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Causing a Filipino to “Lose Face” Can Cost You Your Life

Causing a Filipino to “Lose Face” Can Cost You Your Life

Most of my readers are probably already familiar with the concept of “saving face” in Asian culture. Before I retired to the Philippines over nine years ago, I believed this notion was only confined to the Chinese and Japanese. My preconceived impressions were probably the result of watching too many Bruce Lee and Jet Li movies. Little did I know that causing a Filipino to “lose face” can cost you your life.

(Graphic credit. Artstation.com)

The Concept of “Face”

So what exactly is “face?” An informative article from Trip Savvy describes the concept of face as a combination of social standing, reputation, influence, dignity, and honor.

Of course the abstract concept of face obviously has nothing to do with anatomy. However, causing someone to lose face lowers them in the eyes of their peers, while saving or “building face” raises their self-worth.

How I Caused a Filipino Relative to “Lose Face”

A few years ago I was driving our new Ford Ranger down the road near the “Old Site” Market. My wife was riding “shotgun” and several nieces and nephews were clinging on for dear life, riding in the back of our pick-up truck.

Our new Ford Ranger XLT

A truck, driven by one of my wife’s thousands of relatives in Guimaras, drove by, loaded down with workers from one of his local businesses. Going in opposite directions, our vehicles passed each other. Suddenly I heard a loud metallic clanging noise! I feared our relative had passed too closely and damaged our new truck.

Despite my asawa’s protests, I made a quick U-turn and sped after the relative. His business was nearby. I pulled up behind him, slammed on my brakes, and rushed out of our truck, looking for any damages.

However, before doing a thorough search on our Ford Ranger, I approached our relative. A young man about half my age and half my size. Without thinking, I shouted at the man, asking if he had hit our truck while we had passed each other.

The relative informed me that his truck had hit a metal pipe on the road and that the pipe had hit the undercarriage of our Ford Ranger. (I later found the pipe on the roadside.)

Damage Already Done

While our truck was not damaged, I had already caused our relative major embarrassment by shouting at him in front of his workers and locals shopping at the “Old Site.” I had caused him to “lose face.”

Finally, realizing what I had done, I apologized to him in front of his employees and the gathering crowd. I stuck out my hand.

He hesitated.

However, after a moment, the relative shook my hand and proclaimed that he had accepted my apology.

Direct confrontation might be the Western way to deal with matters. However, it’s not the way to handle problems with others in the Philippines.

Causing a Filipino to “Lose Face” Can Cost You Your Life

Let’s go to the gist of what this article’s title claims: “Causing a Filipino to ‘Lose Face’ Can Cost You Your Life.”

The Daily Guardian recently reported an incident which occurred in Culasi, Antique. Antique is about 180 kilometers from Iloilo City, where we do a major portion of our monthly shopping.

Rita Fe Bello, 36, and Rium Bello, 40, were asleep early on the morning of Sept. 2, 2018.

Rium Bello was Rita Fe Bellow’s brother-in-law; he was sleeping in a nearby pigpen.

Rium Gets Pissed Off

Ricardo Bello was Rium’s cousin who worked as a helper for the family. Ricardo and Rium had been drinking.

They ran out of booze.

Rium ordered Ricardo to buy more liquor but Ricardo disregarded his cousin’s request and went to sleep. This pissed off Rium who then physically assaulted his cousin Ricardo.

Ricardo did not fight back.

The Payback

However, Ricardo allegedly vented his anger while the two victims were sleeping.

Inspector Clark Philip Dinco, Culasi police chief, said Ricardo Bello attacked the victims. Rita Fe’s neck was severely slashed apart from stab wounds on different parts of her body. He allegedly harbored ill feelings towards Rita Fe for scolding him on various occasions. (She had caused him to “lose face.”)

Ricardo immediately fled the scene.

Village officials saw him running away while shouting he would not surrender. He claimed he would rather commit suicide than yielding to authorities. However, the suspect voluntarily surrendered to police on Sunday upon the recommendation of his relatives.

Ricardo claimed he had enough of Rium who had physically battered him on several instances.

An inquest case for two counts of murder was filed against the suspect on Sept 3, 2018

Causing a Filipino to “Lose Face” Can Cost You Your Life

So there you have it. I haven’t seen my relative that I offended in several years. However, I’m mindful that it’s never a good idea to publicly embarrass a Filipino in public. Again, while some Westerners like myself feel the direct approach is the best approach, that’s not true in the Philippines or other Asian cultures.

It’s better to always offer a Filipino a way to “save face” if you have an issue with him (or her.)

Jesus exhorts us to “turn the other cheek.” Good advice. Nevertheless, unfortunately, it’s not counsel that I’ve always followed.