Carmen Guerrero-Nakpil writes in her book, “Whatever” that in our chaotic, lawless congested Philippine cities, the only thing that makes life bearable is good mannered politeness. In too many homes, politeness is neglected. How few children say “Good morning” or “Goodnight” to the parents, grands, house guests?
Parents justify such lack of manners by saying “He’s shy” (mahiyain yan). Shyness or worse, timidity, is no excuse for lack of good manners. Even “thank you” is rare to come by after receiving gift or money. Much less an emailed or hand-written thank-you letter
Nakpil: “Unfortunately, [politeness] is in low supply.... There is a vast wasteland out there of people who have not been told what they should have learned in kindergarten or at Mother’s knee—how to show consideration for others, how to share, how to live together, how to respect others....
“Too many people, at all levels, behave as if they were raised by wolves. They yell and screech, they spit, pick or blow their noses in the open, urinate on the sidewalk, they grunt when spoken to, eat like wild animals...” Women specially, talk, laugh, gossip too loudly in public vehicles and restaurants. like they were in their own bedrooms . Too many males do not believe in offering their seats to females, young or old. They seem incapable of the most rudimentary form of politeness: Good manners, civility, urbanidad.
“May I?” “Please,” “Thank you,” “Excuse me.” Hardly ever heard. Notice how introductions are ignored? It was a break at a conference. I was in conversation with a few participants. A woman came over to one of the men, causing all to pause. Without so much as an excuse me, she proceeded to have a quiet discussion with him. It didn’t occur to this fellow to introduce the woman. I think he wanted to, but felt awkward, shy, timid, nervous to do an introduction. After she had turned to leave, the fellow mumbled under his breath, “Si Mrs ko” waving his thumb in her direction as she walked away, like, that was my wife.
At the point when she walked up to the group, a husband with more social finesse could have said, “Everybody, this is my wife Joy (Asawa ko, si Joy.) Then turning to her, “Joy, they are... (Joy, sila sina...).
What if this fellow didn’t know the names of one or two in the circle? No big deal. “I know I’ve met you before but I don’t remember your name.” Another approach, “Tell me your last name again please?”
The other person would realize that this guy doesn’t know his last name, nor his first name. He will be gracious to give his full name.... “Santos. Jun Santos ako.” Urbanidad!
Some basic rules of introduction which too many locals find rattling: Same age, same status--lady first: Woman, I’d like you to meet Man. (“Lady” is now archaic and offensive to many liberated female. They prefer Woman.) Elder to Younger: “Lola, I’d like you to meet my friend Jane.” Status: “Judge Jones, this is Lina Misa, our new secretary.” Status, regardless of age: Chief Justice, this is my grandfather, Tomas Reyes. Your parents/boss to your friend: “Mom, I’d like you to meet my friend Josie Cruz, this is my mother, Rita Campos. Always give full names. They could be step-parents or inlaws with a different name than yours. Urbanidad!
When introducing yourself to someone, just smile, shake hands, and say, “Hello, my name is Joe Friendly. What’s your name?” When introducing someone to a group: “Everybody, this is Sally Campos.”
Then call out the names of all present. Or if you’re not sure of names, “Everybody, this is Sally Campos. Please introduce yourselves.” Often, it’s helpful to say something about the newcomer. “Annie, this is Henry Worthalot IV. He is here to make a donation to our charity.”
Many in the Philippines are unaware of the protocol of Roman numerals after names. I recall an obituary where the name, say, Cresenciano Z. Pagsibulan Jr. went through Cresenciano B. Pagsibulan 1, and now generations later had reached Cresenciano Y. Pagsibulan VII, each one with a different middle name.
Protocol dictates that the Roman numeral is used only if the name is kept exactly the same, including the middle name. John Fitzgerald Kennedy Jr. was son of the President, John Fitzgerald Kennedy. Had JFK Jr. had a son he wanted to name “the second” the name will have to be John Fitzgerald Kennedy II. If his son were named John Bissett Kennedy, he cannot put “II”. Alter the name with a new maternal or Christian middle name, and the Roman numerals no longer apply. Few Filipinos know this Urbanidad.