Hospitality is not always a good thing.

By: Jamiline Marie C. Lebrilla

Hospitality is seen as the most popular characteristic of a Filipino. We hold it up and admire it as a trait which is uniquely ours, not because we hold the patented rights to it, but because we have changed its definition when linked to ourselves. We're famous for it, but sometimes, don't you find it just a little bit tiring to always have to be hospitable?

Hospitality for a Filipino is no longer just simple politeness, its tradition, and when something becomes tradition, it's much harder to break. For a Filipino, being hospitable isn't just about giving "merienda" to guests. It is something which has gone way beyond that.

I interviewed a couple of people and they all gave me contradicting answers, but some do think that hospitality can be bad in a way, once of course, I got them to start thinking about it. We see our hospitality as a way of life, until of course, someone makes us ask. Why? Why should we be hospitable? Is it because our parents taught us to be hospitable, or is it because everybody else is doing it? Is it because, we have descended from so many countless lines of hospitable people, that hospitality itself has been ingrained in our genes, so much so that it has become instinct?

My interviewees told me a lot of occasions in which they had been hospitable, or had been the ones receiving the hospitality. I asked them my questions and there reactions were more of surprise as if, they've never thought of hospitality in any other way.

One girl, Nichole de la Cruz, told me of her friend who was the leader of her NSTP group. Every Wednesday, the whole group would go to Tanpael, Tigbauan to teach the kids of a daycare center their. After teaching them, they'd all go to this friend's house and she'd always have lunch ready for them. Every Wednesday she'd cook them lunch, and there were nine of them all in all. But she never complained or asked them for money. In fact, this friend said, that if she didn't have lunch for them, her mom would get angry.

This is what I mean by hospitality that could get a little too much. Sometimes a Filipino cares so much for the comfort of his guest that he forgets about his own. He offers the best food when he has guests. He offers his own bed for use when he has visitors who are staying the night, while also make do with the couch, or if he doesn't have a couch, the floor.

In our own history in fact, during Spanish times, Spanish adventurers actually thought our show of such profuse hospitality was a form of inferiority and obsequiousness. I got this line from Teodoro A. Agoncillo's History of the Filipino People. See, even a professor of history agrees with me. From this same book, I read that Rizal records that some Spaniards of the last century used to regale their hearers in the Peninsula with tales about the "Indios" whose hospitality they savored and abused and, having abused it, proceeded to tell their hearers that they fell "victims" to the wiles of the Filipino women.

This is old history, over and done with, but there is that saying, "History repeats itself." I'm not saying that another Spanish fleet is going to invade the Philippines; I'm just saying that hospitality like ours can be abused as it has been in the past. Hospitality is a good trait, but as Joss Stone sings, "Less is More", and in toning down ours, we may get more of a good thing than we hoped.