10 Sociocultural Differences Between Norway and the Philippines
Soon, I would mark my sixth year of living in Norway. It is difficult to sum up the past six years in few words. A lot of things I have experienced, and many people I have encountered. At least, I could say I have learned a lot during this period. However, what makes it more challenging for me as an immigrant in Norway is the contrast in cultures and social norms between my home country, the Philippines and Norway. Both countries were ranked high in different survey of happiness, depending on how happiness is defined on these surveys. And this concept of happiness is reflected in the norms in both countries. In this blogpost, I would enumerate ten of these cultural differences.
1.Love for nature
I could say that both Philippines and Norway have been blessed with beautiful landscapes. Philippines is known for its beaches, while Norway has fjords giving way to beautiful unique sceneries not found in other countries. However, there is a big difference between how nature is used. The Philippines has also forests, but it is not a popular place to go to. Private individuals and companies can hinder access to the beach, but in Norway, there exists universal right to pass by someone’s property whether it is located in the forest or along the coastline. One could say, no one owns the beach. I see that this is a motivating factor for people to go for a walk in nature in Norway. Residents in Norway accustomed to use their free time, perhaps on the weekends for this. It is a popular social activity for both family and friends.
2.Focus on climate change
Norway is located near the Arctic region, while the Philippines lies near the equator. Both regions feel the effects of a warming planet. Norway has never experience very warm summers and relatively less snow in the winter. New plant species have come also in Norway due to warming temperate climate. The Philippines, on the other hand, has experience very powerful typhoons the world has never seen. Some animal and plant species are threatened to be extinct in the coming years. However, policies on climate are taken more seriously in Norway. There are improvements on the level of environmental awareness in the recent years in the Philippines, but there is a long way to go before it would be comparable to that of Norway.
Norway has a state church. When a Norwegian is born, they are automatically members of the church, until they opt out or stay as such. However, participation in religious activities is significantly low in the Scandinavian country. More and more people identify themselves as atheist or non-religious. It would seem not a problem though, as Norwegian culture is heavily based on mutual understanding and kindness. So one could say, people in Norway are not religious but are generally kind. On the other hand, the power of the Church in the Philippines is overwhelming. It has affected all aspects of the lives of people, their beliefs and even decision-making. The Philippines is becoming less conservative in the recent years, but it would take decades perhaps before it achieves the same level of liberalism in Norway.
4.Family as more personal
Family is more personal and close-knit in the Philippines. The head of family has the responsibility to take care of the family, and decide on matters involving members. Prestige is something all Filipino families aim to have. Filipino parents send their children for school to lift the socio-economic status of the family. There is a collective effort to achieve such goal. Moreover, family members spend time together very often, primarily during mealtime. It is actually almost the same with food and family in Norway, but to a lesser extent. Eating is more frequent in the Philippines.
Moreover, family seems more emphasized in the Filipino society, rather than the individual. The individual could be compromised for the benefit of the whole family. This is the primary reason why a lot of Filipinos migrate to other countries to support their family. Head of the family needs to be consulted every time there is an important decision even at a personal level. It is also expected for children to give back, and support the whole family after they have finished school and gained work. This is based on the belief that it is the children’s parents who sacrificed most just to send their children to school. This is rare phenomenon in Norway.
In Norway, the government seems to have more control on family matters. Parents are obliged by law to spend time for their children especially right after delivery of a baby. The government somehow has encroached how things are to be done at home. When is it possible to leave a child alone at home, when is parental control is too much or not enough - these are decided by the government. The government takes an active role in filling the need for care, especially when the rights of a child is compromised, or when there is a need for more care and services for family members, for example, the elderly. In the Philippines, if the parents can not fulfill their duties, other family members in the extended family are somehow obliged to take over this role. At least someone would assume the responsibility for the family, and the government is not expected to help directly in anyway.
Philippine education is not fully recognized in Norway. It is very interesting to know this. The main reason the Norwegian government give is that Philippine education lacks the number of years of basic education. 12 or more in Norway, and just 10 in the Philippines. This is contentious for the Norwegian government to push for this statement. Norway also expounds that cheating is rampant in the Philippines, such that one could just buy professional degrees, without going to school. This is a generalization based on rumors or truth just for very few.
Yes. That is possible in the Philippines. However, most professional degrees require a licensure examination. Results are published online so it is transparent. Those who get the highest marks also are known nationwide with their corresponding grades. We are talking about competing among thousands of new graduates each year. That is a tough thing. This stems from the competition-driven education system. Students from 5 years old are ranked regularly in school, sometimes every 3 months based on their academic performance, and even curricular activities. Should one not excel, he or she is considered inferior. That stigma lasts for a lifetime.
Furthermore, when a subject has a time allotment of 1 hour weekly, it does not mean students spend only one hour for it. That means the teacher would be expected to conduct lecture discussions in one hour, and the students would do the rest. We are talking of multiple teachers doing so. There is no document showing how much effort a student has for a single subject, so concluding Philippine education lacks quality is baseless and immature. Also, teachers do not accept just a mediocre work. They lash out students for not giving their best. It is not enough to be recognized as good. The aim is to be the best. Hence, some teachers would expect one to memorize textbooks word-for-word and text students word-for-word just after an overnight preparation for it. This is something I myself have experienced.
Upholding equal rights to all, regardless of gender, religion and color is difficult. In Norway, there are still problem with this, especially with religion and race. Laws are very clear and direct on discriminating anyone but in reality it does exist. However, this is happening in a subtle way. In the Philippines, generally everyone is given equal opportunity and freedom in the superficial level. However, a right of people belonging to the so-called third gender is not enshrined in the constitution. They are tolerated but not fully protected. They are stigma around it, and the conservatives would even associate them to something evil and illegal. Nonetheless, there is no death penalty given to them, which is something comforting.
With regards to race, Filipinos are somewhat influenced by colonialism. Those with fairer skin color are respected than the others. One could be a victim of mobbing just because one has brown skin color, or curly hair. However, this trend is changing significantly. With regards to religion, this is something getting better. Personally, Filipinos tolerate Muslims better than Norwegian. The fact is according to statistics, the percentage of population adhering to Islam belief in Norway and the Philippines are similar. The difference lies just on the degree of tolerance. Unfortunately. Muslim are met more with skepticism in Norway than in the Philippines. Perhaps, the non-immigrant ethnic Norwegians are homogenous than multicultural Filipinos, a mixed of west and east.
7.Relationship as a partnership.
Filipino society is patriarchal. The head of family is respected and dominates the whole family. This mentality is carried even to personal relationship. There will always be someone who would dominate in the relationship, more often men. This gives a form of ownership rather than partnership in relationship. Therefore, partnered Filipinos are very conservative, often jealous, and somehow romantic, believing there is only one person they could end up living with, that is, the person they would marry. Hence, marriage is considered sacred and supposedly long-lasting even though the relationship is failing.
In Norwegian society, relationship is seen in a liberal lens. Marriage is a contract which could end if the conditions are no longer met. There is no stigma around marrying more than one person in a lifetime. The most important is that relationship is functioning in practical way. Should something is no longer function, individuals involved would talk and sort out how could they find a solution to the problem, or just end the marriage. No one is expected to dominate entirely in the relationship. Women could decide on their own, even how to use their free time. Men do not carry the financial burden alone for the family. It is usually a partnership between two consenting individuals.
8.Criticisms as more personal.
This is very evident among Filipinos. If someone would criticize another, this is considered a threat to one’s personal integrity. This is a source of irritation for the majority. This becomes worse, when someone has a unpopular idea or belief. One’s thoughts and beliefs are closely-linked to their personality. Should one has a weird thought, so he or she has an aberrant or deviant personality. In Norway, criticisms are part of personal growth. One could fully express one’s objection to another without fear. However, the other person would not be expected to change just because he or she was criticized. An individual decides what he or she wants, regardless what the other says to him, even though it is deemed beneficial to that person.
9.Concept of body
The concept of body is very different in two cultures. In Norway, you are either fit or healthy. It means one should do everything to look good or feel good. One is not expected to look good, but as long as the person is satisfied with his or her body, so there is no problem. However, indirectly Norwegian social norms push for fit body. This is why going to the gym is very popular, if not going long walks and runs are highly recommended. Furthermore, this affects what people in Norway eat. They usually have control in eating sweets. It is seen as a seldom comfort food that should not ingested regularly.
In the Philippines, the body is considered a vessel of food. Food is associated with wealth. Those who can afford food are expected to eat good food, so it is natural that they gain weight. This normalizes overweight. There are even some Filipinos, who would believe that gaining weight is linked with less stress. People have nothing to do and think of, so it would be natural for them to eat. However, this trend is changing as well. However, I would be correct to assume that going to the gym or maintaining a fit body is one of the least priority among Filipinos.
10.Concept of survival and life
Survival is the utmost goal for Filipinos. Hunger is always a present individual threat. The fear of getting poor, hungry and thirst is always there. People would always aspire to be rich and famous, just to secure a future with less fear. The competition for access for resources is high, so one has to be creative, unique and courageous enough to withstand obstacles in life. I would say in the Philippines, it is the survival of fittest, those who are weak get some empathy but not so much help and respect.
In Norway, a good life is a life full of satisfaction. Norwegian lifestyle is somewhat hedonistic. It is grounded on getting the best pleasures in life. They have vacation very often and meet their friends whenever it is possible. Surviving is more of the psychological one, rather than physiological. Food and basic needs are available to almost everyone. Almost all have access to opportunities. However, even residents of Norway are blessed by being served food in silver spoon, some of them would still complain for not getting the best of what they think they deserve. Understandably, Norway is richer than the Philippines. However, that necessarily mean a difference on how people from the two cultures view life in general.
Obviously there are cultural differences between the Norwegian society and that of the Filipinos. Interestingly, these schism is more evident as I lived longer in Norway. Perhaps, I got to see how these differences really are in the reality. I get to talk to more people and experience more. These differences somehow has made confused about which culture fits for me. I have lived in the Philippines most of my life, but I see that Norway now has become my home. However, culture is relative they say. The only thing I can do is select the best of two cultures and apply it in my life. That is perhaps the best solution.
Non-verbal communication is an essential part in a society, as well as understanding the values the community believe in. This reflects a good overview of how communication and tradition have evolved through time. These expressions are never constant, such that meaning changes from time to time, and is greatly affected by the events or the kind of environment one belongs in. Filipinos, being a society with mixed Asian and Western influences have unique facial and body expressions. These are the focus of this blogpost. 1. Silent stare Stares could mean evil look for Filipinos. It may indicate sarcasm or manipulation. It is considered rude to this, especially when in a conversation because it may also indicate disinterest or disrespect. 2. Lip/Eye pointing This is quiet funny gesture common not just in the rural areas, but also in urban communities. It is quiet hard to explain the direction in verbal language, so it is better to point them vaguely, interestingly with the use of lips,
Living in Norway for over 2 years, I have often encountered questions about the languages I speak. I usually answered I speak Norwegian, English and two Filipino languages. Then, people start asking if the second Filipino language is a dialect of the other. Given my mother tongue is Cebuano, the second language referred, I abruptly debunk the misconcept that it is a mere dialect. My most common explanation is that all Filipinos speak the Filipino language, but those who only learn to speak Filipino have difficult time understanding or communicating with one speaking Cebuano. Throughout the span of my childhood, I got to grasp the political and cultural differences of Filipinos speaking Filipino language or Tagalog as referred by most, and those coming from the Southern Philippines speaking Cebuano. The language in itself has become the boundary between the two groups of people. Due to their innate differences, misunderstandings result, not because of mere language confusion, but of cu
"Scratch my back and I will scratch yours." - This describes the prevailing Filipino social phenomenon of debt of gratitude. It is an attempt of one to repay the other, who in the past had done something good or beneficial to him or her. This has been magnified by other social phenomena such as the continued emigration of Filipino workers outside the Philippines, such that remittances are actually in the form of payment to their families, as an expression of long-lasting debt of gratitude. This is just an example of how this phenomenon has shaped the Filipino society and culture. In this blogpost, an in-depth analysis will be made to showcase the advantages and disadvantages of this phenomena, as various concepts and ideas revolving around it are enumerated throughout the discussion. 1. It exists in any type of relationship; familial, working, spiritual and others. Because of man's social nature, there will be periods of self-sufficiency and vulnerability. During time
Online bashing has become very common in social media. It seems everyone who makes mistakes maybe a subject of ridicule and criticism. The major disadvantage and difference of a usual physical attack and online bashing is its anonymity and scale. Many bashers would hide themselves anonymous and gain more confidence to attack verbally the person at hand. Moreover, since the online space is literally unlimited so anyone could literally read comments and opinions, further aggravating and even tolerating the verbal attack. This makes online bashing as a grear threat to anyone in the social media today. On its essence, online bashing is a non-physical verbal highly partisan and personal attack on an individual expressing dissent, non-comformity, irrelevance and weakness in being at par or within a certain standard of discourse or behavior, with the aim of influencing others to do the same against the person, express an opinion and either directly and indirectly gain from it. By this long
I tell to most of my friends that I actually do not speak Filipino as my mother language. Ofcourse, the most natural question I get is what language do I speak? I answer Cebuano and explain that it is the second most spoken of the Philippine language. It is not a dialect, and the people that speaks it are popularly known as Cebuanos. However, due to the cultural and linguistic diversity among groups in the Philippines, misunderstanding occur very often. And this blogspot is all about the often misunderstood Cebuanos. Fatalism, Realism and Resilience The Cebuano has undergone a lot of bad things in the past. Cebuanos in the southern island of Mindanao could be followers of Islam or belong to an indigenous group. Being part of another religious and cultural group could mean oppression by a larger group. The Spaniards and Americans tried to suppress any resistance in the group. When the country became independent, co-Filipinos in Manila oppressed and associated the Cebuano cu
Bullying became a hot topic in Norway today after a young teenager died of emaciation due to eating disorder that was primarily linked to anxiety from bullying at school. This was quite taboo in this Scandinavian country, given the nation is very keen on respecting socio-cultural differences and on protection against any form of discrimination. Discussions have been made on how to handle and prevent bullying and who takes the responsibility in these cases, whether the family, school or the State. Personally, I was not reacting in anyway as my mind says the concept is remote and almost impossible to happen in the Philippines. Perhaps, I was referring it to death, but not to bullying. However, after several days I was quite uneasy on the topic and further asked myself if I was ever bullied before and what it has caused me in the long-term basis. To my surprise, bullying was a crucial point in my childhood. My coping skills allowed me to hide in my consciousness what had happened
In the heart of Korean wisdom lies the saying, "Namoo-eh-seo tteo-reo-ji-neun won-soong-i," which translates to "Even a monkey falls from a tree." This proverbial gem encapsulates a profound truth: even the most skilled or experienced individuals can make mistakes or experience failure. Let's delve into the significance of this saying in Korean society and culture. This is the focus of this blogpost. Within Korean culture, this saying reflects the value placed on humility and perseverance. It encourages individuals to approach success with humility, acknowledging that setbacks are a natural part of life's journey. This mindset fosters resilience and a willingness to learn from mistakes, traits highly regarded in Korean society. In contemporary Korea, the proverb remains as pertinent as ever. In a society known for its emphasis on academic and professional achievement, the pressure to succeed can be immense. As a person who was focused on academi
Many times people get accused of possessing the Filipino negative trait of crab mentality. It is a state wherein people act like crabs when put inside a basket or a container, pull each other down for them to get out from it. One must further dissect the magnitude of the problem and reasons behind it to distinguish ways on how to deal with it and perhaps minimize it. One of my Facebook friend said that crab mentality among Filipinos is already a disease. The way she said it, it seems crab mentality can no longer be cured and is highly contagious. It is quite true because based on my observation, we can notice crab mentality everywhere. One time I made a comment in Youtube about one issue that lead some Filipino netizens to react. I was expecting they will provide further valuable insights about what I said. I have no problem with others disagreeing with my thoughts, given that everyone is entitled with their own thoughts. Suprisingly, one of those who commented, criticized my u
According to the recent Happiness Index and Positive Experience Index (2015), Filipinos are considered one of the happiest in the world. There are many empirical evidence supporting this, including the magnitude of resilence and effectiveness of Filipinos in coping with several calamities and personal challenges. There are ofcourse scepticism on these researches, given that happiness could not even be measured objectively, and even more difficult to be compared. Happiness is indeed subjective, such that it is experienced differently among various persons with unique backgrounds and histories. Therefore, it is a challenge to make a summary or list of what makes one happy for a certain group of people, such as Filipinos. However, there are similarities among Filipinos that one could deduce effectively to answer what makes Filipinos happy. This is the focus of this blogpost. Family counts first. Family is most powerful source of motivation and happiness for Filipinos. More importantly,