May 15, 2011

Filipinos are most hospitable when we're not in RP

Posted May 15, 2011
I'm here at Doha Airport in Qatar, arrived around 6am and my next flight is at 2:30pm. A long wait, it is. During my stay here at the airport, I met a group of Filipinos and all I did was to answer their simple yet profound question, "Pilipino?" They are a happy bunch, and talkative too but not in a bad way.

It is through them I found out that there is free food for my connecting flight! What you need to do is claim the free food from the Qatar customer service then they will sign your boarding pass and give you the food stub. I feel that this process has been obscured intentionally. The food is less than satisfactory but it's enough to get you through the long waiting time.

I happily agreed to join them for lunch when they invited me and had a chance to get to know them a bit. Most of them are Filipinas working as housemaids in Lebanon. I asked one Pinay, let's name her Kate (not her real name), how's life and work in Lebanon. She said it has its ups and downs. If you are lucky enough you'll have a kind employer. She has a kind employer, but when I asked how she's treated, I began to question in my mind what kindness means, and how worse are the "unkind". Kate shared that she was never physically abused but she already heard all kinds of harsh words, especially the "F" word.

She continued with a side story that Lebanese are more casual than, hmm, strict Muslims. Their style is more western and casual. It is most noticeable in the clothes they wear; they can wear skimpy clothes. She added that many Lebanese love Pinays because of their cleanliness. One story is that you can see panties scattered around with the napkin still intact... that's an interesting account. As I'm becoming more and more exposed to the international community, I think Pinoys are among the few who take a bath at least once a day, seriously!

Kate started working in Lebanon at the age of 19, she finished a course in programming but decided to risk it in exchange for a better pay. She has a husband who works in the Philippines; a programmer too. When she learned that I work for an IT company, she wanted me to refer her husband to my company for the hope going to London. I said that my case of going to London is strictly situational and heavily depends on the project you are in and the work you do. I just want to level her expectations, she might hope for too much.

It is certainly noteworthy that she, at 25, already owns a house and lot in Manila. I was certainly astonished to learn that I'm older than her. Epiphany struck me that I'm 26, and still don't have a house of my own. Maybe her risk has payed after all. I'm not sure though if it's worth it to leave her family. I didn't get to ask that question anymore. I'll leave the topic as purely subjective, kanya kanya lang 'yan. Whichever works for them, at least they have a house and the education of their child is secure.

And this is just one story. It is interesting to listen to their conversations. Pang telenobela lahat. This is how Filipinos interact; sharing our life stories even to people we meet only for the first time. And yes, as the title says, I wouldn't expect this kind of friendliness in my home country on a day to day basis. :)

1 comment:

  1. having a house isn't the same as having a home.

    as for the idea of owning one at her young age, i think it's primarily based on what drives her. having a family and a partner to build it with - these were probably the factors behind. i'd say it's a matter of realizing what you want to achieve and where you want to be, and consciously aligning your actions with it, in order to get it.

    easy to say.. =)