Sunday, June 01, 2008

Culture Shock- Philippines

For those who don't know. I'm a Filipina, married to a Malaysian. Even if we're an Asian couple but there are still a lot of cultural differences between me and my dear husband. So, when my DH stayed in the Philippines for 4 months for a training, he together with our Norwegian classmate experienced some culture shocks. Here are bits and pieces of those 'shocks' they had. Not major culture shocks though, but some are quite amusing. All these are based on their observation, it may be true to all or not. So, no objections from fellow Pinoys please..hhehehe!

1) Filipinos point things or directions using the lips. Ask a Filipino, ( especially those whose hands are full) where the toilet is, and instead of pointing with their point finger, they point with their (puckered) lips matched with a head movement, " The CR ( our term for toilet , a short cut for Comfort Room) is there!" The first time our Norwegian friend saw this, he couldn't believe what he saw and thought the girl, wanted a kiss..hahahah!!

2) Filipinos say YES with our eyebrows. Try this! Move both your eyebrows , up and down, two times. Yes, that it..that's how we say Yes at times. When you ask someone, 'Have you eaten your breakfast yet?'..and then you won't hear a "yes" reply but when you look at the person asked, for sure his/her eyebrows have moved up and down with a little nod on the head. For some non-Filipinos, they would think that we are being flirty with them..

3) Inside the lift, bus or jeepney, Filipinos talk openly, laugh and share jokes in the presence of everyone. There are even times that when a joke is shared between friends inside the jeepney, the other passengers also laugh when the punchline has been said :) In other countries, once they're in the lift or public transport people seldom talk and when they do they whisper and not talk openly as do. So, the lifts/elevators are mostly dead silent even with a lot of people inside.

4) Filipinos cook and eat their fish with its head and tail intact. This was one major shock for our Norwegian friend and the more he got shock when everyone was fighting over who gets to eat the fish head. He said, only cats eat the fish head/tail in their country. But at the end, he also liked eating the fish head.

5) Psssstttttt.........Psssssssssssttttttt... That's how we call each other , our friends and family. In my Hubby's country it's impolite to call anyone like this. So it was a shock for him to hear everyone calling each other with a Psssst!!

That's all that I could think of now..I'll ask more from my Hubby and be updating this later..:)

What about you? Do you have any "culture shock' items that you want to add? Feel free to comment and I'll it up here too. Thanks!


Anonymous said...

haha! so true...

Mariz said...

Looks like we have 2 things in common, have lived in M'sia for 2 1/2 years, only left last year for Dubai, and the other one - I also have a Norwegian friend who happens to have the same observations you've listed here. Item # 4 grossed him out. Europeans never eat fish with heads still intact.

Care to x-links? Miss KL, the food and our friends there so much...

Enjoy your day!

janet said...


all of the above - only found in the Philippines. hehehe. oopps.. except no.4 coz most asian countries still cook fish with the head and tails intact.

Islander said...

hahaha! amusing. that makes us unique. onli in da pilipins.

thebaglady said...

haha, my husband is filipino and I'm chinese. Since I married him I noticed the lip pointing thing too. It's pretty funny. Oh you didn't mention balut. I thought it tasted pretty good.

Jenaisle said...

I was laughing while reading this post. How
I am from Kalinga but live now in Pampanga, one Filipino culture that I admire in Kapampangans is the way they make "mano" (asking for blessing) from anyone who is older than they are.

We do these too back home to show respect but only with close relatives. But here in Pampanga, you'll get to have our hands passed on to all of the younger people. But it is one endearing practice.

What about knocking on the jeepney to alight? There was one story of a balikbayan who was born in the states and spoke a few Tagalog sentences. So he was so excited to go out alone to the mall. But he was warned not to advertise that he was fresh from the states as he might be taken advantage of. He was very observant and learned quickly.
He noticed that every time someone wants to stop the jeep, they would knock that was what he did the first time.

On his way home however, when it was his turn to alight, he noticed that the jeepney has soft paddings all around so there was nowhere he could knock. So he went past his destination and then rode another jeepney back, making sure he could knock-knock (stop) this time.

We were both laughing when he was recounting this, but he said it was scary during those tense moments.

Thanks for a good post.

Keep posting.

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