Friday, January 19, 2007


I am continually amazed at the lack of understanding many of my fellow Americans have about life in other countries.When people discover that my wife is from Philippines, they often ask rather bizarre questions and/or make equally absurd statements.

Most do not an understanding of the difficulties or the time involved in bringing someone here from anywhere other than Western Europe. Most assume it is merely a matter of buying the ticket and bringing the person along with you.Most are astonished to learn that my wife did not immediately become a U.S. citizen upon our marriage.There's been more than a few that believed I would become a citizen of Philippines should we have decided to marry there rather than here.

Some have asked me about the availability of marijuana and other "recreational" drugs, as if there was some pot smoker's shangri la in another part of the world.These same folks are surprised when I explain that the U.S. is more tolerant of drug use than Catholic Philippines.

After sex and drugs,the next most popular topic is money.Everyone wants to know"how much is our money worth in their money?".Telling someone that a dollar is worth 48 (or 47 or 50 or whatever) Philippine pesos doesn't tell the whole story.It's difficult to explain that many Filipinos earn less than $5.00 a day but that $5.00 there does go a bit further than $5.00 here.

A good many Filipinos have misconceptions about life in the U.S. as well.Many believe we are all rich.Many believe everyone here has a fine house and the entire country looks like New York city or Los Angeles. It's more understanding why Filipinos might think that way, given their exposure to America movies.

I'm convinced that the majority of Americans would benefit-at least spiritually- from a visit to Philippines I can't imagine anyone taking for granted their life here after seeing the material poverty in that country.

1 comment:

Humour and last laugh said...

Fine comment. It goes a long way in bridging the gap in understanding on either side. Thanks for this cross-cultural dialogue.