gusto kong i-share….bilang pampatunaw
My wife is Filipina and she comes from a culture that is all about togetherness or pakikisama in Tagalog.
Im a strong introvert and I have always felt ill at ease in large and noisy social gatherings.
I love carving out for myself quality pockets of solitude to read, journal and meditate and when I do associate with others I definitely prefer being with few selected individuals to being in a large get together.
The bright side of large social gatherings
Yet, since I am married to a woman who comes from an environment where togetherness is one of the most cherished values, I cannot afford to march to the beat of a different drummer and I have to figure out ways to balance my desire to either be alone or with an intimate circle of few selected individuals, where I enjoy quality conversation and more meaningful interactions, with the need to build rapport with Filipinos.
Filipino social gatherings are pretty large and the advantage is that no one is left out, as being left out creates tampo (offense or stumbling). So in order to minimize tampo Filipinos generally organize those large social gatherings where as many people as possible are invited.
This is without a doubt something that I have learned from Filipinos because I used to be way too selective in my choice of whom to associate with.
Social gatherings that are too large keep communication at a shallow level
On the other hand, although large social gatherings create a very happy and cheerful atmosphere, they are rather noisy, and being able to drown out some of that noise and engage in quality conversation with someone in particular can be difficult so conversations tend to be rather shallow.
Another aspect that characterizes those large gatherings is the K.K.B. philosopy or kanya-kanyang baon, meaning that each participant is supposed to bring some baon or, basically, bring some food that becomes part of a giant buffet.
The great advantage of the K.K.B. approach is that it saves a lot of money and it doesn’t put a heavy financial burden on the shoulders of the host family.
Social gatherings that are all about food take away time and energy from quality togetherness
The problem is that Filipinos just cannot fathom the idea of preparing baon that is not elaborate and that doesn’t take hours to prepare and so food is the main focus of those gatherings and this, of course, gives meaningful social interactions a back seat, as everyone is busy with the preparation of elaborate dishes.
This reminds me of an incident that is recorded in the gospels where Jesus of Nazareth said to a woman who was way too busy preparing tons of food that she’d better take a more minimalistic approach to food and focus on having deep conversation with her guest and on receiving some uplifting.
The advantages of smaller social gatherings
I believe that by organizing smaller social gatherings where food is not the main focus there is still a way to both minimize the expenses and avoid causing tampo while creating a better environment to enjoy quality togetherness.
On my part I am trying to share with my Filipino friends the idea that if, instead of always having huge gatherings and spending entire days preparing lumpya, pansit, adobo etc, Filipinos tried inviting one family at a time on a rotational basis, to have deep conversation over a simple meal, no one would be excluded, there would be no tampo (because by inviting people on a rotational basis in the end everyone gets invited), there would be no need to spend a lot of time and money and that would free up precious time and resources to take the spirit of pakikisama to the next level.
The Philippines, my wife’s country, is one of those countries where there is a very high number of churches and religious denominations and yet such problems as alcohol abuse, corruption, violence and so on abound (just like in many other countries).
I used to be an atheist (during my teens) and yet my level of morality was probably higher than that of most religious people I used to interact with.
Now that I am no longer an atheist my level of morality is more or less the same as when I was an atheist.
I have never craved having casual sex or cheating on my spouse, getting drunk, I have never even considered the possibility to pay or accept a bribe.
Having become a believer almost hasn’t changed anything: most of the practices I used to avoid as an atheist I am still shunning and avoiding today and so my level of morality hasn’t changed much.
I think the main reason why most religious people who moralize a lot end up doing the exact opposite of what they condemn and moralize about is because they haven’t learned how to truly trascend and outgrow their quote-unquote sinful cravings.
I think that when the only reason why a person abstain from things like casual sex, alcohol abuse and so on is because a book says so or the Bible says so or their parents said so or because society says so what this person is really saying is “I would love to have casual sex or cheat on my spouse, get drunk, have drugs etc but I can’t“.
I recently heard a great illustration that explains this point rather nicely: if you are full of cravings and the only reason why you hold back from caving in to those cravings is because you can’t (because the Bible says so or your parents said so etc), but you actually would like to, this is like you are trying to dig a hole in the middle of the ocean.
The pressure of the water symbolizes your cravings and the hole represents your list of dos and donts. In much the same way as the pressure of the ocean is going to break your hole, the pressure of your cravings and desires is eventually going to get the better of your dos and donts.
That is why most Filipinos (in this blog I am talking about the Philippines but the same logic applies to everyone) officially believe that alcohol abuse is bad, corruption is wrong, violence, materialism, gossip and many other things that are pretty common in the Philippines are inappropriate but these very things are very deeply rooted in the Filipino culture.
So I believe that as long as the only reason why people try to resist their urges to do what’s quote-unquote “immoral” is because an external authority says so and they fail to understand why those things are bad and not inherently fulfilling, there is no way people can truly act moral.
There is actually an interesting passage in the Bible (which is the religious book most Filipinos believe in), but the same logic applies even if someone doesn’t believe the Bible or any other religious book, and this passage says something along the lines that the Creator teaches you to “benefit yourself” – Isaias 48:17.
Actually this concept could be appreciated and understood even if we left the Creator out of the picture and simply reasoned in strictly secular and rational terms.
The famous motivational speaker Tony Robbins talks about the idea of getting rid of such habits as heavy drinking, drugs and so on by learning to link more pleasure to having energy and vitality than to indulging in drinking, overeating etc.
So, regardless of whether one is religious or not the key to true morality is when we learn to dwell on the benefits of parting with negative and toxic habits thereby trascending and outgrowing them rather than simply trying to put up a hard fight to stay away from things that we, deep within, crave and, secretly, like doing simply because some external authority says so and, if you are a Christian, the only way you can accept and internalize what your Creator says is wrong is by understanding why this is the case and dwelling on the benefits of acting moral.