Tuesday, October 02, 2007

What Differences Perspectives Make!

My blogmate Phil over at PhilippinesPhil ponders on certain observations acquired with living life large in the country of his Filipina wife. Certain life experiences that are judged unique or different enough to merit a comparative look to life in his old homeland, The United States. And since our family is on the same boat except that it has gone the opposite way, couldn’t help but be piqued with interest at his and his commenters observations.

So I thought I’d scribble a thing or two about it, this time from the perspective of the observee rather than the observer.

And I say what differences perspectives make! And stoutly glad to note that the observations are coming from transplanted residents in my old homeland, the Philippines.

Because we ex-pat Filipinos know too well that indeed during daytime and all through the night, Filipinos tend to congregate outside their houses and converse in audibly loud conversations among the neighbors. Children cavort on streets and are shooed indoors only when daylight has faded. And houses are so located and constructed such that neighbors invariably hear what the others are listening on radio, the kind of music being played, and even intimate conversations among family members. And even what the neighbors are cooking because the smells waft through and permeate the neighborhood from open windows and doors. And this even when tall fences separate the houses.

And city streets are almost always crammed with pedestrians walking about or simply loitering around. Even driving around or between towns can be hazardous given the propensity of residents, their pets and fowl, to walk in the middle of or cross over roads and highways unmindful of vehicular traffic.

People appear to be everywhere. And even people passing by your house look and stare at whoever they can find visible, whether outside or from open windows or doors.

This revealing difference almost always gets into my conversations with the wife during our trips back.

And we think that a good part of the reason for this is the hot and humid weather which carries over even into the dead of night. Thus, many males loitering outside are naked from the waist up, in shorts and slippers, or in sando (sleeveless T-shirts). Staying indoors, especially where accommodations are tight and crowded, can be quite challenging. Staying outdoors as long as practicable then becomes the practical alternative.

I confess I revert to this practice when I get back there, retracing childhood when going to our rooms was when it was time to sleep, no earlier and no later. Except when the rains come. But then it gets cool enough inside for comfort.

Of course, a happy part of the culture is also being gregarious, leading to a lot of fraternizing and exchanging tsismis (light banter) with the neighbors. Some would say, tending toward being busybodies.

And needless to state, many poor people in a third-world setting practically live outdoors anyway. Their abodes very crude and threadbare, their worldly possessions very minimal.