Filipino Traveler: The Travelling Pasaway

Filipino Traveler: The Travelling Pasaway

By Nicholo Jallores  (Written during his travels in Georgia)


I am happy when Filipinos venture out into the world and see and experience new things. I am ecstatic when my fellowmen are able to take leisurely holidays outside the confines of our archipelago, pero utang na loob mga kabayan, HUWAG PASAWAY!
When I visited the Jvari Monastery in Georgia, I had to tell off a group of Filipinos for taking photographs inside the church – something that is clearly prohibited by the religious order. Not only were these kababayans taking photos, they were taking selfies against the relics, with flash. Ok, first of all, who on earth takes selfies with flash nowadays? Madilim nga naman daw kasi sa church kaya kailangan ng ilaw. And secondly, kailangan ba talagang magpasaway? Thing is, any kind of photography inside churches in Georgia is strictly and expressly forbidden, unless stated otherwise by the parish authority. You can actually ask for permission – but if you don’t have it, don’t try to get away with breaking the hard and fast rules because that is just darn disrespectful! How inappropriate is this: people are lighting candles and praying inside the church and you and your friends are giggling and taking selfies? It’s infuriating! Enjoy the famous Georgian hospitality while it lasts, mga jologs. Kakaganyan nyo mababa-badshot tayo doon.

This is not the only instance where I observed such utter mindlessness and disrespect from my fellow kababayan tourists. On my day trips to Vardzia and Gudauri, I joined a tour group of mixed nationalities. Guess who were the most pasaway. Yep. The Pinoys were noisy, obnoxious, overly familiar, and always late for the designated times. They even had the nerve to heckle the tour guide and make fun of her struggling English. Oh man, I wanted to just jump off the cliff! I wanted to adopt a British accent and pass myself off as Korean raised in London. Nakakahiya!

I am not saying that all Filipino travellers are undisciplined morons, such as those that I’ve had the grand misfortune of touring with. I for one am not an undisciplined moron, and I am certain that I do not have the monopoly of common travelling decency. We all travel for different reasons, but please: don’t travel with the assumption that your reasons take precedence over everyone else’s. Our host country owes us nothing. We are guests – and so we must conduct ourselves graciously, in a manner that respects our hosts and does not bring shame to our national identity. In short, huwag pasaway! 

In summary, here are a few tips on How To Be A Mindful Filipino Traveller

1.) Learn the basic social graces in the local language

Or at least enough to order a cheeseburger, or ask for directions. Do not make fun of people’s English inadequacy, or act as if they are stupid for being unable to converse with you. The locals do not owe it to you to learn English. Ikaw ang bisita, puwes ikaw ang mag-adjust.

2.) Be nice, polite, and amiable, but do not be overly familiar.

Huwag feeling close, dahil hindi mo alam kung ano ang kinalakihan ng kausap mo. Hindi ka sure kung uubra ang pagiging kolokoy mo. Baka ma-waley ka lang, or worse, maka-offend ka. In our tour group, the Filipinos kept trying to joke around with the Russians, and the Russians just weren’t having it! Ang awkward! One: the language barrier makes it difficult to pull off any sort of comedic timing. And two: it may very well be that they just aren’t used to your brand of humor. That’s not their fault. Ikaw ang huwag umepal. Sino ka, si Dolphy? Hindi mo trabaho ang bumangka.

3.) Be on time. For everything.

Do not make time for Filipino time. Do not take on a VIP mentality. Hindi ka hari o reyna, uy!

4.) Whatever site you are visiting, know and observe the rules.

Do not even think about breaking the rules, because that will just show your lack of discipline and may land you in serious trouble. If the establishment policies aren’t written anywhere, or is in a language that you do not understand, ask. When in doubt, defer to your sense of common decency.

4.) Respect the local traditions, especially where religion is concerned.

In Georgia, you generally cannot take pictures inside the church. Honor this like the Golden Rule. If you cannot help yourself, ask for permission. I did this in one of the churches in Tbilisi, and they allowed me one shot – and so I took one shot, and one shot only. Georgians take their belief system very seriously, near to a point that Filipinos might find absurd. Kung OA sa iyo, sa kanila, buhay nila yan. Makibagay ka. Try mo magpasaway sa loob ng mosque sa Saudi, tingnan natin kung saan ka pupulutin. 

5.) By all means take your selfies, but do not just take selfies.

This is not a matter of respectful conduct as it is a positive restructuring of your mindset as a traveller. If your primary objective for travelling is to find backdrops for your selfies, then child, you are wasting your time and money. Nafo-photoshop naman yan. I-refer na lang kita sa graphic artist, nakatipid ka pa. 

It’s a great big world out there. Breathe it in deeply. Look at it. Absorb it. Let it change you. Figuratively (and literally) take yourself out of the picture and just appreciate a world that formed itself without your guidance, and will remain standing long after you are gone. Live in the wild, concentrated awesomeness of the moment, even for a short while. When you go back home, you are going to have to just live with yourself again – and when you look at your camera, all you have are, what, SELFIES? That moment will pass you by, quick as lightning. Stay still, and grab hold onto as much of it as you can. That’s what you take home with you.


1 Comment

  1. Greg V. Aguilar says:

    Wow. Your comments are especially harsh.

    I also travel quite extensively. And when I met Kabayans in my travels, the experience was almost always pleasant and warm.

    And taking photographs when traveling is an almost universal trait, but most prevalent with Asians. And in certain places like museums and cathedrals where flash photography or any photography is not allowed, gently reminding fellow travelers is usually enough.

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