Definitely, Maybe

July 31st, 2009 · No Comments


Remember growing up hearing the line – ‘Don’t speak until you are spoken too’?  It was (still is) the ultimate catch phrase of anyone who demanded respect.    As a consequence of the constant repetition of this phrase whilst growing up, self expression was curtailed; opinions obliterated and emotions quashed.  It is simply inevitable then not to have produced a passive aggressive culture. 


Perhaps it was the result of colonial oppression that plagued our history for years.  Perhaps it was the undue influence of the aristocratic Spaniards, the flamboyant Americans or the inexorable Japanese; or perhaps a combination of all three cultures that left Filipinos forever hushed, repressed and their egos permanently scarred.  It was as if a culture of shame and fear proliferated.


Having worked and observed Filipinos as individuals and in group settings, the ripple effects of a non-communicating culture are evident.  


Filipinos generally aren’t inclined to say “NO” but neither do they openly say “YES.” To Filipinos – No is never a real ‘NO’.  “Definitely”, “maybe” are responses you’ll get and if you’re lucky you may get one of those sheepish smiles or a head toss from left to right which may help you read their body language to enable you to assess their actual response.  If it’s a YES, you’ll get a stoned silence. It’s as if the sheer utterance of a yes or no may bring unexpected recriminations.  Either we have become so polite or we’re too damn scared to speak. I opt for the latter.


Filipinos swing from passiveness to aggressiveness or will choose the safe middle ground most times until they boil over. Assertiveness is not in their dictionary.  Decisions are made by playing nice – being overly patronizing – never for the sake of logic or its own merits. 


Confidence is drawn from knowing what you are doing and being able to admit when you don’t.  However Filipinos aren’t able to admit the latter.  For fear of embarrassment, they go into damage control mode.  Unsure, they will choose blind obedience or go with the flow – for lack of knowledge to make an intelligent choice; for fear of being found out that indeed they know no better; or simply because of their enormous need to be liked and admired.


With constrained attitudes, they’ll sit quietly, seething and hopefully at the last minute they’ll blurt out what it is they really want but quite often the response is too late – time consuming and a costly exercise.


Others may display confidence and play their waiting game – either too busy or wallowing in a false sense of self importance.  Dripping in arrogance is really just another sad tale of low self esteem. 


We really need to be pumped up with genuine confidence hormones – to speak up and free ourselves from the shackles of a repressed past. 


Definitely, maybe!






Sometime last month the Knights of Rizal organized a forum titled “Rizal and Global Recession” with Diaz as the speaker.  I couldn’t get the connection!  Either Rizal was supposed to have appeared to explain recession; a parallel experience during his time would be explained; or Mr. Diaz is a medium who will be able to talk to Rizal to draw answers from good old “Joe the hero” on the economic meltdown worldwide.  No matter how I looked at it – I didn’t get it – I still don’t get it!




The Arraizas with their very own master chef matriarch, Tita Luz Arraiza have decided to have a cookfest.  The purpose is to pass on the Filipino culinary delights to generation next and in-laws.  “If the grandchildren want to eat Filipino food – they simply have to learn how to cook it,” says Tita Luz.   It’s a great idea to get the younger generation interested and involved through their stomach!!   The family cookout will be called “Cooking ng Ina Mo!”  


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