Duty to Family….and Money Issues
Again, think of interdependence rather than independence. The family is EVERYTHING to Filipinos. Filipinos don’t grow up and move out. If they DO move out, it’s quite normal for them not to move very far. Concepts of “privacy” and “needing their own space” are unheard of. The concept of “loneliness” is also unheard of…..so don’t knock it!
Respect for elders, especially older relatives, is an integral part of Filipino society. Interdependent rather than independent. Parents, aunties, uncles, older brothers and older sisters give advice and instruction readily, and this advice is expected to be followed. Never underestimate the opinions of peers and particularly of those in authority. Independent decision-making is rare! Older sisters, aka. “ate’s” carry a similar authority to mothers. And don’t expect authority to cease when Filipinos turn 18. Most 40 year olds will still jump to attention when given instructions by their parents
The difficulty comes when SOME families (or some family members) take advantage of the situation where sister/daughter/niece/grandchild marries the “rich westerner”. Interdependence and often utang will cut in, and they will think that naturally they are entitled to a share of the good fortune. Western concepts of standing on your own two feet and not taking charity, these don’t exist. Many relatives will assume it’s not only OK, but it’s their right to sit on their backsides and live on handouts for the rest of their lives.
You will need to learn to deal with this by yourselves. But remember that it is YOUR decision (you and your wife) as to what you do with your earnings. Forget all this “marry the girl and you marry the whole family” stuff. This is a matter of choice. It’s not an essential “part of the package”. If you’re not happy about it, then say so. This is the one area where most fights and problems come from. My advice is to sort out what you’re happy with before you even get married, and you stick to it. Make sure your girl understands that westerners have different views and expectations, and also make sure she knows you don’t have the backyard money-tree. Chances are you will have a mortgage to pay, kids to feed and educate, and your own retirement to think about, and you will NOT have neighbours and relatives you can run to when you run short.
Be mindful also that there exists some terrible poverty in the Philippines. If you have no money, you don’t eat. If you can’t afford medical care for your child, your child may be sent home to die. There are three people alive today only because of our own interventions. There are liars and opportunists who will happily take advantage of western dollars, but there are also many real cases of need, the likes of which we never see in Australia.
Filipinos need to be aware though that westerners tend to take a fair bit of adjustment to this type of thinking. We also have a similar code to theutang na loob code of social indebtedness, but most of us try to avoid indebtedness to start with. We take great pride in our independence, and our abilities to take care of ourselves on our own. We despise the person who relies even moderately on others, and give them the derogatory title of “bludger”. We avoid taking charity because we hate the loss of independence. And we have difficulty in understanding others not feeling the same way.