If you’re moving from the Philippines to Canada, you may be wondering about the cultural differences and how they might affect your experience in Canada.
This article will help you recognize potential cultural differences so that you can better integrate into Canadian society.
Here are some of the differences you may come across in day-to-day communication:
. Canadians tend to be more direct than Filipinos. They are more likely to disagree with people openly, or jokingly tease people in social situations
, even with people they don’t know very well. This may come across as offensive or blunt to many Filipino people. In most cases, they don’t mean any offense, so try not to take it personally.
. When it comes to courses or work, you’re generally expected to be on time. When it comes to social situations, timing can vary. If you’re going to a party and it starts at 7:00pm, most people won’t show up for the first half hour unless they’re close friends with the host or they’re helping set-up for the party. For more casual, drop-in parties, you can get away with being on “Filipino time”, but for dinner parties or other occasions for which timing matters, you wouldn’t want to be much more than 10 – 15 minutes late.
If you’re meeting someone at a public place, being on time is best, but it is socially acceptable to show up 5 – 10 minutes late. Any later than that and you should provide a casual apology and reason for your lateness.
. Canadians use a fork and a knife, rather than a fork and a spoon, as the common utensils for eating meals, only including a spoon if the dish might require its use (i.e. soup, pasta, etc.). If you're setting a table for Canadians, be sure to include a knife.
› Body Language
. While it may be considered rude in Filipino culture, it’s not unusual for Canadians to point toward a person or to beckon a person over to them with a finger. If you want to get a Canadian to come over to you, don’t just try to make eye contact to bring them over. They may not notice or recognize this as a signal that you’re trying to get their attention. You’re better off calling over to them.
› Physical Contact
. Canadian men don’t tend to make as much physical contact with their friends as Filipino men do. Even with close friends, it would be considered a little unusual for a man to put their arm around a male friend. It is, however, considered normal for Canadians to interact this way with the opposite sex, which may catch Filipinos off guard. Cheek kissing, while normal between Filipinas who are friends, considered unusual in Canada except between family members or couples.
› Differences in English
. There are also many differences in commonly used English words between Canadians and Filipinos. Here are a few examples that come up more frequently:
|CR (comfort room)
||Washroom or bathroom
|“I’ll come fetch you.”
||“I’ll pick you up.”
|“Ahh, gets.” or “Gets?”
||“Ahh, I understand.” Or “Do you understand?”
|Open/close the light/computer/TV
||Turn on/turn off the light/computer/TV
|“Can I borrow this?”
||“Can I have this?” (*Note: When Canadians use the word “borrow”, it means to keep it to use for a limited period of time after which the item is expected to be returned.)