[pullquote align=”normal”]Did we really pack our CRAB MENTALITY CULTURE in our luggage when we left the Philippines ???[/pullquote]
Beware of Filipinos around you. Did you hear this advice when you first came to a new country as an OFW? Or did you ever give that advice to any newcomer that you’ve met? I’ve noticed this is a common line I hear from Filipinos. Crab mentality is one of our most popular negative traits. It’s defined in Wikipedia as crabs in the bucket, is a way of thinking best described by the phrase, “if I can’t have it, neither can you.” The metaphor refers to a bucket or pot of crabs.
When I first came to New Zealand, I’ve heard this line too but I didn’t believe it at first. I came as a student for a bridging course to become a Registered Nurse in New Zealand. We were warmly welcomed by many Filipinos in Rotorua, they’re actually very helpful and accommodating to the newcomers. I still recall they visit us in the backpacker where we stayed and invited us to join their Filipino gatherings. One of our family friend and her husband whom I haven’t seen for a long time went out of her way to see me in Rotorua and gave me a box of winter clothes. I can still clearly remember until now how much help we receive from many Filipinos around. But I had really bad experiences with Filipinos I’ve worked with too when I just started, I almost lost my job. And so I thought I’ve experience that so- called “ crab mentality”.
Moving to a new country to work and live is a not an easy thing to do. But many of us choose to do it, it’s usually for one top reason. A better future for ourselves and for our family. I had mix emotions when I left the Philippines, I was very happy and excited but at the same time very anxious and scared. I have no major reason to be anxious because I had an opportunity to avail a sponsorship from an employee here in New Zealand back 2009 , It was facilitated by my immigration consultant . At that time, there was a very high demand for Registered Nurses in New Zealand so some companies offered sponsorship to some qualified overseas workers. They paid for my course and accommodation and provided me a job offer with a two-year bonded contract. It means after my course and after I get my working visa with the New Zealand Immigration, I’m automatically employed for two years. Not everyone opted for this because some say, it will limit your option of choosing your own employee and your hourly rate but at that time, I did not want to take a big risk so I did it. After we finished our six weeks course ,we waited for few more weeks for our Diploma ad. Annual Practicing Certificate from the Nursing Council . At my first workplace , there’s a lot of Filipino staff so I was so happy. It ‘s like there’s a sense of security but then after few weeks started I hearing “chismis”. I started hearing from my Filipino colleague saying beware of some Filipinos around. I’m not usually the type who entertains chismis so I just listen and did not really take it seriously. I did not want to judge anyone based on what I just heard from other people. I continue to just engage myself to many Filipinos around and make new friends in this foreign country. But after few months at work, I found myself in our manager’s office about some issues at work and some personal issues with a Filipino colleague . I was feeling helpless at that time. It was a horrible experience to me. I told myself, I should have listened to what they’ve told me BEWARE of some Filipinos, some will really stab you on your back . I was given an option to move up to Auckland to resolve the conflict and I decided to leave and work to another branch of the company. I didn’t know anybody in Auckland at that time and another Filipino family offered their home for me to stay for a while. I feel really grateful for the offer and I stayed there for a while but then after few weeks, I started hearing some chismis (back biting ) again from one of my colleagues. They have been talking behind my back and accusing me of something I don’t even know about. I can’t believe how people can make up stories and invade someone’s privacy? So I decided to move out and look for a flat. I just had enough of horrible experience with my kababayans. It’s devastating but I experience it myself. I’m 100% sure many Filipinos can relate to this. Even one of my friend shared her experience too with her group of Filipinos with a lot of dramas going on. From then on, I tried to keep myself away from a group of Filipinos. I told myself, I really don’t have time for this and decided to just keep away. I kept my circle small to just my close friends. I started pre-judging people. . I started telling new comers – BEWARE of Filipinos around and started sharing my bad experience. I probably end up being a snob to some Filipino strangers around. I remember when I first came in NZ, I get excited to see Filipinos around. I say Hello and say “kumusta “ just to confirm that they are Filipinos, not other Asians. I stopped doing that. No wonder I see many Filipinos around who never bothered to say hello or even just smile.
I started to adapt and immerse myself into the Kiwi culture. I’ve been amazed by most of it.I really enjoyed the Kiwi lifestyle. The gourmet, healthy food and BBQs on summer, the healthy living, the love of adventure and their care for nature, being easy going, and the efficient and NOT corrupt government system. And at the back of my mind, I wish we practice all these in our culture. And one time, I even wish I’m not a Filipino.
Then a year ago, we moved down to Tauranga from Auckland. I felt so sad to leave many of our closest friends in Auckland and decided to start a new life in Tauranga because Auckland house prices are crazily high and we wanted to buy our first home. We have few close friends in Tauranga which are a great start. One day, we were invited to join a Filipino gathering organized by the Club Filipino Tauranga. At first, I was even hesitant to attend , I just did not want to involve myself too much with many Filipinos and I got so many things to do as well but for some reason, I joined the event. Everyone seems friendly and welcoming . Then we found ourselves getting more involve with the group and it feels like I found a new family here in Tauranga. We felt like we were just strangers few months ago but now, I’ve developed a special bond with them. I started to appreciate the beauty of Filipino culture. Our helpfulness and generosity, strong family ties and genuine deep love for our families, our cheerfulness , fun loving, and optimism where we can still laugh even in the most trying of times. The Feast Video Series TGIF – Thank God I’m Filipino also helped me change my perception about my own culture. Our top qualities are recognized by the whole world. It’s a wake-up call for me for judging and generalizing Filipinos after my few bad experiences. I realized those FEW bad experiences clouded my MANY great experiences I had with my kababayans. I thank God for those people who became an instrument and an inspiration for me to see the great qualities of my own culture and I hope we’ll try to change our known weaknesses or bad characters such as crab mentality, procrastination, love of chismis, palusot syndrome, poor time management, and many to mention. I just thought living in a foreign country, it’s a best to combine the amazing kiwi culture of discipline, punctuality, and creativity. It’s a perfect combination.
I celebrated my 31stbirthday this month and I decided to have a Filipino themed party . I bought Made in the Philippines goodies such us Curly Tops, Eggnog, Fiesta Assorted Biscuits,Oishi Prawn Crackers, Nissin Butter Coconut,Choc Nut, Pinakurat, Mama Sita Bagoong, Datu Puti, Mang Tomas and more. We also had a Boodle Fight to make it more authentic and ate with our bare hands. I prepared a lot of seafood but I was surprised how everyone made an effort to cook and brought amazing food like pancit bihon, adobo, pinakbet, lumpia, pinakupsan na baboy, ginataang gulay,itlog na maalat, mangga with hipon, rice, casava cake, pinoy macaroons, chocolate bday, wine , juice and even sikwati. Thinking about it just makes me smile again and again, and it also makes me hungry too.
Looking back, I’ve realized I missed out many things when I decided to keep myself away from my kababayan. I hope my story will inspire and at the same time challenge each one of us.
Will you be the Filipino who will make our kababayans proud fo grateful of being a Filipino?
Or will you be the Filipino who will make our kababayans regret and detach themselves from the Filipino crowd?
STOP and THINK……
May each of us nurture our world class qualities as Filipinos even if we are miles away from our country. I also want to thank my Light of Jesus Family Tauranga for the very inspiring Feast Video. THANK GOD I’M FILIPINO.