JUST BECAUSE we’re the friendliest, charmingest, easiest to get along with, most sweet-smelling and hygienically-conscious people from our corner of the world (I just added the last two adjectives to see if you were paying attention) it doesn’t mean our friends and colleagues in the global village will go out of their way to be likewise. If you’re a visitor or migrant to an adopted country, especially one that’s vastly different from your own, expect a world of difference (pun intended) from what you’ve grown up with all your life. Being that I’m a guest worker in New Zealand, I guess you and I shouldn’t feel too bad when :
Your Kiwi (or non-Pinoy) boss confronts you about work issues instead of talking to others about you, which is what many Pinoy managers do. Actually what happens quite a few times back home is (1) your bisor talks to others about your performance issues then (2) hopes the results of the conversation makes its way to you. I know this is a crappy way of communicating, but that’s a fact of life not just in the Philippines but in many Asian countries, where loss of face is inflicted only as a last resort. Senior managers, middle managers and supervisors take the path of least resistance as it involves too much confrontation, in-your-face cringe-worthy discussion of faults, shortcomings and work slippage that sometimes takes too much energy out of finite resources.
So their Kiwi counterparts often roll up their sleeves, take you aside and do the practical thing : talk about work, talk about you, and talk about how to make things better. It’s really better this way, rather than having to guess if your boss is the one spreading the negative feedback about you , and how much of it is actually true. I know this actually happens, because my boss/es have taken the time to chew me out, bite my head off, and kick my ass, and I’ve been a better worker for it.
Your Kiwi (or non-Pinoy) friends and colleagues tell you if something you’re doing isn’t right, instead of keeping quiet, laughing at you or stabbing you behind your back. I get along OK at the mill, but I do a thousand and one things awry and not quite right, and I appreciate it when my Kiwi workmates tell me in a lighthearted manner that things are better done this way or that. You know if New Zealanders don’t care and aren’t concerned about you when they don’t make comments and let you find things out the hard way. This is why I don’t mind being laughed at the first time, as long as it’s in good fun and somehow I do it better the next time.
It’s an awkard example, but during lunch a Kiwi packing guy saw me slicing meat with my spoon, which Pinoys sometimes do when they are too lazy to get a knife. He stared at me a second, and said there’s something you can use for that Noel, and it’s called a knife. I just smiled at him, cuz I didn’t feel like getting one, and I hoped he would move on and leave me in peace. Maybe a few more times of him seeing me in that situation would make him get the message; either that or I better get used to the knife.
Kiwis (or non-Pinoys) talk about Pinoys as if the faults of one are the faults of the rest. So that if we don’t win the whole thing at American Idol, don’t accept the challenge of a loudmouth boxer, or don’t stand up to a regional bully in a territorial dispute, non-Pinoys around us talk about it as if it’s a congenital defect, what they perceive as lack of the desire to win, allowing people to assert themselves at our expense, and our lack of aggression. It’s actually a good way to start a discussion, especially since (1) they know we talk about them in the same generalized way, and (2) once we clear up these misimpressions about us, they gain a clearer understanding of how Pinoys are.
When you think about it, there are around 4 million New Zealanders, around 15 million Australians, around 20 million Canadians, and 300 million Americans, but around half of that are migrants and 1st generation visitors. There are around 90 million Filipinos, not counting Pinoy migrants around the world. There are infinitely greater opportunities for us to shine and overachieve, but an equally great amount of opportunities for us to stumble and slip up. That’s why you always see Pinoys, for good or bad, in the international news cycle. For better or worse, we will always be Pinoy in our heart, and we will defend ourselves to the death being such. Which is why having a thick skin always helps.
Thanks for reading!
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