From Korea with Love

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If You Don’t Have Anything Good to Say about My Country, Just…

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“The Philippines is incredible! People here are so wonderful. They don’t realize that. There’s this kind of warmth I see everywhere! I notice it in the street vendor who can’t give you anything but a warm smile and a lot of love.” ~~~ Vin Diesel

“The Philippines is incredible! People here are so wonderful. They don’t realize that. There’s this kind of warmth I see everywhere! I notice it in the street vendor who can’t give you anything but a warm smile and a lot of love.” ~~~ Vin Diesel

A couple of weeks ago, I was hurt, guilty, furious. I was hurt because of the offensive things said about my country over dinner with other 외국인 (foreigners); guilty because I just sat there speechless, pretending that I wasn’t listening, and I didn’t even try to refute their crude remarks. I was furious because of their insensitivity and my silence. I don’t know why I didn’t say anything to defend my country and my fellow Filipinos, when in fact, I always speak my mind. Maybe I kept mum because, I didn’t want to cause a hullabaloo. Once I start talking, there’s no stopping me until everybody listens and understands my point. In college, I was a debate queen, and until now, on several occasions, I don’t mind debating with someone who thinks he knows EVERYTHING about where I come from… well, except that day. Maybe another reason for my silence is that some of what they were saying is true.

Yes, the Philippines is not a rich country, but to say that the country is “so poor that people beg for money everywhere” is a mere exaggeration. One of the tactless foreigners said that even taxi drivers beg for money. It’s called asking for a tip, not begging. In the Philippines, it is common courtesy to give a tip to show appreciation for good service. We Filipinos usually tip taxi drivers. Foreigners do that, too. The kind ones even tip tricycle drivers. An American friend who visited the Philippines for the first time gave a tricycle driver 400 php for a tip. That’s almost 10 USD! The fare cost only 100 php (2.37 USD). The driver was giving her back 400 php for the 500 bill that she gave, but my friend told him to keep the change. I told her it was too much. She smiled and said that she doesn’t mind giving big tips to those who deserve it. That day, no tricycle driver wanted to drive us to where we were headed, because it was raining cats and dogs and the road going to our destination was flooded, but one tricycle driver took pity on us, cold and dripping wet from the rain.

You don’t have to give a big tip to a taxi or tricycle driver (20 to 50 php is enough), but at least have the courtesy and the heart to give a tip to someone who was of service to you, someone whose job is (probably) more taxing than yours.

Most foreigners who visit my country don’t need to be told that giving a tip is not the same as giving alms, because they take time to learn some Filipino customs before going to the Philippines, and isn’t tipping also a custom in the US?

In South Korea, tipping is not customary and is considered demeaning at times; however, my husband, who is Korean, and most of the Koreans I know don’t mind giving a tip when they go to the Philippines, and I’ve never heard them complain about it.

The foreigners went on and on about how poverty-stricken the Philippines is. They also talked about Vietnam, being worse. I started wondering why the heck they go to other countries if they only criticize. When people travel, what is their main purpose? Isn’t it to discover, learn about other countries’ culture? to enjoy, to relax, to have wonderful memories to share with friends back home? I’m pretty sure that what these foreigners experienced in my country (or in Vietnam) wasn’t all that bad, but they made it sound as if they have been to the most abominable place in this world. Anywhere you go, even in the richest countries, there will always be poor people, people who beg for food or for a penny, people with no homes, people who need help. Should you criticize them? One of the foreigners was telling the others about “dirty street kids” following and annoying her because she is “a foreigner”. She was not being followed, because the kids think she is a celebrity; she was being followed, because the kids were hoping that she would give them coins that could buy them lunch or dinner, maybe their first meal of the day.

For almost 10 minutes of disparaging conversation about the Philippines (and Vietnam), they didn’t even consider how I and my fellow Filipina companion would feel… or maybe, they forgot that there were Filipinos present during that time. Even if there weren’t Filipinos (or Vietnamese) present, should they have talked like that about other countries in front of other foreigners?

When I started writing this post, I thought of naming all the good things about the Philippines that I can think of and have observed living there for 29 years… but I’m not going to do that. Instead, I invite you to visit the Philippines, travel around the country, get to know its people, discover its culture and if you want, you can even learn the national language. I’m sure that if you do all these things and free your mind from prejudice, you will have wonderful things to say about the Philippines. Who knows, you may even fall in love with my country, like the other foreigners who have stayed there or who keep coming back?

21 thoughts on “If You Don’t Have Anything Good to Say about My Country, Just…

  1. Pingback: Discrimination at the Airport | From Korea with Love

  2. I guess some people are just insensitive.

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  3. How anyone can think that criticizing a WHOLE country can be a good idea is beyond me.

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  4. Hi, J. Anywhere in this world, there will always be people who think they are superior than others. Even in my own country there are people who are like that, too. =(

    I do hope that someday, our country and its people will be seen differently by citizens of other nations.

    I will remember the saying that you shared. The next time I meet rude or racist people, I just might use that quote. =)

    TAKE CARE and always be proud of where you come from… no matter what. =)

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  5. Hello,

    Just went by your blog, we get the same shit on Cambodia too, there was a problem with some westerner blog Travelingmark, he was cursing us like hell, talked to much nonsense about Cambodia and most of Asia. Seriously you can’t just come to some country and think it will be like Sydney or New York. I was on a plane back to Perth from Cambodia, and in front of me was 2 stupid aussies talking shit. Cambodia has the same problems as the Philippines, maybe worse, but a least the common people are humble. About Koreans I have never meet rude Koreans yet, But if I do I will tell them this wasn’t their country as third world as us back then?! I our country we have a saying ‘dont be like a crocodile who forget their banks (lake).’ You know what a mean?! anyways please take care J.Ong

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  6. Haha..no plans yet..career mode po muna..=)

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  7. That’s good. Next year niyan wedding bells na.=)

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  8. Let’s just say,we share the same fate po ms chris omitting the marriage part..hehe.. my bf and i take turns with the traveling aspect as part of our LDR setup..and we’ve been doing this for almost 4 years na po..we’re pretty used to it and no one’s really complaining..hehe

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  9. Do you have a business here? Are you visiting a friend/family?

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  10. Yes ms cris,at least 2x a year..hehe..in fact i’ll be visiting this coming chuseok and i’ll be staying for 8 days so I hope to meet u during my visit.I really enjoy reading ur insights in various aspects as well as keeping ur opinions balanced and unbiased..=)

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  11. Tama ka diyan, Tris3u. Pero kung sa bagay, minsan nasa atin ding mga Pinoy kung bakit minamaliit tayo ng mga dayuhan, ang kulang sa sistema at disiplina, mga kung anu-anong raket, away ng mga Pinay sa kapwa Pinay pag nasa ibang bansa, Hay…

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  12. Thank you for the advice, Tharp. ^^ I appreciate all the wonderful things you said about my country. God bless you. =)

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  13. Hi, Ronica. Thank you for those wonderful words. ^^ I’d be happy to meet you here in SK. Do you travel here all the time?

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  14. Hi Miss Chris!I really enjoy reading your posts and I admire how you continuously keep your site very much organized, informative, entertaining and most of all worth reading. I also find it admirable how you can preserve your genuine “Filipino Identity” and be proud of our country despite living in a homogenous society being projected by Korea. I feel sad but most of all I pity those foreigners for their remarks proved how ignorant and judgmental they can be to think lowly of a particular country. Respect begets respect. This is one ideology that these foreigners should learn because If they are not willing to adapt, learn and respect other people’s cultures,ways of living and thinking and even nationality, I suggest they stay put in their own countries and give up the idea of traveling. By the way Miss Chris, I hope I can meet you during one of my travels to Korea and I’m very much interested on your personal thoughts,lessons, suggestions or even tips regarding the prospect of living in Korea. More power to u and keep up the good work!

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  15. Hi Miss Chris!I really enjoy reading your posts and I admire how you continuously keep your site very much organized, informative, entertaining and most of all worth reading. I also find it admirable how you can preserve your genuine “Filipino Identity” and be proud of our country despite living in a homogenous society being projected by Korea. I feel sad but most of all I pity those foreigners for their remarks proved how ignorant and judgmental they can be to think lowly of a particular country. Respect begets respect. This is one ideology that these foreigners should learn because If they are not willing to adapt, learn and respect other people’s cultures,ways of living and thinking and even nationality, I suggest they stay put in their own countries and give up the idea of traveling. By the way Miss Chris, I hope I can meet you during one of my travels to Korea and I’m very much interested on your personal thoughts,lessons, suggestions or even tips regarding the prospect of living in Korea. More power to u and keep up the good work!

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  16. The Philippines is a terrific country, with the friendliest, warmest people I’ve met anywhere on my travels. The scenery was gorgeous and the snorkeling and diving just spectacular. The food was hit and miss but could be very good at times, and the beer is great and incredibly cheap.

    Yeah, some poverty in the Philippines is bracing, like much of Southeast Asia… but that’s part of the deal. I surely don’t want all of SE Asia to be like Singapore or even HK for that matter… I like things rough and tumble, but I’m a hard traveler.

    The foreigners bitching about the poverty in SE Asia at that dinner sound like a load of boring, no-life newbs and they’d probably be best served going back home to the fatty confines of America, Canada, or which ever country they come from.

    I would advise you to grow a thicker skin, though. I’m American and have had to put up with people talking all sorts of ignorant nonsense about my country, time and time again. If I got seriously butthurt every times someone has slagged off the the States I wouldn’t have time to actually feel good about things. Most of the times these folks were just idiots trying to make themselves look good in front of others and I have no doubt that your pack of complainers was just the same.

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  17. Hi Chris,
    As a fellow Filipino , I deeply appreciate your thoughts. It can be said that cultures and norms differ from country to country especially those from the western hemisphere. They could be brutal and tactless and can be inconsiderate. But then, these are their cultures, they would blatantly tell you their opinion not sugar coating them, not like us pinoys who would tend to avoid direct confrontation and hurting another person’s feelings. That is why foreigner who visited our country really appreciates our generosity and hospitality. This maybe the reason why you didn’t blew your head when you heard them criticize our beloved country. Masyado lang tayong mapagtimpi ika nga. I have been living here in Korea for almost 6 years and from time to time I would have these people (Koreans and other nationalities) ask me about our country comparing them with their country’s economy, lifestyle, etc. etc..Yes I would tell them that our country is not rich, our government officials are corrupt, streets are dirty, we would eat with our bare hands, we live in shanties, and so on and so forth but hey I would tell them isn’t your country the same like us?? Strip off the beautiful facade of your skyscraper the usual coat and tie, and chic dresses the glitters of neon lights lies the ugliness of their own country, Thugs, vagabonds, garbage, prostitutes corrupt officials can be found in each and every country in the world. At least in the Philippines people don’t shit on side walks or fart during mealtime hehehe… So the next time you hear them talk about the how disgusting third world countries are remind them that if not for these impoverished nation like ours they wont be able to afford to travel outside of their country for who will man their factories, hospitals, and homes….

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  18. Yup, which is exactly what I’m doing in this post… ranting. =)

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  19. I know exactly how you feel. At the time it’s happening, you’re too stunned to say anything, then you spend the next week stewing about it, coming up with about a billion amazing retorts you should have said in that moment

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  20. Thank you, Chris. ^^ More power to your blog. =)

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  21. I like your blog; I don’t tend to read other’s blogs that much, but you write with passion and honesty and this is a rare and interesting thing.

    I have never visited the Philippines and I don’t know that much about the place, so it is quite an informative blog. It is also nice to get a Filipinos perspective on living in Korea. Keep up the good work!

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