One of the hallmark characteristics of Filipinos that I keep mentioning in this blog is the desire to always be on a high and to have some form of libangan or distraction.
Filipinos are not masaya unless there is pagkain, pelikula, internet, pakikisama, social media, salu-salo or any other form of distraction.
Many Filipinos, whom I know and interact with, seem to have an underlying feeling of restlessness that constantly pushes them to look for occasions to get some form of stimulation and libangan.
Where does the need for constant libangan ultimately stem from?
There is an interesting quote from Blaise Pascal: Blaise Pascal said that most of our problems stem from lack of the ability to sit alone and quietly in an empty room. We fear the silence of existence and boredom and we must fill it with some distraction.
Rarely can Filipinos (at least the ones I have regular dealings with….many Filipino fellow-bloggers of mine are actually quite different) sit still in silence and bask in being.
This is, I guess, an attempt to run away from the fact that being, at its fundamental level and stripped of all the noise of doing and activity, is hollow.
Human beings, generally speaking, cannot stand silence and stillness.
The reason is probably the fact that the void of silence and stillness calls to mind that libingan is what awaits us. People who cannot stand katahimikan are probably trying to run away from the reality of libingan.
The Philippines is one of those cultures where this fear of katahimikan and the need to fill every single hour with some libangan (many Filipinos listen to music or use their gadgets even while they are working) is particularly strong.
And the giant karatula that can be seen everywhere in the Philippines encourage Filipinos to buy, consume and have plenty of libangan.
The reality is that running away from libingan with too much libangan often leads to early libingan as many Filipinos ruin their health with too much pagkain or alak.
The fact that in Tagalog only a vowel separates the concept of libangan from that of libingan shows that these two things are actually closely related.
Running away from the reality of libingan gets Filipinos to stuff their lives with sobrang libangan and this often leads to libingan….more food for thought bilang pampatunaw….
While in the Philippines I got my copy of the Noli Me Tangere by Jose Rizal, the Tagalog translation of it (one of my favourite places in the Philippines is the National Book Store that can be found in many SM malls).
I find it a great way to practice malalim na Tagalog.
While reading chapter 11, I came across a character named Pilosopo Tasyo. He was known as Don Atanasio by the taong may pinag-aralan or as Tasyo by the mga walang pinag-aralan. He is described as a man who was madalas makitang palibut-libot sa mga lansangab nang walang tiyak na pakitunguhan (like most reasonings of philosophers for that matter).
Anyway, on page 85 of the Tagalog version of the Noli, said pilosopo says something quite interesting and telling about one of the core beliefs of the mainstream religion of the Philippines, the “Purgatory”: hindi man lamang daw nabanggit ni Hesukristo at ni Moises ang Purgatorio. Wala raw sa Bibliya at sa Santong Ebanghelio ang Purgatorio .
The religion that the Spanish passed on to the Filipino was already the result of layers upon layers of tradition built on top of the original nugget of Christianity and Filipinos mixed it even further with some of the traditions of their mga ninuno.
As the Culture Shock Philippines book by Alfredo and Grace Roces says on page 208, “Lenten rites have also been adopted in non-Christian folk rituals, borrowing the exotic features of the elaborate Spanish Catholic ceremonies to perpetuate occult beliefs”.
On page 209 it adds: “as Lenten rites demonstrate, folk Catholicism among Filipinos….reveals….a deep persistence of pre-Christian values and the ability to selectively borrow outward motifs of Christian beliefs for their own sets of beliefs and values”.
So, some of the doctrines of Christianity, like the Purgatoryo for example, are not directly taught in the Bible, as Pilosopo Tasyo said, and Filipinos have stack even more tradition on top of that.
Anyway, on a lighter note, although here in Italy summer has refused to show up during the months of May and June, we are experiencing some impyerno at the beginning of July.
The weather abruptly changed from winter to extremely hot summer without any meteorological purgatoryo.
And when the weather is like impyerno the asawang babae becomes mainit ang ulo.
It’s a very simple equation: mainit ang panahon=mainit ang ulo.
How do I cope with it?
In addition to the air conditioning unit we already have, we’ve bought ourselves a portable one.
Yesterday night we slept with ang isang electric fan sa kaliwa at isa sa kanan + the portable air con unit.
This way medyo lumalamig ang ulo.
What about you? Are you experiencing impyerno this summer?
An even more profound question would be: if, as Pilosopo Tasyo said, Purgatoryois a tradition that is not grounded in the original teachings of Christianity, what about Impyerno?
We can’t even cope with hot weather so how would a loving God punish some people forever in the Impyerno?
Just a little morning reflection…bilang “pampatunaw”…
Back in 2008 I bought myself one of those fancy t-shirts with funny logos that are sold in the Philippines.
One of those logos said “Bahala-na Republic”, a play on words for the expression “Banana Republic”.
The reason why the Philippines is described on my t-shirt as a “Bahala-na Republic” is because in the Philippines there is the bahala-na or bahala-na si Bathala mindset.
Bahala means something like “taking care”.
For example Filipinos use the expression bahala ka sa buhay mo meaning “you take care of yourself”.
Na basically meansalready
Bahala-na si Bathala
Filipinos use the expressions bahala-na and bahala-na si Bathala.
Actually the very word bahala comes from Bathala.
Who is Bathala?
“The word Bathala is believed to have come from the Sanskrit Bhattara Guru or “the highest of the gods.”
In Philippine mythology, the highest-ranking god of the ancient Tagalog people is Bathala, also known as or Maykapal or Abba. Bathala is the creator of all things — the sea, the sky, the earth, and all the plants. He dwelt in the highest realm of the sky….It was after the arrival of the Spanish missionaries on Philippine shores in the 16th century that Bathala came to be associated with the Christian God, who is referred to as Panginoon (Tagalog) or Diyos (from the Spanish Dios)”- source https://www.tagaloglang.com/bathala-the-tagalog-god/
So bahala-na si Bathala means “God will take care”.
Bahala-na as faith
There are events we can’t control and in the Philippines there are many such events like super-typhoons for example.
I experienced a fierce bagyo or typhoon while in the Philippines, back in 2008, and I think I have an idea of what it is like to feel powerless and at a loss of what to do in the face of those cataclismic events.
Those natural calamities are definitely beyond human control.
In the face of events that are beyond human control those who have a solidly grounded faith in God or Bathala can cope with the uncertainty and maintain a measure of peace of mind, and, in fact, the biblical Bathala says something along the lines of “do not be afraid for I am with you” and Bathala also says “trust in God with all your heart and do not lean upon your own understanding” and the Bible mentions the “peace of God that surpasses all thoughts”.
So Bahala-na si Bathala in the sense of serious faith in God’s ability to intervene or, at least, provide peace of mind, is a form of protection for those who have this kind of faith.
Bahala-na as fatalism
However, more often than not, the average Filipino who displays a Bahala-na attitude doesn’t quite come from a position of serious faith but, because for most Filipinos (as well as for most followers of any mainstream religion in any part of the world) the approach to spirituality is rather shallow and it is nothing more than the following of a bunch of traditions and rituals, this attitude seems to have a more fatalistic que sera sera flavor, not only toward events beyond human control like typhoons and so on but also toward the consequences of lack of planning and poor decisions.
Bahala-na and the law of cause and effect
So how do many Filipinos deal with things they can control?
Well, from my position as husband of a Filipina I observe a lot of attitudes in the Filipinos I interact with that border on indolence or, in some cases, even sheer irresponsibility.
I have met Filipinos who have fancy cars and the latest electronic gadgets but they are baon sa utang or mired in debt.
Others make kids as soon as they move to my country before they find a proper job or house.
Others share their apartment with another family to be able to buy an expensive car, eat out often, send money home to support a lot of relatives who don’t always have real emergencies.
And they dismiss the possibility that they might not be able to pay back their debts, support their children and find themselves in other dire situations with a bahala-na approach.
Nature teaches us that every cause produces an effect and this law is ruthless: if we sow badly we reap bad consequences.
The famous motivational speaker Jim Rohn once said that “casualness leads to casualties”.
Casualness, neglect, lack of planning produce negative consequences that could be avoided by making better decisions upstream and in some areas Filipinos tend to be rather kampante (leave things to chance).
Is Bathala always bahala?
In modern Philippine society Bathala is the Christian God and most Filipinos belong to religious groups that are supposed to base their beliefs on the Bible.
Is the biblical Bathala always bahala no matter what one does?
Well, as far as I know, the biblical Bathala gives a lot of babala (warnings) like for example:
“If someone wants to build a tower he should calculate the expense”, Jesus said that in the Sermon on the Mount.
For example if a poor Filipino wants to have a lot of children he should make sure that he has the possibility to support them or “calculate the expense”.
If he fails to plan ahead and shows pagwawalang-bahala (carelessness) for the babala of Bathala is Bathala going to rescue him from the ikinababahala (worries) of his hasty move?
Maybe what Bathala will say to him is bahala ka (you fix your problem), not bahala ako, because I have given you the babala and you have shown pagwawalang-bahala for my babala…..or something along these lines.
Many Filipinos neglect their health:
for example many consume a little bit too much alcohol
Alak (alcohol), says Bathala, is “pampasaya ng puso” (makes the heart rejoice) but Bathala also gives the babala that one should only be drinking “kaunting alak” (a little bit of alcohol) not kaunti container as many Filipinos like to do,otherwise alak becomes pampasaya ng mayari ng sari-sari store (pampasaya of the owner of the grocery store) and not pampasaya ng puso.
With regard to alakBathala gives a lot of babala like “ang lasenggo at matakaw ay maghihirap” (the drunk and the glutton will go broke).
And one of the babala that Bathala gives is the equivalent of the law of cause and effect: “anuman ang inihahasik…iyon ang aanihin” (you reap what you sow).
Bathala is not always bahala
Bathala is not always bahala, rather apart from events we can’t control we generally reap what we sow and…. bahala tayo not Bathala.
Yes, Bathala is not always bahala, rather we reap what we sow…and yesterday I saw a bottle of nice Chianti Red wine and bought it to sip some kaunting wine (not container) as pampasayang puso…
As husband of a Filipina I have been puzzled with this question “what is the standard of beauty in the Philippines?” for a long time because, as you may expect, I am focused on making my relationship thrive and one of the ways I can do that is by meeting my Filipino wife’s standards among which there is the Filipino standard of beauty.
A husband has to be beautiful from the standpoint of his wife and viceversa and if one is purely focused on inner beauty and is careless about outward appearance while the other values outward beauty (in the broad sense of the word, meaning also dressing, etiquette and manners) a lot there is going to be a mismatch.
So what is the standard of beauty in the Philippines?
Because I have been in a relationship with a Filipina for 20 years now, I have come up with my own analysis and my own conclusions about the Filipino mentality and one of the things that I have repeatedly mentioned in my blog is that Filipinos tend to be more drawn to situations that create a state of masaya (temporary happiness induced by external stimulation) than by things that create a more permanent state of maligaya.
In the Philippines success is primarily measured by external metrics, most Filipinos devote more energy to conquering the world outside than they do to mastering the world within.
Filipinos value things like a fancy car, a nice house in an exclusive condo, the latest electronic gadgets and so on and the Filipino society is structured and organized to cater to the masaya over maligaya mindset.
As I’ve said before, the Philippines is full of giant karatula or billboards that push people to buy and consume, there are huge shopping malls everywhere, TV programs tend to mostly spread gossip about celebrities, beauty pageants are very popular in the Philippines and Filipinos who use social media do so primarily to post selfies to show to the world how cute and sexy they are.
This pretty much answers the question “what is the standard of beauty in the Philippines?”.
The standard of beauty in the Philippines is gwapo (having beautiful looks), sexy, cute and so on.
In much the same way as in the Philippines food has to be masarap (tasty) rather than masustansya or healthy (or let’s say that even when they talk about masustansya or “having substance” they mean food that fills you up or makes you busog not necessarily food that is full of healthy nutrients), a man must be gwapo ratherthan “beautiful inside”, a lady must be sexy and a child (or even a pet) must be cute.
Another gauge to measure the standard of beauty in the Philippines and in the Filipino culture is the extent to which the media have been talking about Catriona Gray or other Filipinas who have won Miss Universe or some other beauty contests. If you are active on social media and have Pinoy fb friends, you might have noticed that up until few months ago Catriona Gray was one of the main hot topics.
I personally believe that if one stakes his or her life too much on external beauty or success in general he or she has greater chances to fall into the darkness of depression when beauty fades away and other external things are taken away or lost.
So I am personally much more oriented toward developing the panloob na pagkatao or the “man within”.
I think in Europe and in the West in general there are more people who value introspection and developing inner qualities, through reading and meditating, than there are among Pinoy people (at very least the ones I have been interacting with for two decades).
Yet, as husband of a Filipina I must acknowledge that she comes from a culture where outward appearance does matter and, therefore, I have had to make some adjustments and pay more attention to the way I dress, my manners and other things that enhance my outward appearance.
Filipinos use adjectives like gwapo, sexy and cute quite a lot and, therefore if you marry a Filipina you will likely have to work on pleasing her under this aspect and try to be as gwapo as you can.
That is not to say that Filipinas only marry people who have outstanding looks, actually they often even marry much older people who are not necessarily super-gwapo but, regardless of the extent to which one is gwapo, someone married to a Filipina must pay attention to outward appearance in the broader sense of the word.
In the Filipino culture there is this strong sense of hiya or shame and much of what Filipinos do or avoid doing is the result of their being overly sensitive to what other people think.
So, if you marry a Filipina, you cannot remain oblivious to social cues pointing to the fact that the way you are projecting yourself outward is causing hiya to your spouse and to the whole kin-group.
As for me, one of my missions through this blog and in my daily interactions with Filipinos is to share my ideas that maligaya is more precious than masaya and that the panloob na pagkatao is what remains when the kagwapohan (hope this is correct) fades away…..
“Bilang banyagang asawa ng isang Pilipina, isa sa mga bagay na napansin ko sa mga Pilipino ay na marami ang mahilig sa kung ano ang nagdudulot ng pansamantalang kaluguran.
Ang Pilipinas ay punong-puno ng mga fast-food na restaurant, mga malaking karatula na nag-aadvertise ng lahat ng uri ng gadget o ibang bagay na nagdudulot ng pagiging masaya.
Maraming mga Pinoy na kilala ko, ay mahilig manood ng maraming TV, mag-Facebook, kumain ng junk food at iba pa.
Ang lahat ng mga bagay na ito ay may kinalaman sa kung ano ang tinatawag ko na pansamantalang pagtatamasa ng kaluguran.
Actually, sa aking pakikipag-usap sa mga kaibigan kong Pinoy, mas naririnig ko ang salitang masaya kaysa sa salitang maligaya.
Sa tingin ko ang pagiging masaya ay ang isang pansamantalang kaluguran na pwede lang tamasahin kapag may libangan, masarap na pagkain, sex o ibang uri ng bagay na pumupukaw ng kaluguran.
Ang kaligayahan naman ay isang mas namamalaging kalagayan na hindi nakakadepende sa pagkakaroon ng libangan, pagkain o iba pa.
Ano ba ang punto ko at ano ang kinalaman nito sa pagkakaroon ng isang matagumpay na romantikong relasyon?
Bweno, ang punto ko ay na mas magiging matagumpay ang isang romantikong relasyon kung ang hinahanap natin sa ating kabiyak ay kung ano ang nagdudulot ng namamalaging kaligayahan sa halip na basta lang ang mga bagay na nagdudulot ng pansamantalang kasiyahan.
Ang isa sa mga bagay na, batay sa nakikita ko, ay baka sobrang mahalaga para sa mga Pilipina ay ang panlabas na hitsura at ang pisikal na kagandahan.
Dahil tiyak na darating ang araw na maglalaho ang pisikal na kagandahan, maliwanag na ito ay isa sa mga bagay na pwede lang magdulot ng talagang maikli at pansamantalang yugto ng kasiyahan sa relasyon.
Para makapagtamasa ng permanenteng kaligayahan na magtatagal kahit magkasakit ang ating kabiyak o kahit ano ang mangyayari sa kanya o sa atin, sa tingin ko, mas mabuti mag-invest sa pagtatayo ng panloob na pagkatao para talagang maranasan ang isang matibay na relasyon.
Bweno, ito ang aking opinyon lang bilang isang banyagang asawa ng isang Pilipina at syempre naman ang bawat isa ay may karapatan na piliin kung ano ang kanyang gustong makita sa isang partner.
Ang masasabi ko lang, batay sa aking karanasan, ay na ang sobrang pagbibigay pansin sa hitsura ay nagdudulot ng kabiguan sa bandang huli”.
The first time I visited the Philippines I met C. (I am not going to reveal her name for privacy reasons), a young lady who used to be some kind of au pair in my mother in law’s house.
She was studying agricultural engineering at the Bulacan Agricultural State College.
C. is now a successful engineer and she also travels abroad for work, she was in Japan recently.
What struck me is that I saw C. ‘s house that is situated in a nearby barangay close to the Sierra Madre Mountains and I noticed that her parents’ house is the simplest of homes which evidently means that she is from a very poor family. Her parents’ house is one of those “patchwork” homes made out of different materials including hollow blocks that are not coated with plaster and that have a metal sheet as roof.
C. is not the only Filipina I met in the Philippines who never thought of moving abroad and if a very poor lady like C. can do it this means that many more could do it.
It is true that life is tough in the Philippines but while people like C. are masipag (industrious) a lot of Filipinos ay nakatambay lang, they just hang out aimlessly. Sometimes you can spot them sipping hard drinks while being engaged in kwentuan or maBOTEng usapan.
So by being masipag and staying away from bisyo some Filipinos could actually make it in the Philippines, not necessarily becoming as successful as C. but at least managing to create a situation where they have a decent life and, more importantly, don’t have to leave their family members in the Philippines to go to work as seamen or somewhere in places like Hong Kong, Saudi or even in wealthy Europe, U.S. or Australia.
As I have already mentioned in this blog, I know Pinoy families here in Italy that had a very hard time reuniting and, actually, even when they managed to obtain the entry visas for their spouse and kids, they kept living apart from them because they were working live-in while their family was living in another apartment.
As husband of a Filipina, and observer of the Pinoy culture and mentality, what strikes me is that Filipinos are very religious and their religion is theoretically all about “family first”, I mean that the Bible talks about being physically present to raise and train one’s kids and it also says that it is better to eat vegetables in a house where there is love (and by the way veggies are good for you, I’ve lost 30kg by going green….) than a fattened bull (or maybe baboy, I have never heard about Filipinos eating bull) in a house where there is no love (perhaps a 10 square meter basement in the mansion of your employer in a rich country where you only communicate with your spouse and kids through internet).
I actually know a Pinoy family that left Italy for good and moved back to the Philippines and they are doing pretty well (and when they left they had neither a mansion in the Philippines nor big savings). He is a guy who has no bisyo whatsoever and is very masipag and has a “family first no matter what” mindset.
Becoming an OFW is definitely not the only option and even if you do become an OFW I am here to tell you that there is a very big chance that the cost and the pain involved could turn out to be far greater than the gains.
Tagalog has a rather interesting terminology related to work: the English word work in Tagalog is trabaho. The word pagpapagal conveys the idea of effort, strain or very hard work.
These words well describe the condition of hard working people like the magsasaka or farmer or other categories of isang kahig isang tuka folks (people who scratch and peck to barely survive).
Public officials however, or mga empleyado ng gobyerno, are referred to as people who have a pwesto.
Now, while in English the word used in connection with what public officials do is office which tells me that those people render some kind of service to the public, the Tagalog word pwesto seems to tell me that in the Philippines public officials view their job as a pwesto or a position rather than an office or a service.
Is it just terminology or is there some truth behind these differences in terminology?……
I’ve already mentioned how so many Filipinos neglect their health. Many suffer from high blood pressure and other diseases because they probably consume too much white rice, drink a lot of soft drinks and several men drink plenty of alcohol.
Yet Filipinos seem to be fond of a bunch of “cure-all” things.
One of those “cure-all” remedies that can invariably be found both in the homes of Filipinos in the Philippines and expatriate ones is liniment oils that come in two varieties that have a similar fragrance but they are slightly different as one is more like a cream while the other is an oil: I am talking about Omega Pain Killer and Efficascent Oil.
I am not a doctor so I have no idea about the actual benefits of these products but I find these liniments to be much more effective than their, much more expensive, Italian counterparts that don’t even emanate a pleasant smell while, at least, the Filipino ones smell pretty nice actually.
These oils are supposed to be used for the treatment, control, prevention and improvement of a lot of conditions and symptoms: back pain, joint pain, muscle pain, asthma, cough, arthritis, itching, cold sores, nerve pain and even hemorrhoids!
I am not sure about these claims but when I spread it on my skin the smell is quite nice and the body part where I spread the ointment feels quite warm and inflammation usually gets killed in no time.
However, apart from the above mentioned ointments, there is another cure-all liquid that really kills all kinds of problems and that is gin (or other kinds of hard drinks for that matter). Gin is pampatunaw (it causes excessive food that you may have eaten to melt away), pampatulog (it makes you sleep), pampagana (it gets you going) and pampainit (it warms you up).
Filipinos have a rather casual approach to health but, at least, they have their cure all remedies that are good for a wide range of issues
I got to know my wife back in the early 2000’s. 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 one.
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.
I remember checking my wife’s email shortly after we got married and in the inbox there was plenty of notifications from Facebook. I had no idea what that was.
My wife, like most Filipinos here, was on Friendster in the early part of the 3rd millennium and, as soon as Facebook appeared, she already had an account.
Although nowadays almost every Italian I know has a FB account there are still a few who just refuse to have one and many who do have one but use it sparingly.
I don’t know a single Pinoy who doesn’t have a FB account and most Filipinos whom I know post stuff every single day several times a day.
A Filipino wife is most likely one who is on social media day in and day out and is probably very active.
The ‘sedentary’ forms of entertainment that my wife likes (as most Pinoy I know) sometimes create within me forms of resistance as I would like to take her out for a walk in nature or downtown Rome where couples from all over the world walk the old streets of cobblestones hand in hand and enjoy romantic moments. Yet, she prefers to spend much of her free time in front of her smart phone.
Again if I want to build a bridge I can’t “bash the habitat that I myself have chosen to inhabit” as the “Culture Shock Philippines” book by Alfredo and Grace Roces puts it and expect that a Filipina will part with her FB account.
So, I opened an account myself and we now have a joint FB account where we enjoy romantic time together posting our best pictures that are part of the history of our relationship and that call back to our minds the nice experiences we had together.
It is true that, like most Westerners, I prefer more dynamic forms of entertainment and I would love to travel more and go out for a walk with my wife more often but I somehow learned to take pleasure in cuddling with my wife while posting pictures of romantic moments we had together and by looking at the details of those pictures and our facial expressions I realize that we have enjoyed and are still enjoying a great relationship.
Building an emotional bridge may entail getting to like things you are not naturally inclined to do instead of dismissing them.
I’ve found ways to enjoy doing what she likes doing and FB has created added value in our mixed-relationship.
I’ve written an article about the bayanihan spirit of Filipinos and I cannot help but appreciate how Filipinos help one another in times of need.
I’ve also repeatedly mentioned the self-sacrificing spirit of expatriates who are willing to share their apartments with other families thereby sacrificing their personal comfort to have more money to send home.
These aspects may seem to indicate that the Philippines is one of the most unselfish societies in the world.
However I’ve noticed aspects that massively counterbalance the above mentioned unselfish ways that I so much admire.
Take for example how Filipinos drive their cars: if you have ever been to Manila you could not help but notice how drivers cut other drivers off and squeeze into their lane all the time.
Another “selfish” trait is their lack of ability to queue at the bank or even at social gatherings when food is on the table.
One aspect that impressed me is the sharp contrast between how homes are kept clean inside but, very often, the outside has no coating or paint on the naked blocks that make up the facade. This seems to convey the message “my private space first”.
In other words Filipinos, in general, tend to put their own interest (me first, my household first) before other people and ahead of the general interest of the community.
Although they have unselfish ways, by and large their self-interest and that of their family seems to prevail over that of the community and the bayanihan spirit only partly counterbalances a short-sighted pursuit of self-interest in disregard of the public welfare.
That private interest is something that prevails over public interest is also evident in how tourist spots like Baguio or Boracay have been greatly damaged to the point that the government has had to make the drastic decision to close Boracay Island for several months to repair the extensive damage brought about by greedy self-interest.
Filipinos have amazing generous ways but the overall short-term thinking keeps them from creating a society where the general interest of the community is more important than self and kin group.
So, how do you build a bridge if you are a Westerner who is concerned with public interest and your Filipino spouse is more ako at ang pamilya ko muna and you cannot see eye to eye under this aspect?
You can do so by choosing to focus on what’s working rather than what’s not working in your spouse’s culture and there is no doubt that the unselfish care your Filipino spouse likely has for her family, including you, is something you can decide to consistently focus on.
If your wife is Filipino you have certainly come across “Magic Sing” and if you are contemplating entering a relationship with a Filipina you certainly will. Almost every Philippine home has a “Magic Sing” karaoke machine (or similar brands), even poor homes built of hollow blocks with no coating outside and no tiles on the floor often have one.
The Magic Sing microphone is basically a digital mic that turns your television (Filipinos usually have massive flat screens) into a karaoke machine.
Singing is what the pop culture in the Philippines is all about. Singing is at the center of several modern reality shows, and even Filipino celebrities, like boxer Manny Pacquiao or the former president Gloria Arroyo, sing in public .
What a Westerner might find a bit strange about the music taste of Filipinos though, is that the song lists of the most famous Karaoke machines feature songs that have no apparent connection whatsoever. Pop songs of the “70’s and “80’s such as “Woman in Love” by Barbara Streisand for example or, let’s say “Tragedy” by the Bee Gees may appear in the same song list as hard rock songs like “Smoke on the Water” by the Deep Purple or songs by such bands as The Scorpions, Kansas etc.
We in the Western world tend to divide ourselves into different music genre lovers such as rockers, rappers, punks or those who love disco music, pop etc., while most Filipinos lump all these styles together in the same karaoke device.
While I find it a little weird that my wife likes singing Celine Dion’s songs as much as she likes singing “Dust in the Wind” by Kansas (and the list of unlikely combinations could go on and on), this is in reality something I take advantage of to establish a common ground and build the “bridge” I often mention in this blog
I play the guitar and I love fingerpicking and this is a wonderful way to build a bridge with a Filipina, as the songs my wife learned through karaoke include tons of acoustic songs I have grown up with, like the rock ballads of Led Zeppelin, Scorpions etc.. So, one of the ways I create a common ground with my wife is by playing rock ballads I like on the guitar (and that she learned through “Magic Sing” how to sing) while she sings along.
So, because through the “Magic Sing” Filipinos learn how to sing “a bit of everything”, your Filipino wife can most likely sing one of the songs you like and, if you are a guitar player, you could actually go to Pampanga or other areas where Filipinos produce handmade guitars and get yourself one that you can use to make your own version of “Magic Sing” with your Filipino wife.
I got a solid-top acoustic guitar that can be hooked to an amplifier at the Pampanga Shopping Mall for only 5000 pesos and this guitar is my powerful tool for “music bridge building”.
There are actually lots of Filipino acoustic songs you could learn how to play and by playing these songs you could actually go the extra mile and build instant rapport with Filipinos. I am talking about songs like “Sa Kabukiran” by Freddie Aguilar, “Ordinary Song” by Marc Velasco, “Himig ng Pag-ibig” by Asin, “Pagdating ng Panahon” by Aiza Seguerra and countless others that you can have fun playing while your Filipino spouse sings along.