Before we left the U.S., upon our arrival in the Philippines, and over the course of the past 9 months, we've gone through various stages of CLI, a Cross-Cultural Living Internship, in order to learn how to live more effectively in a culture that's not our own.
“Many people mistakenly believe that when they have finally mastered a language,
they have also learned the corresponding culture.
The tragedy is that because they operate with this misconception,
they never learn… the silent language of culture.”
Recently we took a week's course with various other co-workers who are new to this culture, and the time spent in hearing from Filipinos and other Westerners who have lived here for many years was especially valuable. The following glimpse into the Filipino culture is just one of those important insights we need in living here...
“The Filipino ‘yes’ puzzles most Westerners. A ‘yes’ could mean just that; but it could also very well mean, ‘maybe’, or ‘I don’t know’ or ‘if you say so’, or ‘if it will please you’, or
‘I hope I have said it unenthusiastically enough for you to understand I mean ‘no’.
In his desire to please he cannot bring himself to say ‘no’ openly.
This is why an invitation to dinner has to be pursued and reconfirmed several times,
otherwise a casual ‘yes’ is not deemed binding; the invitation could have been extended as a matter of courtesy;
or the person invited and accepting just could not find the proper way to say no,
so he says ‘yes’ to stall, hoping to find the right excuse when the invitation is extended a second time,
hopefully through a third person to whom he can say no without qualms.”
Michael actually learned in his Filipino Culture class last week that a Filipino "Maybe" is actually a very polite but definite "No."