The dreaded TAMPO – How to deal with it effectively

 

Tampo. Magtampo in full. If you are in an Australian Filipina relationship, you soon learn the meaning of tampo. This is the great sulk. Being in a huff. It’s a source of confusion and misery to many an unprepared Australian man.

 

tampo aka magtampo, which is the Filipina great sulk. It's a poor way to deal with real problems, but common amongst Filipina ladies in the Philippines

 

 

What is a tampo?

I detest the Filipina tampo. I really do. Fortunately after many years of being a great husband and teaching-by-example my Filipina wife the benefit of free and open communication it rarely rears its ugly head these days, although I did just have to deal with a bad outburst from one of our extended family over the last few days so it’s not ancient history to me. I also live in the Philippines fulltime, so it’s never that far away.

So what exactly is a tampo, to the uninitiated?

It’s a way of NOT dealing with a problem, and of ensuring whatever the problem is? That it will never go away! It’s the human-interaction version of sweeping dirt under the carpet. The dirt remains, and the lump in the carpet gets larger and people trip over it.

It’s not the Filipino way to deal with problems and issues directly. It’s not usual for someone to react to something they don’t like, and less likely they will speak up and say “Hey, I don’t like that! Please stop doing it! It makes me feel bad, so please stop!” This is in fact the negative side to those perpetual Filipina smiles. Yes, definitely, Filipinos are generally happy and easy-going and pretty tolerant of imperfections and faults in others. However they are also human beings, and no one is that happy all the time. Please read my previous article on “onion skin” (being thin-skinned), which is a Filipino characteristic.

And fellahs? Be aware of that certain special time of the month where skins are extra-thin and tempers may be on-edge because of hormones. Often a time to be especially careful not to push boundaries and to watch your tongue.

So what happens is the pressure of un-fixed problems builds up, and it leads to an explosion. However it’s not a practical explosion. If it was an explosion of “Hey! You keep making fun of me in front of the neighbours, and it hurts my feelings. I want you to stop!” then it might even help! It might make that person see what they’re doing, and maybe things will get better. But that’s not how a tampo works. It’s never so practical and helpful.

Tampo is characterized by appallingly bad communication. The Filipina having the tampo does some or all of these things:

  • Won’t talk
  • Definitely won’t tell you what the problem is, as you should already know. May utter a few unhelpful phrases.
  • Resists all attempts to fix the problem
  • Will appear perfectly normal to others if answering the phone or greeting someone at the door, but will soon return to tampo when dealing with you
  • May run off somewhere, possibly for several days
  • Bang cupboard doors and slam things around
  • May do a great deal of cleaning, or may retreat to bedroom, sometimes for days

This will remain until she gets over it. May apologise, or may not. Definitely will not discuss it, and attempts to say “Let’s talk about it” may trigger a recurrence.

 

How to deal with a tampo

How do you deal with a tampo when it happens?

To be honest? Not a whole lot you can do when she’s in mid-tampo. At this point all logic is switched off, and if you push too hard you will probably make it worse.

She may storm off in the middle of the night and put herself in danger. Dragging suitcases down the road and attempting to walk to the airport to fly back to the Philippines at 2:00am in the middle of winter? These things have happened! You may also end up both saying things that become hard to take back later. Think carefully before you attempt a proactive intervention at this point!

Most of the time, you will need to weather the storm and try not to make it worse! Not saying to ignore it. Just saying to delay until a more effective time.

 

Should you do malambing?

Malambing…..or lambing…..basically means “sucking up”. Being extraordinarily sweet and attentive. This is the usual advice given, and many a Filipina expects this.

My belief? NEVER do this! NEVER “suck up”, and NEVER apologise for something you don’t even understand. This is just reinforcing and in fact rewarding some very negative and destructive behavior. Tampo is not the behavior of an adult who is committed to her marriage. It’s spoilt-child behavior, and shouldn’t be tolerated let alone rewarded. And unless you did something where you really should have known better about, (ie. unless you cheated on her or acted like a complete pig) then you deserved for this to have been handled in a mature way…..not this way!

So yes, thinking about it, if she’s having tampo because you did something bad, then sure. Do all the malambing you can. And more importantly, apologise sincerely and try not to do it again. But not because you failed your mind-reading class at school!

 

But otherwise, what should you actually do?

  • You should talk about this when she’s calmed down and a few days have passed.
  • You should let her know that you are sorry she felt that way, but confirm that you had no idea that anything that you or anybody did was causing her hurt. And that had she simply explained it to you when it happened the first or the second time, you would have stopped it or done what was in your power to stop it.
  • And help her to understand that while that may have been her way before, that this is no way for a committed married couple to behave. Either the tampos stop, or the marriage is basically doomed. They are cruel, hurtful and very destructive.
  • You should encourage her to tell you what she thinks and feels about things on a daily basis. If she say “No, really I’m fine” then you should push a bit harder. Let her know that you want to know because you care about her. Let her see that telling you is actually easy, and that it leads to positive outcomes, ie. that nice feeling that comes from realizing someone actually gets you, plus seeing some problems and concerns actually get fixed.
  • Make sure you do the same thing. Tell her your feelings too. The good AND the bad.

 

Make the time to talk at the end of the day, and develop some positive habits. And hopefully problems will get nipped in the bud rather than building up and being a source of misery. And work hard to make this a thing of the past, or you may well see the love slip away.

 

 

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Jeff is registered migration agent who has been helping couples with visas to Australia ... Jeff is the owner / operator of Down Under Visa. If you would like to SUBSCRIBE, please click HERE.

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16 comments on “The dreaded TAMPO – How to deal with it effectively
  1. Rodney says:

    My ex Japanese wife was the champion of this and eventually I was getting used to up to 3 weeks of silent treatment with all the bells and whistles of the Philippine tampo. So maybe its more of a regional behaviour rather than being exclusive to the Philippines.This was in large a destructive part of my previous marriage. Eventually I lost all emotional attachment after being treated like such a pariah and in the end I was just as good at silent treatment as she was (I found that any attempted communication only belittled myself i.e. lost face in her eye). Im glad I discovered this article as Im in a fresh relationship with a Filipino and now I have insight of what may be a repeat of the past for me, and now I know it’s not unique to one person.

  2. Nieves says:

    So glad i read this article. I am an expert of this “tampo” issue. When i miss my husband i suddenly get angry and i dig issues from the past ‘unintentionally’ which becomes a big misunderstanding. I learned new things upon reading this article. Glad my husband sent this blog to me. He made me realize how important it is to be open and vocal to the things i dont like and not to be too ‘paimportante’ even if there’s no issues to be thrown at all. Thank you Jeff for this article. God Bless You.

  3. max says:

    Oh.
    So that’s what is going on.
    My Filipino brother in law seems prone to the odd tampo too.
    Its not just for the ladies is it?

  4. S Skarz says:

    Don’t accept tampo. It’s passive aggression
    Take her across your lap and spank her. Fixes tampo Guaranteed

    • Jeff Harvie says:

      Don’t accept tampo, yes I agree. But treating your wife as a child, no. These ladies do have a great deal of dignity. Rob them of it, and watch them drift away from you.

  5. Ted says:

    My wife is temperamentally very stable for a filipina and has, in general, always been so. I have never been subjected to the appalling behaviour exhibited in some of the Filipina marriages of our friends. Therefore the following two points might possibly have limited application. They are just correlations I have personally noticed over thirty-seven years.

    Firstly, a valid undeclared cause may well exist, but is mentally transferred onto completely unrelated matters. For example, a hurtful conversation with a relation on Skype might occur. Three days later there will be fierce, highly charged outbursts and a minor sulk about the way I hang the washing on the clothesline, play the piano at the wrong time of day and wear trousers which are grubby. Dense as I am, it took me many years to realise that these latter reasons are just as false to her as to me. The real reason, possibly quite understandable if only she had told me, was a phone call which I didn’t know about while struggling to understand why dirty trousers could possibly be so important.

    Secondly, language, what we say and how we say it, is very important, at times more important than what we actually do. This truth, again, took me thirty years to realise. This is a very hard one to solve completely. Never being able to say what you think is, of course, ridiculous in a marriage, but learning the art of how and when to say it, and when to keep quiet altogether, took me a long time, and I still make mistakes. The trouble is that the strict logical meaning of what we say is not always the level of inference received by the Filipina. It’s a difficult one, and I can well imagine it might underpin some of the terrible sulks I have witnessed with other couples.

  6. Vim says:

    This is a really good article! ☺
    Just few points, although it may not be necessarily true for everyone– apologizing for something you don’t know won’t work to appease the “tampo”. That’s not what most Filipino want when they’re ” nagtatampo”. It’s not just simply sulking to get something. It’s an indirect way of expressing disappointment. As Filipino culture gives importance to other person’s emotions, the indirect behavior may actually means she is hurt but cannot be harsh or say things in the manner that may actually hurt your feelings too, that is–direct remarks. That makes the act affectionate in nature, and is exclusively done only to those you’d expect to care enough and address your “tampo”.You don’t do it to random peole. It sound very ironic, but you may read ” pakikipagkapwa” in Sikolohiyang Pilipino (Philippine psychology). It tries to provide context to the seemingly negative behaviors from Filipino’s very own perspective and cultural values. It might help you to understand your wife better, and other Filipinos toi since you already live in the PH.

    Although it may be negative from your point of view, tampo is part of the upbring that your wife had, and it’s not easy to change given that it’s a cultural thing. Contrary to what you said that you don’t “lambing” her while she’s in a “tampo” state, you actually did 🙂 Lambing is not necessarily suckig up and making amends to things you haven’t done. That’s too shallow. Talking to her and letting her know that you actually understand and that you’d want to communicate is a form of “lambing” too. That’s when she’ll start pouring out her disappointments and feeling bad for making it hard for you too. It’s actually an opportunity for the couple to be emotionally vulnerable with each other, though it may come out differently for you, which is perfectly normal.
    Of course, there are some Filipino who would go excessive on this and that’s why we have what we call “balat sibuyas” (onion skin) which has negative meaning on it. The tampo then has to be reasonable.

    It’s not really easy to change, but as you are a married couple, and you perceive this behavior as negative, I guess it’s a good thing you are communicating what you think is best for your relationship 🙂

    All the best!

    • Jeff Harvie says:

      Please read the latest article about Mind Reading. There are better ways to communicate, and many Filipinos (my wife included) are glad they took a new approach and learned to simply express themselves rather than having tampo. Much easier all round!

  7. John Smith says:

    Base on this article I read. I am married with a Filipina she is very lovely and carrying wife with our 4 children.

    We have ups and down. I admit I have mistakes I drink everyday after work. I say a lot of word to her when she started asking me that i am drinking again I say an awful and digusting word and we started to argue. It makes her upset and stay away with me then I get very mad and i dont understand. She walk out and took our children to the park to avoid the arguement and confrontations which is a good idea of what she did. I truly understand it is not easy for my wife to live in a different country especially with me as an alcoholic and being controllable and dominant to her just because i can do. Now i understand.

    She is smart girl I adore her very talented. I realised when I went to counselling to help my drinking issue at first I don’t agree that its my fault or mistake and I found out that I am wrong and I truly understand now.

    Till now we are been married for 10 years and very strong couple.

    I controlled my drinking habits and changed my life style focus to my family and giving a good quality of time to them.

    I am very thankful to her being with me and understanding me till I realised my mistakes.

    There always a two side of the story.

    My opinion to the person who experience this called Tampo try to ask yourself “What is wrong with me” and get help. Do don’t play that you are the victim because both of you are the victim and nobody can give advise to you only yourself to find out and adjust and make it work. Stop talking to others about your relationship it might gives you a wrong advise and end up with break up or divorce.

    There is a saying Pride can give you everything but not happy.

    I don’t think you labelling or categorizing so called Tampo is only for Filipinos I difinatey disagree it’s happen everywhere.

    Even though you married multiple times if the problem is you then it’s gonna be tampo. A matured decent woman will stay away and avoid dramatic situation and take thier self into a safe environment.

    I still loved a decent Filipina they are sincere loving and talented not into hooker sorry.

  8. Omar Ockba says:

    so thats what it is huh, i dated a filipina and to be honest she was my first date and it didnt last long either after about 25 days i think she was doing this, not replying to my text for 2 days or so and after that she dumped gotta say i felt pretty shit and i still wondered what i did but now that i read this article i understand, its kind of a cruel act to be honest

  9. Frank Hall says:

    This is a very helpful article, Jeff. I suffer the tampo about every 3 months, and the silent treatment lasts an average of 2 weeks. Your list of symptoms is very reassuring, causing me to chuckle with familiarity. I often become quite hopeless in tampo periods. In fact, I’m 1 week into one right now where she has threatened divorce or separation. She sleeps in another bedroom. It all hurts deeply, especially when based upon her typically bad analysis of my motive in the trigger offense. No doubt this is an avalanche from built-up perceived or real offenses. Thanks again for helping me to see that I’m in good company as tampo behavior takes big risks against love’s resilience. It’s irrationality is too easily seen as insanity. Now I see that it’s a cultural issue that I will deal with for as long as she lets me.

  10. MrBaliw says:

    I been together now with a Filipina for couple of years, most thing i hate is tje Tampo and worst is that it come out from no where.

    It is indeed a very childish thing to do, i mean we are adults and that is the time you talk about it in a decent way.

    Just for a stupid example, i hadn’t the time to reply on her messages because i was working non-stop.

    Everytime she is in tampo what happens a lot than she shut down every Social media she have and don’t even pick up the calls when i call from my country number to her.

    It’s killing me so hard! I feel so bad in the heart and mind.

    But yeah she can talk long conversations with her friends, she post pictures and have bunch of comments to replying on… Is like she shut me down and everything is normal to her.

    I’m really tired of this… I wish i could have more mature talks with her, but when i bring something up to talk about even just about future plans, it’s all Blah blah for her.

    Yes I’m aware I’m in a toxic relationship.

    But this article is for real true, but need to say i know also girls of Philippines aren’t like tjis at all.

    Would i say it’s a General thing, no but it’s very common and yes it’s a typical filipino habit.

  11. Shayne stevenson says:

    Well just about everything mentioned above I have experienced with my Filipino wife. The best way I have found to deal with it is just ignore it, I sometimes actually enjoy the quiet time, however it can be frustrating. It’s like walking on egg shells. It can occur over the most minor thing. Adding to my problem is I have an 11 year old daughter from another marriage who I have 50 per cent custody of which it effects. What usually triggers her tampo is to do with my daughter when she is staying with us. My wife can be very controlling and expects my daughter to act like an adult. My daughter tries her best to please my wife but seems never good enough for my wife. Then if I intervene like I did this week I get blamed for defending my daughter. This then triggers the tampo, she starts with verbal abuse, name calling etc which then leads to the tampo where she won’t acknowledge my daughter or me. Very confusing for my daughter and not healthy for her. My daughter is so uncomfortable being at my place when my wife gets like this. And it has got that way that my daughter is uncomfortable coming to my place Somewhat unclear what to do as I also have a two year old daughter with my wife making it difficult to ask my wife to leave. Very messy situation

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