The Culture of Hospitality in the Philippines

Goodness is still the universal trait of people. Though there is always the bad, good is still felt more than the negative. There are lots of societies and nations around the world that takes pride in their smiles, warmth, and the ability to make you feel comfortable.

If you are a foreigner in a certain land, most of the people will treat you in a good way. Very seldom would locals treat you with a bad attitude. You will mostly feel welcome because of their hospitality.

However, accounts of hospitality in the Philippines are really exceptional.

 

The culture of hospitality in the Philippines is known worldwide. Ask a non-Filipino to describe a Filipino in a word and you will most likely hear the word, ‘hospitable’. Filipinos treasure this trait so much for it is deeper than making one feel the warmth. Being hospitable is also more genuine than a full smile.

Filipinos being hospitable to foreigners is a contradiction to its history. The Philippines had been colonized for more than three centuries by the Spaniards, ruled by the Americans for forty years, caught captive by the British for two years, and also ruled by the Japanese for four years. The colonization, abuses, inability to be its own country, loss of freedom and the degradation of the Filipino people should make the nation very suspicious of any race that is stepping into its shores. However, the Filipinos are still known to be genuinely hospitable especially to the foreigners. Why this is so is still unexplainable. No account of history can ever explain the culture of hospitality in the Philippines.

The Filipinos best show their hospitality in their homes. Any guest, invited or uninvited is treated equally to be like royals in the home of the Filipino. Upon arriving, you are going to experience the very warm welcome by the members of the household shaking your hand or patting your shoulder as they usher you inside. Even though slippers or shoes are usually removed outside the house, you as the visitor will be prohibited to doing so. Everyone will oppose you removing your shoes or slipper and tell you that it is ok to wear your shoes inside. Should you insist to remove your shoes, house slippers will be given to you to wear. ‘The floor is cold’, you will usually hear from the hosts.

In addition to the warm welcome is a comfortable place for you to sit. The members of that house will give you the best seat in the living room and ask you how you feel- temperature wise. You will be offered with a pitcher of juice or soda almost instantly. You will then know that they really prepared for you.

Yes, they have prepared for you. Before you even came, the whole family had already scrubbed the floors, dusted the pieces of furniture and equipment, changed the curtains and seat covers, cleaned the yard, changed some positions of the furniture, and cooked a hearty meal for you. That is what happens behind the scene.

With that, it can be said that the culture of hospitality in the Philippines does not only start during your arrival but even hours before you came. Filipinos love to make guests and visitors feel that they are valued and very much welcome in their homes.

After the warm welcome and the soda part, you are then going to be invited to eat with the family. You will be given the center seat (which is the seat of ‘power’ in the Filipino family.). This seat is usually the seat of the heads of the family. You will notice the good-looking china pieces and serving pieces on the table. Yes, the family owns those China pieces but are usually put in the cupboard or a cabinet. They do not use those unless there is a very important visitor in their house. That is how special you are.

You will then notice a mini feast in the table. There is a three viand course and a homemade dessert. No, that is not normal. An average Filipino home usually has a viand and rice for every meal. That means that they want to serve you the best by giving you options. And mind you, those meals are not cheap! Those are usually above what that family can afford.

Filipinos do not only show their hospitality materially and by giving you a hospitable experience. You will also find that the whole family tries their best to make you feel welcome or remove any hint of awkward feeling from you. They will ask you things to make you feel comfortable and they will also share stories of their family to you that you can be able to relate to.

In some cases wherein a visitor or guest should stay overnight, it is customary for that household to give you a guest room even if they do not have any guest room. The master bedroom is usually given to the guest while the owners of the master bedroom would squeeze themselves in the other bedroom like the bedroom of their kids. You will notice that they prepared fresh linens and blankets and even a towel for you. And just like a good hotel service, they will knock on the door to ask you if you need anything. And if you do not need anything, they will tell you to knock on the other bedroom should you need anything later.

The culture of hospitality in the Philippines can indeed be best seen in the homes of a Filipino family. This is especially observed more in the suburban and in rural areas. Filipinos in the city are also hospitable albeit different in approach and in what they offer their visitors.

Filipino hospitality is one of the most exceptional traits of the Philippines and is a pride of the nation. This shows how Filipinos can love and accept complete strangers even if its history of colonization was painful, degrading, and difficult.