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Tampo (Oh, Lord! Not Again!!!)

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Tampo is like a quiet volcano getting ready to explode

Tampo is like a quiet volcano getting ready to explode

Tampo

Again?

I am on the receiving end of tampo today.

Throwaway Ticket Service - The Business that works while you sleep

It is not real pleasant around the Miele household this afternoon.

What is Tampo?

For those who do not know what tampo is, when you marry a Filipina, you will quickly learn the meaning of this word, and it is best not to forget it, for your own sanity and domestic harmony.

Tampo is, essentially, sulking or pouting, but with a unique Filipino twist: It starts suddenly and for often no apparent reason. For someone with two American ex-wives, I know the difference. There is no Western equivalent.

Tampo time is usually silent. Things get very quiet all of a sudden. Brows scrunch up. Plates and other items start being set down noisily. Angry Filipina voices start being heard, outside doors in Tagalog, on cell phones in Ybanag, and so on. Female neighbors or the maid may raise an eyebrow when they see you. Hey! I’m just a stupid Kano here! My friend, your goose is now, officially, cooked.

The thing about tampo is that it can often creep up on you and surprise you.

Figure out what you did

“What did I do?” “How would I know that?”

Well, my friend, whether you know what caused it or not, you had better figure out why, because until you do, and proper penance and contrition on YOUR part has been served, tampo will continue.

So, aside from the obvious crimes, like cheating or coming home drunk, tampo can be caused by a myriad of factors: the tone of voice in an innocent conversation, losing face, or even if it is rainy outside and not sunny.

Deal with it

My fellow expats, it is just something that you had better learn to deal with, because, eventually, no matter how lovey-dovey your relationship is, it WILL happen. So, how long does it last? Well, in my case, I’m a pretty good boy. I commit very few serious crimes. So, it usually lasts for a day or so, IF, and only IF, I can figure out what I did.

Notice I said “I” did… getting defensive will never help and only serves to lengthen your time in tampo purgatory. So, since I normally am good, it can take a while for me to figure out what caused the tampo to occur in the first place. I’ve normally done nothing truly obvious, to me at least.

My longest punishment

My longest tampo purgatory has been three days… Not a word was spoken, English or Ybanag, from the other side. Please take heed, that tampo can last much longer for serious crimes… MUCH longer. So much for the “submissive Asian female” crap that you read about.

What to do?

So, how do you deal with something like this? Well, I usually hide in my office for a while and either catch up on work or play video games for a while, all the time running down a mental list of things I MAY have done.

Next, I try apologizing for things I’ve mentally selected that I may have done. It is always my fault, such as the nature of tampo: There simply is no defense and you just need to suck it up and be contrite. It is worth noting, however, that if I guess wrong and apologize for the wrong thing, tampo continues and is probably lengthened on account of being so stupid as to not KNOW what I did.

Tampo might be over when you read this

Since my articles appear several weeks after I write them, this tampo time has probably long ended before you read this. See, I already know what my crime was: Speaking disrespectfully last night. I’m already planning my penance.

What happened last night?

There was an electrical problem at the house, actually quite serious. The main electrical line from the neighbor’s house was arcing into our dirty kitchen with a loud “BOOM” every 30 minutes or so. A big problem, and one which, admittedly, is scary.

So, I said, “Our house or not, turn everything off and call an electrician.”

Well, soon, the neighbor women and all the surrounding housemaids were in our driveway talking  with Rebecca and speculating as to the cause:

“John, could the house catch fire?”

“I don’t know, call an electrician.”

“John, could the washing machine cause this?”

“I don’t know, call an electrician.”

“Could the outlet cause this?”

“I don’t know, call an electrician.”

“The sparks came from the cement.”

“Impossible! Call an electrician.”

The conversation then turned to our white lady or other spirit causing the problem.

“John, do you think the white lady is doing this?”

“Rebecca, for the eighth time, I don’t know! Call an electrician!”

Usher in my time in tampo!

My stay in tampo purgatory should be short. It may take Bob’s flower delivery service to make proper amends. (Which, by the way, is VERY reliable, and a great value for getting out of situations like this! Visit his online store! It has helped me out before, so I speak from personal experience.)

In any event, when this article publishes and is read by my darling another half, I may spend another night in tampo purgatory. Not certain, but the likelihood is that this situation will occur.

Different Strokes for Different Folks

Of course, not every person’s experience is the same when it comes to Tampo. Every person is different, both the husband and the wife.

Here on LiP we like to explore multiple viewpoints and experiences on all relevant issues.

In that spirit, let’s look at Jay Stainback’s thoughts about Tampo, and the things he has experienced.

Jay Stainback’s Tampo Experiences

Are you ready for a little Tampo?

Let’s take a look at a typical tampo situation.

“Honey are you okay?” I inquire. Honey says nothing.

“Sweetheart is something bothering you?” I ask. Sweetheart says nothing.

“Have I done something to upset you, baby?” I implore. Baby says nothing.

“I love you my wife and I am here for you whenever you need me,” I inform my wife as I put my hand tenderly on her shoulder. My wife says nothing, turns and walks away from me.

tampo typhoon

This could be Tampo!

If this sounds familiar to you, then you may be in a relationship with a Filipino lady. I always thought of this situation as the silent treatment and did not realize it was a cultural issue until I wrote about it in my article, “Swimsuit Issues” and a wise man informed me that there was a word for this and the word is tampo. I searched the word and found the following definition on Wikipedia:

Tampo, in Philippine culture, refers to a range of behavior in which a person withdraws his or her affection or cheerfulness from a person who has hurt his or her feelings.

Tampo is temporary

I would like to say that I am an expert on this behavior and I have found a cure for it, but I can’t.

The case I talked about was my first experience.

My wife did not speak to me for 2 days.

On the 3rd day, she started to thaw a little and I was greatly relieved because I did not know if there was going to be an end to the silent treatment I was getting.

I eventually was told that the trigger for the tampo was my wife had found a long blond hair on my clothes. My wife has long black hair, so she came to the conclusion that I was cheating on her with some lady that looked like Kelly Ripa.

My wife is normally a very intelligent, logical lady, but this made no sense to me. We were, at the time, newlyweds and my wife was eager to be a mother and I was eager to do my part multiple times a day. Those were the days! I don’t think I would have had the energy to cheat, except when the tampo occurred and all procreative activity ceased.

Jay’s secret

I remember an episode of tampo that I knew was subsiding because my wife said, “I am not talking to you.”

I thought I would be clever and said, “We can still “you know” while casting a glance at our bed.

My wife gave me a slight unpleasant smile and answered, “You can “you know” by yourself.”

“But honey it is not much fun to “you know” by myself.” I pleaded.

Honey said nothing. My clever wit bought me a dreaded double tampo. My wife would not speak to me again for another day and it was a lot longer wait for “you know”. Yep, more tampo.

Silent Typhoon?

Let me explain why I call tampo a silent typhoon.

The silent part should be obvious because your spouse or life partner is not going to talk to you or show you any affection for the duration.

The typhoon part is that the storm will be intense but will be over in a day or two and there is not a thing you can do to stop it or lessen its effect in my opinion.

You would not walk up to a typhoon with a box of chocolates and a dozen roses. I am not saying that you do not reassure your spouse that you love them. What I am saying it will not affect the length or severity of the tampo.

I feel that trying to woo away a tampo is about as effective as trying to woo away a typhoon. The biggest difference is that tampo can be prevented usually if you see the warning signs.

Tampo is not a punishment for all

My advice on preventing a tampo is if you know one may be coming stop whatever you are doing or saying and let your wife know who is boss. I have many bosses. My wife is my favorite. She pays me nothing, but the benefits are incredible. After you have stopped whatever you are doing or saying, look at your wife and listen to whatever she has to say. Do not ask her to get to the point. Do listen to the whole story.

I forgot to mention the sign that alerts me personally that a tampo may be coming. My wife will stop talking, look at me a certain way, and raise both hands up to about her ear level.

I do not know if other Filipinas make the same or a different warning for tampo. The good news is that most tampo can be prevented by listening to your wife and the ones that cannot be prevented tend to go away on their own over time if your wife feels secure in your relationship. I have come up with 12 observations that I call Tampo in a nutshell based on my experiences.

Tampo in a nutshell

  1. It is temporary. (1 – 3 days)
  2. Can usually be prevented.
  3. Cannot be shortened.
  4. It does not mean your spouse does not love you.
  5. Begins suddenly.
  6. Ends gradually.
  7. The causes may remain unknown…for eternity.
  8. Causes is often jealousy.
  9. May defy logic and reasoning.
  10. Incidence seems to decrease as the relationship matures.
  11. Avoids conflict and loss of face.
  12. Makes sense in a culture where avoiding conflict and losing face is valued higher than honest open communication.

Summary

What I have written is, of course, my opinion based primarily on my experience during my 11+ year marriage to my wife. If you disagree or have a different take or something to add then I would love to read about it. As always part of why I write is to learn from the feedback I get in the comments section.

JohnM

John Miele is a Citizen of the World, having spent time in many locations around the globe. Currently, he finds himself in Manila, but travels throughout the Philippines. John joined the Live in the Philippines Web Magazine in mid-2008.

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rc
rc
11 years ago

So far, I haven’t been tampo’ed yet. She swears she doesn’t do tampo and I have to say, I haven’t seen her do it. We’ve only spent limited amount of time physically together though (about 2.5 months). Is it possible I’ve got a Filipina wife who doesn’t do tampo? BTW, she’s from the deepest rural Bukidnon…could that be the reason for no tampo yet? Or am I fooling myself and it’s just a matter of time?

MindanaoBob
11 years ago
Reply to  JohnM

Hi John – Ha ha… 100% Gospel truth here… When Feyma and I first got married, I experienced Tampo a couple of times, but only a couple. Within the first year of our marriage, during a tampo outbreak, I sat down and explained to Feyma that this was simply not going to happen and that it was immature. I have not experienced Tampo since then, and believe me, I have deserved it a few times in those years! I have to give it to Feyma, she never uses Tampo.

John Miele
John Miele
11 years ago
Reply to  MindanaoBob

Bob: Though Becky and I have been together 3 years (as of today… Best 3 years of my life! Love you Sweetheart!)and known each other 6, everything before wedding doesn’t count. To be fair, the tampo time is much less frequent now. If we make it as many years as you and feyma, I expect that I’ll get it seldom, if ever (I can always hope ;-))

Paul
Paul
3 years ago
Reply to  JohnM

I’ve been married two years, been with each other for much longer and I don’t tolerate tampo one little bit. It also helps that I have little issue spending a lot of time alone and she realizes tampo only hurts herself.

Vanessa aka Banot
11 years ago
Reply to  rc

Oh trust me on this, from a filipina point of view. It will come in time. Unless you talk to her about this kind of situation before settling for good, and when it does come, she needs to talk to you and let it out and settle it right away and not let her keep it and sulk for days.

rc
rc
11 years ago

We’ve already had the ‘tampo’ talk very early in the relationship. Maybe my wife is different. She’s worked as an OFW for most of her young adult and adult life (12 years). I know I’ve ‘stepped in it’ a few times (nothing serious, just strong disagreements)…when that happens, she just tells me that I didn’t handle that situation well (and, in those cases, she was right). Then I apologize and everything is good…until the next time I don’t handle a situation well and she remembers all of the times I didn’t handle a situation well…hahahaha…but at least it’s not tampo.

John Miele
John Miele
11 years ago
Reply to  rc

RC; When Tampo eventually comes your way, just be sure to remember the “apologize” part 😉

John Miele
John Miele
11 years ago

Vanessa: Tampo always ends with a blow up, and a hug. I think it has to do with it being “improper” to display emotion or show an outburst… That cultural thing again… Vive la Difference!

Mike
Mike
11 years ago

rc, Yes, you are fooling yourself! LOL I think it’s that hot spanish blood, John. I always sleep lightly when my wife is on a tampo tear! In fact, back in the 1990s, a Swedish friend of mine had his girlfriend attack him with a knife in our kitchen, in Davao. In the end, the girlfriend admitted that my friend had been too nice to a sales girl at the mall on the previous day. I wouldn’t want to make that mistake with my wife, as she beats me just for putting the toilet roll on the spindle the “wrong”… Read more »

bruce riv
bruce riv
8 years ago
Reply to  JohnM

so your wife hits you or has threats of violence and thats hilarious? GTFOH. Why is that the case when I’m sure we, as a decent society, NEVER respect/condone it the other way around. As for Tampo given out for something beyond your control, F that too. I’m a fair guy and a loving guy but my pinay wife gets told from the door, unless i genuinely do wrong she can forget that Tampo stuff or I’d walk. And she best know if she ever hit me I’d walk too. Sweet to the sweet is my motto.

richard
richard
11 years ago

My wife doesn’t do tampo only tampons and napkins. My wife NEVER and I mean NEVER seems to let her negative emotions affect those around her including me. Even when she says really stupid things to me that seem to be universal to women around the world as your wife repeatedly did about electricity and how you reacted, she still wouldn’t be upset with me. I guess I should consider myself lucky.

Vanessa aka Banot
11 years ago
Reply to  JohnM

For me it didn’t sound wrong, could be the tone/pitch lol.

Paul
Paul
11 years ago
Reply to  JohnM

Most likely, John, it wasn’t what you said, but who you said it in front of. If there was a group around that heard (or possibly heard) your words, that’s an embarrassing flip of the tampo switch! 😯

John Miele
John Miele
11 years ago
Reply to  Paul

Paul: You hit the nail on the head… airing dirty laundry. That’s why I received “Tampo II, the Sequel” for even writing this or knowing the word! (Who told you about that?!? Do you have a Tagalog girlfriend? I never told you!”)

Paul
Paul
11 years ago

Hi John – Only one prescription for tampo: lambing (soothing, flattering and wooing her in a loving and tender way).

It’s difficult at first, with her twists and turns away from you (accompanied by an occasional “humph” or worse) as you try to apply this remedy, but stick with it and it will turn tampo off and lovey-dovey back on! 😉

I’d recommend thinking back to Valentine’s Day as well – make sure you didn’t forget anything about that most important day. If so, take care of it immediately with all possible apology! 😆

John Miele
John Miele
11 years ago
Reply to  Paul

Paul: That always helps!

Claudette
11 years ago

I myself am very subtle with my tampo. I just usually walk away quietly, or do some household chores until the tampo subsides. I think I myself don’t know when it does happen. After it all, I realize that not talking to him is actually more punishment to me than it is to him. 🙂 So I don’t know, maybe I am in the minority. I still feel like I enjoy talking to my husband and the tampo bit kills me more than it does him. :p

John Miele
John Miele
11 years ago
Reply to  Claudette

claudette: I never knew that there were Tampo rules! Guess you learn something every day. Tampo in our house is certainly not subtle. I know immediately that I’ve screwed up something!

Tom Ramberg
Tom Ramberg
11 years ago
Reply to  Claudette

Hmmmm I wonder what the penalty is for divulging the tampo secrets? Perhaps more tampo?

John Miele
John Miele
11 years ago
Reply to  Tom Ramberg

Tom: I got an extra day for writing about it, so there is a penalty!

Jawz
Jawz
11 years ago

Been there. The difference for me though, well, I never get rebellious to what she wants or say anything wrong (and she ain’t demanding). In fact, she has hinted I can be too giving (seeming submissive). So whenever a problem comes up, it ain’t really anger. We seem to be on the same level of everything in that sense. I do remember 1 situation: One was me making an assumption to somehting bothering her. We were texting. She thought I was trying to refer to just us, and it upset me she assumed I was thinking that. I tried to… Read more »

John Miele
John Miele
11 years ago
Reply to  Jawz

Jawz: Until marriage, you ain’t seen nothing yet 😉 At least you’ve gotten to experience minor tampo so that you know what will come. The problem with texting is that context can easily be misinterpreted (as can humor and sarcasm… watch out!) There are many, many cultural differences between the US and the RP, and you will have many disagreements to come. When I first came to Asia, that was part of the “exoticism” of the women here… That attraction is very much a double-edged sword. Love it, live it, and, most importantly, learn from it.

lenny2000
lenny2000
11 years ago

You Know sometimes us “Guys” Get that “Time of Month”…And when it happens, we tend to be shortfused. I advertently said Bullshit about something one day, and she did not talk for a day and a half, really a miserable feeling. Trouble was, I went into Tampo also because I can be just as hardheaded and play the same game. However I hated the situation……….. And after all was “not said” and done, I told her in so many words not to let it happen ever again. That lasted a moth and another day of life in the Philipphines vanished.… Read more »

John Miele
John Miele
11 years ago
Reply to  lenny2000

Lenny: I’m the first to agree that I get hardheaded… often. The cultural differences really come out after marriage, eh? Miscommunication causes about 95% of our disagreements.

lenny2000
lenny2000
11 years ago

Oh Yeah Guys… We better mention the English word for Tampo….Silent Treatment”

John Miele
John Miele
11 years ago
Reply to  lenny2000

Lenny: I still assert that Tampo is different. It’s amazing how quickly the maid starts siding with my estrogen carrying other half 🙂

(Just a joke, sweetheart!)

vicki
vicki
11 years ago

LOL… I thought tampo was all women’s (not just Filipinas) prerogative.

I suppose some women use the silent treatment, other women yell or scream. I definitely belong to the silent treatment camp ;-D

John Miele
John Miele
11 years ago
Reply to  vicki

vicki: I think I prefer yelling… at least I know what I did! Problem with Tampo is that it can be difficult to know exactly what one’s crime was!

BOT ZEE
BOT ZEE
11 years ago

Can see why you have been married more than once. You don’t seem to know how to treat a woman. Why else would you be married three times my man? Filipina women are no different than American women. Don’t go by race go by personality. There are two powers higher than us. One is the God you spoke of and the other is the GOD of this world. He has a influence on all of us at times. No sir Filipina women are no different than any other. You are stero typing?

John Miele
John Miele
11 years ago
Reply to  BOT ZEE

Bot: I am not going by race, but by cultural similarities / differences. I have no idea how you came up with the idea that anythiung I wrote was based on race. There are, however, huge differences between cultures, and anyone entering into a multi cultural relationship needs to address those differences. I tried to do so with a little humor, as in this article.

As to repecting women, you are so off base there, I will decline further comment.

Finally, not everyone reading this even believes in God… I used the expression colloquially.

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