It’s been a couple of weeks since I posted an article in my series about SIR , mostly due to the holidays. I felt that with everybody so busy due to the holidays, it would be good to hold off on the SIR series until the holidays finished up, so we will get back on track today with the series of articles. For anybody who has forgotten what “SIR” is, it is the foundation of Filipino Culture, and it stands for “Smooth Interpersonal Relations” or the way that relationships with other people are handled in Filipino society.
For today’s SIR topic, we will focus in on “Garbo” which is Self Esteem or Self Worth. If you think about it, most all of these aspects of SIR tie together quite nicely. As I am sure any regular reader will remember, and probably already knew, a major thing in the Philippines is avoiding the loss of face, and when you think about that, it is really tied in with Garbo. I mean, if you cause somebody to lose face, they suffer in their self esteem, right?
Garbo refers to the need of the Filipino to be treated as a person, not as an object. His sense of personal worth, his individual dignity, is especially vulnerable to negative remarks from others.
I have an example of this in mind. About a month ago, I was reading a blog written by a Filipino. I wish I had a link to share, but I forgot where I read it, and although I’ve searched extensively for it, I can’t find it. Anyway, this Filipino blogger was telling about how he had gone to a bake shop that day. When he got there, he was second in line. The person in front of him was a Korean expat living here in the Philippines. Apparently, the Korean told the clerk at the bakeshop what he wanted to order, and she could not understand him. He kept telling her what he wanted, but she was unable to understand him still. After a while, he started getting upset, and he was yelling at the clerk.
Well, when the Korean guy started yelling, this really went over bad with this blogger who was observing the situation. He started writing about how terrible it was that this Korean guest of the Philippines was berating this Filipina, how mean he was, etc. It was very clear in my mind that this was a matter of Garbo, and also loss of face.
While reading this blog, I also felt sorry for the Korean that was being written about, though. I mean, I’ve been there myself where I was in a situation where I was trying to get a message across to a Filipino, and they could not understand what I was talking about. In my case, it is more often a matter that they will understand the words I am saying, but they simply don’t get the idea as a whole. For the Korean man, I am sure that his accent made it very hard to understand the words themselves, and that lead to problems.
As I said, I’ve been in this type of situation before, and most of the time I have handled it badly. I know that there are proper ways to handle this without attacking a person’s self worth. However, often times you get into such a situation, and everything that you know goes out the door when you get very frustrated. Invariably, when I am in this kind of situation, I will say something that I should not say. I will say something that makes the other person feel bad, and that reflects badly on me. I am not as bad as I used to be about this kind of thing, but I still need to improve on it.
Well… as I sit here typing this, images of other foreigners that I’ve seen losing their cool are coming to my head. Yes, I do need to improve, but I’ve seen some pretty bad incidents like this, and thankfully, I have not gone as far as some others do.
You know what’s funny, though? When I step out of bounds, and I know that I did, I get pretty embarrassed about it. I walk away, but in my mind I am kicking myself and feeling really bad about it. I might still be blaming the other person in my words, but in my gut and in my mind, I realize that I messed up. Again. I always pledge that I won’t do it again. But, invariably I do. I’m getting better, though.
Remember, you need to be careful about this. Causing the loss of face can lead to very serious consequences, even death. And, this is all tied in with Garbo. So, don’t cause a loss of self esteem or self worth to a Filipino!