Philippine Culture: Terms of Respect, Hospitality, Utang Na Loob

Someone asks: "What does Nanang or Nana mean? This is the feminine title right? What is the title for men? Who do you use these titles for?"

Nanang/Nana means mother/mom/mommy or elderly woman.
To address men, you may use Tatang.

When you speak to an elderly stranger, you may call them Nanang or Manang as a sign of respect. It's like "Ma'am" only warmer.

> Can you talk a bit about how Hospitality is different in the Philippines
> compared to other countries?

Philippine Hospitality -- Filipinos will go out of their way to ensure the guest feels comfortable. For example, a family in the province will serve the guest Corned Beef while the family just eats fish, because Corned Beef is perceived as a luxury item.

The guest will get the best bedroom. Sometimes, the family will even take care of the guest's laundry.


> Is it true that when you befriend/spend some quality time with someone in
> the Philippines (who is very hospitable) that there is an understanding that
> you should return the favor if say, they come to visit you in the states?
> Is this the same as "utang na lob"?

When the family visits the guest in the States, there is some kind of understanding that they will be treated by the guest in a similar manner. It's like tit for tat, but does not go as deep as "utang na loob"

Utang Na Loob literally means "inner debt." It is not a legal debt whose fulfillment is based on an external law; rather, it is a moral debt whose fulfillment is based on something within a person.

If I treat you well in the Philippines but you don't treat me well in the States, I'll feel bad. But I won't necessarily say that you don't have "utang na loob". If I saved your life in the Philippines, or if I took care of your family here while you were unable to support them financially, or if I spent a lot of time and/or money for your benefit, and then you don't help me in my time of need, then I'll most likely say that you don't have "utang na loob."


> I noticed that when Filipinos visit other Filipinos who live in the
> states--whether or not they are related by blood or marriage--they are
> treated like family. What's up with that?

Filipinos in the States will generally treat Filipinos visiting the States like family, because the ones who are in the States know how difficult or lonely it can be. They remember that they were treated well by other Filipinos when they first arrived in the States, so they're sort of returning the favor by treating the next batch of Filipinos like family.

(There are some Filipinos in the States, however, who mistreat newcomer Filipinos.)


> One last one, I promise. Is it true that the rich take advantage of the
> poor in the Philippines--is this true of the Filipinos who live in the
> states as well?

No matter where you go in the world, there are some rich folks who take advantage of the poor. There are also some rich people who don't. It's not a cultural thing.
[ First posted on 08/10/2005 by Manuel Viloria ]



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