Frugal Juan + Thrifty Pedro = 2 Pinoy flatmates


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ALL THE urban legends and unsolicited tips and tricks you hear about flatmates and flatting are true, realistic and interesting. This is because they are all anecdotal (or situational), they each have a grain of truth in them, and are all based on human nature, which as you know is never consistent, follow no rules except self-interest and what’s good for one may be bad for another.

Of course there’s the good-old pakisama meaning we should all respect each other’s space, do our regular chores for the overall good, pay it forward and it will come back to you karma drama, and the golden rule, which translates to do unto others what you’d want them to do unto you.

Some of the more popular things I’ve heard about flatmates and roommates are : it’s not particularly wise to choose a best mate, pal or buddy to be your roommate or flatmate (for brevity and despite different words used in different territories, i’ll for the moment stick to flatmate OK?) as one or both will unreasonably expect the other to do reasonable things that flatmates not being close friends will expect, this might later degenerate into petty quarrels, spats or worse, and you might be better off just being friends rather than flatmates.

Another observation about flatmate hunting, the converse of the one above, is that it’s advisable to start off being just acquaintances or even strangers (as long as neither of you are kooky or a serial killer) because the contempt of familiarity has not set in, you will be quite conscientious about observing common courtesies around the house, and you will end up ideal co-inhabitants of a very small space. This is quite a feat, for those who have never learned to live with people who are not your family.

Still another tip I’ve heard about flatting, and this is a bit sensitive here, is that if you’re doing it for the first time and a bit unsure on how to conduct yourself, it’s probably on the safe side to select person or persons with whom you share the same kind of upbringing, culture and yes, race. (PC alert here).

Let’s backtrack a bit. If you’re the cosmopolitan, dorm student type who’s lived in a United Colors of Benetton showroom forever, then please ignore the previous paragraph. On the other hand, if you’re used to eating, breathing and living among a very small slice of humanity, the type you’ve lived with most of your life, then you should start flatting very conservatively, meaning those you’re comfy with. And that means those quite similar to you.

Not my personal opinion, and this is obviously subject to refinements, but overall I’ve heard that Filipinos being the laisezz faire, live-and-let-live citizens of the world that they are, make for middling to high-average flatmates. Meaning, if you don’t mind living with the perennial wafting aroma of salted fish, spicy cooking and coconut milk (gata) as a constant presence in the kitchen, as well as visitors and relatives coming in and out of the flat on a regular basis, then you won’t mind having Pinoys for flatmates. But because almost everywhere in the world, there are growing Filipino migrant communities, we often prefer our own, as Chinese go for fellow Chinese and Indians look for their Indian countrymen.

There are practical reasons for this as well. You eat the same stuff, go for the same sort of entertainment, and with little exception speak the same languages and dialects, so it makes sense that you will get along with your own, right? This last question will always remain an open question, as there are infinite preferences, just as there are infinite flatmate arrangements.

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On a personal note, I recently ended a flatting arrangement with a fellow Pinoy for more than three and a half years, almost all of which were marked by happiness and respect for each other’s space. We each had our quirks and shortcomings but on the whole we learned to live with each other, not unlike the way people who are related to each other do when for economics and practicality they are convenient and useful to each other, if only for a short time.

We left as friends do, with a mixture of regret and relief, regret that we could’ve done better and made each other a bit less miserable, but on the whole relieved that each had gotten away from the marriage of convenience none the worse for wear.

Less than a month later, someone from the other major city of the realm came calling, via a Yahoo! e-group, asking about living arrangements, details on how close or far we were from the bus stop, the mall and downtown. We didn’t mind that he asked a few polite questions about how quiet the neighborhood was (tomblike), how many people in the household (three), whether there were kids (zero, unless you counted Your Loyal Blogger and a mop-haired Naruto addict who moonlighted as a Hobbit extra), and interestingly enough, if there were safe running routes around.

He was born in Obando Bulacan but lived most of his life in San Pedro Laguna, before moving to Wellington via Auckland.

In short, a red, blue and yellow, rice-eating Filipino with bagoong running through his veins.

I could tell, I was gonna like this potential flatmate.

Thanks for reading !

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