". . . to judge us Filipinos when the U.S. is such a mess?"
Ah, my. The alien-killer question.
Well, for one thing, it is not a competition or a comparison. If my subject were the U.S., indeed I 'd have plenty to criticize, especially the bitter and manipulative American political scene. I do get off some pot shots now and then when I can relate it to what is going on in the Philippines. But if I wrote about the U.S., then my main interest, my passion - advocating for a progressive Philippines - would be a complete failure, a wash out. And my readership would be mainly white people in the U.S. in whom I have zero interest.
Emotionally translated, I suppose that alien killer question really means "Uh, Joe, please shut up. You are making me uncomfortable here."
My response to that is, "this blog is not about YOU, it is about US".
New visitor Cha dropped off a note the other day explaining why Filipinos so seldom say "thank you".
"Thank you" is simply not taught in a lot of families. It is assumed that a thank you for something given is automatic and need not be stated.
That made me sit up and think. It was one of those light bulb moments. And I suspect it will dramatically change my view on what I have been characterizing as Filipino rudeness. It was paradigm shift of the 10th order. Bam, right now!
As an outsider, I can see many differences in culture between America and the Philippines. They are starkly clear. I think some Philippine characteristics are good (Fiestas are good) and some are bad (roaming dogs). But I think we outsiders oftentimes don't have the required framework to COMPREHEND that a difference has a legitimate reason for being.
Like the "thank you" matter.
OF COURSE someone would recognize that they were given something, or granted a courtesy. OF COURSE they appreciate it. And both parties in the transaction recognize the passing of the gift and the appreciation without verbalizing what is common sense. There is no need to grovel and get smarmy.
So I, as the alien, come off stupid and needy because I insist that a "thank you" be verbalized. And I compound the problem by being arrogant and critical of "rude" Filipinos. That brings an unnecessary and unkind tension into play. I agree, I am the limited one in this interaction. I did not grow up here. I don't grasp the NUANCES of being Filipino, nuances that are perhaps shaped by being the sixth child in an eight-child household. I was the second of four, and got plenty of attention.
Well, we can debate whether or not a thank you should be verbalized or not. Bottom line, it doesn't matter. Because in the Philippines it IS NOT verbalized as frequently as in the U.S. The gratitude goes unstated. And it is a "no harm, no foul" situation.
So to myself, I say, "move on, Joe." Stop being so needy as to require a verbalized thank you. Just assume the gratitude exists.
My, I came to that realization and the whole panorama shifted about six kilometers to the left. The rudeness I have been seeing went away. On the road, in the store, at the bank. It made for a peaceful drive to Tacloban today, instead of a tense drive.
I have been the rude one for trying to hold other people to my cultural standard and claiming they fell short. No, I fell short.
Thanks, Cha, for that enlightenment.
Having said that, I do think there are cultural practices in the Philippines that are harmful to Filipinos, and being an outsider helps me see them. It would be good if the culture changed to get rid of certain practices. Like allowing those roaming dogs to kill motorcyclists and pass fleas or rabies to the kids. Or burning carcinogenic plastics in the city. Or being compliant with employment practices that do not promote skill, but favor friends and family. Thus chasing talented people overseas where they can EARN proper reward for their talent.
But, indeed, as an outsider, I have no right to condemn that which I don't understand, and which is doing no harm.
Ignorance is not a good platform from which to judge others.