Intercultural communication- teen girl level unlocked

Have I shared this story? Three of our Korean students are in need of a private practice spot for a dance performance and they have asked if they can use the library some days when it’s open after school, but nobody else is here. There’s no reason not to let them, so I said yes. The first day they politely turned down the music very, very low so it wouldn’t disturb me. But it was tantalizing because I couldn’t quite distinguish anything but I was sure I knew this group, and finally I had to ask, “Girls, who are the singers?”

They smiled politely and said, “Oh, just a Korean band. You wouldn’t know.”

I said, “I like Korean bands. I especially like Big Bang.”

Because readers, of course it was.

They’ve been turning it up so we call all enjoy.

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Is it just me?

Don’t eat food if a fly lands on it, as they carry more dangerous bacteria than previously thought, warn scientists...

My first thought when I read this wasn’t “Oh, no, throw out more food!” It was, “Wow. The human immune system is even more incredible than I realized.”

My second thought is, “Who can afford to throw out the food for a couple flies at a picnic?”

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Three commercials to whiten skin

(Puti means white)

This is just a sampling of the type of beauty product advertising we see here regularly, and I don’t even have a television.

A while back the twitterverse was having a meltdown over an alleged beauty product commercial which supposedly valued white skin over dark. As it turned out the outrage was based on a falsified ad created by a SJW editing it to create an ad the company never made, but the company caved and apologized anyway. That sort of apology was the way to handle things fifty years ago, maybe. It’s a mistake today.

Anyway, I didn’t pay much attention until I read some American SJW’s comment that went something like, “I can’t believe they are still elevating whiteness as the beauty standard in this modern global era…”

This is a SJW who has never been out of her own country, and certainly never, ever visited any part of the wide area known as Asia (which could include India and most of the middle east). Nothing wrong with that, lots of people have never left their home country. And there’s nothing inherently appalling about not realizing your own country does not set the culture for the world. Its kind of endearingly human and we all make the same sort of mistake. But what tickles my obnoxious meter is the virtue signaling about living in a ‘global era’ while being completely ignorant about what a significant chunk of of the globe actually believes about beauty. The above commercials, the products on the shelves here, the comments people make in our hearing, these and other indications of the desire to have lighter skin are everywhere. It’s one of the first things I noticed when I turned on the television in our temporary lodging. It’s the first thing I noticed when I went shopping for deodorant for the first time. It’s literally *everywhere,* and yet this person imagines she knows what ‘global’ standards are and can criticize others from her imaginary knowledge platform, when in fact, she has no knowledge, only very western *assumptions.*

I’m not saying I approve or agree with the desire for whiter kin here. It makes me really uncomfortable. On a selfish level, it’s also kind of difficult to find a soap, lotion, or deodorant which I like, can afford, won’t give me a rash (I have sensitive skin), and which does not promise to whiten my skin. I have kind of given up on it, in fact. I focus on the first three and ignore the fourth now.

I spent most of my teens and twenties trying to have darker skin, after all. In my thirties I decided I didn’t care anymore, and in my fifties, I just want to not be splotchy, although I have found I like the BB creams that promise a ‘glow.’

But you know what else makes me really uncomfortable? Preaching and criticizing my Filipina friends who would prefer to have lighter skin. I can (and do) say “but you’re so beautiful!” and I can, and do, say, “You know how much money rich Americans spend trying to get darker skin?” But I cannot tell people they are not woke enough, I can’t shame them, because their beauty standard is lighter than mine. It’s not my place, and I’m having a hard enough time being my own conscience. I’m not going to be somebody else’s.

Posted in Davao Diary | 2 Responses

Eating at the kerenderia

This is a kerenderia, a type of restaurant.  It’s informal.  There are some picnic  tables not pictured here.  This one is in a structure with a roof and 3 walls.  It shares the space with a car rental.  The menu is different from day to day.  Some of the food they cook themselves, some they buy and bring in. You can eat at the tables or carry out.

This is bangus, a really delicious fish.  We have it at least once a week at home, and sometimes for lunch as well.

The above meat was a bit of a mystery.  The lady at the kerenderia told me it was pork but she couldn’t think of the right English word to tell me more about it.  I didn’t want the other offerings that day (Pancit is a noodle dish palatable to westerners, but pasta is just not a favourite dish of mine, and I didn’t feel like eating tripe or fish).  I assumed it was something I wouldnt’ normally eat, probably an organ.  It was flavourful and very tender.  A couple days later it was on the menu again and I asked what it was and she told me ears.  It’s pig’s ears.


These are  bananas on a stick.  They are a different type of banana than you usually see in an American grocery store.  They have been coated in some tasty syrup and probably an oil and sugared and then broiled until crispy and carmelized on the outside and almost pastry like on the inside.  They are incredibly delicious.
Also, my sparkly nails sparkle.  I love the glitter.

This is what carry -out looks like, even when it’s soup.  The knots are easy to undo.  I remember this with our grocery bags when we shopped in Japan, too- they tie the bags in a way that you can easily undo them when you get home.  So convenient.

The entire meal pictured in the picture immediately above was maybe 3 dollars.

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Western Assumption: Kids Need Their Own Room

If you’ve read here very long at all, you already know that this is not a western assumption I share or value, and I have mentioned before how strangely ingrained it is.  I don’t mind so much that some parents *want* their kids to have their own room(s).  What I strongly object to is the assumption that this is the only way to go, the best way for everybody, the assumption that *of course* this is what we do, the presumption that there’s something wrong with *not* following this western pattern.

When we moved into our house here in the Philippines, the Cherub had her own room, because our room is too small for an extra twin bed, and she wets the bed too often and it’s too hot to have her sleep in ours.  But this was just not working.  We can’t find baby gates here and she gets up in the middle of the night and raids the kitchen and we don’t always hear her (partially because of the fans we have going, and mainly because we’re old).

So we had a small bed especially made for the space we have.  She’s a small kid, so she doesn’t need a full twin size.  It’s about the size of a camp cot, but more comfortable, and a bit shorter. It fits at the end of our bed and she sleeps in our room now and the night raids on the kitchen are mostly ended.

We have a new helper on Fridays.  I don’t think she’s worked with a foreign family before. I was showing her around the house and explaining what she would be doing.  There is still a bed in the Cherub’s room as we haven’t gotten around to selling it.  But the room is not much bigger than the bed is (seriously, maybe two feet larger on one side of the bed, and about two feet at the end).  I told her it used to be my daughter’s bedroom, and her eyes shot wide open and her mouth gaped and she blurted, “She sleeps alone here??? Not with you?”

You have to understand that for her to blurt that out that way to her new western employer signifies immense shock.  Huge.  This is a culture where you do not shame people unless you are in authority and they have done something wrong (or you have the backing of a community to shame somebody who has brought harm to the community). You don’t put people on the wrong foot, and you do not challenge employers.  She didn’t mean to do any of those things, she was just was so astonished she blurted out her surprise.

It’s not normal, it’s not a given, it’s not considered ideal or taken for granted that your disabled child would have her own room apart from a family member.  It’s weird.

I was amused, not embarrassed, and I’m always interested when I stumble upon those cultural assumptions, those things two cultures take for granted that are actually not as obvious as each culture thinks they are.


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