Thursday, October 25, 2007

Here, Have a Bite

I was reminded the other day of a Filipino practice which I think is uniquely Filipino. Two technicians came from my internet service provider to repair some hardware. It was already lunchtime and I was preparing the dishes when my in-laws commented that I hadn’t yet invited the technicians to eat. In other cultures, my in-laws would have been seen as extremely generous people. In the Philippines they were just being, well—Filipinos.

In the Philippines it is customary to invite people, who pop out of nowhere while you are shoving something edible into your mouth, to share your meal or snack no matter how minuscule your piece of food is. In a lot of cases, the invitee is expected to say no. This makes it a little hard for people to tell whether a person inviting you to share a meal really means to invite you or not so you just have to use your common sense or your intuition.

I remember a college professor who once told us of an encounter she had with an American while she was on a trip abroad. She was on a tight budget and often had trouble making ends meet. She was about to eat a sandwich for lunch one day when she caught sight of an American friend whom she promptly invited to share her meal. To her disappointment and utter horror, her friend took her up on her offer. To paraphrase a popular saying, the moral of the story is, “Don’t be a Roman when you are not in Rome.”

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