Culture shock: Filipinos’s “helpful” culture

Categories guest posting
Mini buses at Cebu’s South Bus Terminal

“And then I finally shouted, ‘STOOOOP! DON’T BRING THAT BAG ANY WHERE!!!’”

“The tricycle drivers, the baggage men, and other passengers stopped and looked at me. I was so ashamed and guilty of exploding at the bagman who was trying to help me,” Kate narrated as she handed us a lot of bread and pastries. We were laughing as she recounted her story of her entire solo day-trip from Boljoon – south of Cebu to Bantayan – north of Cebu.

Kate with townsfolk in Bantayan Island
Kate was an American national who came here in the Philippines as an intern of Atty. Antonio Oposa in the Law of Nature Foundation. It was her first time in the country and our “helpful” culture surprised her a lot. She was left to her own devices in going places to places, with little or no instruction at all on how to travel to reach the destination.

Just like her previous travels, she was just given money and a terse instruction for this trip: Alright here’s your money, get here in Bantayan by 5 PM. It must have been a shock for her as she was still feeling around among people and places how to go about the task of getting there, and then people just carried her over and her stuff to places, much like what happens in a concert mob.

She continued, “So ever since from the bus at the south bus terminal, somebody just takes my bag and stow it inside a bus, I’m like, how did they even know where I’m going?”

“And then when I was finally on the bus heading to Hagnaya, with my bag stowed someplace else, I found out that I only have a thousand bucks left. I asked this bus ticket guy, but he didn’t have any change. He wanted me to have the exact amount. I had the whole conversation with him for like thirty minutes just over a change, but we just didn’t understand each other. I have to ask for help with this guy who was wearing an ‘I Am an American’ shirt who turned out worse. I’ll never trust a local with that kind of shirt again,” she quipped.

We laughed again. For sure, that guy must have regretted wearing that shirt getting under the heat by a foreigner.

“Where did you get all these bread and pastries?” I asked her.

“I’ll get to that point. See, we made a stopover and all I saw was this bakery. In need of change, and I was kind of hungry, I bought bread and asked the lady how much it was. It only costs five pesos! So I bought more of that, and another kind, and then another, until I reached about 200 peso worth of bread, and that’s what you’re eating right now.”

At a cramped bus

We laughed some more. It was a blessing in disguise; we didn’t have had snacks that afternoon, so her “misfortune” was a stroke of luck for us.

“Again, at the port, people hustled and got my stuff and kind of pushed me to the ticketing area and I bought my ticket and my bags went ahead of me again to the boat! I thought I finally could rest, but the crew wanted to talk to me the entire time. I suddenly had nine boyfriends in one hour! They had my number, and I had they number too!”

“Then I finally reached Bantayan, and these people mobbed me like I was some kind of celebrity. They took my bag again, but I have had enough! I shrieked and said STOP!”

When she finally arrived at Bantayan, I fetched her from where the trisikad brought her. I didn’t have them exactly where I wanted but I managed to find where they were. She was agitated when I saw her with all the trouble she have had during the trip, and the rain pouring down just made it all worse.

Afterwards, when we settled down at the School of the Seas, she told us her stressful experience, but it turned out to be a funny story.

About the guest author

Lakbay Diva is the author of an online travel mag, Lakbay Diva.

Obviously. Diva likes to dive, snorkel, skim, and other sports like T.V., radio, cassette and washing machine. If you do like my entry, Please visit the site http://www.LakbayDiva.com. Chos!

Estan Cabigas is freelance photographer, blogger and writer based in Makati City, the Philippines. A true blue Cebuano, he makes stunning images and meaningful photo stories. His work has been published in local and international publications including National Geographic Magazine, Geo (Germany), Sunday Times Magazine (London) and other publications.

He is also a peripatetic traveler and has traveled to all 81 Philippines provinces.

I'm open for work, collaborations and inquiries, including hotel, restaurant and site features and reviews.

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