The Filipino Concept of Sincerity vs the Western Idea of Sincerity

A typical house compound where different family units belonging to the same extended family live

The “Culture Shock Philippines” book defines the Filipino culture as a culture that is “people oriented” while Western cultures tend to be more “goal oriented”.

So the question “are Westerners more sincere than Filipinos?” must be viewed in the light of the “people oriented” over “goal oriented” frame that Filipinos operate from in almost every situation.

I have already touched on this aspect in my article about the Filipino concept of sincerity and, again, I must give credit to the “Culture Shock Philippines” book by Alfredo and Grace Roces where I got this idea from that greatly helped me understand my wife’s psychology.

The book says something along the lines of ‘a Westerner doesn’t hold back from telling it “as it is” if a CAUSE or a higher goal is at stake. For example a Western boss will likely not think twice before scolding a secretary for arriving late at work and even if she cries he will keep scolding her because the cause of punctuality is more important than her feelings and if she gets hurt so be it’.

Filipinos prefer keeping SMOOTH INTERPERSONAL RELATIONSHIPS and, more often than not, would rather sacrifice a cause than hurt somebody.

How does this knowledge affect your intimate relationship with a Filipina?

Often you have to put a “smooth relationship” with both her and her family above other goals and values.

For example, it might happen that your Filipina spouse will try to please both you and her extended family, even if this entails saying one thing to you and it’s opposite to her family, because SMOOTH INTERPERSONAL RELATIONSHIPS always take precedence, and I have seen it happening countless times.

So when your Filipina seems to be dealing with you in half-truths, as Filipinos often do, the question “are Westerners more sincere than Filipinos?” should be replaced with “how is she trying to move on the razor’s edge of trying to be both loyal to me and to her family or to other fellow Filipinos?”

Another thing to remember when the question “are Westerners more sincere than Filipinos?” arises in your mind is that probably us Westerners tend to be more straightforward in one to one relationships but in my country, as well as in most Western countries, politicians, business people, advertisers, car dealers and many others deal not just in half-truths but rather in plain lies.

Here in Italy politicians promise new jobs (like a former prime minister who promised 1,000,000 new jobs in few years), new infrastructures, better social welfare and lower taxes (which is a very tall order to fill, as social welfare is supported by tax payers) and many other things but once they secure for themselves their 12,000 € a month wage or above, all those promises turn out to be propaganda at most.

When you buy a second hand car here in Italy, car dealers or former owners sometimes lie on the actual mileage and some pass off cars with many miles as slightly used and mechanics sometimes do more repairs than what the car actually needs and if you don’t have some diskarte and have limited knowledge of how a car works, they will most likely cheat you (a mechanic tried to charge me 90€ to change two LPG filters that barely cost 10€ each).

So here in Italy, as well as in much of the Western world, people often deal in outright lies but often Westerners who interact with Filipinos get mad at their perceived lack of sincerity and so did I for many years.

Also the Tagalog language has a rather limited vocabulary to talk about such diverse concepts as “sincerity”, “faithfulness” and “loyalty” and, as I have pointed out in my article on the word tapat, they only have one word to talk about people who are merely “faithful” and those who are actually “loyal” (or people who show up as sincere without necessarily being truly loyal) and not just “faithful” and, therefore, the distinction between those diverse concepts is difficult to highlight in Tagalog.

So, sometimes, for the sake of being “faithful” (tapat) to everyone Filipinos may sacrifice being “loyal” (also tapat) to a higher cause. But that also happens in the West, it is just that we can be very good at saying things in somebody’s face in the name of loyalty to a higher cause like punctuality and so on but we are also very good at forgetting all about other higher causes (and even one to one sincerity for that matter) when money and self-interest are at stake.

So, are Westerners more sincere than Filipinos?

I have come to the conclusion that us Westerners, and particularly us Italians, have little to teach to Filipinos when it comes to sincerity.

How to Build a Bridge in an Interracial Marriage

(I am reblogging this old post)

As husband of a Filipina I find that being in a mixed marriage is probably one of the trickiest experiences one can have. The “Culture Shock Philippines” book by Alfredo and Grace Roces talks about the predicament of a well meaning Westerner who is sincerely looking for ways to build a bridge with Filipinos […]

How to Build a Bridge in an Interracial Marriage

Foreigner na Mahiyain at Pilipinang Mahilig sa Pakikihalubilo

Mahilig ako sa katahimikan

Mahilig ang mga Pilipino sa pakikihalubilo

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.

Being Right vs Being in Love in a Mixed-race Marriage

It has been said many times and in many ways that if you are in an intimate relationship you need to consistently ask yourself the question: “do I want to be right or do I want to be in love in this situation?

  • Insistence on being right gets in the way of intimacy

The author of a book called “Communication Miracles for Couples”, Jonathan Robinson, says: “The bad news is, if you want a happy and loving relationship, you’re going to have to give something up: your insistence on being right. When you insist on being right, what you indirectly communicate to your partner is that she is wrong. You simply can’t insist on being right (a form of blame) and have intimacy. Believe me, I’ve tried. It’s like trying to have complete darkness and light in the same room. The good news is, if you’re willing to let go of being right, you can easily experience plenty of love, harmony, and fulfillment in your relationship”.

Making people wrong creates separation while choosing to be in love and letting go of the need to be right creates intimacy (in the sense of “into me see”).

  • Why being in love rather than right can be tricky in an interracial marriage

I am married to a Filipina and when a Western guy is married to a woman who comes from a developing country he is basically married to a woman who runs her life according to the very mindset that accounts for the fact that her country is where it is socio-economically.

As I have abundantly mentioned in this blog, the Filipino mentality has many aspects to it that stunt the progress of the Philippines as well as the socio-economical progress of many Filipinos who live in more developed countries.

For this reason the urge to feel quote-unquote “right” can be particularly strong for a Westerner who is married to a Filipina, or to a person who comes from any other quote-unquote “less developed” (at least economically speaking) nation, hence the tendency to “bash the environment that he himself has chosen to inhabit” (as the book “Culture Shock Philippines” by Alfredo and Grace Roces puts it).

The Filipino mentality (and the third-world mentality in general) can sabotage the efforts of a well-meaning Western husband who is trying to run his family’s economy (and everything else that is connected to it) in an efficient way and the inevitable urge to argue and correct arises pretty often in this kind of relationship.

Yet the author of the above mentioned book (as well as several other relationship books) says that you’ve got to drop the righteous mode and put on the loving one thereby letting go of your entitlement to be right for the sake of “into me see”, for the sake of loving connection and for the sake of union vs separation.

It’s tricky, I must admit to that. It is extremely hard but, if you are married to a woman from a developing country who sends you into a frenzy when she acts out her “developing country” ways, playing the righteous will not get you any positive results.

  • How can I help my spouse to grow if I completely let go of the need to be right?

On the other hand the “Culture Shock Philippines” raises a very important question: “If all I do is play a part, adjusting my behavior to my hosts, then what will I be contributing to the community?” And, “Should I be, and can I be, actor enough to be false to what I value as right and good?”.

So how can I balance the need to be in love rather than right with the need to uphold my standards of right and wrong and contribute to the little Filipino “community” I have chosen to share my life with? After all isn’t creating added value what entering a relationship entails? A person who adds value touches something (or someone) and makes it better: if you do nothing and say nothing for the sake of love what are you “contributing” and how are you making a difference in your partner’s life? Isn’t it the case that a true friend is the one who brings out the best in the other person? How can I bring out the best in my foreign spouse if I drop righteousness? Isn’t there a risk that if all I do is let go of any need to make my foreign spouse wrong (when she is objectively wrong) and create this amazing atmosphere where there is nothing but love, peace, flowers, rainbows and butteflies not only will I fail to be the true friend who brings out the best in his mate and helps her to grow but I will also be chopped down to her quote-unquote “third-world” level and, as a result, my savings and my efforts to run my family wisely (at least financially) will go down the drain?

  • Being right and blaming close people’s mind

Jonathan Robinson goes on to say “It (blame) can gradually creep into the entire way couples talk to each other—until all the love once shared becomes completely polluted” and this is the point: the key is mastering the ability to help your spouse to grow and adopt your quote-unquote “first world” standards without putting on a blaming mode and using a blaming language that will make the way you say things that need to be said ineffective and will only close the mind of your foreign spouse and make her even more entrenched and set in her ways.

Filipinos are particularly keen to closing their minds when they sense that you are making them wrong.

So, as Italian husband of a Filipina, I have come to the conclusion that, yes, my responsibility is to be the true friend that brings out the best in my foreign wife and help her to part with the aspects of her culture and mentality that (at least from a Western perspective) get in the way of her progress and, as the”Culture Shock Philippines” book says, heeding the advice to be in love rather than right doesn’t mean that I have to be “actor enough to be false to what I value as right and good”.

I do have the responsibility to help my wife do what’s right but I have to figure out a way to do that by coming from a place of love, intimacy, connection and rapport and by paying extra attention to the way I communicate that something that my wife is doing needs to change.

Dale Carnegie in his book “How to Win Friends and Influence People” said that “if you want to gather honey you must not kick over the beehive”.

So, trying to get your foreign spouse to do the right thing by putting on the righteous mode, by bashing and attacking her culture and mentality will get you no results.

The only way you can expect to bring out the best in your foreign spouse is by coming from a loving place and dropping, for a good long while, the urge to argue, blame, correct and attack and only when intimacy and rapport is built can you, very patiently, start the process of getting your foreign spouse to change.

“Joe the Amerikano” in the Philippines

Officers carefully screening everyone entering a shopping mall…except Joe ang Amerikano

A “Joe Nobody” in his country becomes “Joe Somebody” in the Philippines

I remember walking down the streets of my wife’s barangay alone and everyone would greet me with the expression “hey Joe”.

Filipinos automatically assume that if you are a Westerner your name is “Joe” and that you are wealthy and “Amerikano”.

I also remember all Filipinos and their bags being thoroughly screened at the entrance of each shopping mall I went to.

However the officers would just greet me and smile, as you can see in the picture above (that was at the SM in Rosales, Pangasinan), and say to me “welcome Sir”. And there is nothing like hearing a Filipino call you “Sir” wherever you go, especially when you come from a country where your neighbor treats you like nothing.

Indeed, the Philippines is the place where a Joe Nobody becomes Joe Somebody!

When “Joe the Amerikano” is not Amerikano

I come from Southern Italy and I am neither American nor that wealthy but that is how Filipinos view me whenever I visit the country.

The funny thing is that a friend of mine who left Serbia back in the “90’s, during the war in the ex-Jugoslavia and moved to Italy to seek asylum, later married a Filipina and when he visited the Philippines he too was addressed as “Joe” the “Amerikano” and treated as a wealthy American even though he comes from a country that is perhaps even poorer than the Philippines!

In the Philippines a white man is automatically Amerikano even if he comes from Kazakhstan, Moldova…he can be Greek, Romanian, Albanian or even a gypsy. He is still an “Amerikano”!

Even the unggoy in the gubat (jungle) is impressed by Joe

The unggoy (monkey) that lives in the gubat (jungle) was startled by the Amerikano who has some “gubat” on his chest

An unggoy who has only had contacts with Filipinos who have no gubat on their bodies

Yes, Joe Nobody, the one who lives in a country where his neighbors and close relatives barely greet him, arouses the admiration of every living creature, including the unggoy sa gubat, whenever he sets foot in the Philippines.

Mabuhay ang mga Pilipino!

Joe the Ifugao

Si Joe ang Italyano

Si Joe ang probinsyano

Principles vs Rules

My wife is Filipina and Filipino people are more externally-driven than internally-driven.

In my post about the Filipino concept of happiness I mentioned that Filipinos prefer being masaya (temporary happiness which is the result of titillation and external stimulation or, in other words, what Aristotle called “hedonic happiness”) to being maligaya (inner happiness that does not depend upon external stimulation, or what Aristotle called “eudemonic happiness”).

And in my blog I have also repeatedly touched on the Filipino culture of pakikisama or togetherness: Filipinos definitely fancy being part of a group and very few seem to value the kind of solitude that creates internally grounded individuals.

So Filipinos are, in many areas, externally grounded.

This Filipino trait also influences what motivates many Filipinos to do what’s quote-unquote “right” or moral.

Filipinos seem to need rules and authority figures, who enforce the rules, and they also have a deep-seated need to avoid hiya (shame) and save mukha (face).

Very often Filipinos reason in terms of pwede ba? o hindi pwede? (can I or can’t I?), dapat ba? o hindi dapat? (do I have to do it or not?), bawal ba? o hindi bawal? (is it forbidden or not?).

And, as I have said, they often do something or abstain from doing something because failing to do the quote-unquote right thing or doing the wrong thing might be nakahihiya (put them to shame).

The buwaya

Traffic in Manila is a big mess and rules are merrily ignored….unless there is a buwaya (literally “crocodile”: a Filipino word that in this context means policeman) around.

People who are guided by principles create more advanced communities

One of the insights that travelling around the world has given me is that societies that need a lot of rules and the constant presence of some authority figure who is always reminding people to abide by the rules and where people need to always be specifically told what to do or not to do, what’s allowed or not allowed, are less progressive and evolved while societies that are driven by broad principles are more evolved.

This also applies to individuals because a society is the sum total of the individuals who make it up.

In my life I have visited very advanced countries such as Sweden and Finland and developing countries like the Philippines and what I have noticed, for example, is the fact that in the first group of nations people drive safely, and abide by the rules in general, regardless of whether police is around or not while in places like the Philippines people only respect the rules if a buwaya is there.

In the more advanced countries where people do the “right” thing (at least the kind of right things that create order and efficiency and a thriving economy) people seem to be guided by the general overarching principle “if I want to live in an efficient community I have to do my part as an exemplary citizen who drives safely and disposes of the garbage properly, stands in line without complaining etc.”.

There are people (and communities) who seem to be driven to doing what’s quote-unquote “right” from a place of consciousness and awareness of why doing the quote-unquote “right” thing is good and beneficial and they align with it.

And there are people who need a rule and a carrot and stick approach to do what’s “right” and the Philippines definitely seems to fall in this category.

“Tanungin mo ang pastor”, “sabi ng pastor”

And when it comes to religious laws and principles many Filipinos rely on what the pastor said and they need to be constantly reminded by some pastor what to do in a specific situation.

Now what’s interesting here is that the Philippines is a Christian nation, for the most part, and Christianity is all about principles over rules.

So, at least in theory, this concept of principles over rules should be taught from a very early age.

I am not promoting any religion here because it’s not my purpose in this blog, I am just trying to make a point.

The very core of Christianity and what sets it apart from Judaism is the fact that Jesus replaced hundreds of specific laws with few broad principles and, in fact, he said that the hundreds of specific laws of the Mosaic Law boil down to few broad principles like “love your neighbor as yourself”.

He also said something along the lines of “keep on seeking first the Kingdom” instead of giving a ton of commands about how often his followers should do spiritual things.

Once one has embodied the idea (if he believes in Christ) that the Kingdom is a priority it is up to him or her to determine how to apply this broad overarching principle in various circumstances and such individual does not need any constant reminders. And if one has embodied the principle “love your neighbor as yourself” he doesn’t need to be commanded not to kill, steal etc.

Coming from a place of awareness

So, what’s interesting is (and this applies to every domain of life) that one can do what’s right because somebody told him, because of fear of punishment or, as it often happens in the Filipino culture, to avoid hiya (or “shame”) and to save mukha (or “face”) or he can do what’s right and moral from a place of integrity, consciousness and awareness.

“Simulain” and “batas”

In the Tagalog language there is a distinction between the words batas (law) and simulain (principle): this means that the idea that a person can be driven by broad principles rather than strict rules is not foreign to the consciousness of Filipinos.

Because these words do exist in the vocabulary of the Filipino language this means that Filipinos do have the concept of what a principio or simulain is.

It is just that many Filipinos need to be trained to reason in terms of principles and understand the value of being internally driven to do what’s right…. whatever that means.

Introvert Western Husband of a Filipina vs the Filipino Culture of Pakikisama

(I have slightly modified this old post)

A typical Filipino social gathering

My wife is Filipina and she comes from a culture that is all about pakikisama, a Tagalog term for togetherness.

I, on the other end, need, cherish and actually crave plenty of solitude and prefer associating with few selected individuals to having a lot of friends and going to large social gatherings.

I love solo hikes and I also love sitting alone on park benches or simply being shut away in my room to read for hours on end. And I love going to a cafeteria or a restaurant with maximum one or two very close friends and engage in deep conversation.

The Filipino culture is, on the other hand, all about large social gatherings, music, dancing and karaoke, chit-chatting and sharing.

The Filipino idea of togetherness fosters a spirit of bayanihan, a spirit of communal cooperation and help which is such that the whole community helps when of its member needs practical help.

So how can I, a very strong introvert, sit well with a Filipina who comes from a culture that is strongly oriented toward connecting with a lot of people?

Well, not only have I discovered that an introvert man can sit well with a woman who comes from a culture that encourages much togetherness but I have also found out that an extrovert person actually needs an introvert partner and that an introvert and an extrovert complement each other rather nicely.

Here are some reasons why I think an introvert like me can thrive in a relationship with an extrovert and make it work rather well.

Introverts are not hermits, they just prefer few and high quality relationships to many shallow ones

The Filipino idea of togetherness has a lot of great aspects to it, like the spirit of bayanihan that I have just mentioned.

On the other hand, because Filipinos definitely prefer large social gatherings to socializing with one or two people at a time, relationships tend to be rather shallow.

In my life I have always had very few friends but those people have been my friends for decades.

I have always preferred fixing misunderstandings and working on improving my relationships with those few people to running away from them when things don’t work out

There are people who seem to have plenty of options because they have plenty of shallow relationships with a lot of people so they always have someone else to turn to when they get upset with a particular person.

I prefer to maintain my relationships with the people whom I care about and make them grow to turning to other people when things don’t work out and this personality trait has stood me in good stead in my marriage.

I have been through a lot of misunderstandings and conflicts in my relationship (like all those who are in a marriage) but I have entered this relationship with the idea that there is no plan B. My wife is my best friend and the relationship has to work and I am committed to raising the quality of it every single day.

And, because I have very few friends outside the relationship, I can focus on my marriage without too many distractions from a lot of people who claim my time and attention.

Introversion Breeds Peace Within and Without

Because I need and cherish solitude I can easily leave the scene of a heated discussion without suffering too much because I can be just as fulfilled while alone as when I am interacting with my wife (or with any other person).

Also, choosing to deliberately isolate myself on a regular basis, by carving out moments in which I write in a journal, gives me the opportunity to reflect on what’s working and what’s not working in my relationship and come up with solutions I couldn’t come up with if I were always socializing.

Contemplation and inner work breed more self-control and peace of mind in general and create an internal environment that can hardly coexist with conflict.

An Introvert Gives Space

Because an introvert needs space he is also more likely to give space and giving space is vital in an intimate relationship.

I need a lot of space and I am willing to give my wife space, to the point that I am willing to allow her to spend even one or two months in the Philippines while I stay here (and this has already happened three times since we got married).

An Introvert is Rich Internally and Therefore is Less Clingy

A strong introvert doesn’t enter a relationship because he is desperate about finding a spouse.

As I have already mentioned, during my moments of solitude I can be just as fulfilled as when I interact with people, or, more accurately, I feel even more fulfilled.

I fully enjoyed my almost four decades of singleness (I got married at age 36) so I was not really clinging to the idea of finding a marriage mate, I could perfectly function alone.

And, because one of the hallmark traits of a thriving marriage is giving, those who don’t enter a relationship because they badly need companionship have more to give, or, at least, have less to take.

The Downside of Being too much of an Introvert

So, being an introvert has, without a doubt, stood me in great stead as far as my marriage is concerned.

Yet I must admit that sometimes I push my need to be alone too far and my being too much of an introvert borders on selfishness.

Not only does my wife connect with a lot of people to just socialize with them: in so doing she actually helps a lot of people in many practical ways, which is something that I definitely need to work on and that I am learning from my Filipino wife.

So I think that an introvert and an extrovert can definitely learn from each other and not view each other as incompatibile.

I am the most introverted person you can imagine, I am, in fact, the peak of introversion while my wife comes from a culture that is the polar opposite of it and yet we manage to function rather well.

My experience shows that a relationship between an hyper-introvert and an extrovert is possible and if I can be in a relationship with an extrovert everyone else who is in a similar position can.

So, yes, a strong introvert can perfectly be in a relationship with an extrovert and my experience is the evident demonstration that this is definitely the case.

Uso pa ba ang Harana? (O Hindi na Uso?)

Para sa akin uso pa sana ang harana kung mayroon sana mas marami akong panahon para tumugtog ng gitara.

Mayroon pa akong gitara na binili ko sa Pampanga noong 2009 na medyo magandang klase.

Binili ko iyon sa halagang 5000 pesos at may pick up pa!

Isa sa mga bagay na gusto ko tungkol sa Pilipinas ay ang dami ng mga tao na marunong kumanta at tumugtog.

Masyadong bisi ako sa ngayon at bihira ang mga pagkakataon na kaya kong tumugtog.

Marami akong pananagutan sa buhay at natural na lang na ang gitara ay nasa pinakadulo ng aking mga prioridad (syempre pamilya at trabaho muna…).

Dati marunong akong kalabitin ang harana by Parokya ni Edgar pero dahil matagal na hindi ako nagpractice medyo nakalimutan ko ang strumming pattern….kung hindi ako nagkakamali ang strumming ay DDUUD DUDUUDU.

Kailangan kong hanapin ang tutorial sa YouTube at magpaturo sa isang mahusay na YouTubero….

Italy is the Philippines of Europe!

(I am reblogging this old article)

In this blog I have been talking for several weeks about the differences between a Filipino wife and a Western man.

But “Western” is a very broad concept.

White people in the Philippines almost treat each other as fellow countrymen no matter where they come from.

I remember a French young man in Rosales, Pangasinan running up to me and almost hugging me, as I was the only white man he had probably seen in years.

An English guy showed me a similar affection in Tayug, Pangasinan, as I was the first person in years he could talk to about soccer.

Nevertheless, while Westerners in the Philippines almost look all the same and almost treat each other as fellow countrymen, due to the fact that the Filipino environment is so utterly different that the huge differences between Northern and Southern Europeans fade into insignificance, in a Western context there are huge differences between a German, for example, and a Southern Italian or a Greek, a Spanish or an Albanian.

Italy and particularly Southern Italy, is one of those Western countries where Filipinos probably feel most at ease.

The pictures above show some Italian landscapes that resemble the Philippines: the clear waters of Sabaudia, about 80 km south of Rome, the Vesuvius, a volcano near Naples and a bay near the Amalfi Coast in Southern Italy.

These and many other places in Italy kind of resemble similar scenarios that are typical of the Philippines.

So, in terms of landscape, my country and my wife’s share many things in common, apart from the weather.

Here in Italy we have islands, crystal clear water, volcanoes, latin origins like the Spanish who colonized the Philippines for 300 years.

Food is one of the core elements of the Italian lifestyle and this is something Italians and Filipinos share in common.

The driving style in cities like Rome and Naples, the fact that Southern Italians don’t like queuing, almost make Filipinos feel at home in my country.

Roughly 108,000 documented Filipinos reside in Italy and estimates on the number of undocumented Filipinos vary widely from 20,000 to 80,000.

In 2008, ISTAT (Istituto Nazionale di Statistica), Italy’s statistics office, reported that there were 113,686 undocumented Filipinos living in Italy.

Although many of Pinoys and Pinays in Italy are clandestine, the Italian government turns a blind eye and doesn’t crack down on Filipinos to whom they appear as a group of immigrants who work hard and mind their own business.

So, yes, under many aspects my country, at least the Southern part of it is Filipino-friendly and certainly one of the reasons why we have so many Filipinos here is because of the huge similarities between the two countries.

Yes, Italy is a Western country but, under many aspects it can be viewed as “the Philippines of Europe”!

Ang Italya ay ang Pilipinas ng Europe!

(I am reblogging this old article)

Ang mga litrato na nasa itaas ay nagpapakita ng iba’t ibang dahilan kung bakit masasabi na ang bansa ko ay ang “Pilipinas ng Europe”.

  • Maganda ang dagat dito, lalo na sa Southern Italy, at napakalinaw ng tubig
  • Maraming bulkan (at lindol)
  • May Jollibee (sa Milan)
  • May mga Pilipino sari-sari store at Pinoy restaurant
  • May mga tao na nagtatapon ng basura kung saan bawal (bukod dito may mga driber na kaskasero, maraming mandurukot, may mga tao na ayaw pumila at marami pa….)
  • Mayroon ang isang lugar na (halos) katulad ng Lake Taal
  • May mga squatter
  • May Luneta Park sa Roma
Ito baka ang dahilan kung bakit para sa aming mga Italyano mas madaling harapin ang culture shock kaysa para sa mga taga-Hilagang Europe, America o Australia at hindi kami gaano ka-shocked sa kulturang Pinoy.
At, syempre pa, may napakaraming Pilipino dito!