Something good happened recently, which reminded me of this article, so I went and searched it out, updated it, and decided to give those of you who hadn’t seen it before a chance to enjoy it, as I did. Godspeed.
All Filipinos Want Is Your Money
I like to tell the truth, as I see it. I also hate to see people get ripped off and get themselves in trouble in another country/culture, so I feel I often sound negative about the Philippines. This would be a false assumption about me, because if I didn’t like it here, I could go elsewhere tomorrow. Its occurs to me I should tell a little about my days here from time to time just to keep things in perspective.
My wife is one of six girls in her family and the sisters are very close. I only had one sister in my family and we were never all that close so it’s quite an experience to me to have “real’ sisters (yes, they do treat me very much as family, something I’m very happy about).
Yesterday the consensus of the ‘what to do’ question turned out to be a trip to Market Market in Manila. Even though I get along great with all of them, I’m kind of a very a very anti-shopping person and being the only man along for a trip to “yet another mall” didn’t exactly thrill me … but you never know until you go, (ed. note: Something to keep in mind as you live here.) so I set off with good expectations in spite of my well-known ‘negative attitude’.
We left home around 9:30 am, a time I wouldn’t select to travel to the city during the week, but on a Sunday we just cruised along, traveling the North Luzon Expressway and then several wide boulevards in Manila with hardly a stop ,,, Manila isn’t hard to drive in at all on a Sunday morning.
Our destination turned out to be a very pleasant surprise. Market Market is one of the offerings of the Ayala (pronounced: eye-L-ah) chain of stores, the chief competitor to the ubiquitous SM chain and a very nice place it is indeed. It’s a decent-size four floor mall building with all the standard shopping center store offerings along with a lot of small vendor shops like you’ll find in crowded and hot ‘back street’ sort of shopping areas … I finally bought a nice replacement headset for my Skype calls for a whopping 295 Pesos. (And yes it was the same price everyone else pays.)
One of the nicest things about this mall is their huge outdoor, covered sales area where they have a huge assortment of typical market stalls and eating places, very much like the market (palangke) that is the heart of every Philippine country town, but with refrigeration and sanitation and minus the dust and flies.
It’s while we … me, my wife, her sisters and my two little nephews were enjoying one heck of a lot of food in the outside market that I came across one of those Filipinos that are so common here and yet which so many of us Westerners don’t even seem to know are the norm, rather than the exception.
People Genuinely Care Even When It’s “Not Their Job”.
We were eating at a big 12 or 14 seater both with benches and a long table in the middle and we were just about done/stuffed. The table was piled high with dirty dishes, glasses and silverware and the hardworking busboy was just finishing clearing the table next to us and ready to start on our mess.
Sami, the smallest boy (turned 2 in December) was squirming around and as little ones will do, managed to whack his cheek against the corner of the table, producing a big black mark on his cheek and the inevitable howls and tears. His mom and the other sisters, of course, all checked him over immediately and he was alright … I mean kids bash into things all the time and he hadn’t hurt his eye or cut himself so not to worry, with mom’s kisses and a few wipes with a damp towel, the pain would go away after a bit.
But the bus boy, a guy of maybe 25 or so, undoubtedly working for a few hundred pesos a day with the unenviable task of cleaning up everyone’s residue day after day couldn’t take his eyes off Sami. He rushed over, as if it was his job, to ask if everything was ok … and after being thanked, but told everything was ok, still insisted on literally trotting to one of the nearby food counters and finding some ice cubes, and then rushing back to offer the ice to Sami’s mom.
“Ma’am, better put ice on that, he’ll have a big bruise’. The young man then went promptly back to his humdrum, dirty task … and no, for the cynical-minded, he did not have his hand out nor did he wait around angling for some tip or special notice … he was just a kind man who cared about a little boy’s pain.
Little random acts of kindness like that happen to me all the time here in the Philippines, and sometimes they just pop out at you.
When I was raising two boys years ago in the States and went to restaurants it was almost always pretty clear that the wait staff and bus boys didn’t care for kids in any way … after all, they do make noise, gawk at people, drool and dribble and do all the things kids do … and I could never imagine one of the plate-slamming bus boys I’ve ever dealt with in the past even giving a care if a kid had bumped their head.
Is Everyone Really Out To Get You in the Philippines?
You almost always hear the stories in the Philippines about the con men and the pick pockets and the taxi drivers who cheat you, and …. most of you have heard them all. But why is it you so seldom hear these sorts of stories? About the poorly paid busboy who cared?
There are crooks and cheaters and uncouth, rude people here, as there are in any country … and I certainly would encourage people to keep their eyes open and keep track of their belongings.
But I also urge people to pay attention to the good things around you here … there are a lot of kind and generous people here who often go out of their way just to make my day (and Sami’s) a little brighter.
So what sort of noteworthy Filipinos have YOU run into in your travels?