I immigrated to Vancouver, Canada after growing up in the Philippines for almost 20 years. I hardly miss my own country so much. 5 years passed by, I once visited to Manila and stayed there for two months. Filipino culture which I almost forgot shocked me. The comparison of two cultures are obviously different.
There are many customer service/retail workers in the clothing/stuff stores. I was a bit annoyed and frightened by two or three workers. They kept their eyes on me if I were a thief. I know it’s their jobs but they are friendly. In Canada, do they do the same way? No, they welcome and ask the customers if they need help or not.
It’s common for people to look over their shoulder and to hold the open door for the people following them. But in the Philippines, most security guards check people’s bag at the doors before they enter. Sometimes I got ignored by someone who didn’t hold the open door for me. One time, I did that for a lady. She seemed blushed and shy. She guessed I liked her. No way! haha!
The people in Canada always smile at each other every time they pass. In the Philippines, I felt awkward as soon as I glanced and smiled at Filipinos. We lost the eye contacts since they thought I was a stranger. Weeee! Maybe they are shy, aren’t they? haha!
Don’t forget to laugh. Filipinos always laugh because they are friendly people. They feel less afraid and nervous. Every time they do something awkward or terrible, they still laugh. Of course, laughing is the best medicine and happiness! In Canada, I hardly handle myself not to laugh whenever I listen to someone talking about serious things or something. I know some people will suspect why I laugh so loud. haha!
The families prepare and set up dishes on a big table and invite their relatives and even unfamiliar friends. In Canada, the visitors are invited to a family’s house and they bring their food. It’s different, isn’t it?
Almost all of the roads where people jaywalk across scared me. However, jaywalking is prohibited in some areas which prevents the heavy traffic. The footbridges are also there. Can you imagine that people go ahead to jaywalk through and vehicles don’t stop running at the same time? In Canada, not all of the people jaywalk but some people do if there are no vehicles on the roads.
Riding in the vehicles
I was at the airport. I noticed my brother’s car was full. I was told to sit on my sister’s seat even though she still sat. I was like “Oh what?!”. It completely shocked me. Yes, I forgot for a long time. A person sits on other’s hips or two people sit on one seat. They don’t wear the seat belts. In Canada, the passengers must take their own seat and wear seat belts or they will have fine for no seat belts.
Jeepney and motorized tricycle are popular for the public transportation in the Philippines. The jeepneys are full of crowded seats. They have kitsch decorations, which have become a ubiquitous symbol of Philippine culture and art. The tricycles contain only limited seats (3~5 passengers). But a few passengers often stand in the back of both, not only all. The tricycles transport everywhere, except for on busy major highways and very busy city streets. Also, the buses transport on the highways, including the jeepneys. EDSA (Epifanio de los Santos Avenue) in Metro Manila is the heaviest traffic due to a large number of the buses.
The first week of my vacation, I didn’t get used to the jeepney because I usually take the bus in Canada. There are no spaces on the seats in the jeepney. (see the second picture) I was stuck between people. haha!
It’s about fares. When you pay a fare, you have to hand cash to a driver and to say “bayad mo” which means “you pay”. The driver returns you the change. If you need to get down, say “para mo” which means “you stop”. The jeepney then stops running.
For Deaf culture, how can I say “bayad mo” or “para mo” even I can’t speak? It’s an easy way. I can hand cash (only exact price) to a driver and point to a place. I can get down when I knock the metallic ceiling to stop the driver. But if the ceiling is soft and not a metal, the other way is that I can knock the pole with a coin to stop the driver. Some jeepneys contain loud speakers under the seats in order to knock very hard the pole.
In Canada, I stand at a bus stop and wait for the bus every 5~15 minutes for the day and every 30 minutes for the night. The bus schedules are various in the areas. Unlike stopping the jeepney driver, I have to get down at the next bus stop after I pull a string or press “stop” button to let the bus driver know.
There are three train transit systems in Metro Manila. The operators are in the trains’ head and tail. All the time, the trains are packed with crowded passengers as they’re off to work and schools. As for two of three train transits, female and male are required to separate in the trains (a half train for male and female). The families and disabled people also include the female. It’s because of the safety. They wouldn’t steal anything from each other. However, one of three train transits allows the combination of the passengers to get in.
This was taken in the train.
In Canada, the operators are in a main office and are responsible for tracking the trains through the monitors and CCTV cameras. The trains appear in every 2~3 minutes or it depends on them to arrive earlier. Unlike Philippine trains, the trains are full of passengers in the early morning and late afternoon. It normally takes an hour or so.
I wear nice clothes but don’t show off the valuable and gadgets — Flashing jewelry, electronic items and other valuable may attract the attention of criminal. I hid my DSLR camera in my backpack, instead of a camera bag. People didn’t think I was not a traveler. In Canada, I am in a food court or restaurant. I leave my bag on a seat next to me and my smartphone on a table beside my dish. But in the Philippines, I had to hide my things while I ate.
There are three seasons in the Philippines — Cold Dry (December – February), Hot Dry (March – May), and Rainy (June – November). Canada has four seasons — Spring (March – May), Summer (June – August), Fall (September – November) and Winter (December – February).
Hours of the sunlight
In British Columbia where I live, the sunlight is by far longer in the summer than winter. The sun is down by 10PM and up at 4:30AM. In winter, the sunset is by 3:30PM and the sunrise is at 8AM. In the Philippines, the sun is down and up by 5 or 6 o’clock. It’s year-round.
I am the youngest member of my family. I always call my big sisters, “Ate” which means “sister”. For example, my big sister’s nickname is Cocoon. I call her, “Ate Cocoon”. Kuya – brother, Tita – aunt and Tito – uncle.
For the elders, the gesture is almost similar to kissing a hand. Saying “Mano or Mano po”. Mano po means “your hand, please”. You have to say that to an elder and put the back of his/her hand on your forehead.
“Kamayan” means eating with the bare hands. Filipinos traditionally use eating with their hands. Coconut leaves are served as the plates. It’s cool, isn’t it? In Canada, the people use forks and knives, except for the spoons (of course, it’s for the soups).
After the people are done with eating their dishes, they leave the tables without taking the trays to the trash areas. The cleaning workers only work on cleaning the tables and taking the trays. In Canada, most of the people are responsible for taking their trays to the trash areas, especially recycle bins.
Sending a big box
A great deal of the foreigners at the airports notice Filipinos usually bring pasalubong boxes (balikbayan boxes). “Pasalubong” means the Filipino tradition of travellers bringing gifts from their destination to people back home.
Filipinos mostly love the music. They love to sing loud and even LOUDER. I know it’s kind of annoying but still so much fun. As for me, I’m not interested in this. I am Deaf. However, I can hear very little and love to feel the vibrations of the music.
That’s all what I visualized. If you feel you don’t agree with these cultures, please let me know or comment. I would be happy to hear from you. Anyway, hope you have enjoyed reading it. 🙂