Jealousy can be a pretty ugly thing. If you really want to bring out the worst qualities in another human being in the most expeditious and efficient manner, just give them a reason to be jealous. Can’t relate? If you’ve never felt that overwhelming sense of sickness and borderline psychosis that the condition can manifest, then you’ve never truly been jealous, my friend. So, either consider yourself lucky or seek counseling – you might be a sociopath. 😉
The Philippines brings jealousy to a whole new level, having carefully crafted and molded it over the course of generations. I can sit here and tell you about it all I want, but until you actually experience it, you’ll really have no idea. It’s kind of like when someone tells you how pretty Filipinas are or how beautiful the coral reefs are – it’s something that you actually have to see for yourself to fully appreciate. The problem that Westerners might experience with jealousy in the Philippines basically lies in the fact that we see excessive, incessant jealousy as a sign of mental instability. For some of us older folks, the movie “Fatal Attraction” may come to mind, with visions of Glenn Close hunting down Michael Douglas with a kitchen knife. In the Philippines, however, excessive jealousy isn’t seen like that – it’s actually a integral part of the culture. And, no – I am not being an apologist for what many foreigners see as a most irrational and pernicious state of mind. Instead – and as you will see in or next blog entry – there are a good number of cultural and structural factors in place that contribute to rampant displays of jealousy in Filipino relationships.
Now, when you first experience jealousy in the Philippines, you might feel flattered. For some of us, it’s been quite some time since someone has shown jealousy towards us. After some time, however, the flattery will subside, and you’ll seriously start to think that this sweet, little woman is an utter maniac, complete with paranoid and delusional behavior. And again, if you’ve never been here, it’s hard to truly appreciate.
In the first part of our two part blog, we’re going to look at some of the cultural and structural reasons why jealousy is a lot more prevalent in the Philippines.
1. The Spanish Influence: The Philippines was a Spanish colony for more than 300 years. One of the many aspects of Latino culture that got passed on was the idea of having mistresses. In Tagalog, this is known as kabit (which is gender neutral) and in bisaya it is something along the lines of iring-iring. Families in the Philippines have experienced this, with fathers, grandfathers, brothers, etc. having had kabit on the side. A prospective mate doesn’t want this to happen to their relationship and will always be on the lookout for it.
2. Abandonment: Some women have seen (or personally experienced) what happens to friends (or themselves) becoming single mothers and the father (either Filipino or foreigner) shirking their responsibilities and moving away.
3. Players: “Chickboys” come in both local and exotic (foreigner) flavors. Many woman here are looking for an exclusive, committed relationship and are not overly keen on sharing their prospective mate with anyone else. Combining this with their experiences with the cultural mistress more, can make for a volatile mix.
4. Telenovelas: Many local soap operas prominently feature dramatic infidelity-based story lines. Drama is BIG in the Philippines, and Filipinos generally love their telenovelas. Being exposed to these throughout their lifetime inculcates a deep suspicion of other’s intents.
5. Gossip – “Chizmis” can be a big factor in the realm of jealousy. You might be out shopping someday, say a nice word to a saleswoman and accept the store receipt with a smile. If a friend of your significant other sees that, however, and it is passed down the “coconut telegraph,” you might find that you actually flirted shamelessly with some strange girl and coerced her phone number. Gossip is a popular past time here and it can cause big problems in a relationship.
6. Other woman: Filipinas realize that there are a lot of other very pretty Filipinas out there. Millions, actually. And contrary to the “shy” stereotype, they are not shirking violets when it comes to showing interest. You will actually notice this more when you are in the company of your significant other than when you are alone. I am not sure if this is due to some variation on the “crab mentality” that you see here or something else. What’s odd is that other Filipinas will express interest in you while in the company of their own boyfriends. Michell reckons they are doing that to make their own boyfriends jealous. If so, that sheds some more light on this whole jealousy thing in regards to the social mores and traditions of the country.
Tomorrow we will take a gander at how jealousy can affect you and your relationship; looking at some of the (somewhat extreme) behaviors that will emerge from this most ugly of emotions.
Oh, and how many times can you tell your Filipina you love her?
That one’s easy.
Never enough. 🙂