Another culture clash story

She tells me again that many Filipinos are stupid and if the doctor decides he doesn’t like the dog he will just let it go in the street and the stupid Filipinos will eat it.

I like to think I’m a transnational, 3rd culture person who is not your typical American but I am an American well indoctrinated on racism and the things you cannot say and I do not know what to do with this.  It’s more awkward for a well indoctrinated American to listen to Filipinos talk about race and skin colour than it is to have that dream where you realize you are giving a speech in public and if you are lucky you are wearing underwear.  My entire inside writhes with embarrassment and humiliation and cringe. You can’t say that stuff. But this is not America and she is not white and she is not American and Filipinos mostly do not see these things the same way well indoctrinated Americans do* and this does not compute and my circuits are frying with all the disconnects and the tears.
Did I mention how I feel about tears?

P tells me firmly, “Give the dog to your helper. I insist.”

My helper can’t take the dog.  We already asked. Also, she is also Filipina, so I don’t understand. More tears from neighbour. Did I mention tears make me frantically look for exits? Did I mention Kryptonite?

“I cry all day,” she says, grabbing my sopping, sweaty, arm.

I cringe in embarrassment over her hand now dipped in my nasty sweat.  Also, I have to pee.

P. tells me, “I would take him, but I already have a dog so I insist your helper will take him.”

The Filipina helper who cannot take the dog also already has a dog- and she doesn’t have a house.  She lives in her church building.

I do not know what else to do.  I’m desperate.  “I’m so sorry,” I plead. “We’ll keep looking, okay?”

I try to take a step. She doesn’t let go.

I look at the sky, which is darker and darker. I really need to pee.  I clench everything I need to clench and some things that I don’t.

“I love Hog-eye,” she says.

“Yes,”I agree, “you are so kind.  You do love… ” I stop.  OH no.  WHAT?

She finishes my sentence.   “I love Hog-eye. I am so stressed I cry for Hog-eye.”

Lord save me please.

Hawk-eye. The dog’s name is Hawk-eye & I really need to pee & I’m stressed & in a panic over all the tears. Lord. Don’t let me laugh do not let me laugh, please don’t let me disgrace myself & embarrass her by laughing and then disgrace and embarrass myself by what’s surely going to happen if I laugh. (I am not laughing because it’s funny but because I am trapped in a horror film and stressed.  It’s funeral laughter, OKAY?)

This is an emergency, LORD, PLEASE!!!

She releases my arm, I mutter more abject apologies & race home for the CR (toilet). I lay down in front of the fan to stop the sweating- which is now more from the panic attack induced by the tears of solid kryptonite then the heat because the rain has started so the temperature dropped to a balmy 85 degrees and 130% humidity.

I start writing this & I kid you not, she comes to my gate with a neighbour who she has talked into taking the dog.

I do not know how many neighbours she has asked in the half hour since she let me go.

My husband goes out to greet them and shows him the dog and they make conversation and it turns out that also, he might buy the bed we are trying to sell without success and maybe some other things too, and he will come back in a few days with his daughters to play with the dog and it’s all very jolly and happy.

Also, he is Filipino.

*This has probably been one of the most eye-opening things about living in the Philippines. All those hyphenated Americans and even more especially the not hyphenated at all but lily white liberal Americans making up rules for the rest of us about what is and is not appropriate and acceptable and what is cultural appropriation and they are the authorities on all this?  The actual Asians back in Asia (because it’s not just Filipinos we meet here in this very multinational city), and the actual Africans back in African (or here in Davao), mostly think they are whiny nut-cases.


Part 2- I told some American friends and they told the story of how there was an error on their electric bill and it was really high and before they ever got the bill, everybody living in their complex had seen and discussed their electric bill.  They hired a local contractor to come do some carpentry work sealing in their air-con better, and HE had seen and heard all about their bill.

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