everyday life · Life Lessons · personal · philippine culture · Philippines · random · thoughts

When in the Philippines, do as the Filipinos do

I went down to Ministop to buy me food as I had not yet taken my breakfast this morning. Now I was in a particularly good mood today. It hadn’t rained so far and the weather wasn’t also as hot as I expected. I also woke up from a nice dream which left a smile plastered on my face this morning. Aside from the usual changes in travel schedules for work, my day seemed to be going well so far. That is, until I went down to Ministop and met a rude, Japanese guy who seemed to think he has every bit of right to reprimand me like I was someone inferior to him.

I passed by him inside Ministop as he was buying some drinks. I hadn’t chosen yet what I wanted to get, but decided I should just stick to the normal spicy chicken I buy almost everyday. There were two cashier lanes; only one was occupied. When I went to the empty lane to take my order, the cashier suddenly appears and entertains me. At this point, the man was staring at me with dagger looks and blurted out a loud, “heh!” I looked at him, unaware of what was happening. As I was paying the cashier, he suddenly points to me and talks to me in Japanese. It was more accusing, I think. From what I understood from his hand signals, it irked him that the cashier had told him to go to the other lane because no one was available yet on this lane, therefore causing him to wait in line. But it so happened that when I came forward, another cashier came out. So it was a case of misunderstanding.

I was ready to let this go as I know he probably just didn’t understand what was happening. It might be that he’s even talking to the cashier and not me, because after all, it was the cashier who told him to go to the other lane. But no, even while I was paying, he was looking straight at me and telling me some Japanese words I didn’t understand. And the thing I hated the most was his pointing a finger at me. So I spoke back as calmly as I could. “Excuse me, but when I went to this lane, you were already on the other lane. I don’t think it’s my fault I’m on this lane and you’re there. And please don’t point fingers at me. You’re not in your country to do that.”

He just went on and on speaking in Japanese, and I gave up. It’s hard to argue with a man who doesn’t even speak your language. I bet he didn’t even understand what I told him. But let me just clarify that I wasn’t mad at him or anything. I knew he misunderstood, and I wanted to tell him that. But it was pretty useless because of the language barrier. He didn’t understand me, and I didn’t understand him.

That part can be forgiven. The hand signals, I’m afraid not. Wherever you go, wherever you may be, I think it is just so not acceptable to point fingers at somebody you don’t know. It’s RUDE. And maybe in their country, they do that. Maybe old folks can freely reprimand the young ones when they think they disrespected them. Maybe they get easily offended or perhaps it’s a cultural thing. But you’re in the Philippines and in here, we don’t point fingers at foreigners. We don’t do that because it’s disrespectful. You’re in another country, it’s best to know the culture. And I don’t tolerate people who think they are above me just because they’re older or because they’re from another country.

The cashier gave me the receipt and shook his head to tell me it’s useless to argue with the guy. I smiled at him and said, “okay lang yan, wag ka lang paapi.”

The Japanese guy continued to stare as though he was about to devour me. I smiled at him. I won’t allow him to ruin my day, and I won’t let him have the satisfaction of feeling superior because he’s not. When in the Philippines, do as the Filipinos do: try to get along with people, smile at strangers, show some courtesy and don’t think you’re above everyone else. We’re very particular with that.


4 thoughts on “When in the Philippines, do as the Filipinos do

  1. I tried my best not to disrespect him, but to rationalize with him. Anyway, it’s all good :)

  2. i think it was a misunderstanding. he must have a thought you were cutting ahead in line. incidentally, could he be a korean and not a japanese as you initially thought? i’ve heard nasty stuff about koreans. when they come to visit, they look down on filipinos and treat the philippines as if they own the country. perhaps it’s our own fault. we’re too nice and accommodating. for pete’s sake, our so-called leaders are even proposing amending our constitution to make it possible for these bastards to legitimately plunder our country’s natural resources.

  3. It was misunderstanding. He thought i was cutting the line, but it so happened that when i was approaching the counter, the cashier came out and saw me so he opened that counter. It was neither his nor my fault. Nagkataon lang. The japanese guy misunderstood it, unfortunately. He’s japanese. I know Korean. I speak a little. i would have understood him then.

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