Filipino Culture

Discussion in 'Filipino Martial Arts' started by Pat OMalley, May 4, 2005.

  1. Pat OMalley

    Pat OMalley Valued Member

    Understanding the culture of any country can at times be difficult, but it does in turn help you understand their martial art and why they do things the way they do.

    Filipino culture is very very different to others, some even say it is totally alien to other cultures, but one thing is for sure, it is not called the land of smiles for nothing. And once you start to gain some understanding of the culture you would be surprised just how much it improves your FMA understanding.

    For instance: When I first travelled to the Philippines one of my first experiences was believe it or not just walking around a shopping centre.

    I kept noticing that young attactive women where blowing me kisses (well that's what I thought anyway). Of course this gave a great boost to my ego and inflated my chest larger than I have ever inflated it before. Understand my disappointment when I later found out that this is how the Filipino points at things, (with their lips) and they were in-fact pointing at me because many had never seen a tall, white, ginger headed person before. I in-fact looked totally alien to them and as you would expect attracted a lot of attention.

    I also found early on that pointing with your finger is not only rude but can inflame the people around you if you partake in a little finger pointing, something that goes un-noticed here in the west.

    Other things such as beckoning someone over with the palm of your hand facing down is considered good behaviour, where as using your finger with your palm up is like calling over a dog and will soon get you into trouble.

    Directly saying 'NO' to someones face for whatever reason (even politely as us westerners see it) is a no no as they say and you soon learn that the word yes, does not always mean what it say's, there are a thousand meanings for the word 'Yes' in the Philippines and working the meanings out is a task in it's self.

    Turing up for social events, doing business and even meeting new people all have their accepted behaviour. As do each of the individual members of the family.

    It is easy to embarass a Filipino just by how you approach them, behave in front of them or even accept gifts from them. every aspect of life in the Philippines has it's rules, understanding them is another matter. But don't worry the Filipino is a very understanding person, especailly if you are a non-Filipino, at first that is. Once you show a willingness to learn about them and how their society works, you will soon become welcome and shown more and more of the real Filipino. With this you will also see more and more of the 'Real' FMA and not just the tourist stuff.

    Anyway, to the main question. Have you ever had a good or bad experience because of your lack of understanding of the Filipino culture? Also, what can you tell us FMA practitioners about what you know or understand about the culture.

    Also any of you Pinoy's can tell us some funny stories about the tourist (us) when visiting and/or training in your country:D I am sure you have one or two tales to tell.

    Best regards

    Last edited: May 4, 2005
  2. Pat OMalley

    Pat OMalley Valued Member

    During this thread, I will post some questions to you from time to time in the form of a quiz, hopefully from the responses and answers this will help all of us to understand not only the Filipino, but the FMA as a whole.

    Here is the first one for you:D


    An armed soldier, a little drunk, takes a seat in front of you in a jeepney, and he catches your eye. Do you:

    A Stare back at him expressing your disapproval.
    B Look away and pretend he is not there.
    C Smile and start a conversation with him.
    Last edited: May 4, 2005
  3. Rich Parsons

    Rich Parsons Valued Member

    Not quite sure if ti would be correct, but I would Smile and Nod, and then start a conversation. If one was not forth coming I would let it drop. If there was conversation hopefully he would understand my desire to learn. :)
  4. deCadena

    deCadena New Member

    being a filipino myself B is my answer.
  5. juramentado

    juramentado lean, mean eating machine

    Do not stare. Filipinos in general find it offensive. Filipino men in general will take it as a challenge, a slight on their machismo. And local tabloid always have stories of drunks or even sober hotheads stabbing, hacking or shooting someone who just happen to stare at them. It's rather neanderthal but that's how it is.

  6. slipthejab

    slipthejab Hark, a vagrant! Supporter

    I generally find that most people who have never been to the Philipines don't have any idea about Filipino culture period. Most people can't find it on a map. There missing out on a lot.

    Having lived there on and off for quite some time I've got a great appreciation for the culture.

    Funny what was mentioned about pointing with the lips. lol. The same could be said for full conversations with the eyebrows alone. Filipinos could win the eye brow Olympics if they had to! :eek:

    I guess one of the best things is the sense of humour. It's deeply engrained in the culture and even in the most dire of circumstances Filipinos generally can manage to laugh and smile. :D On a per capita basis there are probably more jokes in the Philipines than anywhere else.

    What else? I'd say champurado for breakfast is pretty ok with me. lol.

    Most of the time I've spent there has been in the south.
  7. Diego_Vega

    Diego_Vega Frustrated pacifist

    Hello Pat et al,

    It's great to see that youre continuing in the great academic tradition of Clifford Geertz and then James Siegel and Benedict Anderson, namely the idea that in order to truly understand Southeast Asian history, politics, society and economics, you first have to truly understand their culture. I guess this goes now for martial arts too.

    With regard to your question above? Howabout d) stare at him, point with your finger and begin laughing. :woo: That way you can see if your martial arts acutally works.

    But honestly, the answer is b), when in doubt, try to ignore the other guy.

    If the slightly drunk soldier does become agitated and looks determined to start trouble with you, just mention that he looks familiar and ask where he's from. Wherever it is, yup, you're from that village too. ;) Ask how "Aling" (an older lady) Lita or Neneng is doing (there's always somebody named Lita or Neneng in every village). Then say that your stop is here and you have get off the jeepney before he can figure out that you're lying. (Another difference between Filipino and North American society is, in Canada and the U.S., most acts of violence are committed by someone known, usually close, to the victim. Here in the Philippines, acts of violence tend to be done to strangers. The group (social, kinship, professional, ethno-linguistic) is very important here and people are always trying to find some connection that way to others.)
  8. shootodog

    shootodog restless native

    great post pat! i like this thread!

    i agree with diego_vega, in doubt look away and pretend he isn't there. you only start a conversation when you feel you've done something horribly wrong (like stare at his wife's breasts or something like that).
  9. burungkol

    burungkol Team Yaw-Yan

    Filipinos are the happiest among Asians, and one among the happiest people in the world, placing number six among the top ten happiest nations, despite the many problems they have to face everyday. This is according to the World Values Survey conducted among 50 countries worldwide.

    As to Pat's question, when you don't like someone, just (B) Look away and pretend he is not there.
  10. shootodog

    shootodog restless native

    champorado and tuyo! breakfast of champions! but only in the rainy season. too hot to eat that on a hot sticky summer's day.
  11. Crucible

    Crucible Valued Member

    B. I have the tagalog of a retarded two year old :)
  12. Crucible

    Crucible Valued Member

    I'm an early morning taho man myself.
  13. Crucible

    Crucible Valued Member

  14. shootodog

    shootodog restless native

    taho is great for breakfast! on hot summer days like these, i like chilling my taho in the fridge for a few before eating it.
  15. Diego_Vega

    Diego_Vega Frustrated pacifist

    Another pinoy trait is the ability to turn whatever conversation they're having into a discussion about food.
    Last edited: May 5, 2005
  16. shootodog

    shootodog restless native

    i will remember that next time that we're cooking for the anniversary.
  17. Stxsas

    Stxsas Keep on Flowing..

    That champorado sounds well nice! Probabally not far off the Scotts Porridge Oats, eh Pat :D Mmmmm

    I go to find food, as now you all got me thinking of it.... :p
  18. Crucible

    Crucible Valued Member

    I like chopping up a buko/coconut on a hot day, drinking the juice and scooping out the meat. :)
    I'll take fresh buko over magnolia anyday.
  19. shootodog

    shootodog restless native

    over ice and you've got a deal. sometimes with rhum.

    ehem. back on topic...

    yes, pat's point in understanding the culture in which your martial art came from gives you a better grasp on the whys and whats of the art. it makes you understand the mindset that is neccessary to comlete the understanding of the art (as pat has).

    diego_vega is a prime example of what pat has posted.
  20. Lucy O'Malley

    Lucy O'Malley The Mother Art

    It is not essential that you go to the Philippines to train, especially if you have a good instructor that does go him/herself and shows you everything anyway. But I do believe, if you want to be one of the best, or be to your best ability, you should go and train with the least once anyway.
    And where better than the place your MA was born. And the instructors are so natural and phenominal in movement and control....the Philippines is the place to be.

    But why should anyone take the time out to show you their art if you are not prepared to even get to know them as individuals. In a very good way, the Filipino's are very different to us europeans which can make it very difficult to just walk off the plane and mingle, but also you can get yourself into a lot of trouble very quickly if your attitude is all wrong. (remember, most can speak and understand English very well, uttering sarcastic remarks under your breath will get you nowhere and is incredibly rude) I say this because I have seen it among the typical holiday maker that thinks they are invisible.

    At home we have to get to know our friends, our work colleagues, associates, even your local shopkeeper. We do this because we want mutual respect, we want favours, we want someone to talk to. It does not always come easy, you have to learn and listen to get to know someone, even your own family. So what's different about getting to know someone half way round the world.

    Their culture.........

    So first we need to learn their culture, then you can get to know the individuals as you would anyone else in your life.

    Those that do not bother......

    1. Get treated like a typical tourist.
    2. Will only be shown the the tourist training and destinations.
    3. WILL be ripped off. (no insult intended to anyone) I am talking taxi drivers etc....they see you coming and they take the opportunity.

    I have seen people arrive in the philippines and just lock themselves in a room (after they lost their suitcase, even though they could see it on the rack in lost and found but just refuse to pay, to get it back).
    You may laugh, but it is not uncommon. The country is completly different to such places as the UK...I am not talking one person locking themselves away, I am talking 10 out of 20 people in one trip. Eventually some of them get as far as a shopping centre or something but that is about it (day in,day out). The place is alien to them and can make them feel uncomfortable, but they just cannot bring themselves to adjust, relax or understand the culture(they only have themselves to blame). And these people seem to end up having all the bad experiences aswell, when they do venture out to the shops, which in turn makes them 50 times worse.(takes another 2 days to get them out of their room) But if they could just open their mind a little, they would have the time of their life, as one thing about the Philippines is they all like to have fun and a laugh.

    Usually when you get back after a few weeks, your sides are just aching from laughter.

    I am not saying you must learn the culture but it helps. It is just mutual respect at the end of the day....and if you make the effort people do not mind overlooking your occasional mistake, which is inevitable seeing as you have probably lived 25 + years pointing your finger at people and objects as a means of communicating, it is not expected that you just completly drop the habit in 2 seconds after 25 years but you should make the effort.

    I don't think I purposly learnt the culture, I learnt to fit in as I went along, but I am an extremely relaxed and easy going person, so I did not need to make many adjustments. But unfortunately some people really need to make more effort and alot of adjustments, which makes it incredibly hard for them and it is these people that really will not get far because they put brickwalls up for themselves, be it their own attitude or their attitude towards other people :bang: .

    But anyway, I love the Philippines and the people in it.

    Lots of love :love:


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