13 August 2019

Encountering Filipino Open-mindedness

A few weeks ago, I attended a wedding party. It was one of those bi-cultural weddings: one of the grooms was from the Philippines, and the other was from Hungary. It was kind of like me and my spouse. Anyway, in this party, I met some Filipinos from all over the place, friends of the Filipino groom, who flew in for the event. And somehow one thing struck me, that for them, everything was just normal, and they wouldn't even bat an eye when two men share an intimate kiss. This observation definitely clashed against my stereotypes of Filipinos, and was something I found remarkable.

See, I only have conservative images of Filipino society. Heck, that's perhaps one of the reasons why I felt compelled to leave, because I felt that Filipino society would have given me a hard time. It's also another confounding factor that I was a member of a high control conservative cult during all the years I have been living in the Philippines. Hence it made it less likely for me to encounter liberal Filipino society. For example, when it comes to homosexuality, I had this image that for Filipinos, being gay means mostly being transgender, like you're a woman trapped in a man's body, and you want to be a hair stylist or someone who works in a salon. When I search my memory of my early years, this is the image I always get.

Hence I get surprised now and then when I meet Filipinos who don't fit that pattern. When I was in Qatar, I met my uncle who didn't make me feel uncomfortable at all, when we were talking about family, and about the fact that I am married to another man. And when I met these Filipinos coming from Canada and the United States who were wedding guests, again, the stereotype of a conservative Filipino was chipped away.

I suppose that is a good thing. I only hope that the rest of the country catches up.

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