28 July 2019

Forgiveness - That great Filipino tradition

Filipinos and Forgiveness

I touched on this before when I wrote about family tambays.

We had one of our nieces go off the rails many years ago. She was 14. Fell into a bad crowd. Was disappearing for days on end and they couldn't find her. She was openly defiant of her father. I was always fond of her since I met her at the age of 7 and she was very sweet. Got her Tita Mila (my wife and her auntie) to write to her. I asked her to add the line "....and your family will all turn their backs on you" as a threat. Veiled threats are good parenting, I've always found.

Then Mila said no, because she would never believe it. No one ever tosses a family member out. They'll give them hell. The more physical will give kids a good walloping with a belt, rattan or some part of the banana plant. But to turn their backs on them? Not that I've ever seen.

Australia and Philippines - and Forgiveness

Yes, I grew up in Australia. My parents generation? They were born in the 1930's. Grandma was born in 1911. Yes, they had their black-sheep. My great-Uncle made the terrible error of marrying a Catholic, and appeared to have been on the outer for many decades. His mother said the Irish are hoarding guns and would take over once the Pope gave the order, etc. And my fathers relatives? Never met a single one of them. Not sure what terrible crime they all committed. Apparently my grandmother on his side lived a few km away and no doubt I grew up walking past her. Had cousins 4 - 5 km away, and only ran into cousin Kerrie on Facebook recently!

Yet my generation became even less forgiving. Lost contact with father since I was a teenager. Organised his funeral for him a few years ago because no one else would. Spent more years avoiding my brother than not avoiding him. Grandparents, lost touch. Uncle, cousins, etc lost touch decades ago and am still not in touch.

Filipinos? Very unusual to have estranged family members. Family is the one constant, and the most stable aspect of Filipino society. Can't rely on the Government, but can always rely on each other.

We all have an historically-based sense of superiority in us, regardless of how much we try to deny it. I'm talking about descendants of the British Empire, and no doubt other former colonisers. We have this Great White Father syndrome that thinks we are the civilisers from the advanced societies, and the lesser-nations need to learn from us. I'd like to think this has lessened in myself over the years. And I suppose the proof of the pudding is in the eating as they say. All theories aside, look at the end results.

Families: Wise westerners are estranged from half their family members. Filipinos love and support and are supported by most of their own.

Marriages: Wise westerners with groovy stuff like no-fault divorce have a 40%+ divorce rate. Filipinos stick together and forgive each other their imperfections.

So who are the wise ones??

Middle Ground?

Yes, Filipinos can fight and squabble, and there are plenty of hurt feelings. There are also the bullies and the bullied. Confrontation is rare, and I DO believe that there are times when someone should be given a few home-truths. The tambay is a prime example. So is the womaniser. I've always been a person who clears the air, who says what needs to be said. And usually the kindest thing you can do for someone troubled is to confront them and say the harsh words that need to be said.

The issue though is forgiveness! A wonderful quality, and one that doesn't come naturally from earthly sources. Yet once it becomes part of your nature, it becomes fairly permanent. This is my personal BLOG and not a business thing, so hope anyone reading will allow me to speak my mind. You can believe as you wish, but then so can I. When you see yourself as an imperfect person....a sinner, as it were....it's much easier to forgive others. And unless you're a total narcissist, you KNOW you're far from perfect! I have an imperfect wife, and I remain endlessly grateful that I do! She has a highly imperfect husband, so why would someone like me deserve a perfect wife? I consider myself very lucky for all that I have! If she gets something wrong, then forgiveness comes quite naturally.

And my kids? Can be selfish monsters. Could cheerfully throttle them at times. I have one particular daughter who went right off the rails at age 15, and it took several years for her to sort herself out. Never lost hope, and she's now the kindest and most forgiving person you could ever meet and I'm very proud of her. Could have given up, and glad I never did. And I'm lucky to have a family who doesn't give up on me either.

So yes, my own middle-ground is to face things and fix things, but to ask for my trespasses to be forgiven as I forgive those who trespass against me! Pretty good deal that one! I deserve as much forgiveness as I'm prepared to give to others. No more, no less.

22 July 2019

Tambay - The not-so-productive Filipino male

The Philippines Tambay - The Less-Desirable Male

The Philippines Tambay. Every family has a few of them. These are the non-productive family members who have no jobs and no ambition, usually young Filipino males 18-35. The only time they show enthusiasm is when there's food, beer/gin/brandy and some company to "celebrate" with. Everybody's friend when there's free food and grog, and the very last person you want your daughter to get involved with. Oh, and usually quite skilled at bringing babies into the world that they will never support.

Again, every family has a few of them. And it really is something unimpressive to me.

Lazy People - Always a Cost

Living costs money! We consume! We eat food. We drink. We need clothes. We need medical care.
It all costs. And if you produce nothing yourself, other than defecation and carbon dioxide, then someone else's labours are going to go toward your support. I don't know.....something in the way I was brought up. I can't feel for a second that this is OK.

I have enough trouble with royalty and heirs to parents wealth in the west. Always have. Yet at least in those cases you know there is plenty to go around. If some prince or princess on the UK public purse had to get a job and pay their own way, it wouldn't made a dent in the vast wealth that exists. However we're generally talking about people who live off poor people! For someone to keep the family tambay fed and clothed, it means they work harder. Or if they can't work harder, it means they may do without something. Maybe that's food or education for their kids or medicine for themselves. I can't feel that this is OK!

We "cured" one once. Has a job now (working for us), and has some purpose. Years ago when I first met him? Spent a lot of time sleeping, and a lot of time with his silly mates (barkada, ie similarly lazy friends). Lived off elderly parents and an older sister who spent her entire adult life working overseas to send money back to pay for the likes of him. This paid for him to sleep and to be the life-of-the-party wherever he went. A 30 year old man shouldn't live like this!

What surprises me is no one says anything about it all! The tambay isn't embarrassed. They will even be quite proud of the fact they're living off a hard-working OFW sibling and contributing nothing. Their elderly parents can work right in front of them, and you will be lucky if they manage to wash a few dishes on occasions. But family always come first, and it takes more than laziness to see someone kicked out. And the tambay knows this too.

Philippines - A land of contrasts

I've always said that everything here is black or white. Not much in between. I'm talking about the nature of people you meet. Someone is either a candidate for sainthood or one of the devil's barkadas. Honest and kind, or a lying user-and-abuser. Faithful and moral, or a complete [I'll leave the word out!]. Ambitious, or can't see past the next five minutes. Working like a slave for the betterment of their families, or a lazy tambay.

Yeah, I definitely don't like it. I'm not known for keeping my mouth shut when something seems terribly wrong. My thinking is that evil pervades when good men do nothing, and someone doing nothing whilst someone else sacrifices for them? This may not fit a definition of "evil", but it's in the same camp. But I know nothing will change. All I'm certain of is that these people will not get my support. My adult kids work for a living, just as I do. And I married a worker! To each their own, I suppose. All I can say is that there are no welcome stumps nor is their any endless food and Red Horse supply at my door for any tambay and never will be!

15 July 2019

Filipina Girls - Romantics Always

Filipina Girls

I often make posts on Quora. Usually about visas, but also about things that capture my interest. Sometimes a post really annoys me, and one the other day did just that.

It's a modern-day cute lovers-thing to celebrate a "monthsary" when a couple have been together for a month. Someone had asked the question about whether the popularity of the monthsary was because of the short-lived nature of Filipino relationships.

I disagreed with this, and explained myself I thought fairly well.

OK, I can't especially speak for the motivation of young Filipino men. I would say driven by the desire for sex and being cool, like most young men are and were. Surprise surprise! But the driving force behind relationships here is usually the woman....the Filipina. And they are made of sterner stuff than the implication that relationships in the Philippines are short-lived.

The girls? They are ROMANTIC! Most girls give their hearts truly only once in their lives. Their first love is usually their first AND last love. First boyfriend in highschool usually becomes husband and the two grow old together. I look around most couples I know here, and I see ladies who are loyal and committed.

Does that mean they take crap? Does that match the awful cliche of the subservient "Asian woman" who believes herself inferior to men and was "trained from birth that her purpose in life is to serve men"? If these ladies exist, I've never met one here! The ladies I meet here are tough! Highly capable and courageous. They do whatever it takes to protect and advance their families. They work like Trojans, and truly are the Proverbs 31:10-31 woman you read about. Works hard for her family, and is honoured and respected by those around her.

This is a country where a 50 year wedding anniversary doesn't make the newspapers. It just means they're both in their 70's. They married. They stuck together through thick and thin, for better for worse, and doing that for 50 years is not an achievement of a weak woman who gives up easily on a relationship. Not at all.

I married a good woman. A virtuous woman who's price is far above rubies. She never stops moving, always making things happen. And fiercely loyal to me! Watch out for anyone who would hurt me, con me or disrespect me while I have my Filipina terrier on guard! Couldn't wish for a better wife, nor a better friend. How many of you can truly say you married your best friend? I know I did. And she comes from a long line of strong and capable women with busy hands and minds always thinking of the future and how to make it better for those that they love. And no doubt our daughters will go on to be the same, with such a great role model.

01 July 2019

If I were a rich man...

White man in Philippines....MUST be rich

rich man in the philippines perception that all foreigners are rich

Regardless of how "rich" you are or not, you will always be seen as rich in Philippines. You're Australian, ie a "foreigner"? That makes you rich. And compared to the locals you are, and no one seems to be able to get past that. People see you, and they see dollars.

And yes, some wish to part you and your hard-earned money. Scammers are everywhere, even within families. But it's not always like that, nor is it necessarily meant offensively. Although I have to say I really don't like any reference to being "rich" and I'll explain why.

"Rich" - Philippines versus Australia

Different attitudes toward being "rich" between Philippines and Australia, you find. Philippines? I think the "rich" like being known as rich, and are happy that people treat them differently. Australians? Not so much.

Australians are egalitarian by nature. We believe in a level playing field, where everyone gets their equal share of rights and their equal share of respect. We have a natural disdain for "classes", and don't like it when we see anybody treated as lower than others or even as higher than others.

Philippines? Most of the time the rich are very showy about it all. They wear branded clothes....showy rings and necklaces etc. You will see them in S&R (imported groceries store in Philippines) with household helpers wearing uniforms pushing their shopping trollies for them. For many there is no "I'm just like everyone else" attitude.

Australia? Australians understand this, but Filipinos would not know unless they'd been to Australia and seen how things work for us.

We Aussies like to see everyone at the same level. We don't believe that wealth and human-worth have any correlation at all. If someone is less-affluent (we would NEVER use the word "poor"), we will lift them up. If someone is "rich" and acts in a proud (mayabang, for the Filipinos) manner, we will humble them. And we can be quite blunt about it and will refuse to bow down to anybody just because they have a bigger house or a better job than us. We have respect for humble people and contempt for arrogant people.

I think a lot of this comes from Australia being a former colony of England. England has long been a class-riddled society, with the "common" people expected to "know their place" and not to "get ideas above their station", ie the station in life. If you were born the son of a tradesman then you became a tradesman too and you humbled yourself before the rich-and-privileged. Australians reacted to this, and thus you have a society which appreciates the man who has money and power yet acts just like everyone else. Our politicians ensure that they attend football games and are seen drinking beer in the pub with ordinary people.

A humble rich white man in the Philippines

I'm an Australian in the Philippines. I've had to adjust to staff calling me "sir". I don't like it, but it's the way things work here. If you are TOO humble, staff can get the wrong idea and assume you have romantic ideas about them if they are female or think that you are a bit stupid if they are male. So you accept this, and you make yourself a bit aloof. It prevents future problems in most cases, although we still get it wrong regularly. Too soft, and people take advantage. They are used to rich people being hard and strict, so you need to at least hold back a bit.

I’ll explain what I find hard to take. I don’t like being identified as “rich”. I don’t like being seen first and foremost as being “rich”, and when people can’t look past that aspect of you. I wish more people could just see me as Jeff the person! Jeff the husband of Mila. Jeff the dad. Jeff the kind person. Jeff the soft-hearted. 

I had someone say hello to me the other week. They told me they wish they were like me, ie “rich”. She made it clear she wanted donations for the school where she worked, too. She will never know me....who I am....whether I’m even nice. Yeah, I’m sick of it. Love the Philippines, but miss the anonymity I had in Australia which allowed me to be seen as me.