In a world where people never have a time for everything, I sit alone in our bedroom (my parents, two sisters and I share one room) wondering about how to better understand our culture. I found it while watching a Korean Variety Show — believe it or not, when one of the host said that the Japanese have an “I” attitude while the Koreans have the “We” attitude, it dawned on me like a spark that started the fire.
I love travelling. And when I say that, I mean that I am NOT nor will I ever be, a TOURIST. I am a TRAVELLER, which means, that I go to places to check how the locals live, how they spend their day and most importantly, what is their history that made them who they are today.
Since when I was young I thought that I go to places for the food, but as I grow older I found myself in old churches or sculptures while reading the inscriptions, looking at murals and analyzing them as I try to be one with the locals as I try to learn their language or dialect.
As of now, I do understand a bit of Waray (a dialect spoken in Visayas Region in the Philippines) which is a bit different from the usual Bisaya dialect which I also understand a bit because of my friends, I can also distinguish Kapampangan or panggalatok (a dialect spoken in Pampanga province in the Philippines) and a bit of Ilocano (which is mostly spoken up north in the Philippines) and a bit of Maguindanaoan (which is spoken in Maguindanao — a province in the Mindanao area of the Philippines) all because of my work.
I can speak and understand a bit of Japanese by watching Animes, Dramas, variety shows and by listening to music. Although I did the same for Korean, I went the extra mile and actually learnt Hangul which I can now successfully read and write which helped me and my friends throughout our travel in Korea.
In that variety show where the host mentioned about the cultural attitude, I immediately thought about us, the Filipinos, and what is our cultural attitude. At first I thought we’re the same as the Koreans, always welcoming and willing to share everything we have to a stranger but then I realized that the way Koreans treat their guest are way different from how a Filipino treat their guest.
For example, if a Japanese is staying in a dorm with a Filipino, a Korean and a Chinese men, the Japanese will most probably buy something to go for himself and not invite anyone while he eats while the Korean would buy food for everyone to share together while the Filipino would eat after everyone either finished their meal or started with their meal.
Because if you look at their culture, the Japanese people were influenced by Confucianism where the Great Learning, mentioned something about self-cultivation for the betterment of a government therefore, a person may fail not because of his knowledge but because of his lack of effort which is why they are very hardworking people (similar to the teachings in China which is why they probably have the closest resemblance in terms of their treatment to foreigners where they would rather ignore a stranger than help them because it does not help them “grow” in any way — not to mention, being powerful countries who conquered several places )
Meanwhile, the Korean Culture is very similar to our culture because we were the country that they always want to take over (Japanese, Chinese and even Americans) both experienced slavery, war and civil war and even peaceful wars and I think, it’s because we experienced too many wars, we embrace anyone who is trying to understand us that’s why we cheer on people who try to learn our language and live like us. The only difference is that the Filipinos were under the Spaniards for 333 years or more where our ancestors were treated as slaves — a trait we never totally shook out of our systems that’s why we wait for others to start first before we actually do anything, the initiative is not the problem, it’s our way of thinking that we are not “enough” to be a “starter” you can spot a Filipino from a crowd if you enter in an all you can eat buffet and he/she would lag behind at the line and would give their space in the line to foreigners.
Of course, this is not true for ALL Japanese, ALL Filipinos and ALL Koreans but it’s just based from my personal opinion. There’s really nothing wrong with anyone, we must always look at everything from their perspective (see, I sound just like a Filipina — which I am) to understand them better. Think about that the next time you meet a Filipino, a Japanese and a Korean (collectively, we are called Asians along with the Chinese people, most foreigners don’t even bother categorizing the same most white people who speak English and have double eyelids are called Americans)
To conclude, I’ve learnt pronouns the International way. “I” is for Japanese, “We” is for Koreans while “They” is for the Filipinos.