Maayong udto from the Philippines!

Being in the Philippines has been a learning experience in all aspects. From learning about the public transportation system, to learning how to cook and even learning a great deal about myself. But one of the biggest learning curves has been the culture. Moving to a new place is daunting, especially when the new place is halfway around the world where the language and culture are radically different.

Some days the culture differences are frustrating because I don’t understand them and they can be the opposite of what I’m used to, but most days I just find it fascinating to learn about this new place and new people and the way in which they live their life. Below are five major cultural differences I have come to learn about, and in future blogs I will definitely explore some more.

  1. No separation of church and state
  • In the US we are used to this separation, we don’t pray before meetings or in school only, on our own time if we are religious. In the Philippines, most people are religious and as such, prayers are said before every meal and meeting and at the beginning of every class. *Another common practice before meetings and schools is to sing the national anthem
A prayer is said before every meeting
  1. *Achooo* “Bless you”
  • This is a funny one considering number one. When people sneeze here, people don’t say bless you. It’s not that people are rude, it’s just not a thing. I personally find this odd considering how religious the country is
A really old church in out plaza, religion is a big thing here
  1. Kaon na! (Let’s eat)
  • A central activity of everyday life is eating. This means that not only do we eat the typical 3 meals (breakfast lunch and dinner) but we also eat two meriendas, so that’s a whopping 5 meals a day. And when it’s time to eat people will say “kaon na” and you best believe you will be eating!
Food is a part of every function
  1. Ate/Day and Kuya/Dodong
  • One of the biggest problems I’ve had since getting here is learning everyone’s names! An easy task in practice…. Except… most of the time people don’t call each other by their names. Instead, people call each other ate or day, which means sister and kuya or dodong, which means brother.
  1. Videoke
  • Different countries have different fun things they do in parties, for example my parties back home usually involved dancing, being Hispanic and all. In the Philippines, one of the bigger activities at parties (and really in everyday life) is singing videoke. Basically, videoke is the same as karaoke except that there’s videos playing in the background behind the lyrics. I can tell you I’ve got “Play that Funky Music” and “Yellow Submarine” down pat!
Videoke during our office Christmas party

Sometimes, the culture can be overwhelming especially when you start to see how different it is from yours. And at times, you are almost compelled to think “this is weird”. But of course it’s not actually weird, at least not for Philippinos of course. When I think these thoughts I have to remember I have my American glasses on and that I need to look at things from a new perspective. Because let’s be honest, stuff we do for sure must be weird to people from other cultures!

I hope you enjoyed and keep a lookout for future blogs where I will outline more cultural nuances I learn from this new country I find myself living in!