What impacted me most during my time in the Philippines was the concept of family life. From the moment that I arrived, I was accepted as a son in my homestay family. I participated in all of the family activities and even met their large extended family. For a couple meals during my time there I ate at the grandmother’s house, also known as the family house. This house was still run by the matriarchal grandmother who was in her 80’s and she had some of her children, grandchildren and a great-grandchild living there. Although she was not as mobile as she once was, I could still see how much she was respected and revered. To illustrate this point, when her daughters wanted to renovate the family home, the grandmother would not allow them to since she preferred the tradition and the attached memories that the home contained. This is very similar to many situations in Canada that I know of where the decisions of the elders are respected; often times the older generation prefers tradition and the younger prefers change.
What is different in the Philippines though is that the families take care of the grandparents within the family homes. When I asked my family if there were any nursing or retirement homes, they said that there weren’t any in their province, but maybe there was one in Manila. I think that this is something that North American culture misses out on for the most part and I really admire the way Filipino culture places such a focus on the family.
Through food, fellowship, fun and most of all family I learned about and experienced Filipino culture. I am looking forward to getting to know more families and cultures as I continue on this travel term!