Kailangan ba Nating Sundin ang mga Batas o ang mga Simulain?

Ayon sa karatula ang speed limit ay 50 km/h kahit malakas ang baha

Ang dahilan kung bakit bumangon sa isip ko na isulat ang post na ito ay dahil sa ngayon dito sa Roma grabe ang ulan.

Kararating ko lang sa bahay mula sa trabaho dahil napakatrapik dulot ng baha.

Habang nasa daan patungo sa bahay napansin ko na, dahil ayon sa karatula ang speed limit sa highway ay 50, karamihan ng mga driber ay nagmamaneho sa bilis na pinahihintulutan ng karatula kahit may baha at dapat sana mas mabagal sila ng kaunti.

Hindi naman nakasulat sa karatula na iba ang speed limit kapag may baha, 50 pa rin ito. Ngunit, sa palagay ko at least, sa ganitong situwasyon, mas mabuti magmaneho nang mas mabagal at sundin ang isang mas malawak na simulain (tulad halimbawa ang simulain na ang buhay ay sagrado….o “mahalaga” kung hindi ninyo gusto ang salitang “sagrado”) kaysa sa espesipikong batas o alintuntunin na nagpapahintulot na panatilihin ang bilis ng 50 kahit ano ang panahon, rain or shine.

Ang napansin ko sa Pilipinas (at dito rin) ay na ang mga driber ay masunurin sa batas sa trapik tangi lang kung may karatula at may buwaya na kumukontrol kung sinusunod ng mga tao ang karatula.

Sa maraming bansa ng Hilagang Europa (at sa Hilagang Italya din) maingat ang mga driber, may karatula man o wala, may buwaya man o wala, dahil ang karamihan ng mga tao ay hindi basta pinapatnubayan ng mga batas kundi pinapatnubayan sila ng mas malawak na simulain na mahalaga ang disiplina para magkaroon ng isang organisado at maayos na lipunan at alam nila na ang ako muna na saloobin ay hindi nagdudulot ng magandang resulta.

Ang isa pang simulain na kapit sa tiwasay na pagmamaneho ay “ibigin ang iyong kapwa gaya ng iyong sarili“.

Karamihan ng mga Pilipino ay mga relihyosong tao at, at least sa teorya, dapat na pamilyar sa simulaing ito.

Kung iniibig ng isa kapwa ang kapwa at ang sarili, may karatula man o wala, may buwaya man o wala, may batas man o wala, kung maliwanag ang mas malawak na simulain, mag-iingat pa rin siya.

Bilang asawa ng isang Pilipina napansin ko na sa karamihan ng mga situwasyon mukhang mas gusto ng mga Pilipino ang espesipikong batas o listahan ng kung ano ang dapat o ‘di dapat, pwede o ‘di pwede sa halip na sundin ang mas malawak na mga simulain na sana magiging sanhi na alam ng mga tao sa awtomatikong paraan kung paano kumilos sa bawat situwasyon.

Sa palagay ko mas may-gulang ang tao na alam kung ano ang dapat niyang gawin sa bawat situwasyon sa awtomatikong paraan, may alintuntunin man o wala, may espesipikong batas o wala at ang paraan para abutin ang antas ng pagkamay-gulang na ito ay ang pagsunod sa mga malawak na mga simulain sa halip na isang mahabang listahan ng dapat o’di dapat at pwede o ‘di pwede…

Talaga bang Bahala-na si Bathala?

Una sa lahat nais kong sabihin na ang blog ko ay hindi upang ipakipag-usap ang tungkol kay Bathala.

Ang totoong pokus ko dito ay kung paano magkaroon ng isang matagumpay na relasyon sa pagitan ng isang Foreigner at isang Pilipina.

Ngunit interesado ako sa kung papaano nangangatuwiran ang mga Pilipino dahil Pilipina ang asawa ko at nabubuhay ako araw-araw kasama ng Pinoy mentality, kaya gusto ko rin i-share ang aking personal na pananaw tungkol sa kasabihang Bahala-na si Bathala.

Una sa lahat kailangang liwanagin kung sino ang Bathala na tinutukoy sa pananalitang ito dahil, kung, halimbawa, ang Bathalang iyon ay ang Krystianong Bathala ang alam ko ay na maraming ibinibigay na babala ang Bathalang iyon.

Ngayon, kung sa kabila ng mga babala ni Bathala ay binabale-wala ng tao ang babala ni Bathala, nagiging medyo maling akala na bahala si Bathala sa masamang resulta na idinudulot ng pagwawalang-bahala ng tao sa mga babala ni Bathala.

Isang halimbawa lang: ang alam ko ay na si Bathala ay nagbibigay ng babala tungkol sa labis ng pag-iinom ng alak. Syempre naman hindi ko sinasabi na binabale-wala ng mga Pilipino iyon dahil alam ko mabuti na hindi naman marami ang iniinom ng mga Pilipino kundi kaunti-container lang…..at inuulit ko lang…..

Pero kung sakali ang ilan sa kabila ng babala ni Bathala tungkol sa labis ng konsumo ng alak ay binabale-wala nila ang ganitong babala makatuwiran bang asahan nila na bahala-na si Bathala?

Kaya ang punto ko ay na kung talagang bahala-na si Bathala sa bawat situwasyon wala sanang ibinibigay na babala si Bathala ‘di ba?

Kaunting personal reflection bilang pampatunaw……

Ang isang babala ni Bathala

The Misleading Western Veneer of the Philippines

The reason why I am using the expression “misleading” with regard to the Western veneer of the Philippines is because, basically, when I first met my wife I had a vague idea that the Philippines is an ex Spanish and US colony and that Filipinos are usually fluent in English, and so I kind of fell into the trap of assuming that I wouldn’t have to work really hard at building rapport with my wife’s culture precisely because I thought that the Philippines was essentially a Western country or, at least, a country that was heavily influenced by its former Western colonizers.

Yet, before long (and I mean less than three months into the marriage) I started noticing that my wife was akin to us Westerners only on the surface and I started noticing a bunch of things that set the Filipino community very far apart from the West.

For example, as I have already mentioned in one of my posts, I noticed that both my wife and her friends and relatives would hardly associate with local people and that 99,9% of my social life was only taking place within the context of Filipino social gatherings. My old friends hardly existed for my wife and I had to really insist to get her to spend an evening with my former friends.

This isn’t just my wife’s mentality but rather a very widespread characteristic of the Filipino community here in Rome: they basically form a very closed sort of “enclave” and they almost only socialize with other Filipinos.

The gap between the Western veneer of the Philippines and the actual reality became more evident to me the first time I set foot in the Philippines. When I got out of the N.A.I.A. airport I found myself almost immediately on the Roxas Boulevard (which is very close to the airport) and because it was 11 pm the boulevard was full of neon lights.

A view of the Makati City Skyline from the EDSA Avenue (the “Western veneer” of the Philippines)

I had visited quite a few cities that have some American style skyscrapers and neon lights but nothing like what I saw in Manila in terms of the amount of neon lights and skyscrapers and the size of the shopping malls.

 

A typical house compound in San Ildefonso Bulacan where relatives live in close proximity (the reality behind the “veneer”)

So my very first impression of Manila by night, with it’s buildings entirely covered with neon lights, those massive fast-food restaurants, malls and skyscrapers (and the contrast between these things and the various Spanish-style Christian churches that I was noticing along the way) plus the huge karatula, most of which written in English, was that I had really landed in a Western country.

But when I arrived in San Ildefonso, Bulacan (my wife’s town) an entirely different reality revealed itself.

For example I noticed that my wife’s house compound was structured in such a way that the entire extended family lived in very close proximity and, as I walked along the M. Valte Road, I observed that, more or less, all compounds were structured in a similar way.

So I became aware that Filipinos have a concept of what constitutes a family that is miles away from the Western idea of family.

When I was in my mid-twenties my parents were eager to get rid of me and wanted me to find work and my own house as soon as possible, while in the Philippines parents expect their married sons and daughters to build their house in the family compound and never leave.

My brother lives 50 km away from me and we only see each other four or five times a year while my wife and her brother call each other every single day.

Although my mother is invalid she prefers paying a katulong to getting a bigger house where my wife and I could live close to her and give her some assistance while my wife’s mother lives with us.

So, yes, the Filipino concept of what constitutes a family is one of those areas in which the contrast between the Western veneer of the Philippines and its actual mentality is quite striking

So, if you are contemplating the idea of marrying a Filipina, don’t assume that you are going to marry a Western woman.

If you assume that you will pretty soon discover the truthfulness of what the “Culture Shock Philippines” book by Alfredo and Grace Roces says: “The Western visitor (or anyone who has long term relationships with Filipinos) may find he is speaking the same language but not communicating at all. With a sinking feeling he realises he is not in America or England or Canada, but in an entirely different world. Feeling betrayed, the Westerner retreats into his own shell”

To avoid finding yourself in the position described by the above mentioned book you need to operate from the premise that the various trappings of the Western world that abound in the Philippines only constitute a veneer and underneath this coating there is a culture that has a radically different concept of what constitutes a family.

But the kin-group culture is just one of the many aspects that set the Filipino society very far apart from the Western model of the world.

In past articles I have touched on other areas in which the Filipino culture is a vast universe, underneath the “Western coating”, that a Western husband of a Filipina needs to explore with huge amounts of radical openmindedness if he wants to avoid finding himself in the position of “speaking the same language while not being able to communicate at all”.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Culture Shock! Philippines: A Survival Guide to Customs and Etiquette

“Nanay Tatay Gusto ko….isang “Tagay””

Two of the Filipino songs that I used to listen to at the start of my journey with the Tagalog language are “Leron Leron” and the one that goes “nanay, tatay gusto kong tinapay. Ate, kuya gusto kong kape….lahat ng gusto mo ay gagawin ko”

It seems like the lyrics of “nanay, tatay gusto kong tinapay…” need to be slightly modified, based at least on what I am reading in this article

Drinking is hazardous to youth’s health

The article says, in part:

The cases of alcoholic drinking among the youngsters [between the age of 13 to 21 years old] have reached an alarming level compared to the recent past,”

This is indeed very alarming. “Philippine law sets the minimum legal drinking age at 18 but underage drinking is widespread,” wrote Joyce P. Valbuena in a report for Health Action Information Network (HAIN). “Most young people get alcohol from home with or without their parents’ permission. They know how to obtain alcohol—they are able to get it from friends or they can discreetly buy for themselves.”

What is even more alarming is the fact that more and more youngsters are now drinking than in the recent past. In a survey conducted by the University of the Philippines, 60 percent of Filipino youths today are drinking alcoholic beverages.

Even at a young age, Filipino teenagers are already drinking. A study conducted by the East-West Center (EWC) in Hawaii showed 11 percent of boys began to drink by age 15. Only 4 percentof the girls commenced to drink at that age

So it seems like many young people in the Philippines are no longer singing “nanay, tatay gusto kong tinapay” but rather “nanay, tatay gusto kong isang tagay” (“shot”) and even the final part of “Leron Leron” imbes na “isang pinggang pansit ang aking kalaban” ay nagiging “isang baso ng gin ang aking kalaban”…..

How Soon is too Soon to Get Married?

I remember talking to a young Filipina who must have been around 20-21 years old and asking her if she was still going to school or working (I actually thought she was 16-18 years old) and she said “no, I work to support my husband and my child in the Philippines”.

A lot of Filipinos get married and have children pretty soon in life. I know a lot of buntis or pregnant 18-25 year old Filipinas and a lot of very young Filipino couples who have kids before they even get adequate qualifications and a proper job.

I am not judging anybody, I just want to share my thoughts on the subject because I am an advocate of strategic thinking and moves.

I think one of the best strategic moves I have made in my life was my decision to take my time before getting married.

I got married at age 36 and I don’t regret at all waiting that long.

Few months ago I went through the Facebook profiles of some of the girls I was badly in love with when I was a teen-ager, and even in my early 20’s, and, by observing the stuff they post, I realized that the kind of person I am now, my top values and priorities, has absolutely nothing to do with what these women have become and marrying one of them 30 years ago or so would certainly have turned out to be a disaster.

What this tells me is that when I was too young my emotions were too wishy-washy and I was definitely not in the position to choose a person for life.

Also, I would have missed out on a lot of amazing trips around the world and adventures that have enriched my life beyond measure and that I could hardly have made had I chosen to be married (let alone having kids) in my early 20’s.

It is true that I still travel as a married person, and I have been to the Philippines a few times with my wife, and to a couple of more countries as well, but I used to travel abroad up to three times a year before getting married while now it only happens once in a while and, while in the Philippines, my wife is more inclined to visit friends and relatives than to go on some adventure.

I would have also missed out on the opportunity to have a meaningful share in an international volunteer work that I did for years that has also added meaning to my life while now I have to work secularly a lot more.

I would also have missed out on the opportunity to come up with a crystal clear life purpose and find out what my life is about. Figuring it out years down the road when you work hard and have kids is tricky to do and exposes one to the danger that husband and wife who got married too soon discover a life purpose and adopt a set of values that are entirely different than that of their spouse, so I think it is better to be in a relationship with a person who has already found out who he or she is and what he or she wants out of life. When you are too young your core ideas and values are too fuzzy.

On top of that I am in an interracial marriage which requires long years of groping for a bridge and, therefore, requires a lot of emotional intelligence and maturity to cope with culture-shock and I am sure that in my early 20’s I was just not prepared for those challenges.

I think that waiting until I was 36 to get married has definitely been a wise move.

One of my pre-marital adventures: swimming in a cold lake near the Arctic Circle around age 30

Ang Pangmalas ng Isang Foreigner Tungkol sa Extended Family (video)

Sa (medyo lumang) videong ito ipinakikipag-usap ko ang tungkol sa kung papaano magkaroon (sa palagay ko at batay sa karanasan ko) ng isang timbang na pangmalas tungkol sa Pilipinong kultura ng extended family kapag ang isang Pilipina ay may asawa na galing sa isang Western na bansa.

Paminsan-minsan nais kong i-shoot ang mga video (kaunti at maikli lang…binura ko ang ilang mga video dahil wala masyadong saysay ang mga iyon) at baka ako ay magiging ang isang YouTubero……(kanya-kanyang diskarte: may mga tubero at may mga YouTubero)

Is Poverty Inevitable or a Choice?

Street vendors in Manila

The idea for this post came to me after reading this article on “Rappler”

https://www.rappler.com/thought-leaders/167915-poverty-not-a-choice

When I talk about poverty I don’t quite mean that living a spartan and minimalistic life is bad. On the contrary, I am the number one advocate of a simple life, as I value reading, meditating, spending time alone in nature and finding a higher purpose in life much more than I value things (that many poor Filipinos actually value a lot) like cars, the latest electronic gadgets and so on.

If I were not married I could perfectly live without a car and I would be happy with a 15 square-meter apartment (by a lake or anywhere else close to nature).

On the other hand I would not like at all being a squatter in a place like Tondo or living under a bridge in Manila and I don’t like getting into debt.

So, although I am an advocate of a simple life, I truly believe that extreme poverty sucks and, unfortunately there are many Filipinos who live in extremely difficult economical situations and I have seen plenty of squatters, not only in Manila but also in Bulacan, on the riverbank of the Calumpit River.

As the “Rappler” article says, sometimes poverty is beyond one’s choice: if I were born in a family of squatters in the Philippines, and had poor health and no higher education, I could do very little about it and I couldn’t even move abroad, as Filipinos who live in Italy are people who already had some connections here, some family support or at least some savings.

Filipinos who come here are not the super-destitute, most of them have higher education, good health and speak English fluently and, as I’ve said, usually they have connections here, as here in Rome we have big Filipino families where each one is somehow related to someone else in town or somewhere else in the country.

So, as the “Rappler” article says there are Filipinos who, due to their circumstances and family upbringing, could hardly escape poverty and they could never even make it to another country to change their circumstances.

The flip side of the coin is that I know Filipinos who have been living in my country for 20-30 years and yet they are dead broke and mired in utang or debt, as I have already said in some of my posts.

I understand that these days the Italian economy is in recession and the cost of living is too high and so even the most hardworking and self-disciplined person may struggle to make ends meet.

But it was not this way 10-15 years ago, the economy was still doing pretty well and there was much room for saving up, and yet most Filipinos whom I know were already stuck in debt 15-20 years ago and they still are.

Is their poverty the result of a choice?

Honestly speaking the condition of many O.F.W. shows that, although there are extreme circumstances that keep millions of Filipinos stuck in extreme poverty, there are thousands of others who have had plenty of chances to break free from poverty (and, most of all, utang) and yet they have mismanaged their chances and they live in a foreign country almost as if they had never left the Philippines.

So, is poverty inevitable or a choice?

For millions of super-destitute Filipinos who are not much in the position to change their circumstances it is evidently not a choice but, based on my observation of the life of many O.F.W. here, there are thousands of Pinoy who choose to be poor because they have moved their bodies here but they haven’t parted with the bahala-na si Batman mentality.

Gaano Karaming Alak ang Masyadong Marami?

Sinasabi ng ilan na walang problema kung ang isang tao ay umiinom ng isang baso ng alak o isang lata ng beer lang.

Totoo ba ito?

Bweno, depende sa:

Kung gaano kalaki ang baso ng alak

Kung ano ang “grado” ng isang lata ng beer

Mas matapang yata ito kaysa sa Red Horse

May pagkakataon na kahit ang isang baso o ang isang lata lang ay nagiging pampatunaw (…ng atay)….

http://buildingfilipinowesternbridges.com/2019/10/19/binge-drinking-in-the-philippines-or-inuman-the-magnitude-of-the-phenomenon/

“Ulo” ng Pamilya and “Utak” ng Pamilya

Riding on a “sasakyan” with tito Benje to take his wife home after teaching

One of the things that my Filipino wife used to tell me was “ikaw ang ulo ng pamilya, ako ang utakmeaning “you are the head of the family while I am the brain”.

While in my family we have a proper and balanced view of headship and it is not (not always at least) quite the case that ako ang ulo at siya ang utak, in quite a few Filipino families the husband is indeed the ulo while the wife is the utak.

I remember meeting one of my wife’s kapitbahay or neighbor in the Philippines whose wife is a propesora in a high school situated in the Dona Remedios Trinidad area in the mountain region of the province of Bulacan and he is a tricycle driver and basically his main job was taking his wife to work and take her back.

A Filipino friend of mine once told me that in the Philippines many wives are engineers (or they have other higher qualifications) while their husbands are gingineers, as they spend the day sitting idly and drinking gin.

As I said in some of my articles about the macho-machunuring (submissive and henpecked macho), wives often take the lead in a Filipino family.

When this happens it can really be said that the asawang lalaki ay ang ulo ng pamilya while the wife is ang utak….

https://buildingfilipinowesternbridges.wordpress.com/2018/10/29/is-the-philippines-is-a-matriarchal-society/

http://buildingfilipinowesternbridges.com/2019/10/19/the-stereotype-traditional-image-of-maria-clara-vs-the-modern-filipina/

Filipinos Rule the Internet World!

As I was going through my Facebook notifications earlier today, I stumbled upon a post from Filipinos AroundTheWorld that, much to my surprise (…lol), basically says that Filipinos rule the internet world and, more specifically, that Filipinos use Facebook more than any other group.

I briefly went through the comment section and, after reading a few comments that say things along the lines of “yes, I am proud to be Filipino” or “such a good way to connect big families and friends”, I came across a comment (followed by few others that convey the same message) that raises the question: “is that something to be proud of?”.

Because I speak Tagalog and Rome is full of Filipinos (you can find them at every bus stop or in any subway station), I like to approach them and strike up a conversation in Tagalog but, more often than not, they either completely ignore me or they just don’t get that I am talking to them in their own language because they are too busy checking their notifications and they walk away not even watching their step because their eyes are fixed on the screen of their gadget.

I got to know my wife back in the early 2000’s and, immediately after my relationship began, I also started associating with Filipinos who are part of the vast Filipino community of Rome.

One of the things that caught my attention is that they appeared to be way more technologically literate than most Italians.

Although back then there was no such thing as modern smart phones, there were already handheld computers that could be connected to a cell phone via infrared and, slightly later, via bluetooth.

The first time I saw an electronic organizer or a handheld computer was through Filipinos who were among the first people in Italy to have those kinds of gadgets that very few people in my country knew about.

In my conversations with them there was one word that was constantly on their mouths and that word was “Friendster”.

I had no idea what the heck that thing was all about and whenever I asked for clarifications they would say that Friendster was a social network. I had no idea what a social network was.

So, long before Facebook appeared here in Italy, and when social networks were still completely foreign to me and to most Italians, Filipinos expatriates who lived in Italy were already abreast with the social media culture that was getting started.

And today Filipinos rank as the country that has the most Facebook users.

Is that something to be proud of?

There is a nice Pinoy song entitled “Himig ng Pag-ibig” that has this nice line: “bawat sandali ay mahalaga” (“every instant is precious”). Most people, not just Filipinos, who are Facebook junkies (like someone in the comment section of the Facebook post I mentioned above who prides himself for being on fb 18 hours a day) just don’t realize how many things could be accomplished in few “sandali“, like, for instance, making progress with the language of the country where Pinoy expatriates work and that, by the way, is also the native language of their children.

It took me about a couple of years to become fluent in Tagalog by only spending 5-10 minutes a day (and only rarely longer periods, as I didn’t have the luxury to devote more time to this undertaking). I am not saying it to brag, I am just making a point and the point is that bawat sandali is mahalaga indeed given the countless productive things one could be doing by cutting back on excessive and, often thrivial, use of social media to buy out few extra sandali

“Bawat sandali ay mahalaga” also to give one’s spouse the gift of undivided attention.

“Bawat sandali ay mahalaga” to exercise a little bit, to read a book, pray, meditate, blog or to do anything else that can improve the quality of one’s life.

So, do you really think that being the country with the most social media users is something to be proud of?