Westerners are Control Freaks


About a week ago, National Geographic I read a story about a Filipino that has an ear and limbs growing out of his abdomen.  The ear has a bit of hair and the extra arms and legs are at various stages of development.  The Filipino felt that the unusual body parts belong to his twin brother.  His instincts where proven to be correct. The Filipino’s first name is Rudy and he was 55 when the documentary was filmed.

Filippino Octoman
Filipino Octoman

Both Filipino and Western doctors went to work to see if they could help this man in any way.  During the process they discovered his heart is under stress because of these extra limbs.  They offered to remove the limbs and ear at no charge.

I thought Rudy would jump all over this offer and have them removed.  Jessie on the other hand, was quite sure he wouldn’t have them removed.  Rudy had  grown up believing that his condition was a gift from God.  His parents reinforced this.  This seems to have helped Rudy become accepting of this condition.  His wife expressed that she had become use to Rudy being this way and was not sure she wanted it changed.

To my surprise, Rudy decided not to have the surgery.  He believes God gave him this gift.  In his early life, Rudy was a sensation, traveling with a Philippine carnival he was a major attraction for that carnival.

When people first come to the Philippines, they usually take note of how happy most Filipino seem to be despite the poverty in which they may live.  Some draw the incorrect idea that Filipino are overly compliant.  I think accepting is a better way to look at it.  If you disrespect a Filipino, you are likely to find out just how non-compliant they are.  Filipino will not be your doormat as some seem to think.  They do tend to accept their situation in life and make the best of it.

This story and my reaction vs. Jessie’s reaction highlights the difference between American culture to that of Filipino culture.  Americans are control freaks.  Filipino are more likely to go with what life deals them and make the best of it.  We Americans like to kid ourselves, we can control so little but we fool ourselves into thinking we can control which leads to much frustration. in our lives.  Perhaps, much of the laid back lifestyle in the Philippines and the happy Filipino are in large part due to this idea of acceptance.


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Filed under: Filipino Culture

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