This will be a little repetitive of a previous post, but we worked today to distill a list of a few key characteristics of healthy relationships in the Philippines. Here's what we came up with:
1. It is good to greet a person. This is usually done with a handshake, although women may use beso-beso and very close friends may embrace. Asking someone “Where are you going?” or “When did you return?” are just formalities that don’t necessarily require a definite response. However, when someone asks “Kumusta ka?” they are expected to listen to the answer with genuine interest.
2. Generosity is one of the trademarks of a true friend. If someone has the power to help a friend and refuses, that may be considered offensive. Similarly, you can expect that your friend will loan you anything you need.
3. It is appropriate to drop in on a friend unannounced, although it’s okay to call or text ahead. When you arrive, your friend should stop what they are doing and give their attention to you. If they are eating a meal, they should invite you to join them.
4. You shouldn’t isolate yourself.
5. When you are at a friend’s house, you should make yourself at home.
6. You should address even strangers as manong or manang, if they are clearly older than you. It’s okay to use tito and tita with those who have children older than you. You can refer to the very old as tatang or nanang. If in doubt, use the younger term of address.
7. You may offend a friend if you decline an invitation without a valid reason.
8. You may offend a friend by violating their trust.
9. You may offend a friend if you deny them something—if they ask for help and you don’t help them.
10. You may offend a friend if you talk about them behind their back.
11. It is okay to approach someone directly if you have a problem with them, but you should be careful not to hurt their feelings. It is also okay to use a third party, if you don’t feel comfortable approaching the person directly.
12. If there is a sickness or death in someone’s family, a good friend will stay with his friend to comfort him and assist him.
13. When you go on a trip, it is appropriate (and sometimes expected) to bring back pasalubong for your friends, usually food items.
We also did some reading about exposure and concealment of vulnerability. It's hard to really define Philippine culture on that continuum. I think people here generally try not to hurt other's feelings, but in some ways, they can be more blunt than Americans. I thought of a situation where a man came into a meeting and began to present what appeared to be somewhat of an insurance scam. I think the American response would have been to thank the man and dismiss him. The response here was to ask lots of probing questions that revealed that the deal probably wasn't completely reliable. Without specifically demeaning the presenter, they made it clear that they weren't interested in his offer.
Also, Filipinos do seem to be interested in competition at least at some level, and they also seem willing to compete in things where they don't necessarily have a great chance of succeeding. The prime example of this is videoke. I could relate numerous instances of people singing loudly in public despite an apparent lack of singing talent. However, I am curious now. In some societies, students do not take tests if they think they will fail and do not turn in written assignments if they feel that they will do poorly on them. I don't have enough information to say if that's what's happening here, although there certainly are a number of students who fail to complete their requirements.
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