Ideally, when a compatriot or friend comes from an overseas trip, I would like to hear stories of his/her travels. I would like to have a sample of any insight that he/she had gained from that experience. It even makes me want to go to those places myself!
I like traveling, learning about foreign lands, experiencing cultures, and exploring other societies. In fact, what I would really like to do is to find out what makes other societies work, study and analyze them, and find a way to apply them to things here in the Philippines.
I have met a handful of Filipinos, however, who seem to shrug off, or approach in a disturbing way, opportunities to learn from their traveled kababayans.
Pahingi pasalubong – Under normal circumstances, asking for souvenirs isn’t really something bad. Sometimes, it’s actually one of the best ways to share your experience. But count on Filipinos to ruin something good.
One of the seemingly dominant operating principles in Filipino society, it seems, is inggit (envy). When a neighbor is perceived to be better off, some Filipinos can’t help but feel envious, but enough times they don’t use that feeling as a motivation to make their own travels a goal. They use it to cast that neighbor in a bad light.
Going back to compatriots whom I want to hear stories of their travels from, I have met my fair share of Filipinos who react to such stories like this: Nang-iinggit lang siya (He/she is just making us envious).
How does the pasalubong thing become ridiculous? When suddenly everybody is asking for balato – especially the people who just pop up when they hear that you’ve gone overseas.
Let me reiterate that such feeling of envy, if used in the right way, can actually help you to become better. But the way Filipinos use it, it seems to be a self-destructive force. As I mentioned above, instead of listening to insight from other cultures, they shrug it off: di pwede iyan dito, or nang-iingit lang, or Pilipinas ito, eh!. All they seem interested in is the pasalubong. Sometimes they aren’t even grateful; they make you feel as if it’s your obligation to give them pasalubong – and thus their entitlement to receive.
You get the idea.
Filipino culture supposedly teaches sharing, but what that has become nowadays is that people can’t appreciate something that isn’t tangible. If you don’t have food, or a trinket, or cash, Filipinos don’t seem to be able to grasp what is being shared with them.
It seems like another manifestation of the intellectual bankruptcy of that society now, doesn’t it?