In the Philippines,  I sometimes wonder if there is a lot of silent suffering. I noticed before I came here that many Filipina would be in a video chat room and have an expressionless face.  Now Jessie doesn’t have it as strong as many Filipina I know. She does have it though.  A close friend of her has a stronger version. I call it the “Filipina Smirk.” Now that’s not really a good term but it is the best I can come up with. It is more of an expressionless face.  Of course some Filipina are very animated in their facial experssions. I remember telling a dozen or more to smile and when they did their face really lit up. With Jessie, people were always commenting on her big bright smile.  On a side note, Jessie and I met in a video chat room when neither of us had any interest in romance. I was unhappily married and still had no interest. 🙂 This picture of Jessie is not the Filipina smirk.  She is smiling. Now if  her lips were closed, she’d have the Filipina smirk.  I just like this picture of her.

In The PhilippinesI think look is part of the culture of the Philippines. I don’t see this look on pinoys or male Filipinos. I will admit, I’ve not been as observant when it comes to the males. 🙂  Filipinos, to me, seem to complain less than Westerners.  This might be based in a poorer country where hardships are common or it may just be an Asian thing.

I wonder how much suffering is behind that expressionless face. Perhaps not so much.  It seems pretty easy to get Filipinos into a happy party mood. The men tend to give huge smiles if you speak to them first. Otherwise, they will probably keep a somewhat expressionless face. I don’t know if they have seen too many rude expats or just their way. I often notice pinoy looking at me but when I speak first they become very friendly with big smiles. The Philippines is also known as the “Land of Smiles.”

With my odd sense of humor, I will try to mimic Jessie when I see it on her face. She laughs at me because I can’t do it. It feels like I’m doing it. I suppose it is like the rolling “R” sound in the Philippines. I just don’t seem to get it. It is just hard to get the Southern out of me.

I’ve seen many expats talk about how Filipina put on a huge act when they are not happy. I’ve seen some of that too. Never with Jessie though, she is quite and non-complaining.  She doesn’t nag either but she’s excels at “suggestions.” A little jab at Jessie. 🙂  Jessie is quite closed where I am an open book. She’s too closed and I’m too open.

If you’re girl is the quite non-complainer, low drama type it could be very easy to miss when they are not happy.  If you’re girl is like that, you need to listen very close to her. You may not get a lot of signals. I’ve written before about high context vs low context cultures. In a high context culture like the Philippines, people tend to express themselves with fewer words. So we formerly married American’s may be use to a very vocal female. So much so that we just tune them out. If your Filipina is the quite type, you can’t afford to do this unless you just want to drive her away.

The differences in the Filipino culture can be very subtle. Most of them are. Some are easier. Uniquely Filipino musical instruments are obvious. The difference in facial expression may not be as easy to understand. One example of that is where Filipina will widened their eyebrows to indicate yes rather than speaking. I didn’t understand that at all when I first got here. Jessie did it a lot. I guess I do now or Jessie learned to say yes, I’m not sure.  I remember asking “Does that mean yes.” Different cultures  also tend to look at each other at different points during a conversations. I saw a study of that between white and African Americans in the USA many years ago.  These subtle differences can lead to misconceptions that we are not aware of. These are not things most of us consciously think about.

I’m a people watcher. I study and take apart everything.  Maybe I notice these things more. I don’t know because I don’t know how much other people notice this kind of thing. I don’t have the answer for us to clearly communicate with each other. When you are in the the Philippines, keep in mind that what you think you’re observing from a Filipino may not be the message they trying to send.

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Filed under: Filipino Culture

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