Sunday, July 26, 2009

How To Overcome Culture Shock With Your Filipina

There is no way to avoid culture shock, but you can make the transition easier for your mate by understanding what culture shock is. First and foremost, culture shock is misunderstanding the environment that you find yourself in. You misunderstand the environment because it is not familiar to you and this unfamiliarity leads you to be at ease at best and anxious and disoriented, at its worse. Here’s is how to lessen the degree of culture shock that you or your mate is likely to experience.

Culture Shock is a lack of knowledge about a place that seems alien to you and to overcome feeling like an alien, you must be willing to learn as much as you can about the place you’re going or find yourself in. You commit to trying to understand the place you find yourself and the anxiety will pass with time, but it really helps if you have someone who is native to the location to help you with the transition.

Your friends, girlfriend, finance or wife can be a tremendous asset when it comes to helping you to understand the environment that seems to different to you. You will find that people are more than willing to assist you, when they see that you are genuinely trying to adjust and adapt to their culture. Don’t be afraid to discover a new language, customs and foods.

If, you have yet to arrive in the Philippines, reading books about the Philippines is a good start and if you can locate a language course in Tagalog in your home country, you’re off to a good start. Locating literature about the Philippines is generally not a problem, but oftentimes, I hear others stating that they have difficulty locating a language course in the local Philippines language.

One of the best publications out there that I recommend to everyone who is going to the Philippines is authored by Alfredo and Grace Roces called, “Culture Shock! Philippines: A Survival Guide To Customs and Etiquette.” This paperback book will help you to understand some of the things that may irritate you, but are deeply rooted in the culture. A source for learning Tagalog, the principle language of the Northern Philippines is Rosetta Stone. Rosetta Stone approach to language learning is highly-effective if you put the time in. Rosetta Stone courses are a bit pricey, so shop around for the best deal.

There is considerable “murmuring,” which is talk about the foreigner, when you are in the Philippines. The “murmuring” is not meant to hurt your feelings or anything like that, but you have to understand that many people in the Philippines are a curious bunch and some like to comment on the things they see. It could be talk in a language that you do or do not understand and often followed with subdued or boisterous laughing. Don’t take it personal. After some time in the Philippines, you will find yourself engaged in such “murmuring.”

There is another type of “murmuring” that you will come to know if you are serious about a Filipina and that is “tampo.” When you hurt your love one’s feelings, she will all likelihood stop talking to you for hours, days or weeks, depending how bad you hurt her feelings. She may too just get up and take off to her friends (barkadas) or relative’s house if they live close by.

Remember how confusing things get when you’re together or away from each other, communication is just one aspect of understanding each other. You two will need to sit down and discuss the things that each of you are misunderstanding, so that there will be less “tampo” on her part and less frustration on your part.

She is going to need the emotional support that she had back home in the Philippines and for those fellows who are living in the Philippines, life is got to be good. There is a good chance that when your fiancé or wife was in the Philippines, she was constantly in the realm of many family members and she felt safe. Well, when she comes to your home country, she is going to miss those family members and depression and home sickness could set in, so fellows, give her the emotional support that she expects from you

Understand that the although many people in the Philippines speak English and English is widely-used in the government and schools, Philippine English and the English that you speak, although pronounced almost the same, may have a wide and varying meaning than what you think. So, learn to adapt to your fiancé’s or spouse’s English and when you’re not sure of why she suddenly became silent, just ask her politely. The informal English, or slang that we speak when we are comfortable around others, can easily be misinterpreted and feelings hurt in the process.

You want to avoid any type of public confrontations of any sort. If, you and your lady are having a disagreement about something, it’s wise to find a private place to discuss it. You don’t want to raise your voice anywhere in Asia, as this is a sign of not being “composed,” or in “harmony” with the group. Asia, by and large is a “group-oriented” society and the Philippines is no less “group-oriented.” So, don’t be surprised if you invite the love of your life somewhere while you’re there and she shows up with an escort or a relative or two or three.

You’ll do well in the Philippines if you come to learn of the notion of “amor-propio.” Amor-propio is the sense of pride that every person of Philippines is taught to respect in themselves and others who are family. This sense of pride extends to the person in a way that protects the honor of the individual and choices are made regarding amor-propio, oftentimes based on whether the person’s actions will bring shame to themselves and dishonor their family and especially, the family name. Never underestimate the influence and power of amor-propio. Amor-propio is a bit like the expression “saving face,” but on steroids!

There is another aspect of Philippines Culture that is sometimes overlooked and that is the concept of “Delicadeza.” Delicadeza concerns itself with the moral certainty of knowing what is good and what is bad, what is right and what is wrong. It is the unspoken “moral compass” that exists in everyone and when you have violated this moral righteousness, you are immoral and should take it upon yourself to correct your wrongs. For example, in the town that I lived in Davao del Norte, there was a certain politician whom the locals murmured about constantly, stating that the politician was invisible, because no one had seen him in quite some time, yet he collects his salary and miraculously, he’s always getting re-elected. According to delicadeza, the proper thing for the politician to do is either show up more in his province, to let the people see that he is concerned about their issues, or resign from office and let someone who is more attune to the needs of the people run for his office

Then there are the indigenous tribes of the Philippines who live in the mountains, remote villages and costal areas who have a set of traditions that may or may not be aligned or the same as the general population of the Philippines and you will have to learn their ways if you wish to coexist. If, you approach everything that you do while you’re in the Philippines with an open mind and don’t be too hurried to rush to judgment, you’re going to have a great time staying, living and/ or visiting the Philippines.

Know that you will be excited, surprised and emotionally overwhelmed at the sheer beauty of the Philippines, starting with its people. Don’t spend all your time indoors in some fancy hotel or in some air conditioned taxi or tour bus. Get out and enjoy the natural wonderment, the food, the customs and the habits that will become as acceptable as they were once foreign to you. When you’re comfortable, meet her family, her friends and if at all possible, go to the village where she grew up or once lived, it will go a long ways to you understanding her life and expectations.

Remember that as foreign as the Philippines may seem when you first get there, if you take the time to understand that the culture may be different than what you’re accustom to, your open mind makes the adjustment easier for you and you accept the fact that you have to be immensely flexible, because you will find that things happen without much notice sometimes. If, you like spontaneous happenings, you will love the Philippines, because the feeling of never really knowing what’s going on, adds to the excitement of it all. Relax and enjoy yourself, and as far as your fiancé or wife coming to your home country, just picture her as the person adjusting to a new place and show your support by letting her know everyday that you understand.

The thing that I probably hear most from many men who visit the Philippines and return home after three weeks or so, is how much people stared at them. Well, I can tell you from living all over Asia, that people are naturally curious everywhere and staring although not particularly polite in most Western Societies, is common just about everywhere else on the Planet. You’ll get use to the staring and if, you are outside as much as you should be, you’ll find yourself staring too!

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