Understanding The Filipino Psyche – Part I

I was reading up on Filipino psychology the other day and found myself fascinated by this very interesting race once again. I try to not limit myself to the world view I hold, which is based on my society, culture and upbringing. It is one world view and valid, yet not the only one and other’s world views are just as valid as mine, surely? If you are planning on spending the rest of your life with a Filipina, either there or even more challenging, in Australia or any other western country, it would make sense, surely, to try and gain as much of an education about your life partner as possible.

bayanihan

First of all the study of psychology in the Philippines is very much a postcolonial discipline. Not a lot was done prior to Independence in 1946, possibly because more attention was made on assimilating to their Spanish and later, American, rulers. With independence has come a growing need to understand what being a Filipino is all about and there is considerable reading matter you can hunt down on the web, most of it academic, scientific and not exactly light reading.

 

Filipinos Are Group Oriented

The one thing I noticed early on was that Filipino research into the psyche of the Pinoy is very much like the society itself, very group oriented. That shouldn’t be surprising as group behaviour is preferred to doing things on one’s own by all Filipinos. Even going across the street to the sari sari store, I have observed Filipinos take a companion with them. Even if it is just a baby who can do very little to assist them should the need arise, having someone with you is more comforting than going it alone. Now you might begin to understand why your Filipina is hesitant to do anything on her own, at least for the first year or two when she arrives in your country.

This is a core value of Filipino culture and life and it has a name; ‘kapwa’. Togetherness. Just like the old joke of how many Filipinos can you fit in a jeepney (one more) there is always room for more people in the group. Individualism, ‘kanya-kanya’, is something that was introduced to Filipino society by western colonisers. Perhaps now you can see why incompetence and the inability to get things done that seems so endemic in everyday situations is virtually non-existent among Filipinos abroad. Let me explain.

 

Pakikisama Means Group Harmony

There is a thing called ‘pakikisama’, or group harmony that means it is more important for everyone to feel good than for anyone to feel bad. Doing something as a group, however badly or ineffectually, is always better than doing anything, no matter how well, individually. When the pinoy becomes an OFW or migrates abroad, this group harmony is no longer as important and the same individual who earlier couldn’t get the job done right and on time, all of a sudden becomes the most valuable employee in the business! We’ll explore this in more detail in Part II of Understanding The Filipino Psyche.

 

Perry Gamsby, D.Lit, MA(Writing), Dip.Bus, Dip. Mktg is a writer and lecturer who lives with his Cebuana wife and five Aus-Fil daughters in Western Sydney. The author of a series of best-selling ‘self-help’ books for expats and those married to Filipinas, he is also a Master of Filipino Martial Arts and a former World Stickfighting Champion who has lived, worked and vacationed in the Philippines since 1988. Perry and his family return to the Philippines on a yearly basis. You can read more of his writing on Philippines topics at www.streetwisephilippines.biz

 

This article and website sponsored by Down Under Visa, Australian Registered Migration Agents in Manila – The Australian Partner Visa Specialists

 

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Hiya! That’s Hee-Ya, Not High-ya!

A word you may come across when interacting with Filipinos is ‘hiya’, pronounced hee-ya. It translates literally as ‘a sense of shame’. A common interpretation is to use hiya as ‘face’, as in ‘losing face’, although this is not strictly accurate. What is accurate is that it is vital that when you are interacting with a Filipino, you don’t do or say anything that would invoke a sense of shame.

hiya

We could discuss this from a anthropological, sociological or ethnological perspective, but I prefer to keep it simple and practical. What then, is hiya and how should we, as non-Filipinos, apply the ‘rules’ of hiya? Quite simply, don’t do anything or say anything that will cause the Filipino or Filipinos around you to feel ashamed.

 

Social Approval Is Important To Filipinos

This might be feeling ashamed of you or of themselves, or of someone else entirely. Filipinos are very aware of the opinions of others and what people think of them. While this might seem a bit silly to westerners, it is how it is and you’re not going to change it, even if change was a good thing. Social approval, or acceptance by the group, is very important to Filipinos. If you, as the fiancé or husband of a Filipina, do something to cause her to feel hiya within her social group, then you have offended her and hurt her in ways you might never be able to appreciate.

Going out in public unshaven, unkempt and wearing dirty clothes, old flip flops and looking like you just crawled off Smokey Mountain (a giant garbage dump in Manila) will cause her to feel hiya. She wants the world to be proud of you because you are the living embodiment of how well she can take care of her family. You never see Filipinos at the mall dressed like beggars unless they are, indeed, begging. No matter how poor, when they go out in public they will make sure every member of the family is clean and as well dressed as circumstances allow.

 

Nobody Likes To be Made To Feel Shame

Speaking your mind in that blunt, forthright and very direct way we westerners see as being honest and admirable is also a way you can evoke hiya in those around you. Yes, the Philippines has some serious social issues to deal with. Yes, there are inequalities and corruption is systemic; but that doesn’t mean you need to remind everyone in earshot. Filipinos know there are problems to be solved but so too do we have serious social issues in our own countries. You wouldn’t like it if someone kept on and on about racial problems in the USA or welfare cheats in the UK, how Aborigines are treated in Australia or whatever. Regardless of how accurate the comments may be, nobody likes to be hammered about these things, especially in social settings.

Filipinos do worry what others think about them. Accept that. Do be aware that what you do, say and how you behave can hurt those around you. Understand that hiya, a sense of shame, is very real and if you don’t want to be the archetypal ugly ‘Kano’, be mindful of the part hiya plays in Filipino society.

 

Perry Gamsby, D.Lit, MA(Writing), Dip.Bus, Dip. Mktg is a writer and lecturer who lives with his Cebuana wife and five Aus-Fil daughters in Western Sydney. The author of a series of best-selling ‘self-help’ books for expats and those married to Filipinas, he is also a Master of Filipino Martial Arts and a former World Stickfighting Champion who has lived, worked and vacationed in the Philippines since 1988. Perry and his family return to the Philippines on a yearly basis. You can read more of his writing on Philippines topics at www.streetwisephilippines.biz

 

This article and website sponsored by Down Under Visa, Australian Registered Migration Agents in Manila – The Australian Partner Visa Specialists

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Leadership, not control – in Australian Filipina marriages (Part 2)

How do you lead without controlling? As we read in Part 1 of ‘Leadership, Not Control’, the Filipina respects her man if he leads her, but will only suffer and be unhappy if he controls her. Let’s look at control first.

she has true devotion to him until he comes here and puts a ring on her finger

Control is often subtle as much as it is blatant. I have known Aussie husbands to control their new Filipina wife’s eating habits. Food is important for more than just giving us the nutrition we need to stay alive. It is an emotional support in many cases. Anyone who has lived overseas understands how a simple thing like finding a favourite food at the local supermarket can make an otherwise dull day something to rejoice. Vegemite, Tim tams and a great lamb chop are some Aussie items many miss when living in the Philippines. Imagine then how your Filipina feels when she discovers the Asian supermarket with her favourite dried fish, Bagoong and those tiny tins of sardines!

 

Control Can Be For the Best Of Reasons, But Still Wrong

Some husbands simply refuse to allow their wives to eat rice with every meal, or even ridicule how agitated they may get when they discover they have run out of rice. One bloke I know actually outlawed the use of fingers to eat anything other than KFC! My wife still eats her rice and buwad with her fingers, dipping it into her soy sauce and relishing every moment. It reminds her of the too few good times as a child when they had enough to eat that day.

This same bloke also made his wife and her daughter eat with a knife and fork when they were more familiar with a spoon and fork or their fingers. His intention was to help her to rapidly ‘Australianize’. The result though, was alienation and despair. Denying your loved one the food she is familiar with and no doubt craves as some kind of link with the homeland and family she has left behind to be with you is wrong. Stopping her from enjoying the company of other Filipinas, telling her when she can and can’t go out, even to do the shopping, is wrong.

 

Leadership Is About Making A Decision

Leadership is about making a decision. Where are you going out tonight? Don’t ask her, tell her. She will let you know if that is ok or if she would prefer somewhere else. It might be very subtle but if she says, ‘up to you’, it probably isn’t! Try offering her alternatives like ‘do you want to eat at the RSL or find a nice restaurant?’ When it comes to buying things, if she isn’t jumping with excitement about your choice of new lounge suite, take that as a hint that she doesn’t like it. She won’t come out and say so, not for the first ten years, but she will let you know once you get the thing home how much she hates it!

The thing is, if you think you need a new lounge suite or TV, say so. Don’t ask her if you should buy one, that shows weakness. If she is a Filipina who grew up in the province or even in the city with a low income family she will baulk at spending the money, even if she desperately wants a new lounge. But we’ll explore that in more detail in Part 3.

 

 

Perry Gamsby, D.Lit, MA(Writing), Dip.Bus, Dip. Mktg is a writer and lecturer who lives with his Cebuana wife and five Aus-Fil daughters in Western Sydney. The author of a series of best-selling ‘self-help’ books for expats and those married to Filipinas, he is also a Master of Filipino Martial Arts and a former World Stickfighting Champion who has lived, worked and vacationed in the Philippines since 1988. Perry and his family return to the Philippines on a yearly basis. You can read more of his writing on Philippines topics at www.streetwisephilippines.biz

 

This article and website sponsored by Down Under Visa, Australian Registered Migration Agents in Manila – The Australian Partner Visa Specialists

 

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Leadership, not control – in Australian Filipina marriages (Part 1)

Western men are attracted to Philippine women is their attention to keep their family and marriage going. Children to mixed relationships are often happier and live a life envied by many

There is a stereotype out there that Asian women are subservient to their husbands. They treat him like a king and do everything for him, are great mothers, loyal partners and hot in the cot. Stereotypes, good or bad, have to come from somewhere and there is a lot of truth in that opening sentence. There is, however, a lot of ‘not so true’ in there also.

First of all, Asia is a big place with billions of people, about half of them female. Without stating the obvious (that all women, like men, are individuals), it is true that there are traits shared by people of the same race, culture or community. Asian women do, for the most part, respect and even revere their husbands. The thing is, this respect comes, like any ‘right’, with responsibilities.

 

The City Or the Province?

If we focus on Filipinas and put aside for a moment Thai, Chinese, Vietnamese, Malay, Indonesian, Korean or Japanese women, just to list a few, there are still big differences between Filipinas from one part of the country to another. Seven thousand islands and dozens of dialects means there are similarities but many, many differences between a Filipina from, say, Manila, to one from the second biggest city, Cebu, or Davao. When we start comparing Filipinas from the cities to those from ‘da probince’ (province or rural areas), the differences are even more and varied.

Without opening that can of worms, let’s focus on one similarity all Filipinas, and for that matter all Asian women and most western ones too, share. Women want a man who is a leader. Someone who will make the hard decisions and take the initiative. They want a man to be the head of the family and provide emotional security as much as physical and financial security.

 

It Is Not About Control

What they don’t want is a man who controls them. Someone who is jealous of them having other friends, even female ones. A leader is not a jailer, nor is he someone who is so insecure in himself he has to control every action his spouse makes. Sadly, many western men who find themselves attracted to Filipinas because of the qualities listed in the opening sentence behave badly.

That behaviour comes in two basic formats. The first is the control freak and control is a form of domestic abuse. That too often slides into domestic violence and criminal assault. Some men who had difficulty maintaining loving relationships with western women erroneously think they will be happier with an Asian wife, yet they do nothing to change their behaviour that created so much angst in their other relationships.

 

Consult, Discuss, Decide

The other form of failure is the man who expects his wife to make all the decisions. This may be a misguided belief that he is giving her freedom and respecting her as an equal. She doesn’t want to be dragged down to your level, but to remain on the pedestal you have placed her upon. This means you need to consult, to discuss but in the end, to decide. Did I say this was going to be easy? No marriage is easy, not if it is truly a partnership destined to last.

 

Perry Gamsby, D.Lit, MA(Writing), Dip.Bus, Dip. Mktg is a writer and lecturer who lives with his Cebuana wife and five Aus-Fil daughters in Western Sydney. The author of a series of best-selling ‘self-help’ books for expats and those married to Filipinas, he is also a Master of Filipino Martial Arts and a former World Stickfighting Champion who has lived, worked and vacationed in the Philippines since 1988. Perry and his family return to the Philippines on a yearly basis. You can read more of his writing on Philippines topics at www.streetwisephilippines.biz

 

This article and website sponsored by Down Under Visa, Australian Registered Migration Agents in Manila – The Australian Partner Visa Specialists

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What the Filipina wife thinks

What the Filipina wife thinks:

Filipinas usually make friends easily. They are warm and hospitable. They smile a lot, which makes it easier for strangers or foreigners to feel at ease with them. They can easily strike up a conversation with the person seated next to them, for example. Filipinas can communicate with people of other nations with ease because the majority of the population can fluently converse in English.

When meeting a Filipina for the first time, and you want to make a good impression, maintain a low profile, be friendly without being “artificial” and show a genuine interest in the culture. Do not flaunt your wealth (jewellery and other expensive looking personal belongings and cash). Avoid wearing immodest or revealing clothing, especially in Muslim-dominated areas where there is a clear standard for appropriate attire.

Filipinas have a knack for humour. They can always find something to laugh about. They even love to craft funny anecdotes about socio-economic-political situations and adversaries in life. But it is not appropriate for a foreigner to comment on the political situation nor discuss about religion. With regard to socio-cultural conflicts and issues, just listen during discussions and do not take sides. Good discussion topics include: family (Filipinos love to talk about their families), where you are from and the reason why you are in the Philippines (explain explicitly and clearly your organization’s aim.

Australian Perspective:

Filipinas are very family-oriented, so are always interested in your own family and where you are from. Many Filipinas have family, relatives and friends working and or settled overseas and are interested—even anxious—to make (casual) linkages between their own overseas family and relatives with your family or friends, a brief discussion of your work and task is acceptable, but there is often reluctance to “get down to business” too quickly. They would like to get to “know” you first. It is often best to let your host to set the agenda or at least the initial timetable for work.

Filipinas are extremely social and hospitable; they also like to eat and drink often. You are likely to be offered a drink (coffee, soft drink, juice or water) and a snack (biscuit cake etc.) almost immediately on first meeting. It is socially wise to accept the offer; at least of the coffee or soft drink. If you are the host you should also be prepared to offer and serve a coffee/soft drink and snack. If invited to a family or other social occasion it is Filipino practice to bring along a small gift for the host and/or hostess, typically a cake or other small gift of very modest value.

Many Filipinas are uneasy about the Muslim minority communities in Mindanao and mainstream Malay communities often have equivocal attitudes toward indigenous minorities. While most Filipinos are Catholics and are openly religiously oriented, even in the work place, there are substantial minority religious groups. Discussion of religious issues, views and affiliation should be deferred for later conversations, unless specifically brought up.
There is wide spread frustration about corruption in both public and private sectors and the inability of government to address the issues. Corruption is politically sensitive and highly charged. Discussion should be avoided unless it affects one’s business directly.

Filipinas really enjoy humour and love to tell jokes in social settings, but less so in the context of business. Humour may be self-deprecating, often relies on puns, but is rarely dry or cynical. Irony is often not understood or is misinterpreted.

 

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A few Mistakes to Avoid Before Marrying a Filipina

Single men marry the wrong Filipina women because they expect her to change after marriage. If you don’t feel that you can be happy with the Filipina woman as they are now, then don’t get married.

If you can find a really happy Filipina bride, someone who is just basically content with life, who enjoys life, and who is emotionally stable

If you can find a really happy Filipina bride, someone who is just basically content with life, who enjoys life, and who is emotionally stable

Now, remember this: Love is NOT enough and can NEVER be the reason for getting married. This may sound devoid of sense and logic but the truth is that knowing one’s character and being perfectly aware of whether you can live with it is of prime importance when taking the decision of getting married. Here are four very important characteristics that you should look for in a Filipina marriage:

Filipina Humility: A foreign women who possesses this quality puts principles above convenience and believes that “doing the right thing” is more important than personal comfort.

Kindness in your Filipina bride: A second character trait to look in Filipina women for would be kindness. Kindness means that you’re a giver; in other words if a person is truly kind.

Responsibility: You certainly don’t want to marry an irresponsible person. So how do you know if a Filipina woman is responsible? Check out their work history. Do they have a stable work history? Do they have stable friendships?

Happiness: A fourth character trait to look for would be happiness. If you can find a really happy Filipina bride, someone who is just basically content with life, who enjoys life, and who is emotionally stable – that’s a quality person right there.

Another reason why people marry the wrong person is that you don’t share a common life purpose, or common priorities and commitments. There are three basic ways we connect with another Filipina woman:

Make sure you share a deeper level of connection that sharing life goals provide. After a Filipina marriage, the two of you will either grow together or grow apart. Two people that share a common life purpose in Philippines have a much greater chance of growing together.

You have to evaluate how deep the connection is on an emotional level with Filipina brides. So how do you know if you have a connection with a person in a deeper emotional way? Just ask yourself: “Do I respect and admire this person?” This does not mean, “Am I impressed by this person?”

Yet another reason why people marry the wrong person is that they tend to choose someone with whom they don’t feel emotionally safe. Feeling emotionally safe is a foundation of any healthy and solid relationship.

Some Filipinas people make is that they tend to use the relationship to avoid taking responsibility for their personal problems and unhappiness. The fact is that if you are an unhappy person when you are single, you will be unhappy when married, too

When you have been involved with someone sexually, it tends to make it more difficult to start thinking about more important areas like character and life philosophy. It even makes it difficult for people to face these issues because once they have made this level of commitment, they are afraid to bring up issues. “After all, we’ve been living together, we’ve been sleeping together. How can I possibly think about questioning the person’s life goals at this point, or questioning their character?” or “You slept with me and now you’re questioning my character?” So, for practical reasons, it is better to hold off on sexual involvement. Yeh right!!!

Men and Filipina women have unique emotional needs and more often than not, it is the man who just doesn’t get it. The unique need of a woman is to be loved. She needs to feel that she is the most important person in her husband’s life. The husband needs to give her consistent, quality attention.

 

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Older Guys Love Younger Filipinas

In the Philippines you will often see younger ladies with older white guys. The negative reasons usually have to do with an Asian lady wanting an older man for financial reasons.  Several Filipinas say a younger guy is not settled. They are looking for someone who is serious and they seem to believe an older man is more serious about marriage. A a younger guy may not have the financial means to come to their country to visit them and maintain a courtship

Most Filipinas take getting in a long distance relationship seriously and don’t want to risk being involved with someone who doesn’t have the staying power needed to be involved in a long distance courtship. In some cases, these ladies had already experienced a relationship with a younger man and after six months was abandon. Getting your heart broken is no fun and most Asian ladies believe a younger man is more likely to do just that. To these ladies it doesn’t make sense to get involved with someone that may not be able to afford to fly to their country to meet.

Behaviour is a big attraction. Most Asian ladies say if a man acts like a gentleman, in time they find him very attractive and fall in love. Asian ladies don’t put as much emphasis on first looks or impressions. They are more open to courtship until they get to know your character.

Again, most ladies believe an older gentleman have rid themselves of his wild oats. They believe older men have learned how to treat a lady like a lady. They believe a younger male isn’t as patient and is more likely to have a wondering eye or worse, a wondering sexual drive.

Asian ladies just happen to believe that older men fit these criteria. These are the men they want to love and marry and get a spouse visa and live happily ever after with.

Found this in an old forum from ten years ago. I think it says it all

Spidey:

You’re correct on several fronts. For years, I visited the Philippines on occasional business, and I spent like a tourist because I didn’t really have enough time to get to know the non-tourist places, or the “non-tourist” women. Now I live here, and the picture, the pace, and the expectations are completely different. Neither is more “correct” than the other because each reflects a different perspective.

Most of the guys I know who have settled here without jobs, and have reasonably limited means, are still far more well-to-do than the locals, and consequently, they get laid a lot. Again however, their expectations and desires are different and they’re not obsessed with getting as much sex  as possible as often as possible.

You’re also correct that there’s not such thing as a “free lunch” here, and I doubt that there is anywhere. I think that, in most cases, the agendas of the women here are more fixated on being well-treated, finding someone who is nice to them, and having a good time with someone who will enjoy being with them outside the bedroom as well. From the standpoint of the Westerner, this does cost money; probably as much (or perhaps more) than paying directly for sex.

 

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Filipina Wives Prefer Older Men

You know, the longer you live here, the more you will learn about Filipino-foreigner relationships. Unfortunately, and all too often, we see where the “bad” relationships start. Primarily, it’s on the internet, with bargirls running a close second. The majority of the Filipinas whom guys meet online aren’t necessarily bad, it’s just that, a Filipina who would normally be a good wife for a Filipino, may have ulterior motives when it comes to hooking up with a foreigner… a “rich” foreigner in her eyes.

When it comes to meeting that “rich foreigner”

Once a Filipina has met a guy online and the guys lose all common sense to someone they have never personally met and have sent money he becomes a teenager and the brain is disengaged and she is ready to marry straight away. Continue reading

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Wowowee

wowowee

If you’re new to the Philippines, it’s not likely that you’ll know anything about Wowowee. But if you have a Filipina wife or girlfriend, you might occasionally hear them reminiscing about hugely popular local TV show, which used to serve as a platform of sorts for some of the most famous celebrities in the Philippines today.

The last episode of Wowowee aired about four years ago. TV network ABS-CBN’s local noontime variety show had a run of five years, and it seemed that through all that time the popularity of the show never waned. Continue reading

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The Philippine Jeepney

jeepney

A friend in America once asked me, “I don’t ever catch you online. You seem to be the type who gets around quite a lot. How do you do that in Manila?”

“Oh,” I said. “That’s easy. Jeepneys.”

Jeepneys: my friend was not totally unfamiliar with this World War II mode of transport (specifically, the Willys MB), which, like so many things Filipino, prevails as a vestige of American colonial occupation. You see, hundreds of surplus military jeeps were literally given to Filipinos by the American troops leaving the country after WWII. Continue reading

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