The problem with labels is that they don’t tell the whole story. Anytime you try to put a label on a group of people you are being short-sighted or possibly worse. Unless the label is so broad that it serves no purpose.

I fall into the trap, too. I hear my self saying, “everyone here is …”. It’s a lazy way of trying to get your point across.

I hear all the talk about the people of the Philippines – good and bad. Friendly, kind, family oriented but also scammers, corrupt, untrustworthy. Those are just a few of the phrases spoken, both good and bad. Of course there is truth behind it as there are people here like that, but it is wrong to try to fit everybody into these stereotypes.

There are many good people here. There are many bad people here. Just like where you live, wherever that might be. And of course it depends upon what your definition of good and bad might be. Very likely it is different from mine anyway.

A good example would be religion. A large part of the population in the Philippines is Roman Catholic, as I suspect most everyone knows. Quite of few of them consider themselves strong believers in their faith, from what I can tell. They probably go to church regularly, along with other rituals. Many of these, outside of church, ignore certain aspects of their teachings when it is convenient for them to do so. I don’t get the impression that they feel any less connected to God, and it’s not for me to judge that, but I’m just saying that if one is judging good or bad, we each have our own standards, including those with seemingly congruent religious views.

The people of the Philippines are individuals. Just like you and me. Some have groups, and there may be peer pressure to behave in a certain way within those groups, but that is true anywhere. The culture may have certain traits and beliefs, but those aren’t followed strictly by everyone, and vary according to region, too.

I’m not saying that it isn’t worthwhile learning of the cultural differences between the Philippines and other countries. I actually think it can be very useful. Just that one would be making a big mistake to think that by doing so you can neatly package the whole country within a few labels, as many of us tend to do.

This post might be as much for myself as for others. At times I feel I need to remind myself that not everyone is the way I’m viewing things during a time of frustration. It might feel that way, but it simply isn’t true. It can be difficult to step back and look at things with a broader view, but that’s what is needed. That’s what I need to do, too.

Anki Bisaya Phrasebook Flashcards