7 kabayan thoughts that often get out of context

I think most Filipinos abroad intentionally build connections with our fellowmen more than we do back home. We can become critical about it because we crave for belongingness. Most of us leave the country "para makipagsapalaran." Therefore, being surrounded by familiar culture is more welcome than being alone adapting to the new world.

During my first few years in Dubai, I have an urge to connect to any Filipino. One, I don't have friends here. Two, sense of solidarity speaks louder than ever. There is an indescribable pride in finding a kabayan in another country. This is a typical OFW mindset.

I find joy in it too.

However, there are instances where we push the patriotism too far, putting it in a different light. Let me give you 7:

1. Kabayan naman eh

Usually, in service-related conversations, we try to seek favor by emphasizing that we are both from the Philippines, therefore, we should help each other easily then. The conversation may go as far as heritage and provinces and common friends (kilala mo si ganito...) hoping to score better favor.

One time, I heard this chitchat, "...isingit mo na ako sa appointment, kabayan naman tayo eh!" Some of us can go overboard as if we are entitled to higher importance.

2. Presyong kabayan

From the time I started doing freelance jobs, 7 out of 10 prospective Filipino clients will ask me, "Wala bang presyong kabayan dyan?" I still get this question now that I'm an entrepreneur.

It's okay to bargain. It's part and parcel of buying. However, to plea for a discount because we are both Filipino is not too cool to me. I mean, should I measure the percentage I'd take off based on how kayumanggi the other person is? I'd rather hear a kabayan willing to pay the exact price as a show of support to your business.

3. Kabayan pa man din

There is a popular opinion that Filipinos are generally good citizens abroad - that when we see someone loses his cool, people say in shame, "Nagawa nya yun? Kabayan pa man din," as if we're created perfect, that we cannot make a mistake in a foreign land. (If you only know...)

I don't understand... do we care or do we judge?

4. May kabayan sa inyo?

Those inquiring about job opportunities in another's workplace may ask, "May kabayan ba sa inyo?" trying to get an idea if he'll be alright or not. We can attribute this questioning to finding an assurance. Apparently, we are more comfortable when at least one kabayan also works in a company - especially to the new ones. Otherwise, bahala na si Batman.

5. Hello, kabayan? 

We're good on this assumption. On the phone, 9 out of 10 times we can correctly tell if the other person is Filipino or not. If yes, we start talking in Tagalog. This is cool and I'm okay with it. Everybody does it naman.

One time in my previous work, a colleague passed me the phone because the person on the other side insisted to speak to a Filipino. I don't think she was not good at English. She was just more at ease to talk with emotions with another Pinoy.

I'm wondering, if two Indians can talk in English, Filipinos should do too - consciously or unconsciously. A global mindset should know no profiling.

6. Buti na lang may kabayan

I've been to a lot of international ballroom events where I observe this particular pattern in some of us: We come in and scan the place quickly to spot any Filipinos in the crowd. It's a relief to find some. And then we would cling and mingle with just the same group until the event ends. Friends, we're missing the opportunity to connect and build a network with other nationalities.

This is very common in many corporate setting. If not fear, it's the "hiya" that prevents us from showing that confidence.

7. Sana walang kabayan

In any bad news like massive job loss, or accidents, there will always be at least one who will comment, "sana walang kabayang kasama (or napahamak)." Can't we just say, "sana walang taong napahamak." Tao, not just Filipino.

Too bad, we can be this insensitive.


I hope you don't get me wrong. It's always a great feeling to be closely attached to each other. I am proud of how we are a great bunch of joy when we're together.  But if we limit our mindset that this is just the circle available to feel comfort, find favor, and achieve success, then we are in a danger zone.

I want us to rethink how we look into ourselves and in our values and refocus on where we are right now, not by the kind of work we do, but by simply changing how we tell the world who we are.

Keep the kabayan pride in its true context. If we are indeed proud to be Pinoy, raise your flag wherever you are, whoever you are with.

Kabayan, upgrade soon.

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