“I live in a country that has completely been turned upside down by the pandemic.
Millions of people are mesmerized and immobilized by the pandemic and its destructive effects on the economy.
Much of Italy hinges on tourism and entire regions of the country rely almost exclusively on it.
For example in the area my parents are from, the Amalfi Coast, the bulk of the working population works in hotels, B&Bs, restaurants, travel agencies and the like and, right now, all of that is almost dead.
But, apart from the businesses that are directly or indirectly linked to tourism, a lot of other activities have been heavily affected by the pandemic.
What about Filipinos? How are they coping?
An expression that I like to use to describe them is: “kahit bumabagsak ang mundo ang mga Pilipino ay lagi nakatayo”.
Yes, Filipinos are bulletproof and fireproof and “even if the entire world around them collapses they figure out ways to remain standing”.
But why is that?
A Filipina whom I know was a college professor in the Philippines, but because her husband died and the family ran out of money (in the Philippines there is no such thing as free healthcare) she moved to the Middle East to work as a domestic helper.
Few years later she returned to the Philippines and resumed teaching in college.
After a while she moved to my country and she adapted to doing sewing work from home.
I can hardly imagine an Italian quickly and easily switching from a gratifying job to a menial one and then back….and back again. Italians have way too many mental filters and blocks….
Diskarte is the ability to find creative solutions to problems.
Filipinos manifest this ability both in situations in which something (like a car part for example) needs to be fixed and in situations in which they literally have to invent a job where jobs are nowhere to be found.
Even if an Italian is out of money and out of work he will still, in most cases, turn to a professional for such things as car repairs, plumbing and so on…and professionals here charge big money.
Filipinos never need a mechanic, a plumber or an electrician: they either do the job themselves or they ask a kabayan to do it, they never or hardly ever turn to a local professional.
Filipinos gravitate toward the rich who get richer
In every crisis the rich gets richer and the poor gets poorer…and more often than not the rich who gets richer happens to have one or more Filipino domestic helpers….and they are kind of generous, as they often, instead of disposing of or selling their slightly used expensive cars or clothes, they give them to their katulongbilang regalo…
So it is not uncommon to see a Filipina going around wearing expensive shoes or having an expensive bag or Filipinos driving slightly used BMWs, SUVs and so on: regalo ng mayamang amo
Ang bait ng mga amo!
Mabuhay Philippines…. kahit bumabagsak ang mundo lagi sila nakatayo….”
Nearly 20 years of marriage have taught me that there is no such thing as a perfect relationship.
In an ideal scenario both husband and wife should strive to do the right thing all the time. The problem is that it is difficult to do the right thing all the time.
We all make mistakes and almost all of us have entered marriage not knowing how to navigate it and not having read books about how relationships are supposed to work, nor have we been taught by our parents, our teachers or anyone else how relationships work and how emotions work.
We are all imperfect, we all have our weaknesses and we all struggle to get by and our imperfect attempts to navigate marriage, and life in general, and the inevitable mistakes we make in the process end up hurting our partner and our partner hurts and upsets us many many many many times.
Because there are many degrees of imperfection and ignorance, sometimes it feels like our partner is more wrong than us.
And this is often the case when a Westerner is married with a Filipina, as many Filipino ways may look very wrong from a Western perspective.
One of the most powerful lessons I have learned, a pretty counterintuitive one, is that one of the most effective ways to go through a relationship is dropping the need to be right, even when we are objectively right and even if by letting go of being right we lose something and the quote-unquote objectively wrong behavior of our spouse causes some damage.
When this happens we have to make a choice between being in the relationship and maintaining an atmosphere of love, even at the cost of accepting the damage caused by our spouse’s wrong or supposedly wrong behavior, and continuing to insist on being right and trying to correct our spouse and tell her how wrong she is.
The reason is that insistence on being right, and all the blaming that goes with it, is a very ineffective way to get what we want, nor does it get our spouse to admit that she is wrong, let alone correct her behavior.
Because, take a look, how do we feel when others make us wrong, scold us, attack us and blame us? Even if they are right we resent.
In theory we should all be humble and accept the correction, but, realistically speaking, does that happen in real life?
What happens in real life is that we resent and become even more set in our ways when others make us wrong.
So it is not about who is right and who is wrong: it is about what works and what doesn’t, and insistence on being right definitely doesn’t produce any results, it only closes the mind of our partner and creates an emotional wall.
The reason why insistence on being right, even if we have a legitimate reason to feel that we are right (like for example our spouse is mismanaging money) doesn’t work is because it goes against the grain of the most important pillar of a healthy relationship: appreciation.
When we feel that we are right and our spouse is wrong this affects how we feel toward her and we can hardly feel appreciation for her.
And when we are in that mode everything we say, how we look at her and how we behave come out wrong.
What we say sounds judgmental and even if don’t say a word we look judgmental and this doesn’t create love.
The best antidote is getting centered by conjuring up some nice moments we spent with our spouse in the past, dwelling on the positive qualities that attracted us to her when we entered the relationship thereby fueling our feelings of appreciation.
Once we have got back to a deep feeling of appreciation and have temporarily set aside our need to be right we are in a better position to communicate our needs in a much more resourceful way.
So it is not as if by dropping the need to be right and by choosing love over correcting the wrong we are completely giving up the hope that an objectively wrong behavior will change.
What we are doing is simply putting ourselves in a much more resourceful mood and this increases the chances that our spouse will eventually correct the wrong.
Because we are still in lockdown and we can’t leave our municipality I continue to explore places within the city limits that I had never even thought of exploring prior to this pandemic.
I knew that here in Rome there were some nature reserves, but I thought that those parks amounted to nothing more than little slices of countryside in the outskirts of the city.
In reality some of those nature reserves are huge and filled with rivers, waterfalls and pools, medieval castles, ancient Roman and Etruscan relics.
One of the tenets of positive thinking is that every seemingly negative situation can be turned into a positive one by simply asking the question: “what’s the opportunity here?”
So, because I would love to travel somewhere but I can’t, is there any opportunity here?
And the answer is yes: this is an incredible opportunity to explore my surroundings with fresh eyes.
And this is a great metaphor that can be applied to pretty much every domain of life, like intimate relationships for example: instead of wishing our spouses were different, why not look at their seemingly irking qualities with fresh eyes and discover hidden gems concealed beneth those irritating qualities?
Just a little inspiring thought that was coursing through my mind while staring at this hidden waterfall situated in a Roman nature reserve called Parco di Veio…
I am writing this post from the perspective of a foreigner married to a Filipina.
What does the quote-unquote “typical” Filipina look like and what does marrying the stereotype Filipina entail? (Obviously there is a lot of Filipinas whom I know who have little to do with this “stereotype”, but many definitely fall into the category I will be discussing in this article).
DIFFERENCES BETWEEN THE TYPICAL FILIPINA AND THE TYPICAL WESTERN WOMAN
Traditionally a Filipina is raised with the idea that she shoud lean toward becoming like the stereotype known as ‘Maria Clara’, the image of a woman who is defined as follows: “shy, demure, modest, self-effacing and loyal to the end. The openly provocative, sexually aggressive female who is frequently associated with the American female image is still comparatively rare in the Filipino culture”.
There are some Filipinas who join Facebook groups for Westerners looking for a potential Filipino wife who do post sexually provocative selfies, but, by and large, those are exceptions.
Actually there are Filipinas whom I know who wouldn’t even go to a beach without wearing a t shirt on top of their swimsuit and my wife and others don’t like public displays of affection, not even with their husbands.
But as for “shy and submissive”, well, I am not too sure: this may appear to be the case on the surface because, while Filipino men play the macho, they drive, often aggressively, while their wives don’t even have a driving license, they drink alcohol while women rarely drink, their wives seem to be somewhere in the shadow or in a corner.
But they are not in the shadow or in a corner to just sit back and be dominated by their husbands. They are in the shadows to run the family, to do the actual work and make up for the negligence of way too many Filipino husbands who are engaged in “inuman”, “kwentuan” and who are often less educated or professionally qualified than their husbands.
So the man often ends up being economically, culturally and socially outsmarted by his wife, and this is quite a thing because, under some aspects the Philippines is even more “evolved” than those countries where women enjoy equal footing with men: in the Philippines it is often the man who is submissive to his wife (at least socio-economically) and this is something that really blows my mind.
UNDERSTANDING A FILIPINA AND HER ROLES WITHIN SOCIETY
To understand your Filipina, if you marry one, you must view her not just as your wife but someone who has been playing different roles imposed upon her by society because the Philippines is a highly family oriented community.
On top of being your wife she is: daughter, sister or ate and mother.
A FILIPINA AS MOTHER
If she is the mother of your kids, she is likely going to try to raise them not as those ambitious Western kids who are raised with the idea that they should be achieving something in life, but rather as an integral part of the kin-group who, rather than focusing on achieving some personal goals or ambitions, are expected to provide for the extended family.
And this may create a friction because, while the Western husband might be trying to inculcate into his child the value of setting personal goals, his wife and the “byenan”, or in-laws, are definitely going to program the child with the idea that he should be focused on paying back his “utang na loob” of debt of gratitude to the whole kin-group, rather than pursuing his own independence and ambition.
FILIPINAS AS DAUGHTERS
As daughters Filipinas are closely tied to their mothers or “nanay”.
All Filipino children grow up with the idea that they will never become fully independent of their parents and that they will basically become the financial providers for their aging parents, but the daughter is generally the one who is particularly tied to her mother and she is the one who is expected to become the chief source of support for the aging mother.
The reason is because the mother is viewed by a Filipina daughter as the main source of advice, and in many cases this is understandable because in way too many Filipino families the mother is the actual head of the family.
As I said, one of the things that really impresses me about the Philippines is that there are many families in which the wife has higher education and a good job, while their husbands are like tricycle drivers, farmers or something like that and, when it comes to providing a cultural and moral example to their children they are often difficult to look up to because many are heavy drinkers and spend long hours idly chit-chatting with their fellow lalaki while their wives are much more “masipag” and busy trying to juggle work and child rearing.
But apart from those extreme cases where the father is a “macho machinurin” (a play of words for macho “masunurin” or submissive, a macho who is only such on the surface but, in reality, is being henpecked by his more socially and culturally evolved wife), even in those families in which the father is hardworking and sets an excellent example the mother is still viewed as the primary source of advice for the daughter and, therefore, as the one who is primarily responsible to care for the aging mother.
Because Filipinas are so attached to their nanay or mother, when the nanay becomes your “byenan” (mother in law) she might heavyhandedly dole out advice.
A FILIPINA AS “ATE” OR OLDER SISTER
As ate, or older sister her siblings rely upon her basically for life. This is particularly true in those families where the parents work abroad or in those families where the children are orphans.
In such cases the ate is the one who basically raises her siblings and, even when those grow older, she is the one who is primarily expected to provide financial and emotional support to them.
And this is precisely the role that my wife is playing with her younger brother whom she helped to come to Italy and whom she is still helping under many aspects.
So, yes, if you are interested in marrying a Filipina, there are many things you have to take into account.
Many Westerners naively assume that they are going to marry this pretty Asian woman who will primarily be focused on taking care of her husband.
Well, it doesn’t quite work like that. If you marry a Filipina you have to be aware of the intricate set of relationships that she will be trying to juggle and this will definitely have a profound impact on your marriage.
After spending the last two weeks in total lockdown the authorities are now partially easing lockdown measures and the region of Rome is now in the so-called “orange zone”, which basically means that we are free to move within the boundaries of the municipality of Rome.
And we can consider ourselves lucky because the municipality of Rome encompasses a very large area that includes 7 km of seacost, a tiny slice of lakeshore along Lake Bracciano and half the lakeshore of a small lake close to Bracciano called Lago di Martignano.
On top of that there are parks and nature reserves situated in the very outskirts of Rome that offer rivers and waterfalls…and even medieval castles, Etruscan ruins, ancient Roman ruins and much more.
So, for the first time in my life, I find myself in the odd position of exploring every nook and cranny of the municipality I live in looking for opportunities to go out in nature and even making backup plans for the next summer holidays, should we remain confined within the city limits.
Few weeks ago I posted an article about waterfalls situated in the Easternmost part of Rome.
Yesterday I explored an area not far from where I work called Parco di Veio, a nature reserve that contains within itself the ruins of the ancient city of Veio, an important ancient Etruscan city, a series of waterfalls and some ancient Roman ruins.
I had honestly never thought of finding myself in the position of having to explore every possible waterfall I can find in the outskirts of my city pretending to be somewhere in the inland rainforests of the Philippines…
….and, on top of the rivers, the lakes and the waterfalls, here in Rome we also have things like the Colosseum, the Roman Forum, the Trevi Fountain, the Appian Way and stuff like that, but, if you come to Rome don’t follow the herd, rather go exploring our waterfalls….
Since the start of my multiethnic marriage, I have been concerned quite a lot about how to communicate effectively with my wife.
As a result I have invested a lot of time and energy trying to learn my wife’s language, namely Tagalog, because, even though my wife and I could theoretically communicate in English rather efficiently, what I have found is that there are circumstances in which I can better grasp the deeper place that my wife is coming from if I have an accurate grasp of Tagalog.
When my wife gets emotional she speaks in Tagalog, not in English, so does the rest of her extended family.
Now I am at a point where my wife and I can very comfortably switch from one language to another and perfectly understand each other….as far as words are concerned.
But I am also very fascinated, as well as scared, at how little even the most accurate grasp of my foreign spouse’s language can accomplish if I fail to work at mastering the “universal language of love”.
It has been said many times and in many ways that words only account for about 7% of the impact of our communication, and the remaining 93% is accomplished through non-verbal cues.
This is a concept that I knew in theory even before I got married, but my experience as someone who is in an interracial marriage has proven to me, beyond any doubt, that this isn’t just some abstract psychological concept.
Much of the resistance toward me that I created in the past in my wife’s extended family, and many of the problems that my lack of rapport with them generated in my marriage, were precisely dueto the fact that, although I was trying to appear as someone who was working hard to come across as open toward their culture, my body language was not matching that image that I was trying to project with words, even if my words were spoken in their own language.
And the reason was that I was harboring a deep-seated resistance toward the Filipino kin-group culture that would, inevitably, show in my body language.
And Filipinos are particularly inclined to frowning upon people who come across as plastik (plastik is a Tagalog term that sort of conveys the idea of someone who is wearing a mask, or something like that).
Those who come across as plastik can hardly “win friends and influence people” in a Filipino environment.
And so, after putting forth a huge effort to master my wife’s language, I had to make an even bigger effort to work on coming across as loving, open and caring in a more universal and cross-cultural way, namely through non-verbal cues or, in other words, through the “universal language of love”.
But, in order to accomplish that, I have had to work on my deep-seated feelings and motives, because matching loving and caring words with a congruent body language, that immediately creates a bond cross-culturally, is not really something that can be accomplished by merely reading some book on Neuro Linguistic Programming or anything like that.
Loving and caring body language, loving and caring smiles and gestures, have to stem from loving and caring motives to really be perceived by others as authentic and really produce tangible results.
So I had to work on absorbing my wife’s culture not just intellectually but also emotionally.
On the other hand, while it is true that loving gestures stemming from insincere motives come across as plastik with Filipinos, as well as with anyone else on the planet, it is also true that one could dwell on loving and caring thoughts and still not be able to externalize them properly.
And this is definitely one of my weaknesses: I do love my wife and I have learned how to love the Filipino idea of extended family as well, but I suck at externalizing the love, the care and the compassion that I feel deep within.
I have always been one who smiles very little and I never been fond of touching or hugging others. In other words, I think and feel a lot, but I sort of come across as somewhat detached.
So, in addition to working on my inner resistances toward my wife’s culture and becoming more spontaneous and not just intellectual about my endeavors to build rapport, I have had to work on being a little more conscious of the need to smile or gesture more to avoid falling into the opposite trap, namely really coming from a loving place and yet not being able to immediately put it across through an appropriate body language, which is the universal language that knows no barriers and can easily be understood and appreciated by anyone on the planet.
This is perhaps not that much of a problem with my wife, as she knows how much I care about her, but it tends to be a problem with the myriad of her Filipino friends or relatives I interact with, who don’t know me as intimately as my wife does and this is something I definitely need to improve.
I am still not perfect, but I think I have made a lot of progress in this area recently and, after mastering the written and spoken language of my loved one, my next goal is that of mastering the “universal language of love”, the remaining 93% part of the equation of effective communication.
Mula noong ako ay 20 taong gulang hanggang noong 2015 ang aking timbang ay mahigit 90 kg, halos 100. Mas malaki ako kaysa sa calabau na nasa harap ng Luneta!
Sinubukan kong pumayat nang napakaraming beses, sa loob ng 30 taon, pero walang resulta.
At hindi ko alam kung bakit dahil napaka-aktibo ako sa pisikal, sa diwa na mahilig ako sa hiking at nilalakad ko nang mahabang mga distansya nang medyo regular.
Pero dati marami akong masamang ugali na naging sanhi na walang saysay ang lakad nang lakad:
Mahilig ako sa beer
Mahilig ako sa pasta at pizza
Sobrang mahilig ako sa pastry
Ang aking almusal noon ay kape + pastry (Italian style)
Ang aking tanghalian ay dalawa o tatlong pinggan ng pasta + second dish + side dish + dessert + wine, beer, liquor….at baka ice cream pa…
At ang aking hapunan ay, more or less, gaya ng tanghalian.
Kaya medyo maliwanag kung bakit, sa kabila ng maraming pisikal na aktibidad, wala akong pag-asa na pumayat.
Ang aking pagbabago
Subalit noong taon 2016 nagkaroon ng isang malaking pagbabago at, sa loob ng wala pa 6 na buwan, ang aking timbang ay naging 65-68 kg at mula noon hindi na tumaas, kahit minsan.
Paano nangyari iyon?
Ang natuklasan ko ay na, bagaman alam ko na ang pagiging overweight ay mapanganib, kulang ako sa motibasyon para mag-reduce sa seryosong paraan.
Hindi ako sobrang interesado sa pagiging mas sexy o gwapo dahil, tutal, may asawa na ako at, bukod dito, iba ang mga prioridad ko sa buhay. Mas hinahanap ko ang panloob na kagandahan kaysa sa panlabas na kagwapoan o kapogian.
Pero, sa totoo, ang pagkakaroon ng tamang ugali, pagdating sa pagkain, at sa kalusugan in general, ay wala masyadong kinalaman sa ating punto de vista hinggil sa kagandahan.
Ang nagbigay sa akin ng motibasyon na baguhin ang aking mga ugali ay dalawang mas malalim na mga dahilan:
Naunawaan ko na, bilang ulo ng pamilya, may pananagutan ako na magkaroon ng sapat na enerhya, pagkatapos ng trabaho, para magkaroon ng makabuluhang relasyon sa aking pamilya, dahil ang naging resulta ng aking masamang ugali pagdating sa pagkain ay na lagi antok na antok ako pagbalik mula sa trabaho at sa mga dulo ng sanlinggo, kaya kulang ako sa lakas para magkaroon ng makabuluhang emosyonal na koneksyon sa pamilya.
Ang kawalang pagpipigil sa sarili sa isang larangan ng buhay ay lumilitaw din sa ibang mga aspekto ng buhay. At naunawaan ko na ang aking tunay na problema ay hindi ang pagkain kundi ang kawalang pagpipigil sa sarili, na naging problema ko hindi lang may kaugnayan sa pagkain, kundi sa ibang aspekto ng buhay din, gaya ng budgeting ng pera at ang komunikasyon sa asawa ko (medyo padalus-dalos ako at iyon ay resulta ng kawalang pagpipigil sa sarili, kawalang kakayahan na pigilan ang aking mga emosyon)
Kaya naunawaan ko na kung hindi ako gumawa ng paraan para linangin ang pagpipigil sa sarili marami sana ang magiging problema:
Dahil tumatanda ako lalala at lalala ang aking low energy
At, bukod dito, dahil ang aking kawalang pagpipigil sa sarili na may kaugnayan sa pagkain ay konektado din sa kawalang pagpipigil sa sarili sa komunikasyon, sa budgeting at iba pang delikadong mga aspekto ng buhay, dumating talaga ang oras para gawin ang malaking pagbabago.
Kailangan ang malaki at ambisyosong tunguhin
Isa sa mga dahilan kung bakit hindi masyadong naging matagumpay ang aking mga pagsisikap na mag-reduce ay dahil sinisikap kong abutin ang maliliit na mga tunguhin, gaya ng pagbabawas ng 3, 4 o 5 kg. Hindi gumagana iyon.
Kailangan magkaroon ng malaking tunguhin.
Isa sa mga bagay na nakatulong sa akin na ilagay sa harap ko ang isang malaki at ambisyosong tunguhin ay ang halimbawa ng tiyo ko, na nakatira sa bayan ng mga magulang ko:
Siya ay 82 taon gulang at nagtratrabaho pa siya bilang tubero at pagkatapos ng trabaho umuuwi siya sa bahay kung saan may malaking lupa siya at…. nagtratrabaho pa siya sa lupa! At bukod dito nagtayo siya ng isang kubo sa isang beach na pwede lang abutin on foot sa mabatong trail at sa kubong iyon mayroon siyang bangka at pagkatapos ng trabaho bilang tubero at sa lupa, bumababa siya sa dagat at gumagaod siya sa bangka! 82 years old iyon!
Bukod dito nakita ko ang mga dokumentaryo ni Wim Hof, ang isang matanda na taga Holland na kaya niyang gawin mga bagay na di-kapani paniwala, tulad halimbawa inilulubog niya ang kanyang sarili sa yelo at kaya niyang maligo sa frozen na mga lawa at tumakbo ng mga mahabang marathon sa napakalamig na mga lugar, gaya ng Arctic Circle.
Kaya inisip ko na mayroon akong 2 choice:
Maging ang isang may be edad na may iba’t ibang uri ng sakit at pisikal na kahinahan
Maging ang isang matanda na mas malakas kaysa sa isang 20-year old na bata, gaya ni Wim Hof o ang uncle ko.
Medyo ambisyosong tunguhin iyon pero ang pagkakaroon ng ganitong tunguhin ang siyang nagbigay sa akin ng malaking “sipa sa puwit” na nagpahintulot sa akin na gumawa ng napakalaking pagbabago sa aking mga ugali pagdating sa kalusugan.
Ano ang tamang diet?
Sa internet ay mayroon sobra maraming “dalubhasa” na nagsasabi ng iba’t ibang mga bagay tungkol sa tamang pagkain.
Honestly wala akong panahon para pag-aralan lahat ng mga teorya at, kung gagawin ko iyon, magiging nakakalito iyon.
Kaya ang ginawa ko ay ganito: naghanap ako ng isang “common denominator” na nasa likod ng lahat ng mga teorya at nagsisimula akong sumunod sa mga payo na karaniwan sa iba’t ibang dalubhasa.
Sa kabila ng pagkakaroon ng maraming teorya, may mga bagay kung saan nagkakasundo ang karamihan ng mga eksperto: halimbawa lahat ng mga dalubhasa sa nutrition ay sumasang-ayon na kailangang alisin ang asukal at ang mga refined carbs sa diet, na raw veggies ang dapat maging “bulk” ng diet at na kailangang kainin ang mga healthy proteins (pasture raised eggs, meckerel salmon at iba pa) at iwasan ang mga processed foods, soft drinks at ang iba’t ibang tsitseria.
At iyon ang ginawa ko at ang naging resulta, sa loob ng humigit kumulang 6 na buwan ay kung ano ang nakikita sa ikatlong litrato na nasa itaas
At, syempre naman, patuloy na kumukuha ako ng karagdagang impormasyon tungkol sa ilang posibleng maliliit na pagbabago na maaari kong gawin sa diet, pero sa halip na basta maghintay na magiging perpekto ang aking unawa tungkol sa sakdal na diet, kumikilos ako batay na naiintindihan ko….ang mahalaga ay magkaroon ng matibay na motibasyon at kumilos at, syempre naman, panatilihin bukas ang isip para sa posibleng mga pagbabago sa diet dahil hindi pwede maging dogmatiko at saradong isip tungkol sa isang partikular na approach sa diet.
Pero isang bagay ay tiyak: kung ang “bulk” ng diet ay raw veggies, kung ang isa ay hindi somosobra sa carbs (na dapat na strictly whole grain) at kung iniiwasan ng isa ang mga processed foods at pinapalitan ang mga iyon sa healthy proteins at kung may kasamang regular na exercise papayat at papayat ang isa…awtomatiko iyon!