Last week, I wrote an article about my socialization experience, going with my Bisaya teacher to have a snack at the Bankerohan Market in Davao. I talked about my interaction with the vendors there, the customers and such, how I spoke Bisaya with them, almost exclusively, and how I felt about the experience. It was a good expeience for me, and I was happy to be able to enjoy the experience.
This past weekend, I had another socialization experience, actually, my whole family did this time. It was an experience that was again good for me, and this time it was also good for my kids. Feyma enjoyed herself too, but I doubt that she gained much socialization from the experience, since she is already culturally part of the Philippines, and has experienced much of what we did.
The event was a birthday party that we attended. Once again, my Bisaya teacher, Bebe, was part of the event. Bebe’s youngest daughter, Lanilou had her 11th birthday, and we were invited. A number of things made this a fun, and educational event for the family.
Firstly, while Bebe and her family would not be counted as part of the lower or poor class, they are certainly in an economic class lower than ours. I don’t say this as anything bad, or against Bebe. I love Bebe, and I love her family too. With Bebe, I think of her as if she were my sister. I respect the things that she tells me, and I enjoy spending time with her. So, I’ll just make it clear up front, in no way am I trying to put Bebe down when I say that she is of a lower economic class than we are, I am only stating a fact. I think that if Bebe reads this (and she does read this site regularly) she would agree with that statement, and she would not feel hurt by it.
So, going to Bebe’s house to celebrate her daughter’s birthday is an experience that is “outside the box” for my kids. They don’t often get a chance to mix with kids of this economic class. I feel that such an opportunity is a huge opportunity for my kids to get to see how others live, and how it differs from the way that they live. It should give them a huge opportunity to appreciate and be thankful for the things that they take for granted most of the time. The ability to attend the best school in Mindanao, instead of the public schools, like Bebe’s kids do. I want my kids to see this side of life and to realize that they are so lucky to have the things that they have. It made my heart feel good to see my kids fit in with the others, and have a great time simply playing games that required nothing but a grassy field, some energy and a willingness to engage with other kids. Normally, they feel like in order to have fun they need their computer, their XBox game or PlayStation. I felt that in many ways, they got a window this weekend on how I lived my life when I was their age, and it was a lot different from their normal experience. Yes, this socialization thing was a good thing for the kids!
The kids also got sort of a “double dose” of socialization, as some of the other kids who attended the party were Americans (not half Filipino, but American on each side of their families). This gave my kids a bit of a chance to re-connect with their American roots. I want my kids to be able to make regular connections with both sides of their culture, as I feel that is an important thing for them to tell them where they came from, as well as where they are going with their life, at least in terms of their ethnicity and culture.
Another aspect of socialization at the party happened with the adults. You see, there were “regular” Filipinos there and also, Bebe invited a number of her language students. In addition to me, there were also several other Americans, and some Germans there too. So, you had Filipinos, Americans and Germans all sitting around speaking to each other in Bisaya! It made for a very interesting scene. At first, some of the Filipinos were quite shy, some were even afraid to come in to the party, because they were worried about being able to speak English with these “foreigner guests” who were there. Bebe quickly told them that we all spoke Bisaya, so they came in. We all were friendly with each other and had a good time! During the festivities, it was funny to see other Filipinos walking past the house. They would take a look into the house and see a bunch of foreigners and Filipinos there, and all speaking Bisaya. They would look back toward where they were going, but quickly whip their heads (and ears!) back toward the house again, giving a quick “double take” to make sure that they really saw what they thought they saw.
All in all, the birthday was really a good time for us. I enjoyed it a lot, I always enjoy interacting wtih Bebe, because I learn a lot from her. Not only do I learn language from Bebe, but she shares a lot of cultural information with me, and I find it quite valuable. Living in the Philippines is always a little different from living back home. I have Bebe to thank for helping me along the way in understand and accepting those differences, and even enjoying them! What a great experience!
Thanks for inviting us, Bebe!