One of my biggest complaints about living in the Philippines is how we’re treated by some members of the population here. I wrote a pretty detailed account of it in a blog post but the kids are what really get me. The lack of respect is astounding. Recently, I started calling people out on their disrespectful behavior.
In the Philippines you don’t want to drink the tap water. Most people will buy filtered water, which they call mineral water, to use as drinking water. Obviously, I am no exception to that practice. Usually, you can call and have it delivered to your door. Some companies charge a delivery fee and others do not. Two doors down is a sari-sari store, which like most sari-sari stores, sells “mineral water”. Because it is only a few doors down I usually carry down the empty container and carry back the full container to my house. It’s faster than waiting on a delivery.
Tonight, like so many other nights, the lady who runs the store was out of water so I walked across the street to another sari-sari and they were also out. I had two choices at this point; go home and call for delivery or walk a block down the street and transfer (pour) the water from their container to my own. I have to do this because the water companies put their logo/sticker on the containers and most sari-sari’s will not remove or replace the sticker so they’re unwilling to trade a container from a different company.
Well, I had decided to walk down the street and while waiting online I embarrassed Jessica, Jenn’s sister, by lightly scolding four kids (about 10 years old or so).
I am standing in the street, near the curb, waiting and I hear, from off to my left,
I knew they meant me but I ignored them because I consider that to be disrespectful. You don’t speak, like that, to someone you don’t know and who is older than you. That’s not how I was raised and my mother would probably flog me if I tried it and she found out.
A few seconds pass they do it again but this time I didn’t ignore them. This time I turned my head, I lean over slightly and say to them,
“Where I come from we don’t address a stranger who is older than us by saying ‘Hey!’ Instead, we say, ‘Good evening Kuya.'”
Upon hearing this the lady who runs the sari-sari store smiles and chuckles and the older gentleman outside (customer) does the same. I knew they agreed with me and were probably happy I corrected these four fine young misguided boys. They obviously thought it was a bit funny as well.
Poor Jessica got a little embarrassed but she’s seen me in action before so she smiled a bit as well. One kids, however, turned from Filipino brown to shit red. No, I am not going to elaborate on that visual. ha ha ha
I waited a few seconds and then I said,
“It’s called respect.”
Then I hear, in a soft voice,
I am not sure if he meant it or not but he sounded genuine so I let it go and I said,
We made a little, and I do mean a little, small talk after that. The store lady was ready for me by then and I helped her with the water transfer, 5-gallons of water is heavy and she was a bit too old to be doing it herself. I made sure to show her the proper respect, as I always do, by calling her “ate” and saying “Salamat po” loud enough for the kids to hear me. In other words, I was setting an example for them.
As I was walking passed them to go home they said,
“Good night Kuya.”
I returned the respect by wishing them the same. They kept calling after me asking me if it was heavy and offering to help. I wasn’t sure how sincere they were being so I just told them I could handle it and I kept walking. I suspected their offer was less than genuine and I can imagine what they said once I was out of earshot.
At any rate, I call on Filipino parents everywhere. Teach your kids to respect not just their elders but all strangers.