Filipino Hospitality Abroad

by Anna Maria Cos Alcantara

It’s pretty cool how whenever we travel to a different country, we almost always bump into a Filipino. It’s funny how sometimes you can just tell if someone’s Filipino before they even speak – may it be the way they take extra care of their luggage in the airport, the way they hold all their bags as close to their body as possible, and maybe even the way they purse their lips to indicate direction. Sometimes we come across a Filipino abroad by approaching a stranger to ask for directions, only to hear their accent and so all the English drops with, “Pilipino po kayo?” – and a smile lights up their face with a sigh of relief. “Ah, kababayan!”

My parents have a lot of friends that live in Europe, so every chance we get to visit their city, we make sure to drop by to catch up and have a meal. The great thing about Filipino hospitality is that it doesn’t end with just lunch and a quick chatter – but it extends to family friends making sure that they take the day off to take us around their city, and even showing us where we can buy stuff that’s a bang for our buck. This is not to say that we only visit them just so we can get a personal tour, but this is to show how great it is that Filipino hospitality goes beyond the Philippines.

Take for example our family friends in Amsterdam, who, every time that we go to the Netherlands, never let us waste our money in hotels. Our family friends have been so generous to host us in their homes, take days off just to drive us around, and even go as far as cooking all our meals. They also take us to Sunday church where we met more of the Filipino community in Amsterdam, and even got to see how the Filipinos there keep the Filipino spirit alive with potluck food after mass and making it seem like a traditional Sunday family get-together.

On our recent trip to Rome, another set of family friends that are Carmelite priests took us on a walking tour around Rome. It’s not the first time my parents and I have visited Rome, but it was a great way to explore the city in a different, albeit tiring, way to immerse ourselves in the Roman culture. They were so kind to show us around to their favorite little shops outside the Vatican, and even showed us that the Colosseum and the Trevi Fountain is actually a stroll away. It was more walking than what I’m used to in the Philippines, but it was a great way to take a walk down historical lanes of Rome.

To some, it may seem like a way to save up on tours and accommodation, but to Filipinos, it’s just a natural response to give love and provide hospitality to our fellow men. It’s almost second nature, really, just as much as it’s a no brainer for us to do the same for them when these family friends come back home to the Philippines.

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