How did this happen?
I went with the family that I was living with to go around the different houses around the area so that I would be familiar with the neighbors. For every house that we visit we would talk with people living there and they would always offer coffee.
Why didn’t you say no?
It wasn’t offered by asking. The cup and coffee essentials was placed in front of me and then water was poured into the cup! They already did the effort and to return their kind gesture I would take the cup, mix my coffee powder and sugar, and drink coffee with them.
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Okay. But you could still say no.
I chose to still drink coffee with them because whenever my mother cooks for us and we do not eat the food she prepared we would see the hurt in our mother’s eye. So it became a habit for us to eat the food even when we are really full so our mother’s effort would not be for nothing. I guess it became a habit.
Why are you writing about it then?
Each time I visit neighbors or friends here in Metro Manila I do get offered some snacks, but not after I hear someone being asked to go out of the house and buy something from the store. And many times I wasn’t offered anything. (Note: I’m not complaining.)
In the provinces, they would always have hot water ready inside a thermos and they will serve it without even asking. It’s like they are prepared to have visitors everyday.
This is not only applicable for coffee. This also is applicable for a visit near lunch time. I was never asked “Kumain ka na ba?” but what they do is prepare the food, setup the plates and say “Tara, kain tayo!” and I would notice that the plates and glass is always plus one, which means I’m included. Then after a prayer of thanks for the food, the family would wait for me to get first from the plate of rice and ulam before they would get their share.
I did not only experience this in Roxas but on most rural areas around the country.
Why are they not asking?
When friends visited me near lunch time while I was in town, I would ask “Kumain na ba kayo?” I never got an answer. Since I never got answer, I assumed that they still have not had lunch, so I quickly said “Kain tayo! Diyan sa karinderya. Libre ko.” The answer would always be no.
Then I said “Bilis. Libre ko. Hindi kayo pwede tumanggi.” thinking that if they still say no, then they are serious that they will not be eating with me. I am happy that most of the time they would say yes.
When we got in the karinderya I would ask them to just pick what they want and they would always order pancit. Pancit is one of the cheapest food inside a karinderya.
What we did there was an exchange of kindness. Me thinking of them I would offer to treat them lunch since it was lunch time. They would then don’t want to hassle me so they would say no.
Since I really don’t want to
eat aloneÂ make them leave without having lunch, I would slightly force them to say yes. So they would say yes.
Then they would pick the pancit because they would would like to lessen the monetary hassle of them being treated for lunch.
There was also a time when they visited me at the house, they were soaking wet because they were riding a motorcycle and it was raining hard. I offered them by asking if they would want hot coffee and they answered no even if they were shivering already.
People think of people. They would always say no because they do not want to be a hassle to other people. But that is my opinion.
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What do other people think?
One of my friends who grew up in the province told me that their lola has rules of engagement for visitors. There are the things that should not be done because it is considered rude.
If I remember correctly here are the rules.
- Other people should not pass by while the visitor and the people they are visiting are talking.
- Do not ask how many cups of rice are needed to be cooked. Always assume that the visitor/s will be dining. It is considered rude to ask.
- Always serve coffee without asking if the visitor if they want to.
- Children should not be noisy.
- If children wants to play, they should go out of the house.
I’m not sure if such strict guidelines are still being done but I do hope that these are still being done.
Have you developed a technique to say no?
Actually, I did. I always observe the people around if they are moving to prepare something. If they are and I know I will not stay long I would say “Huwag na po kayo maghanda. Sandali lang naman po ako.“, otherwise I let them be. In return when they visit me at the house I would give them the same hospitality that they have given me or pay it forward to other people.
If you cannot stop them, then join them. Sometimes I would buy something and I hide it in my small bag before going to the houses. So when they pour hot water on the cup in front of me I would say “Saktong sakto! May dala akong pang-snack.” while getting the snack. We would all laugh and enjoy the company of each other.
P. S. This is one Filipino culture that I do not want to go away.