There are too many lines in the Philippines. “Please fall inline here,” a sign I see far too often. It is my perception that it is an Asian thing. It is part of the impression I have that community is supreme over the individual in the Philippines and throughout many parts of Asia.

People my age where taught that Japan had suicide pilots because the Japanese didn’t value life as much as Westerners. I don’t know if that is true. So much of what we were taught in grade school now turns out to have been wrong. However, it does seem the individual is less important in the Philippines than in the USA. Now, I’m not saying one way is better than the other. I can see arguments for both ways of life. There is no doubt in my mind that some of the problems going on in the USA are specifically related to “Me first.”

However, I think this fall in line attitude of doing things in the Philippines is hard on Live In The PhilippinesAmericans. Sometimes, it gets my dander up. I don’t like feeling that I’m being treated like one of the bulls in the herd. I don’t like being treated as part of the herd.

These things are done in the name of efficiency but often it isn’t efficient at all. Let’s consider something very very basic. Getting something to drink at a restaurant.  If you go to a restaurant in the USA, they are shoving something to drink at you almost on the way to the table. The faster they get you started, the more of them you may order and thus the higher the sales are. In the Philippines, trying to get something to drink is sometimes an exercise in frustration and thirst.

When at a restaurant not long ago, I kept waiting and waiting and finally started getting impatient. Dang it, I was really thirsty. I asked another waiter where my drink was. Eventually, someone comes by with a tray of about 20 drinks. You see, they have one person delivery all the drinks to all the tables.  Oh yeah, that’s good for business but I suppose they feel they can get away with hiring fewer people by doing this. This is not making them more money. I think it does come out of the “fall in line” attitude of dealing with people in the Philippines.

One of the most common lines in the Philippines is a line waiting for a taxi at the various malls. The wait is usually not horribly long.  Often almost no wait but still a line. 🙂 Rarely is the wait longer than 15 minutes. Right now, Sinulog is going on in Cebu City. Last night it took over an hour to get a taxi. Probably close to two hours but Jessie and I just gave up on one line that was barely moving.

As it was our turn to get into a taxi, one lady tried to get in front of Jessie and I. I was waiting off to the side. I walked over and asked Jessie if she was going to let that woman get her taxi. She said no but didn’t move back in front of her. So I did. Waiting puts me in a bad mood in the first place. You know though, this is one of the few places I’ve seen Filipino behave in a way that seems rude to me. In taxi lines and trying to get on a bus I’ve been treated rudely by Filipino but most of the time Filipino have been very polite.

culture of the philippinesThere have been several cases at taxi lines where people have moved ahead of me. Or when boarding a bus, it isn’t who got there first, if they can beat you onto the bus or the taxi many of them will. I’ve now become pretty good with my blocking maneuvers. After all, I’m often the size of three Filipina. 🙂 I really don’t like acting this way but after being pushed aside a few times, I’ve learned. And I’ve got some righteous indication stuff going on that I have to fight off. Sometimes I fail. lol the fairness thing is one of those that might set it off when I’m hot and tired from standing in a line. Hey I’m not perfect, it only appears that way. haha

I am not sure about my observations on what I’m not calling the “fall in line” culture of the Philippines. Others have said something like “Filipino are compliant people.” I think these two things are related but I don’t know how much I agree with that. Filipino will fight back when they don’t agree and when they do fight back, it seems things can get extreme. So I don’t really accept the complaint thing but I don’t totally dismiss it either. I think there is more to it than that. I think in part it has to do with the culture of respect that runs throughout the Philippines. I think that Filipino are perhaps more humble than Americans overall. Thus I think Filipinos are better at picking their fights. Waiting for something that matters. Where in the USA, these days  if you break in line, someone just might pull out a gun and blow you away. Oddly, the reason this might happen could very well be over respect as well. If you  “dis” the wrong person in the USA their culture may require them to take action. You disrespect some gang member by taking his place in line and his ‘homies” are with them, you could very easily end up dead.

In this article, I’m kind of thinking out loud about some aspects of Filipino culture that I have not yet fully figured out in my mind. I’d like to hear your thoughts. I’d love to hear from Filipino that have a lot of time in both the USA and the Philippines. So, tell me what you think, am I reading way too much to standing in a taxi line in the Philippines? Maybe this is one of those times I should put on that song from the 80’s. You know the one, “Push me in the shallow water before I get too deep.”  haha It is my nature to question, I do over analyze things at times. Though  in the long run, I think that tendency helps me gain insights into the culture of the Philippines that others might never even think about. If you ask a question, you begin to understand.

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Filed under: Filipino Culture

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