I got an email from somebody asking for an advice on how to handle meeting the family of the girl he was corresponding with for some time.
“Hi Feyma, I will shortly be visiting the Philippines and meeting a lady who I have been in contact for some time. She is a widow, both her parents are now deceased and has children living at home. My question is in regard to Filipino culture… who takes the role of her parents? She has a son (21) but he is not the eldest she has a brother also. I understand first impressions are important so I am keen to get off on the right foot. Hope you can help, have searched extensively but no avail. Enjoy your articles, keep up the good work. Cheers!”
Regarding the first impression, I advise for the guy to be himself. If you have lots of patience with you, that really is a big plus coming here. The Philippines is a friendly country but visiting here can lead to frustrations too. Don’t pretend to be a super nice guy. If you don’t have much patience, its better to tell your lady or just show who you really are, than trying to be nice. Then if you get mad later somewhere, then they (the family too) might judge you. A lot of the Filipinos nowadays have the knowledge already that some foreigners and Filipino who lives abroad for a long time don’ t have the patience that the people have here. Some people now understand the frustration of some tourists here. Thank goodness for the internet. You might see some on the misbehavior of the tourist on YouTube, or you might end up on YouTube yourself. Not a good thing then.
I think when a parents dies here in the Philippines, the oldest child are the one more likely to act as the parent especially if there is properties involved. But sometimes the oldest child might not want to be the head or act as the parent of all the siblings. Like with me and my family, our oldest brother, he told us that he will just follow what we want with what we got from our parents. He said he is too old to be acting as the one who lead us. Me and my other siblings understands his stand point. So we will just let him know what we are doing if he approves or not. I also know of some family, when their parents died, they elect an officer in that siblings so that no fights will ever occur later. Really every family is different and also every region is different. So feel free to share here.
Very common here in the Philippines if the child (children) is not married yet, even over 18 years of age, they tend to be living with the parents house or in the compound. Its really the norm here. The only time the child will be leaving at the house of the parents even when he/she still single if she/he had a job somewhere away from the parents. Almost always the kid will still follow the rules of the parents even being away. Even a married children still almost always follow the parents wishes. It is hard for the kids to disobey their parents here. In Filipino culture we are trained at the early age to always follow the elders.
Since the lady had no parents, the guy might have to ask permission if ever he wants to marry the lady from the closest relative of the lady. It could be the aunts, uncles, grandparents aside from the kids of the lady. Really whoever the lady was close to that’s who he will be talking to. Some ladies they might want the guy will talk to their priest or the pastor too.
To really further his knowledge about our culture here I advice him and other readers here to read Bob’s SIR column. It is really helpful to a lot of people here that wanted to know more about our culture.
Good luck to you. I hope you will enjoy your stay here in the Philippines!