[Note : Methinks we forgot to use half our brain Monday blogging, when we started to blog precisely about the closing ceremonies of London 2012 because of the Seventies and Eighties hits popularized by musical icons like Queen, Spice Girls, Pet Shop Boys and Madness. For sure there were present day hitmakers like One Direction and Jessie J but it was the fond memories brought by the bands of yesterday, especially the timeless hits they sang. It’s not too late I hope for us to admire the Olympics in all its climactic glory anyway? Happy batch birthday to the Hon. Cleto Villacorta from your one and only kabatch! ]
AT THE risk of sounding brain-numbingly repetitive, I’ve heard over and over again from the White Man and the rest of the global community that Pinoys are one of the easier races to get along with, but as always there is flip side to this : as soon as two or more Pinoys get together, this cosmopolitan-ness and bonhomie likelier than not disappears and the tendency is to circle the wagons and look inward. At this point, Pinoys still remain friendly and personable, but given the choice, would rather circulate and congregate among themselves. I suspect I will generate a bit of controversy with this simple statement, but first, not only is it a natural reaction among races, to look after their own kind first, but second, the experiences I’ve gathered come from the migrant milieu, where it’s common to ask for and seek a helping hand from your countryman when you’re vulnerable.
Nowhere is this is truer than the workplace in foreign lands. One of the few Kiwis (let’s call him Vin D recalling the Fast and the Furious speedster) I know has had a peculiarly opportunistic vantage point to not only observe how Pinoys as a group behave but also how they do so in an alien environment, e.g. in the NZ milieu, as his Pinay girlfriend was lucky enough to find a job albeit in a Pinoy dominated resto :
everyone becomes a kinsman/woman. What’s up with the “Kuya” and “Ate” Vin asks, being acutely aware of the meanings of the words he heard in a visit back home. I tell him that initally, in any Pinoy workplace the values of treating everyone like a family member is imported from the home, and it becomes logical for each worker to call older colleagues Ate (older sister) and Kuya (older brother). But sometimes this form of respectful salutation extends even to those not much older than oneself, because the honorific may also be used for senior staff and superiors in the totem pole. So much so that the workplace becomes one big extended family, and even non-Pinoys like Chinese and Koreans may become honorary aunts, uncles and cousins.
Your business is my business. But if you remember the advantages of having everyone so close to each other at work the way relatives are, you also remember how it drove everyone crazy : everyone in the family kept tabs on each other and reserved the right to poke their noses in everyone else’s business, which might work in a household, but not as well in a workplace. Whether you like it or not, when there are more than a few Pinoys in a work place, you get to see your workmates’ warts, zits and moles. Secrets seep out like water in an overused sieve, and gossip is freely traded whenever work slows down. No intimate detail is too sacred for the hot topic of the day, and I wonder if Kiwis are as liberal with their discussions as we are. We don’t really care so much that familiarity breeds contempt but the fact that being busybodies has become so imbedded in our culture. I know this is not a pretty picture I paint for my Kiwi friend, but it’s quite accurate.
you laughing at me laughing at you. And lastly, I guess all nationalities are guilty of this to a certain extent from time to time, but there is never a dull moment when Pinoys are working together spread over a small area, particularly because of their tendency to laugh at and make light of what they see as the strangeness and quirkiness of other races. Whether its the perceived thickness of the tongue, the sharpness of the body odor or way white men ogle at Asian women, Pinoys never lose the opportunity to point out how different other people are from themselves, little knowing that the very people they observe also notice their naivete and insularity, at how we could fail to imagine that there exist cultures vastly different and diverse, and yet capable of appreciating each other regardless of their disparateness. Believe it or not, but we noyPis never look funnier than when we get together laughing at other people.
I want to impart these pearls of wisdom to my Kiwi friend little by little, in doses and teaspoons, but I get the feeling that he is already discovering our little quirks, faults and charms, via his girlfriend’s workplace stories and whatever else he discerns from you, me and the rest of the barangay.
Thanks for reading !
- spontaneous & naive pinoy observations on London 2012 (ylbnoel.wordpress.com)
- stand by my brother Pinoy (ylbnoel.wordpress.com)
- NZ randomly, thru unjaundiced unbiased Pinoy eyes (ylbnoel.wordpress.com)
- pinoy pabaon better left at home (ylbnoel.wordpress.com)
- why the AKLnzPINOYs family are my favorite Kinoys* (ylbnoel.wordpress.com)
- pinoy denture redux (ylbnoel.wordpress.com)