The Philippines is one of the rare countries where people will still continue to try very hard to please you, even if you are being a hell of a jackass. Most of the time, the worst thing you would receive as retaliation for your bad attitude is a cold shoulder (unless you really push it).
Unlike most part of the world, Filipinos try to avoid confrontations as much as possible. For Filipinos it is
“The Filipinos smile a lot. They always appear happy, so you can’t help but be happy yourself.”- Alessio and Silvia
really important to maintain smooth interpersonal relationships even with strangers. Such behavior arises from the importance given by Filipinos to a person’s amor propio (self-esteem/shame). It is amazing, although sometimes detrimental, that Filipinos would still be careful not to wound a person’s amor propio even if that same person is wounding his. It is therefore very usual to see Filipinos smiling themselves out of a possible confrontation/conflict.
Although it is a commendable trait, such can equally be considered as a flaw when dealing with jackasses (plenty in the world).
The “always smiling” trait of Filipinos is the reason why some foreigners act as if they are kings while in the Philippines; abusing Filipinos mistakenly thinking that they are submissive.
You must therefore go to Catanduanes to experience the Filipino smile and see the trait of valuing amor propio at work, both in its positive and negative forms.
There you will meet the wonderful Tanaels of Puraran Beach, Catanduanes. You’ll already see their pearly whites as soon as Majestic Beach Resort becomes visible from a distance.
(Majestics Puraran Beach Resort)
Instantly upon arrival you will feel the warmth, which emanates from their smile, enveloping you.
(Chris and Aireen Tanael demonstrating their Filipino smile)
From the Tanael’s and other local’s smiles you will learn that:
- The genuine Filipino smile is so infectious that you can’t help but smile yourself, no matter what burden you are carrying.
(Puraran children smiling even at strangers passing by)
- The Filipino smile would strongly convince you to accept an invitation to play a game of volleyball, even if you are clearly aware that you suck big time. A bunch of people smiling at you will definitely make you forget your qualms about looking foolish.
(Being invited to play in Puraran afternoon volleyball game)
- The Filipino smile is calming that you can’t help but smile yourself even if your surf leash is dangerously stuck in a reef making you helpless against the very powerful majestic wave and ocean current both sequentially trying to drown you.
Yet as I have written earlier, there are those who misinterpret this smile, thinking that such a smile is a sign of submission/weakness.
Hopefully, when you go, you will not meet an arrogant foreigner like the ones I met in Catanduanes. They arrogantly walk around chin up with their heads really high. Like kids they raise their voice to anyone if they don’t get their way. They act as like they practically own the whole country.
Out of nowhere, they will approach you and intimidate you, possibly right after a satisfying snorkeling session on Twin Rock Beach Resort.
(Twin Rock Beach)
(Catanduanes local spearfishing)
One of them will get right in your face, bullying and asking you to leave, falsely claiming that they have reserved the Twin Rock Beach Resort for themselves and therefore you shouldn’t be there.
Don’t back down,. Don’t reinforce such a mentality that they are kings and everyone would bow down to intimidation.
Just think of the ordinary helpless Filipino staff they yelled at before you. These people removing the smiles from the faces of Filipinos should be enough to inspire you to stand up against them.
(I wish that this serves as a reminder to those who are planning to visit to kindly refrain from having such an attitude. Share the love.)
Pray hard that you will meet lovely foreigners instead. People who appreciate the Filipino smile and take the necessary caution to preserve it.
Meet the Italian couple Alessio and Silvia.
(Alessio and Silvia showing their Italian smiles)
Asked about what particular Filipino trait impresses them the most, they both answered:
“The Filipinos smile a lot. They always appear happy, so you can’t help but be happy yourself.”
Alessio and Silvia best exemplify how to value the Filipino smile. They are polite and friendly to everyone they meet and do their best to share the Italian smile as reciprocation to every Filipino smile they receive.
Go to Catanduanes and be like Alessio and Silvia. Share your own smile to everyone who deserves it and the “up yours” to those who wipe away the smile from anyone.
(Nicco Lampa visited Virac and Puraran, Catanduanes, Philippines on December 2, 2011 until December 5, 2011)