Thursday, October 15, 2009
Of hospitality and tradition.
We live in a cosmopolitan place filled with people who grew up in many different cultures and traditions. Therefore it is not surprising that hospitality and politeness are as varied as the number of countries that make up this world.
From my previous post, some of you had reacted that none will bother to offer help if you find yourself stranded in the road due to car engine failure. Maybe it is because you have been culturally raised to believe that there's a need for introduction before hospitality is extended.
Well, Filipino hospitality is one-of-a-kind. We are ready to offer our service to a stranger anytime. There is even no such thing as an uninvited guest or a bad time to visit. We can visit a home anytime without even calling them or sending then a text message that we are coming. And if we happen to catch the family in an abnormally late lunch, there will be a commotion, not because the timing was bad, but because the mom will stand up from the table to cook an extra pot of rice for the guest. Instantly without qualms, the visitor will be offered lunch. And it will offend them if you decline.
If it happened that the visitor is from a far place, he will be asked to stay for the night. Not having a sleeping clothes will not even suffice as an excuse. The guest will be given the best bed or the best room in the house. In the old days, the visitor is even entitled to the master bedroom even if that means that the master has to sleep on the floor.
On the other hand, I won't be surprised if, even after I have known an English friend reasonably well, I still won't get an invitation to their home. I know that this isn't a slight on me. It is just that English people like to keep their home as their own private space and prefer to meet their friends in more neutral surroundings. But then, Tracey had opened her home to me, so... yipee!
Filipinos on the whole are very friendly and open toward foreigners. Perhaps, there is no country in Southeast Asia where foreigners are so well accepted as in the Philippines. Filipinos even tend to rate foreigners over themselves. Our smile is not politely distant, but spontaneous and from the heart. Filipinos smile all the time. We smile while commuting, we smile at work, we smile in smog-infested traffic, even in an argument, or overthrowing our own President, we SMILE!
Oh, another thing. Our Filipino "YES" can puzzles most westerners. A yes means just that, though it can also mean "maybe" ,"I don't know", or, "If it will please you", OR "I hope I have said it enough for you to understand that I mean NO!". Hahaha.
You see, a Filipino does not like to openly agree or disappoint. Hence, a question by a person seeking a direct answer concerning, for example, the amount of a payment for services rendered will be answer with a smile and words... "It's up to You."
This is the aspect where the net has become equally important. One of the wonderful benefits of the Internet and the global communication is that it allows us, an opportunity to extend to one another an open experience of hospitality and politeness, without restrictions to our individual traditions and cultures. Here, we are able to appreciate the hospitable and polite nature of the mind of the individual.
We are all different, individually, nationally and culturally. Yet we encompass and appreciate those differences, and learn to appreciate the hospitality and politeness extended by our various cultures and countries.