I think it has always been ingrained in Asian culture to be concerned with the image you project of yourself. The concept of ‘saving face’ is something that most of us can relate to — the need to save yourself from embarrassment or shame at all costs. But it might be that we Filipinos have taken it a step too far.
We’ve become obsessed with the notion of what other people think of us. We second guess our actions and choices based on the possible reaction people will have towards it. How many times have you heard the question “Ano na lang sasabihin ng ibang tao?” or even asked it yourself?
It’s questions like this that force people into doing what they think others expect them to.
This is why parents push their children into ‘respectable’ degree programs in college. Why, even when the budget is tight, you will never see your moms and lolas failing to prepare a feast for any occasion.
It also informs how we act. We stop ourselves from wearing that top that shows just a little bit too much skin, or we attend mass every single Sunday because our absence would definitely be commented on. Sometimes, we even hide parts of ourselves: our relationships, our ideals, our dreams. If they don’t correspond with the norm or they’re sure to be questioned by others, it’s just easier to pretend they aren’t there.
So I think it’s time to stop caring so much about what other people think. Basing our lives and decisions off what they could possibly judge about you can actually be harmful. You stretch yourself too thin by trying to cover too much ground. You forget who you actually are in the process.
But this isn’t to say that you should do anything you’ve ever wanted with no regard for the consequences. Shaking off the standards of society isn’t the same thing as having no standards at all. You ought to be able to draw the line for yourself in terms of what values and actions are acceptable, and which aren’t.
The difference with this Filipino concept and saving face is that when we save face we base it on our own valuations of what is important. As individuals, we decide which actions are embarrassing and which choices are to be embraced. The point here isn’t to become a fully shameless person, but to strike the balance in being able to decide where your shame lies.
Do you think we care too much about what others think?