Things Foreigners care about but Filipinos don’t

AE Staff Note: Charlie Chan is a long time Expat and friend of the site. He asked if he could write a column but said that it will not always be flattering to life in Angeles. We of course said yes…

So, here ya go. A different viewpoint on life in Angeles.


Things Foreigners (may) care about but FILIPINAS and/or FILIPINOS most certainly do NOT

There are many things that the foreigner views, be it customs or manners, or whatever, that the locals do not. Many times these can be the spark of an argument as each side is thinking something different. Here are a few observations I have noticed where our thinking is not what they are thinking.

You be the judge…

1. When a Foreigner comes to a street corner, he pulls up to the leftmost side of the right lane and looks for oncoming traffic, lets it pass, and then, pulls out, being careful not to slow the flow of traffic, or cross the path of any pedestrians. The whole motion forms an “L shape” turn.

While the Foreigner is waiting at the corner (stop sign present or not), a Filipino will pull up to your left, and make the turn into traffic no matter what. In Fact, trikes and most jeepneys HATE to slow down so they do this as ONE MOVE, not stopping at all, I guess to save gas? Filipino pedestrians don’t notice, or care if you are intending on turning, or what effect their walking right in front of you might cause.

2. When standing in line at a bank, grocery store, department store, ATM machine, or ANY cue, the Foreigner will wait for his turn, first come, first serve, and then step up to be waited on.

A Filipino will simply walk in front of you and cut in line AT ANY TIME, or yell or talk to the person behind the counter in Tagalog to get their attention, and it is GIVEN with zero regard to who was there first. It is discouraged in Filipino society to complain about this…

3. When a Foreigner wants to talk to someone or get someone’s attention, we will get up and walk over to the person to speak to them.

A Filipino will simply YELL anyplace, and time, no matter who else is talking, and no matter who gets interrupted, and no matter what the distance, to get the attention of whom they are trying to communicate with.

4. To a Foreigner, personal primping, eating methods, or dental maintenance after a meal is done in a discrete manner, and done in a way to be hidden from the view of others.

A Filipino will pick their nose, or butt, but most certainly cover their mouths when using a toothpick, or smiling, or laughing. A Filipina will comb her hair and do her makeup wherever and whenever a mirror is available, and is mesmerized by the view in the mirror. Chewing food and/or talking with the mouth open is not a taboo, nor even discussed as being bad manners.

5. When a Foreigner is talking to someone, and a waitress, or friend, or anyone else has a need to enter the conversation, or take an order, or obtain or impart some other information, a break in the conversation is either granted, or waited for, then the 3rd party may proceed.

A Filipino will just start speaking in Tagalog, or say EXCUSE ME in English, without waiting for any permission, or break, to get their message across, or receive their data. No matter whom may be interrupted.

6. In Foreign society, different age groups prefer different music styles, and one outgrows certain music styles as they mature, or get berated by their peers.

A Filipino, of ANY AGE, instantly becomes “9 years old” again when ANY music that sounds childlike or romantic in its style, is played. Both spiritually, and mentally which is then manifested in dancing or screaming, or both. ie. Ocho ocho song, Sex Bomb music, BOY Bands, or Teenage pop/dance song idols. (Britney Spears, etc…) Air Supply, Celine Dion and many more…

7. A light skin Foreigner may want to get a tan to darken the skin as a sign of youth or wealth, or physical fitness. It is not a taboo to be of or in the color one was born.

A Filipina MUST BE WHITER than she finds herself in the mirror, and will apply baby powder to the face, skin whiteners to the face, and underarms to become so. This is taken to the point of looking like a Vampire.

8. Foreigners generally are aware if they are overweight, and take steps to remedy this, or at least hide it.

Filipinos have NO STIGMA attached to being chubby, overweight, portly, or fat, in fact it is generally a sign of wealth and or health. There is zero ill regard for wearing tight clothing, or smaller sizes even if the ratio of muscle to fat is MAGNIFIED in the problem (fat) areas.

9. Foreigners on the job take pride in knowing their tasks, store stock, or menu items, ordering and fulfillment procedures, and how to please the customer, thus getting repeat business, and are rewarded for doing so, and trained and corrected towards this end.

For a Filipino, having the job and GETTING PAID, is the entire dynamic. If the store has zero stock, or sales, it’s not the “business” of the employee and endless excuses are in place to PROVE this. If anything might be incomplete, or broken, or nearing depletion, so be it. Countless official policies must be known and posted, and warnings and suspensions must be given, and even severance pay and “13th month pay” for a Filipino to be “fired out. Sometimes, the true and factual reasons for dismissal may not be disseminated or lawsuits may follow for “loss of face”. If a Filipino rises above the norm and gets trained in a more efficient or customer satisfaction manner, he is teased and scolded for being a show off.

10. In many Foreign countries, one is presumed innocent until proven guilty though due process of the known and disseminated legal system and it’s laws and court system.

The Philippines has a legal system, but almost zero justice can be found for anyone, especially foreigners who may be jailed on a simple verbal complaint to the authorities without further proof.

11. Foreign families have children to continue their legacy and/or bloodline, and keep in mind financial aspects of doing so. The child is cared for until adulthood, and either the child stays and works in the family business, or goers off to make his or her own fortune. Generally speaking, the child is helped throughout his or her entire life financially and is only expected to help out with family chores, or finances when the parent is housing the child, or is no longer able to do so due to age or disability.

A Filipino family has as many children as possible, so they that may support the family financially as soon as they are able. Males are less obligated to do so, and females are practically coerced, blackmailed, and made to feel guilty until they comply, NO MATTER WHAT THE JOB including forced prostitution or overseas work as nearly slave labor. The parent, or other relative may and will show up or simply call or text at any and all times and DEMAND MONEY based on real need or whim. The child MUST comply. If a foreigner spouse, or boyfriend enters the picture, demand grows instantaneously and in frequency and magnitude.

12. In Foreign society, one works, earns money, buys needs and possessions, and they are his to enjoy or share as his/her discretion.

Filipinos beg, borrow, or steal whatever they desire, and EXPECT to be given what they have asked for or face ridicule. Nothing can be considered a personal belonging, and is frequently stolen, or simply taken by friends, fellow employees, or parents and relatives. There is a built in support system which goes something like, I have nothing or little now, and you do, So you give it to me now, and later you may take what I have, and if we all do that, no one has the right to complain, nor more than anyone else.

13. The Foreign business will try to get work, accomplish the work quickly and efficiently so as to move on to more work, and get repeat business by reputation and/or referral. This is done to garner profit, and expansion.

The Filipino worker will take as long as possible to complete a job. This activity fills his day, and is a distraction to poverty and boredom. If something is not done right, it’s ok as it leads to more time working over a longer period of time, as long as it’s not in the same work shift. Cutting corners is SOP as long as work is unsupervised, and if it is thought that more money might need to be spent to do the job correctly, the employer, or customer will not find this out until it is not done right. It is considered boastful to alert the boss or customer that there might be higher costs involved. Tasks are carried out by workers that most likely have never experienced the quality nor standards of the Foreigner. The worker is generally not interested in this new way of doing things, unless it is enforced.

14. In the Foreign restaurant, anyone may point out and try to personally remedy a problem with service or food preparation, or customer satisfaction and is not penalized for doing so.

For the Filipino restaurant worker, there is a hidden hierarchy wherein a waitress may not correct the cashier, or cook or bartender. The customer must complain first, and only then can the situation be remedied. Thus orders are not crosschecked until served or delivered, and this includes, food preparation, temperature, cleanliness, serving size, side orders, or the menu item itself. It extends to how long it takes to get one’s order from the waitress to the cook and back out to the customer, and it discourages the waitress from LOOKING at the item received from the kitchen to see if it is what the customer wanted. After one’s meal has been delivered, it is nearly impossible to find a waitress again until the meal is apparently finished and the plate is whisked away almost instantly. The waitress disappears again, until one can be tracked down to pay the bill. The change from the cashier can be given in any amount of small or large remittance with no regard to the convenience of the customer.

Until next time,

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