This post ran for the first time on February 21st, 2012 and since I’m gearing up to post on how to talk to family about your travel plans, I thought I’d get us in the mood by this list of Filipino family “not-to-says”. Enjoy!
Alright, I’ve been married to a Filipina American for almost a year now so between that and the six years I lived in the Philippines, I thought it might be time for some more posts on Filipino culture and how best to relate to it. This post is specifically for those contemplating dating a Filipino, shopping around on Filipino dating sites or getting married to a Filipino woman or man. Here’s a list of things you never say to your prospective Filipino parents-in-law:
1) “This food smells weird” – The aromas are going to be different from what you are used to – especially when it comes to the fish. Filipino recipes are tough to navigate for a lot of people at first. They will grow on you though. So keep your initial reluctance to yourself.
2) “I hate karaoke” – Think karaoke is of the devil? Tough. You are going to need to sing and you may as well get in the spirit quick. Filipino culture was not made for the bashful – my Filipino wife has assured me of as much. So if you want to appeal to the Filipina heart then throw caution to the wind and belt out a few tunes.
3) “I am on a diet” – Huh? What’s that?
4) Point out that they used “she” to reference a “he” – There are no pronouns in Tagalog, the Filipino language. Prepare for some confusion when family gathers to gossip (I mean talk) about multiple people. “He” will not be used, “she” will be used for everything. Smile, nod, work things out from the context. And if you still don’t get it, ask your Filipino significant other later.
5) “I don’t like big gatherings” – Well, whether you do or not, rest assured that 50 relatives are still coming and expect to be fed. Get to steppin’. Real life Filipino gatherings crave energy and being present.
6) “Why are there beans in my dessert?” – Because you are eating halo-halo, a Filipino delicacy involving shaved ice, tons of sugar, beans and other assorted sweetness.
7) “What kind of a name is Bong?” – Ask this question respectfully, a former president’s son was named Bong and it’s quite a common Filipino name.
8) “Can I leave now?” – Um, no. We just got here (four hours ago).
9) “Who is Pacquiao?” – You have now asked for a beating.
10) “Rice again?“ – Are you kidding? It is like the Filipino oxygen.
There’s more of course so feel free to add to the list in the comments.