The two areas the comments was the Filipino sense of humor or lack of any in the way we joke or tell jokes. The other area, which there was a few comments, was the language problem and communication.
Marcel, who lives in Canada, mentioned that his Filipina wife, when she has another Filipino at their home would talk in Tagalog.
Steve, who now lives here in Davao with his Filipina wife and 5-year-old daughter, mentions when there are Filipino visitors in their home, his wife will have conversations in Bisaya ignoring the fact he is there.
Ian, who also lives in Davao, has the same problem.
For me, it is the same. I live with my wife and three nieces. Currently our nephew is home from his Marine Engineering job and is here with his girlfriend. Unless someone is talking to me, Bisaya is used extensively. When I ask what they are talking about, I am usually told something vague. Or “it is nothing.”
When I ask a question, I get a one or two word answer such as “OK”, “maybe”, or such. When I complain, I am often told, “we are not in America, you are in the Philippines.” With all the talk of the respect Filipinos have for elders, it does not apply if it directly affects them.
My nieces are either attending, or has graduated college for nursing. They have had English in school for many years. They can read English and can write their reports in college in English too. They watch English movies and TV shows. However, with this knowledge, they will not use it in front of me. To me, they will not use the energy to think and talk to me.
This is not just in my home; it is in most mixed marriages here. I know, it is their country, their language and we chose to move here. To me it is interesting; when I visited here before my move, most would talk to me. Now I am here, it is over.
If you move here and just live with your partner, there is not much choice, but if her friends or family visit, or if you hire a domestic helper or if family members move in the use of English will diminish greatly.
Now some readers express their interest of learning the local language. If you choose Bisaya/Cebuano, you will understand the language most here speak, but what about local TV. Most TV shows are in Tagalog. I sometimes wonder, if the communication is to keep us out of the loop or just because they are not willing to communicate in English around us. What if you learn Bisaya and then visitors speak Tagalog, you are in the dark again.
I know there is an inherent shyness from Filipinos talking in English. They are afraid their pronunciation might have errors or they do not speak clearly. I will tell friends and family to try. If they cannot find one word to express a thought, we can find the word. I am patient; I just want to see them try to communicate with me.
Because of this isolation and from what I have heard others in the same situation, many expats spend much of their time at home in the bedroom. Most have a TV in there and their computer. I know of one expat that eats his meals in his bedroom too. I eat with the family, but the only English spoken at the table is from me.
For me, this situation is moot. I cannot change what has been since I moved here. If you are moving here to live with a Filipina, either a wife that has been in the states or someone you plan to marry here, try to make this problem understood. It might end the plans, but if you cannot accept this life, it might end because of it.
I am hoping in the future when my nieces go abroad to work, or marry and move out of the home, things will change. I also have lived an isolated life in my past so I am used to it. I do notice I am out of the house during the day more than in the past so I can be with friends and be able to have conversations.