About four years ago, I read a blog by a 27-year old Canadian, Kyle Jennermann who was promoting the unique beauty of our Filipino culture and country by writing about his experiences in an online blog. These days he does it through his Facebook page, “Becoming Filipino”.

The first entry I read was in April 2015, wherein Kyle outlined five things he learned living with Filipino families. He states, “There are just too many beautiful things about Filipino culture that have and are inspiring my life here, and it is important to me that I share them. I love the Philippines and am proud to call this country my home.”

I was reminded of this recently as, over the holidays, we had many opportunities to catch up with family and friends.

Could I please encourage you, as the New Year begins, to take to heart these five ‘learnings’ from this young man, which are summarised here. Hopefully, they will remind us to forego whatever pettiness there is in our lives and celebrate what a truly great, lucky and special people we are:

Always show respect

Respect is a massive part of Filipino culture, and a massive part of Filipino families. Filipinos care about showing each other respect. It makes us remember howimportant it is to always show a little bit of extra love to family and those around you. One gesture and word at a time – ‘Mano, po’.

Always wait for family meal time

Filipinos love their food. Even more so, Filipinos love their family. Put those two together and you can imagine that one of the most important times of the day is meal time. One of the important lessons is ‘Don’t start taking food until it is time for everyone to eat.’ It is better to wait for all the food to be ready and everyone to be around the table. Although, as soon as you hear the call, “Kaon, Kaon” you better head straight to the table to eat.

Celebrate more

In Filipino culture, enjoying life and celebrating goes without saying. Filipinos celebrate everything from birthdays, to graduations to holidays, and even when visiting a cemetery to celebrate the memories of a loved one. Sometimes we just need a little celebration to get us through even the most difficult of times.

Everyone is family

Whenever I am among Filipinos, I learn so much just by observing them and how they interact with family friends, friends of friends, or even strangers. Filipinos open up their homes to one and other. In a world where people can be so reserved and untrusting, it is really inspiring to see how open and welcoming Filipinos can be. It doesn’t matter if the family knows that person or not…they are welcomed inside to eat, drink and be part of the family’s blessings, as a family.

It’s a blessing to live at home with your family

In Filipino culture, it doesn’t matter how old you are, it is a blessing to live with your family. In Western culture, we are taught that we must live independently and have our own personal space. At some point in one’s life, this is part of growing up. However, for Filipino families, no matter how old you are, the blessing of family endures and ensures that you will never be alone in this world.

May God bless you all.

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