TOP 8 THINGS THE WORLD SHOULD LEARN FROM FILIPINOS
You know what the most shocking part was about seeing the victims of Typhoon Yolanda standing in the wreckage of their own homes? Not the massive destruction and slow government response - all of that was predictable. For me, the most shocking part was witnessing the victims smiling and joking. It was surreal.
There I was, a California lawyer, getting some of the most valuable life lessons from people who had little formal education and almost no material possessions left. Years went by, I got involved in many aspects of social life in the Philippines and received some other important lessons that I now advise foreigners to learn from Filipinos.
Happiness. This year, Gallup International listed the Philippines the third happiest country in the world. About 86% of respondents answered they were happy. In the midst of poverty, calamities and corruption, Filipinos always find a reason to sincerely smile. Why? I believe that faith, family, friends and food are the major sources of Filipino cheerfulness. Followed, perhaps, by karaoke. Faith is very important here. Most Filipinos truly believe in something bigger than themselves and are grateful for the gift of life. Given the country’s communal culture, a typical Filipino is always surrounded by family and friends, constantly participating in a countless cycle of baptisms, weddings, birthdays and loud karaoke sessions. There is always delicious food. Locals always look for a brighter side of things and funny aspects of life to laugh at.
Tolerance. The latest Global Gender Gap Report by the World Economic
Forum confirms high rates of gender equality in the Philippines. Best in Asia and tenth in the world. There is a relatively high percentage of women in politics and other areas of social life. Of the last 35 years, almost 16 were under female presidents. People with non-traditional sexual orientations are accepted as they are. Seems like almost every family has an openly gay/ladyboy member. They freely go to churches and everywhere else. LGBT in many other countries have to fight hard for similar rights. Hate crimes are not nearly as prevalent in the Philippines as in the US.
Hospitality. When you’re with Filipinos, you’re with family. If you’re friendly, they’ll invite you to their events and introduce you to their friends. They like foreigners. In fact, they like Americans more than Americans like themselves.
Sharing. Even strangers on public transport share snacks with those around them.
Laidback attitude. This one is my favorite. It makes it very hard to do business in the Philippines but also makes it a very pleasant place to live and socialize. It’s very hard to get Filipinos to join any rat races or to worry about the small stuff. And to them almost everything is small stuff, including time itself.
The phenomenon known as the “Filipino time” means that, regardless of when the event is scheduled, people will show up… whenever they feel like it, usually a couple of hours later. It’s like living inside Jack Johnson songs.
Minimalism. “If you don’t have the best, make the best of what you have” is a necessity of life in the Philippines.
English. Best in Asia. They speak better English in the Philippines than in California which has lots of immigrants from non-English speaking countries.
Motorbike skills. In any province, an average 15 year old Filipino is a more skillful motorbike driver than most “hardcore” American bikers. Filipinos are so hardcore they don’t even need big motorcycles. They just load up their whole families with bags of stuff on an old scooter and weave through obstacle courses of potholes and stray dogs, while simultaneously checking their FB and texting, on a daily basis.
I believe the world would be a better place if more people adopted at least the first six items on the list above. What do you think?
About the Author: Sergei Tokmakov is a California lawyer & PNP tourist police photographer. He photographed the Miss Universe candidates in the Philippines and exposed Coron oil spills. Loves the Philippines. Follow him on IG @sergei_tokmakov_photo