You know, different cultures mean different values, different ways of looking at things, different practices. No culture is right, and no culture is wrong, they are just different from each other. Some people prefer one culture, some people prefer another. Nothing wrong with that at all. Variety is, after all, the spice of life!
One thing in Philippine culture, and also in most Asian cultures is that respect is automatically given to certain people. Older people get respect. People with certain jobs get respect. People with money get respect. On the other hand, in most western cultures, respect is something that must be earned, it is not given automatically in most cases.
Here in the Philippines, family relations are deeply respect-based. An older brother or sister will be given a “title” (Manong, Manang, Kuya, Ate, etc.). The exact title used varies depending on region, and also varies from one family to the next. It would be considered unusual for a younger sister to call an older brother by his name – that lacks the respect that should be shown.
However, what if an older brother or sister is not such a good person? What if that person does not show respect for others? What if that older brother treats his parents in a poor manner? Should the younger sibling still show respect for such a disrespectful elder sibling? Well, in my culture, respect would not be given to such a disrespectful person. But, here in the Philippines it would be considered poor behavior to withhold such respect.
For example, what if “Kuya” treats his mother poorly? What if Kuya has a good deal of money, yet he refuses to buy medicine for his sick, elderly mother? Does he deserve to be “Kuya” (the title itslef denotes respect for him) any longer?
In the west, “Kuya” would not be respected, at least not to the extent that he used to be respected, if he was a bad person. Respect in the west must be earned, and if Kuya is not helping Mama, he no longer is earning the respect. Here in the Philippines, not only must Kuya continue to be respected, and addressed with respect, but actually to not show him respect would be downright shameful!
I find that a basic cultural attitude like this is very hard to adjust to. I cannot show respect for a person who does not deserve it. No matter how hard I would try, this kind of thing is an adjustment that I simply cannot make.
How about you?