Before leaving on this Philippines trip, I had tried to read a little about the people and their culture. One of the few things that stood out were ‘hiya’ (sense of shame), ‘amor-propio’ (avoidance to losing face), and not saying an outright ‘no’ because of the former two.
I don’t know if other attendants of the conference knew this. I told them about ‘the Filipino time’ (more on that later) but that was about it. But now on my last day in the Philippines when I look back at the time spent here, I can see these values were at work many a times.
When, for example, others who had a day to the flight after the conference asked two Filipino girls, from the host organization, to accompany them to a volcano and to a beach. They didn’t say no. They just couldn’t.
When, after spending a long evening talking about all things writing, poetry, and Philippines, La Verne couldn’t say no when I said “isn’t it too early to have dinner?” upon her suggesting we go out and eat something. It was the right time. Everything was closed by the time we went out.
And a few more times when I can recall this happening. They culturally don’t outright deny a request. Maybe this is why the rich people across the world think Filipinos make a good maid?