If you think about it for more than a minute you’ll note that for the most part the workers you encounter here in the Philippines are some very hardworking non-complaining people, In the states with the exception of the bartender at the Gentleman’s Club, most American workers moan and groan about how hard they have to work, how unfair their boss is and for some convoluted reason their boss expects them to accomplish so many things during the work day. What a silly notion.
Whereas here in the Philippines, I’ve noticed that whatever the conditions are, be it scorching heat, or pouring rain, if they know there is pay at the end of the day and something to eat for lunch the Pinoy will go right to it. In my first year here I made the common Kano mistake of trying to impart my vast western knowledge upon the workers. Yeah; that superior western knowledge, involving all power tools, proper safety procedures and working with all new materials, and absolutely no “make-do” policy we have in the west, if it doesn’t fit we buy a new part, as we have lost the ability to improvise.
So I quickly learned (Was Taught) to shut the hell up, listen to the guy doing the job, and unless I see something going horribly wrong, never interfere. The biting of one’s own tongue is a most valuable trait for any foreigner to learn and put into practice. If that is the way Kuya Ernie taught them, ten or twenty years ago, that is the way it will be done, do you really presume to be smarter than, “Kuya Ernie”, I don’t think so.
I’ve said this before, but it bears repeating: “Open that bottle of ice cold San Miguel Beer, and chill out.” I then realized why in the beginning of our relationship, if I stuck my big Kano nose into a labor situation, my wife would dash off and return with that SMB and put it in my hand. Just like a politician will do, they’ll show you something shiny just to distract you. Hey it worked and life smoothed out quickly after that.
When I go to the motor rewinding shop, I never tell Kuya Amor how to rewind the motor, because when was the last time, a Westerner would have even known it could be rewound? I smile and say: Machine doesn’t work” that’s it, no more words than that; he’ll text me when it’s done. Now wasn’t that easy? Reward yourself with a refreshing adult beverage. The Kuya looks at me with a nod of approval and that in itself is priceless to me. I’ve learned the lesson and I’m being somewhat accepted and or tolerated.
When I’m in a store and due to prior mistakes on my part, if my wife just put eight new LED bulbs into the cart; and the young employee pulls them out and takes them for testing. Shut the hell up and let the person do their job. By the way, nod and smile after each bulb lights up. It’s the right thing to do, and it shows them that you respect them and the job they are doing. Now at Handy City four months ago I bought a power washer and did wonder if they would demonstrate that it was working to me? The manager asked me to bring it back if it failed to work. But I know, had I requested they would have found a way to show me it worked.
As a merchant seaman I have worked for and have had Filipino’s working for me. In both situations there is a flow of give and take as long as we all knew that the boss is the boss no matter what. Seaman instinctively knew this as 90% of us were in the Navy first. BTW It’s one of life’s catch 22’s to get your seaman papers from the government; you must have experience at sea. You can’t fight logic like that.
Some of these lesions I learned the hard way, foolishly trying to buck the established system, Now that I understand and respect the Filipino methods of doing things, and sometimes being utterly amazed by the talent I’ve just witnessed, I chalk it up to just simply:” Paul, you really don’t know everything.”