I’ve been trying to figure out what it is that makes Filipino children so happy, and why we Americans, (in general, not as a rule) seem more like spoiled babies. I’m starting to believe that it has something to do with “self centered-ness”, not so much greed or even selfishness, but more related to an orientation of the world around ones self, the toys, gadgets, etc amplify this mindset, not so much create it.
I’ll try to explain; when a Filipino child here suffers, there is a high probability that all the other children he or she knows in the same area, are also suffering in a similar degree. This suffering, be it for food, clothing or shelter seems to put everyone the child knows on an even playing field in terms of social status.
American children are a little different in that there is every opportunity imaginable to differentiate from other children based on countless “things”; toys, gadgets, opportunities, wealth, vacations, social circles, later it will be clothing, cars, athletic achievements, which college, degree, salary, it seems that there are so many variables that there is literally every reason in the child’s mind to believe they do not measure up to their peers, and therefore are only better when they have a better toy or opportunity than others. In the typical American mind, social status seems derived from what an individual has…Over the period of decades, it trains us as Americans to become more “self centered” with time.
It seems to me therefore, that a primary difference between American and Filipino children, is that Philppine children do not have these “differentiating variables”, and therefore must find happiness in more natural ways, such as playing outside (not in front of a video console or tv all day), making new friends they see face to face, talking with them. It seems they derive their pleasure from experiences & interactions with others, and there is literally no such thing as being better because one had more, because they all have nothing. They find happiness in living life, not toys! The Filipino children are some of the most humble and happy I have ever seen – I am truly impressed with them.
I’ve have also noticed countless children as young as 5 or 6 years old, struggling with their families, carrying something, working, what little they can do to share the burden of their families suffering. This is something i can’t recall seeing in America, very young children engaged in improving their families well being, even if it means digging through trash or scraps. There is something very culturally different there, the expectation that if the family is suffering, all family members are working to improve their circumstance. No one is taking a free ride, even if they are very young.
Just one man’s observations…
I’m am learning plenty of patience. My food (75,000 meals) is still in Ormoc, this morning we were notified the truck was broken and we needed to come pick up the food, but after doing some calculations, it wasn’t exactly clear if the 6 wheeler truck we have is large enough. Then I was told the forwarding company found a replacement truck and that was the last I heard. Not a great feeling- we have run into a lot of problems, just crazy little things that happen, but I believe that it will all work out. The problem is I’m scheduled to leave the day after tomorrow and it will take some time and effort to prepare the food for distribution. Tomorrow is supposed to be my last full day here, but I also have some room for flexibility, as my visa is good until Saturday.
Extending isn’t beyond the realm of impossibility, and if the opportunity permits, that might happen. I just feel that between raising the money thanks to my generous friends, being here, I want to see it delivered and document it. I’m sure I’ll have more thoughts on this tomorrow.