As Filipinos in the Philippines, we’ve taken a lot of things for granted, like, for example, the fact that practically nobody else in the world ever refers to the bathroom as the “comfort room,” or how often we use the word “already” the way we use “na” in the vernacular, often inserting the word awkwardly into our sentences, with fellow Pinoys understanding perfectly and never batting an eyelash.
Often, we feel so Westernized, thinking that once we move to a Western country, we’d fit right in and not have a single hint of culture shock. Surprise, surprise: most of us couldn’t be more wrong. Here are just some of those mild bits of culture shock yours truly has experienced since leaving the country…
You end up missing the things you used to turn your nose up at
Essentially explaining why Willie Revillame still has a career, every single thing the average middle-class or even upper-class Pinoy looked down on, from Star Cinema rom-coms to (cringe) Victor Magtanggol, gets a new lease in life for homesick Filipinos who want something unmistakably Pinoy. It’s inevitable.
At least half of the stuff Jo Koy and Rex Navarette joke about end up coming true
You know all those jokes from these Fil-Am comedians we Filipinos in the Philippines think is just too much stereotyping? They end up coming true sooner than you think. Just right now, I am typing this from the couch of my Filipina landlord, who still has the plastic cover on the couch. Seriously. It feels like every Pinoy family in America is reading from the exact same playbook on how to conduct themselves, and while one might laugh, those of us far from the motherland instead… feel at home.
The food servings overwhelm you
Apparently, “fountain drinks” means the drinks are refillable, and the average serving here seems to be twice as big as the servings we’re used to in the Philippines. Who knew, right? Guess our stomachs have to adjust quite a bit before we ever get used to those portion sizes. Or not, and that could save us a bunch if we have someone to share these western-sized meals with.
Shakey’s is apparently now a Filipino thing
Despite the fact that Shakey’s originated in the United States, its popularity in the Philippines became so much that the famous Manila Way in California features a Shakey’s. While there are 153 branches of this pizza place in the Philippines, it turns out only 51 remains across the United States. Kenny Roger’s Roasters? More of the same, as it is all but gone in America, but thriving in the Philippines, only going to show that you never know what would catch on with us that simply didn’t with its source country.
The mall as we know it is a dying breed
When “malls” were pointed out to me, what I saw were strips of stores vaguely connected to each other, and not the malls we’ve come to know in Manila. Which is just as well, because it turns out, the super malls that we saw a boom of locally in the ‘90s is just no longer popular in America, and are closing down left and right. And why? Amazon is largely to blame.
Tipping is a big deal in America
It’s probably the only place left in the world where your server would take umbrage to you not leaving them at least a 15% gratuity after eating there. With that in mind, it would do you great to be aware of the practice, because prices get deceptive in restaurants otherwise.
Their commercials aren’t trying to make you cry
A recent trend in American commercials is to comply with their truth in advertising laws, often filling medical commercials with a litany of side effects, and insurance commercials with attempts at being hip and relevant. Contrast that to Philippine medical and insurance commercials, and you will see a world of difference, as Philippine commercials are pretty boss at making you cry, almost up there with Thai commercials.
There are no bidets
Game over, stay in the Philippines. What is now a must-have feature for bathrooms in the country is an unheard of concept in America and most other Western countries, and that makes you think: who’s the really developed country here, hmm?
What’s your immigration story? Tell us below!