Culture is something that I care a lot about. It is something of a hobby of mine to study Philippine Culture, learn from my studies and then try to apply what I can to my life. Because I am living in the Philippines, I believe it is important for me to adapt the culture as much as I can. I say this for two reasons, firstly because becoming more culturally similar to those around me will improve my life, and also because showing respect for the culture will make a good impression with Filipinos who come in contact with me.
There are many ways by which I study the culture. I am not talking about reading books and such, although I do read about the Philippines fairly extensively on the Internet. My primary means of studying culture, though, is to just observe things that occur when I am out in public. Watching how Filipinos do things, their reactions to things around them, and such, are really the best way for me to learn about the culture of the Philippines. So, this is my primary means of studying the culture and deciding which aspects of the culture to work into my own life.
What is “Acculturation?” According to Dictionary.com, the definition of Acculturation is:
- The process of adopting the cultural traits or social patterns of another group.
- The result of this process.
I have come to the point that I feel that after having lived here for 12 years that I feel my acculturation in the Philippines is complete. No, that does not mean that I live 100% by Philippine Culture, but what it means is that I have gone as far with the process of acculturation as I wish to go.
In many ways, I have become very Filipino in the way that I live. In other ways I am still very American. There are some parts of Philippine Culture that I do not care to adapt. These are mostly personal lifestyle things. When I go out in public, I believe that I blend in very well with Filipinos, culturally.
Over the next few weeks, I am going to write a number of articles on different areas of Philippine culture and how I have adapted myself to those ways of life. In some areas of the culture I will write about how and why I have chosen not to adopt the culture of my adopted country.
I will say that as I have adopted culturally, I have found my life has become more enjoyable and happier. As I reflect on why that is, I believe it is because I am no longer “swimming upstream” in those aspects of my life. I am “going with the flow” instead of fighting the culture, if you know what I mean. That said, though, I believe that any 1st Generation immigrant to a country will never adapt 100% to every cultural norm in the country they move to, which is why there are some areas where I have decided that adapting is not in the cards for me. I would expect that my children will adapt much more fully than I have. In fact, I suppose I should say not that they “will” but rather that that have adapted, because really they embrace the Philippine Culture. In the house, though, they also display many aspects of being American, as we live quite an American lifestyle in the house, and the kids pick up on that, of course.
A few weeks ago, I was having a talk with one of my sons. I don’t recall the exact topic, or how we got to this point in the conversation, but I asked my son a question:
Do your friends consider you to be a foreigner?
I was kind of surprised at his answer. He told me that they do not. To his friends, he is Filipino. I was surprised, and I was also somewhat happy as well. Why was I happy? Because being a foreigner can present challenges at times, and I like the idea that my son is accepted here and not treated in a way that he is “different” as I am and other foreigners are. I believe it will make for a more pleasant life for him, and a life with fewer challenges.
I know that some of you probably think that this is not important, and won’t affect you should you decide to live here. But, believe me, it will have a big effect on you. You will either swim upstream and get aggravated, having an unhappy life, or you will make adaptations, enjoy life more, and be a more well rounded person. It’s up to you.
So, tune in over my next several articles, and I’ll be delving deeper into this topic, and addressing specific situation and issues dealing with my acculturation to the Philippines.