Professor David Kessel and Filipinos, photo compiled from Google and Facebook
David Kessel, a professor of Pharmacology, or the branch of biology concerned with the study of drug action at the Wayne State University School of Medicine in Detroit, Michigan, explained in his Facebook account why Westeners often experience a culture shock when they try to understand Filipinos, and he said it is because the race has a diverse identity.

"When Westerners move to the Philippines, they think they will understand it, as on surface, it appears easy to understand. They don’t expect the culture to be exotic as they would in the case of, say, Thailand or Japan. They kind of think of Filipinos as these “little brown Americans” with a Hispanic twist. And, again, on surface, they are. But when Westerners sooner or later collide with the Filipinos’ true SE Asian cultural core, the culture shock takes them by surprise."

Kessel said that the reason behind this goes back to the nation's history where it was colonized by many diffirent races and that the people were able to develop traits from each of those races and formed their own identity from a mixture of all of it.

"Filipinos are not easy to understand precisely because they are such a unique culture. This is compounded by the fact that Filipinos themselves still cannot truly figure out who they are.
They are fundamentally an Asian nation, similar to Thailand, Cambodia and Laos who went through two major cultural events. First, the Spaniards converted them to Catholicism, and also cut off all of their connections to fellow SE Asians. They lost any ties they had to their neighbors and became isolated into a quasi-Hispanic world in which most of them did not learn to speak Spanish. There was no large scale immigration of Spaniards as it happened in other Spanish colonies. The ethnically SE Asian population remained the bulk of the country’s inhabitants."

He added that despite this, Filipinos have retained an Asian mind, but somehow it was modified.

He said after the Spanish occupation, Filipinos were "Asian people who never became Hispanic, but whose rites became Catholic."

Kessel than spoke of how the American period of colonization that followed introduced the country to a kind of British colonial, as well as the English language and because Filipinos became Hispanic and because they were never one monolithic nation, they very easily absorbed many Anglo Saxon cultural traits- these did not present a threat.

"Thus, a Filipino character could be seen as a sphere with a thin American outer layer, a thicker Hispanic layer underneath and still a strong Asian nucleus beneath it all that."

Kessel added that Spanish and Americans influenced Filipino behaviour such as their traits of touching and hugging a lot, and smiling at strangers- which he said were Spanish.

He noted how the laws of the country are mostly American ones.

Describing Filipinos, he said, "They are more education and achievement-driven than other SE Asians. There is far greater class mobility based on one’s scholastic achievements and degrees. There is love for American music, manners of dress, movies and literature. Filipinos themselves try to impress foreigners by showing how Spanish and how American they are.
But all of it is outward stuff. Beneath it all, you have who can be pretty much summarized as Hindu-Buddhist Asians that possess mostly SE Asian – or, to call spade a spade, Indo-Chinese cultural characteristics. For better or for worse, these are: ambiguity and vagueness in communications, conflict avoidance, surface harmony with great secrecy going on underneath and activities that you may not be aware of as they are kept hidden."

Kessel claimed that there is a lot of concealment in every Filipino, and described the behavior as meditative.

" There is tolerance, Hindu passivity, and patience that only Asians have. And even though their rites are Catholic, the churches and chapels have an air of ashrams or Buddhist shrines. Outside, one may see a person in a T shirt with a US flag with a cross, but inside, there is a Hindu Balinese. Or an English speaking Thai person," he said.

He said that this is the reason why when Westerners move to the country, they find it difficult to understand the culture.

"Many cannot handle it because the behavior seems to be so strange and so different from what they had anticipated. However, if you approach Filipinos not as a variety of Americans or Spaniards, but as what they are, which is SE Asians , fully expecting them to act as such, then the surface Western stuff just becomes an additional facilitator to help you understand these Asians better. Your culture shock becomes milder, and you will be able to function better in their society," he said.

"It would help to spend a year in Thailand or Bali to understand the SE Asian mind. After that, understanding the Philippines would be a cinch," the professor added.

Source: Hidden Truth PH

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Pharmacologist explains why Westerners have difficulty understanding Filipinos Pharmacologist explains why Westerners have difficulty understanding Filipinos Reviewed by FN Correspondent on 23 November Rating: 5

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