Main Causes of Culture Shock in the Philippines

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ladislav
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Main Causes of Culture Shock in the Philippines

Post by ladislav »

We have a lot more in common with Filipinos than with other SE Asians because of Catholicism and the English language. Plus, they are used to foreigners and other cultures since it is a multicultural country which has been exposed to other cultures for hundreds of years. Very tolerant.
Having said that, one should not discount the fact that in spite of the Spanish and American colonization, the bulk of the culture and DNA remains SE Asian. And that is what is causing the biggest element of our culture shock with them. Their Austronesian or I would even say Indo- Chinese element.

Thus, we make the mistake expecting that they will totally behave the Hispanic or the American way, but in some 70 percent of time, we come across such things as secrecy( surface harmony but things going on underneath that we are not aware of), face culture, and not telling the truth to save face, great acceptance of how things are and adjusting instead of trying to change them, avoiding conflicts, no criticism allowed, complaining is seen as weak and showing anger and correcting or disagreeing evoke negative reactions. There are long periods of silence and a lot of non verbal communication whose meaning we are supposed to guess.

Those are the characteristics of Thai or Burmese people, not of Spaniards or Americans. They are not Catholic traits but Hindu-Buddhist traits. And that is what we do not expect although we should. Before the advent of Christianity, the Philippines was in part a collection of Hindu and Buddhist Kingdoms as well as some Muslim kingdoms, plus, way back, it was part of the Greater Indian cultural zone.
But they are not aware of this part of their character as it is not taught to them and they just take it for granted. And we were told by some of them that they were a Western country, English speaking and that they were ´´ Spanish´´. Those elements are definitely present, but they are not the core. They are just surface stuff.

So, if we approach Filipinos as mostly a SE Asian culture and expect those cultural differences, we will be able to deal with the whole experience with greater success.
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chanta76
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Re: Main Causes of Culture Shock in the Philippines

Post by chanta76 »

You still in the Philippines? If I remember you wanted to go to Russia. Or did I get mixed up
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publicduende
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Re: Main Causes of Culture Shock in the Philippines

Post by publicduende »

@ladislav what you say is certainly true. However, my experience here taught me that invoking a cultural "legacy" or "DNA" that goes back hundreds of years, Spanish colonial times or even pre-colonial times, is a bit of an overkill.

Nowadays I tend to stick to the simplest explanation related to the innate traits of human nature. Didn't that Ockham Razor corollary say something like "do not assume ill will if stupidity suffices to explain"?

Filipinos are for the most part Malay stock who, for the most part of their history, including today, have been living in a strict feudal-like class system with little or no hopes of socio-economic mobility. If one looks at the establishment of today, all the tycoons, all the politicians, all the entrepreneurs, all the executives and directors, and even most middle management functions, are all from the privileged class.

They all have parents, relatives and ninong/ninang (Godfathers/Godmothers) from the same power-clenching families, who know each other because they worked together on previous generations, they went to the same Jesuit schools together, they f*cked one another in college, they ate at the same tables and played golf together. The only concession some of them make is in their choice of University of the Philippines (UP), technically a public institution, as their alma mater, instead of the cosier sectarian colleges, the Ateneos, the De La Salles, etc.

Even of those who go abroad to be something other than maids and nannies, who remain at the bottom (albeit with a little more cash available) even in their host societies, 90% of them are the scion of the privileged class. They are the ones who can afford summer school in Canada and Japan, degrees from Harvard and Columbia, Loyola and Georgetown. Their powerful dads make millions of dollars a year out of bribes, kickbacks from inflated procurement deals, semi-criminal and full criminal activities, etc. and can give them kids a life not even many of their US counterparts can dream of.

The only osmosis possible between the poor, or the barely middle class, and the rich is when the former is of service - servitude maybe - to the rich. Everybody here knows where they belong, where they will continue to belong, and how unlikely it is to change the outcome of the game, once the cards have been dealt.

Under these conditions, no human being of reasonable (and reasoning) mind would feel any incentive, any motivation, any desire what-so-f&cking-ever to work hard, to give their best shot at anything. For the elite people who live here, the country is a playground packed with an infinity of opportunities to make money, brag about it and make even more money. This is who the 2-million dollar condos in Makati or BGC, the $500 a pop steak houses cater for.

For the poor, it's invariably a rags-to-rags story, with no hope of redemption. This continuous living in the gutter of the world, hopeless and ambitionless, is what makes the Filipino someone who can barely aspire to living in the present, mindless and nonchalant about their actions and their consequences beyond a 24-hour time span.

You feel happy cuz it's payday: spend a third of it in booze on the same night and don't worry about not being able to buy food for your family later. You like that young girl but she is underage and you're married, with kids. F*ck her, make her pregnant and worry later about the effects on your family.

They say a society's attitude in life is summarised by their martial arts, if they have any. Filipinos have kali/arnis, a super-fast and lethal combination of punches, kicks and grabs straight into your most vulnerable joints. Besides its undeniable effectiveness, it looks like the perfect set of techniques to end a fight immediately, after inflicting the most damage, potentially death, in the shortest possible time. A martial system that, like the peoples who created it, doesn't want consequences, beyond the here and now.

I don't blame the Filipinos for the Filipino's laziness, lack of ambition and desire, absence of sense of perfection, or even professional ethics. I blame their legacy and pity them because, as things stand at the moment, nothing can and will ever change for them.

I was, naively, full of hopes and expectations about this place, these people and my role within my community of choice. I lost them all. I think exactly like my wife C. Only difference is, having been around a little bit more than her, I know that if Philippines is hell, then UK, US, or Italy are not exactly Heaven.
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