ADS & ODS 1991

The Philippines: An Outsiders Perception (September 1991)

The Philippines: An Outsiders Perception

by Lil G. Ysa-Al

This summer, I got a scholarship to study Tagalog through the Advanced Filipino Program (AFP) at the University of the Philippines at Los Banos. It was such a wonderful learning experience that I would like to share it.

At first, I was hesitant to go when I first learned that I was accepted into the Program. The main objective of the AFP is to teach about Philippine society and increase fluency in Tagalog through instructions in various subjects: religion, politics, educational system, and cultural beliefs and values. The instructions, conducted in Tagalog, would last eight hours, five days a week. After talking to some friends from the Los Banos, I decided that I was going to spend my whole summer vacation in the Philippines.

Before going home for the first time, I used to think that all Filipino people were the same regardless of what part of the world they lived in. Also, I would judge people based on faulty assumptions. Through observation, I've discovered that there are differences between Filipinos due to their diverse backgrounds. For example, some people in the Tagalog-speaking region perceived Ilokanos as being less educated than they actually are. Residents of Manila think that the provincials are ignorant. There are always stereotypes associated with people from different regions in the Philippines.

In general, differences between people separate them from others. These differences also make the group distinct and unique. When we interact with another culture, we must remember to conform to their society instead of having them cater to our needs. Since we are not accustomed to cultures that are unlike our own, we tend to degrade them by making comments such as, 'these people are weird." We have to be open-minded so that we may learn and enjoy what the others have to offer.

At the end of the summer, I was not only able to speak Tagalog fluently, I now had an increased awareness of the Filipino folk ways. I'm glad that I had made the choice to learn more about the Philippines. Meeting the various people has enhanced my knowledge of myself and others. We just need to keep an open mind and accept people for who they are, regardless of their race and color.

[ Back to Top ]