When I look back to the year’s I’ve been away from home; Question arise, how much Filipino traits do I still have? Do I still consider myself one or have I completely forgotten my culture trying so hard to understand and live another country’s local lifestyle? I guess we’re here to find out!
I can’t imagine how time has gone so fast. It feels like it was just yesterday when I left my motherland, the Philippines, and journey my way to the other side of the world – to Finland. I was pretty excited for that big move, I remember. I was only sixteen, but I knew from the start that I want to travel and see the world, I wanted to be part of the universe and not just in one place.
However, how much do you have to sacrifice to survive the life living in another country, far away from home and at such young age? Well, quite a bit.
When I arrived in Finland, I instantly felt at home. It is precisely the place where I feel I belong – it is calm, quiet, nature is beautiful and of course the people are the kind I like, they mind their own business. Did I felt an immense feeling of guilt? The sense of betraying your culture for adopting another one? Not at all. I may sound like an anti-patriotic person but I’m an open-minded person, and I know for a fact that it is possible to have two culture in you!
I’ve accepted the fact that when I start my new life, I will do my best to integrate myself into the society meaning adapt their culture and set aside my own. However, this doesn’t mean I forget my roots – on the contrary, I’ve taken the best of both worlds and whatever the result is. Well, me.
However, there are instances when I am so busy living my life here in Europe that I start to question myself about how Filipino am I still. How much Filipino traits do I still have to call myself a Filipino? I’m surprised to know that it is still quite a lot!
Here’re the 10 Filipino Traits I Have and Love (Even After A Decade Living Abroad) – in no particular order.
» 1. Always give and return with kindness
One thing I learned when I was still living back home is the act of kindness. I was taught to be kind to others and if ever I encounter a bad situation with another person, always return with kindness!
In general, this depends on every person and as well on the situation, but this is one trait I observed that quite a lot of my Filipino friends and family have.
Obviously, I’m not being biased here; I’ve been pissy to others too. However, I try my best to practice the art of kindness in every situation – unless the other person is being a prick then that is another story to tell!
» 2. Blood is thicker than water
If you know someone from the Philippines, has visited the country or perhaps if you’re a Filipino yourself, then you know how important family is in our culture, Yes, the family is the one thing that every Filipino I know prioritizes! For instance, I’d fly miles just to see my family.
From a very young age, every Filipino is taught to love his/her family no matter what. Blood is thicker than water, they say, and I can’t agree more.
The past year was tough for my family and me; it was at that moment when I realized that when everything else fails, your family will be there for you.
» 3. My role, as a female, in a household
I know that we now live in a modern era where women have equal rights and power as men and that we no longer belong in the kitchen making sandwiches for our husbands or partners. The possibilities for a woman in this time is endless; we can conquer the world. I get that, and I am part of this revolution, however, back in the Philippines, it is a little bit outdated – for a good reason.
You’ll still see many families who have a working husband and a wife who stays at home to take care of everyone. However, generation is changing, and younger Filipinos are becoming more worldly and starts to adapt to the western ways.
I am conventional and conservative, nevertheless, and that’s why I still choose to represent the female role in a household – with a little help from my partner, of course! Although I have a full-time job and pays half of the bills, I do enjoy taking care of my man and as well our home.
» 4. Eating nourishes the body and soul – and your social life
Alright, I’m sure every culture have this one! But again, have you hanged out with a Filipino before? Then think again. All I think about all day is food, okay I’m a chef, so perhaps that plays a significant role about my idea of food. However, Filipino’s have a tremendous love for cuisine, and we eat for pleasure. We enjoy going out with family or friends to hang out in a restaurant and just devour on food. My partner was pretty surprised about how much I can eat (note: I eat more than he does, twice fold) and this is very typical for us Filipinos!
Whenever I open Facebook, the first thing I usually see are some of my friend’s “foodfie” or “Food Selfie” catering their brand new restaurant discovery or new eatery or perhaps they cooked at home and had a party. This Filipino trait is nothing new all the while and to be honest. People bond over food quite a lot throughout history and I think it is the best possible way to get together with people!
» 5. I give more than I get – selfless but not foolish
Filipinos are well known to be generous, not only with kindness but also in everything else. I remember every time I visit friends home; their Mom’s would attend to me too like I am one of their own. They would give me food and tell me to share a meal with them, and all I have to give is my simple thank you and they are happy! Personally, I do this not because I have to but more because I was always taught to share. Also, by choice, I feel better to give more than less.
Most Filipinos I know work hard. Therefore, they can provide for their families back home and truthfully, the only thing they get for themselves are the simple ‘thank you’ from family members and based on what they say, it is more than enough to know that their families back home are well-taken care.
Another example of this generosity is when we love a significant person, we tend to give more than we get. Stupid but I think I’ll have to blame those afternoon drama shows I used to watch as a kid!
(Most probably “barely working”, a proof that perhaps I’d rather take photos of the food I serve. Hah!)
» 6. I am a hard-worker (or barely working?)
Every culture has a say about this when it comes to their citizens and in my opinion, this trait is individual. However, nearly every Filipinos I’ve met are hard workers – either for themselves or their family back home.
Personally, I’m driven, I loved upgrading my skills, learning new techniques, and I enjoyed working hard to impress and as well to get better opportunities in the future. Lately, though, I’ve fallen aback and decided to cut down on my working hours so I can concentrate on my other passion in life which is apparently traveling and this blog.
On a side note, Filipinos are well known hard-working people, and you can read a lot of evidence on the interweb regarding this topic appraising some individuals for their notable achievements.
» 7. Having a positive outlook on life
“Kakayanin ko to!” or “I can do this!” is a sentence I often mumble to myself whenever I’m in a challenging situation. An affirmation that no matter what happens, I’ll make it till the end of a trial – with winnings or none, at least I know I tried my best and with that, I’ll move on wiser than yesterday.
Filipinos are happy people by nature, and though we always look as if we’re only having fun, it is all because we have this positive outlook in life. We do not let a challenge put us down, and if it does, we just simply move on in life and I think that it is a brave move to seek for more possibilities in life.
“Wag ka mag-alala, makaka-raos din tayo.” or “Don’t worry, we will survive.” is yet another sentence I often here between Filipino friends and families. It doesn’t sound the same when translated, but the emotion behind this sentence is strong when used. It is one of those sentences that delivers a strong message when said depending on the situation; it acknowledges the problem but finishes it with a positive message – we will survive.
» 8. I love eating “tuyo“, “danggit” and dried “pusit” with matching “kamay“
This is perhaps my favorite of this list! Tuyo and danggit are basically sun-dried fishes and pusit is dried squid. Kamay directly translates to hand but in this context, this means eating with your hands.
In the Philippines, like other Asian countries, we have this unusual fondness for weird foods. It is part of our culture to love these unique delicacies and although these weird stinky staples I mentioned above does not favor everyone’s palate, the majority of the Filipinos who live abroad like these! (Also, note this list’s number 4!)
Few times I smuggled this stinky dried seafood to Finland and sneakily cook them on days when my partner is either out of town or working late. Whenever he arrives home the house stinks like rotten fish (much like fish sauce) and often catches me devouring on a mountain of rice with few bits of these fried fishes while eating with my hands. I couldn’t care less sometimes especially if the craving is strong! However, I still do respect his culture and politely excuse myself whenever I attempt to grab food with bare hands.
Some Filipinos find this kind of act grounding since quite a lot of us has adapted to the western ways and by eating with your hands or eating this kind of food signifies that you have not lost touch with your culture.
»9. Corny jokes – they’re funny, I swear
Most Filipino’s I know are hilarious, and they joke a lot and most of the time, I don’t understand what is so funny about their jokes, but then again I still laugh my ass off.
My partner always tells me I’m a little stern and said that I should tell jokes, but when I do he just stares at me, and then I laugh. Then I realize that my jokes are either lame or corny that only I get it.
However, amongst my circle of Filipino friends, my jokes are a hit! Or perhaps they just laugh at my jokes because they are my friends. I don’t know. I still think I’m hilarious. No? Nevermind, I love my corny jokes, they crack me up.
»10. I smile all the time
Smiling is possibly an individual thing, but yet again, I also realized that a lot of Filipinos do smile a lot! My Mexican best friend often refers to me as her “Happy Filipina girl” and Finnish people has asked me many times why I smile a lot. I see no crime at smiling, and I do think that people should smile more often!
For instance, my Filipino friends have a smile on their faces even they are pissed, sad or angry. My parents are always laughing and smiling whenever I see them – okay, not all the time but most of the time. My sister, for instance, have this smile printed on her face on a daily basis. This must be a Filipino trait, right? Correct me if I’m wrong but considering my observation, this is a real thing. Therefore, this trait made it on my list!
Besides, some studies show that smiling reduces wrinkles! Hah!
I’m still very Filipino, I must say. I guess once you grew up in a certain culture and upbringing, you tend to keep that in your forever. I may have adapted a new one but I’m glad to say that I can still say that I’m a proud Filipina. Nevertheless, my Finnish culture adaptation only makes an interesting twist in this life of mine. No complaints, both worlds are awesome!
YOUR THOUGHTS MATTERS
- Have you ever wondered if you’re still intouch with your roots after living abroad for so long?
- Have you, as well, love adapting to your current residence’s local culture? And why?
- If you’re a Filipino, can you relate to this?
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NOTE: All information in this article are all my own opinion, if there’s something you do not agree with or has offended you by any chance, please do not hesitate to contact me!
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