This is a sequel from my FREE Ebook called 5 Pinoy Love Languages.
Same Language, Different Meanings
The Filipino Language is as beautiful as it is complex. Within its beauty, embeds a language that contain nuances and unspoken messages that is a true feat to both novice and the trained Filipino eye to de-code.
There is a concept in the Filipino culture called pakiramdaman (shared inner perception) where one person senses the next person to know what they need with little or absence of verbally asking for it. This concept can bring about such delight to those who can read unspoken words like a crossword puzzle but anguish to those whose eyes rely on what’s been said or openly expressed.
Pakiramdaman ties in to what many of us proudly profess as the core value of Filipinos- kapwa or kapwahan. Kapwa professes a blur line between the you and I , as if a mother linked to its baby via it’s umbilical cord. If you’ve ever watched your 4 old ride his fav amusement park ride, you don’t have to be on the same ride to taste your child’s joy. Simply watching your child’s face, feel his stiffened excited body and catch his rapid breathing causes you an equivocal joy. This is kapwa. The connection that is indelible, unerased and presumed by cultural whisperers.
Pakiramdaman has deep expectations to be read like a book, to be felt without touching, to be heard without words to discern, to be seen without showcasing. These expectations are hard to come by especially if you live in a culture where we teach our children to “use your words” from the first time they utter their first words.
Western Communication versus Filipino Style
In the Western lifestyle, communication operates in a linear way: say what you mean and mean what you say. If you want a man whose been coaxing you, then by golly say so when he asks you if you feel the same. At work, if you want to be paid comp time for the 3 hours you’ve worked extra, say so, waiting for your boss to see you slave on your keyboard after your usual work hours isn’t gonna cut it. Even in classrooms, children who speak quick on their feet & freely express their thoughts are seen as the smart ones.
I find that socio-economic status of Filipino families can influence their communication style. Not always, but many upper middle-class to affluent Filipino families may rely more on using verbal cuing to get their needs met. For sure, not as progressive as our families born and assimilated in the States, Australia or elsewhere in the Western hemisphere but just slightly more advanced compared to other Filipino families in the Philippines.
If you’ve been in a Filipino reunion, you understand that we can talk about 10 topics at one time and segway to each one of them to close each story gap. You may also notice that we use jokes and euphemism (talking indirectly) quite a bit more so you can speak your mind while holding true the value of politeness. You also know that if you really want to help the party host by asking her once if she needs help, which will more than likely give you a superficial answer of , “it’s ok,” that the way to truly help her is to simply move your butt off the couch and help without asking.
You see, our communication style deviate greatly from our Western friends. It’s no surprise that we confuse our children, our expectations of them is not congruent to their learning style. We teach them to use their words even before the full set of teeth has arrived but asks of them to interpret our unspoken words.
It’s not your fault though. You operate from what you know.
Pinata- Hitting the Palayok
Pinata is the counterpart of Hitting the Palayok in the islands. Have you played this game at parties?
So, you basically have a kid blindfolded with the aim of feeling, finding and hitting palayok using a stick to shatter it into pieces and reveal the insides of the palayok., usually candies. Pretty simple right?
If you played this game in the Philippines, you know that Titas, Titos and even other kids corral around the blindfolded child and gives the latter directions on how to get to the palayok.
“Kaliwa, diretso (left, right),” one Tita might advised.
“O, sumobra ka, kanan, konti lang (you passed it, turn slight right),” another parent might add.
“ Sakto, palo, palo (just right, now hit, hit),” an older kid directs.
Learning and teaching our children how to communicate both verbally and indirectly in the Philippines takes a village. The village, the Uncles, Aunties and other extended families, assume this role seamlessly, similar to the Hitting the Palayok game.
A child in the beginning stages, takes lots of missteps, hitting the palayok in the wrong direction, or hitting it too weak to cause any results from it. With practice though, many children learn to interpret this unique Filipino language with a bit more ease. One important caveat is that mastery of this language is a lifetime endeavor.
But, you can be definitely be better at it by being aware that non-verbal communication is part of talking.
In the West, we must continue to teach our children to use their words because the Western village thrives on that. One of our roles as parents is to help our children thrive, NOT in the village we were raised at but the One they are currently living in.
In this post, I will be focusing on 3 Pinoy Love Language and breaking it down to help you understand your communication style, hoping that either you can use them lovingly to optimize your relationships or chose another way to show your affection.
Pinoy Love Language # 1 -TAMPO
Tampo is a Pinoy love language because you usually don’t carry any tampo to someone you deem insignificant in your life. There is no direct translation for this word in English, the closest would be to sulk, but it’s meaning and use in the Filipino context goes beyond sulking.
Tampo is neither being angry or being completely upset with someone. It’s getting your feelings hurt whether by accident or design due to someone’s actions or comments. When you have emotional connection with someone, your feelings towards them are warm, and when a hurtful act crosses this connection, these warm feelings turn lukewarm. Tampo is a passive means to return back to this warm connection; to be close to the other like it has once been. But TAMPO is an art, and more often than not, the TAMPO person does not assert themselves openly to get their emotional needs met.
Instead, it leaves crumbs of bread to be followed, a signage with the finest print to read, and a map crunched up in a ball that finding its north and south seem like an impossible feat. With this, Tampo seemed inconsiderate, and passive aggressive at times. But Tampo seeks not to hurt the other person, and denies the need for confrontation, and although it’s means can be irritating to many, it’s hope is most loving and that is to be loved back.
Indeed, Tampo is a true Pinoy Love Language. It’s undeniable need is to be acknowledged, to be seen, and validated. An apology can ease a tampo but more than a sorry, it seeks to woed without asking the other.
At times, depending on the intensity of the Tampo and duration it took the other person to discover it, the wooeing stage can be met with an initial resistance. The delayed discovery builds more on the hurt feelings, causing the tampo person to test the intial woeing stage. Do you really see me? Do you really understand what hurt me? Are questions the Tampo person wants to answer within her before putting her guard down. When this happens, it is imperative that the person seeking amends, persists and insists. The persistence is read as sincerity and would soon be rewarded with the return of this warm, deep connection.
Want to read the other 5 Pinoy Love Languages for FREE? Lambing, Haplos, Kiliti, Pasalubong and Bigkas? Click here to get your Bonus Ebook.
Pinoy Love Langauge #2- SUYO
Suyo is the antidote for Tampo. It’s a PIioy Love Language that can mean to woo someone’s affection, favor, or used to ease a loved ones hurt feelings.
In the Philippines, if a man is interested on a woman, the man uses SUYO to grab her attention and then finally her affection. It the older times, it may entail chopping wood for her family (sibak) or gathering water ration (igib) for her use. Today, the Suyo act can look very different but it’s aim to tame the other to accept an offer or even an apology stays true.
This Pinoy Love Language is not a single act but comprised of repeated acts or caressing and stroking to deliberately cause a favorable outcome for the Nanunuyo (person doing the suyo).
If you have Tampo because your spouse forgot your birthday, his simple apology is a good start but may not be enough to ease your hurt feelings. What’s interestingly is, you might even verbally accept the apology but continue to hold onto your lukewarm feelings. This is when SUYO gets a bit complicated because to misinterpret it as a single act & with inconsistensy is its downfall.
For Filipinos raised or born in America/Abroad or for Filipinas in interracial relationships, this one can create frustration and even strain in partnerships. Suyo when used to ease a hurt feeling is an act of contrition and the person coaxed is the person with the magic wand who has the power to grant relief to the manunuyo (person seeking favor, acceptance of apology). It does sound punitive for a moment there but this dance usually works because the person sought after is seen as deserving by their deed or their actions, their role or position. Say, a giving and loving mother is one who may be sought after by her son through suyo or a boss who’s disappointed by an employee’s punctuality during a presentation.
If you raised your family outside of the Philippines and notice that at times you speak in this Pinoy Love Language, the key for you to be understood is to foremost understand the concept enough to teach it. Secondly, its important to teach it with patience and clarity. For some this may be a daunting task, this is understandable. In this case, seek to learn the language of verbally stating your needs instead of expecting someone to see through you.This is only fair to those you care about.
Pinoy Love Language #3- HIYA
Hiya has a gottten a bad rap especially in peeling the layers why we Filipinos shy away from asking mental health support. This Pinoy Love Language is two-faced. Indeed, it can mean its’ shadow face of being ashamed, hiding the true parts of ourselves, and placing reputation over self-care as integral part of our well-being.
Today, we explore the brighter side of Hiya, the one that conveys respect synonymous to love in the Filipino culture. Hiya in this context means pressing on the brake pedal to keep someone in their comfort space, reducing asking for more to save face. Say, if you’ve borrowed money from a relative twice, your mother might tell you if you’re attempting a third time to “ mahiya ka naman.”
If you have a tendency to boasts of your accomplishments as if no one else, be it by Diving intervention or someone helping you on the way to your success, Hiya curbs this tendency to humility instead. So, when you become totally consumed with yourself, a thought, “nakakahiya naman,” brings your feet lay flat on mother earth.
Hiya in relationships sustain mystery, diminishing the pull of familiarity breeds contempt in your partnerships. It’s absolutely fine to be au natural in the morning but most days, hiya cautions us that crystals in our eyes (muta) may not be the most attractive to our spouses.
More importantly, blurting out hurtful words like spitting out watermelon seeds may cause any relationship to crumble. Hiya, again reminds us to slow down, “ nakakahiya naman,” if I told my husband how I hate what his wearing today.
For this reason, Hiya despite it’s shadow face is a Pinoy Love Langauge. One of the most painful statements a Pinoy/Pinay can be accused is to be called, “ walang hiya,” to have no shame. To be called this is to be labeled as a bad fruit and we know all fruits belong to a tree. The tree, being the parent, tries all it can in its power to then train the child not to be this bad fruit because in societal impression, a bad fruit can only come from a bad tree. Of course, this is not true, but reality is shaped by our perception and not necessarily by facts.
Hiya as a Pinoy Love Language teaches us that as we pursue our personal growths and gains that its possible to be graceful and kind.
If you’ve enjoyed this post, make sure to download your FREE Ebook-5 Pinoy Love Languages. This is an 18-page resource that covers these 5 Pinoy Love Languages in depth: Lambing, Haplos, Kiliti, Pasalubong and Bigkas.
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