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Tommy T.

Coping with Philippine Culture - Staring

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I am new on this forum. I searched and did not find this topic exactly so decided to give this a try. I apologize if it has been discussed before making this old news...

I have lived here for 3 1/2 years now, for two years on Samal Island and here in Davao for 1 1/2. I noticed early on that, whenever I went to a grocery store, restaurant, other store, wet market or simply walked on a street or rode my motorcycle that I seemed to draw a lot of stares. Sometimes I would hear the common, "Hey Joe!" mostly from kids or young adults. I didn't know how to react so mostly tried to ignore this. At times, I would be parking my bike and notice several young men just hanging out on their bikes and staring hard at me. Sometimes I would stare back until they looked away finally and a few times I smiled, but mostly, again, tried to ignore it. I just found it unsettling since I was unprepared for this sort of behaviour.

Now I have grown more accustomed to it. My partner suggested that people stared due to ignorance - lack of formal and informal education about foreigners. She also said that people stared because I am tall with blue eyes and that there was no malice, just bare curiosity. Since moving to Davao, I notice much less staring and fewer, "Hey Joe!" calls, but there are still some. When in Manila, Cebu or Olangapo, there seemed to be little to no staring and no calling out. I am guessing it is just because people in those places are used to seeing more foreigners there.

However, when my partner (who is very smart, and while not a raving beauty or very young, is still very attractive and younger than me (I am in my 60's)) and I are out together in malls or restaurants, etc., we both see people staring at us as a couple. With some we can actually read possibly distaste in their expressions while others it seems again just curiosity and yet others it looks like just a blank 1,000 yard stare...

So I am just posting this to remark that this behaviour - I was taught NOT to stare when I was a little kid - does bother me a bit and I am still trying to get used to it. I like living here and find most people to be friendly and respectful (except some of the drivers in their Fortuners). I would appreciate any comments or advice. 

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10 minutes ago, Tommy T. said:

advice. 

:wink: Advice on What Tommy? seems you have the Right attitude on this issue and have come to terms with it :thumbsup:

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Hi Jack... Just plain Tom is okay... Thanks for your kind words. I guess I am checking to see if I am the only one this happens to and maybe to confirm that my reactions to it are appropriate. I also wanted to just relate my experiences in case they may assist the next guy (or woman) who notices this...

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7 minutes ago, Tommy T. said:

Hi Jack... Just plain Tom is okay... Thanks for your kind words. I guess I am checking to see if I am the only one this happens to

 Tom I think that it happens to us all but over the years, 15 for me It is something we get used to, As you Trawl the Forum you will come across many stories about age gaps and how it affects both us and the Onlooker. :smile: I am sure your SO is right no malice meant just Curiosity :wink:

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That's good to get your confirmation, thanks! My partner actually also gets irritated sometimes, but then we frequently will laugh about some of these encounters because of that blank, empty stare - like the lights are on but nobody's home. I guess I am also sometimes a bit nervous because this is Mindanao with a bit of a poor reputation regarding security sometimes. I feel like a target and try to keep as low a profile as possible because of that.

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Staring is just one of those cultural things that we have to get used to.  In most places in the world, if you are different, you will get stares.  In some cultures, it is taught at a young age that it is rude, but for others, it is not rude.

As you said, you get it to different degrees in different places.  Here in Subic / Olongapo it is mostly just small kids and usually a very friendly, shy type of staring.  I usually offer them a smile and if appropriate, say in an elevator with their parents, offer them a high 5 (up here!) to break the ice a bit!

By contrast, just for an example, if you, as a big giant foreigner, were to walk into an Aeta indian village, all the little brown curly haired people will be staring.  You are much different than them!

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Posted (edited)

I find that after a while living in an area the stares tend to happen much less, it still happens if I go outside my subdivision area but there are places (like major malls and major hospitals) where it happens much less. 

It used to make me mildly uncomfortable but now I mostly don't even notice (if a girl stares then SWMBO notices... then I get told... so I figure it's safer not to notice LOL).

There have been a few times (not many really) when guys have stared long and hard and strange which made me think 'unsafe'' and I got out of there as soon as practicable.

Edited by GeoffH
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Posted (edited)

The 'Hey Joe' and staring (called 'stinkeye' by some folks) is as common as contruction workers whistling at a pretty/sexy woman, as a cat call.

Most locals see nothing wrong with this stuff, and most will never understand how we (foreigners) can feel so uncomfortable.  At one time, years and years ago, the 'Hey Joe' stuff was mostly friendly, but nowadays it's said by teenagers who are trying to look cool to their friends.

Some foreigners will adjust to it more easily than others, while for others, it will always sound like a cat scratching a wall.

 

Edited by Mark Berkowitz

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Thanks OnMyWay and Geoff.... Thanks for your wisdom and experiences.  I should be used to staring after sailing in the Pacific Islands for over 20 years. So many of those island countries were full of curious kids who would stare. But somehow they felt like just curious and friendly stares - and I frequently will high 5 kids and give big smiles. It's the adults and teenagers that still bother me - not so much now - but still happens. Oh... and if I so much even glance at a pretty woman with my partner next to me, I will get swatted! I am learning.

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My partner and I were hanging out in a pool on the roof of a hotel in Manila last year. There was a building under construction next door. After a while we noticed at least two of the workers had stopped their work (must have been coffee break time at 4 pm?) and just sat in the window openings staring at us. This time I think they might have been eyeballing my attractive partner rather than the gawky old man...?

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