It’s funny how your perspective changes when you step out of your comfort zone. For Filipinos stepping on Australian soil for the first time, everything seems completely new and unfamiliar that it often makes you miss everything you left back home all the more.
All of a sudden, your neighbor’s endless videoke singing seems to be even more welcoming than the unfamiliar sounds around your city apartment.
All the shoving, pushing, and gag-inducing smells in your town market suddenly seems better than the uneventful aisles of the supermarket you now buy frozen stuff from.
Where you used to complain about your neighbors, your colleagues, the faces you see on TV, and just about every Filipino you encounter, you find yourself lighting up the moment you spot another Filipino in a busy Melbourne street.
And wow, are they easy to spot!
Because no matter how hard Filipinos try to blend in with the locals, there will always be a few habits and mannerisms that they will never be able to get rid of. It’s those little things that have been programmed into your Filipino brain, sending off a signal to fellow Filipinos around the same area and drawing their attention right to where you’re standing.
Here are a few things that make it easy to spot a Filipino in the middle of a busy Australian crowd:
A Filipino usually…
Points using their lips, a look reminiscent of the duckface.
Responds to the call of “Psssssst” or “Hoy”, and uses the same two methods to call someone else’s attention as well.
Smiles for no reason at all, even when they pass random strangers on the street.
Leaves a piece of whatever food they ate on the table in case somebody else wants to eat it.
Puts their hands together in an attempt to draw a path in front of them as they pass between people while murmuring “Excuse me, excuse me”.
Offers food to people, regardless of whether they are complete strangers or are people they just met.
Draws a rectangle in the air to ask for the bill.
Lights up when you mention the word “videoke”.
Says “Ha?” instead of saying “What?”
Says “Aray!” instead of “Ouch!”
Blushes and is unsure of how to receive compliments.
Eats rice with almost anything.
Uses an umbrella not only when it’s raining, but when it’s extremely hot outside as well.
Thinks it’s normal to eat food with their bare hands.
Keeps the condiments and the paper napkins they find in fast food restaurants.
Does “Mano po” to the elders (takes the hand of the elder and places it against their forehead).
Tells other people stories about their families and their entire lives even if it’s someone they just met.
Calls the A/C as “aircon” and calls the fridge as “ref”.
Brings “baon” (packed food) to work, and it’s usually something over rice.
Mixes in a bit of Filipino when they speak English to brilliantly display the language we refer to as “Taglish”.
And the list just goes on and on! These are actually just some of the quirks that you’ll catch a lot of Filipinos doing in public. I bet you would be able to name a hundred more if you include the way
Filipinos decorate their home, do their work, fix their furniture, and everything else.
Of course, it would also depend on how traditional your family is. Not all Filipinos would act the same way as a lot of kids have been brought up differently by their modern Filipino parents.
There would still be a sign or two left though, no matter how westernized a Filipino could be. And those signs, once they slip out in the middle of a crowd, can immediately activate your radar and see someone that would remind you of the things that you miss back home.
I am a mother, a wife and a technology loving Filipina who loves reading hi-fiction books (dragons!) , good stories, dancing, laughter, lying on the grass and eating balut. I am born and raised in the Philippines and now resides in Australia but finds myself in the Philippines for at least 3 months a year. I am part of the Filipino Australian Community and have been living between Australia and the Philippines since 2007.