The Obligation to Parents in Philippines
In Philippines society and culture it is expected that kids will grow up and help their parents financially. This is a country with limited social security and social services, so children are expected to take care of their parents as soon as they are able to.
This is in direct contract to Australian society, where we feel no particular obligation or sense of duty to our parents like they do in Filipino society. Parents consider that they were the ones who decides to have children, and that our kids are under no obligations themselves to repay any perceived debt in exchange for sacrifices made when we were young. And our parents, like most Australians, are fiercely independent and don’t accept charity especially from our kids.
Australian society values and expects independence from adults, and we value our ability to take care of ourselves and our own futures, whereas Philippines society is known for being interdependent with a web of utang na loob (debt of gratitude, ie who owes who) that binds it together and creates these obligations to one another. The strongest of these obligations is to the parents who sacrificed to raise you. Children are taught this from a very young age, and reminded that they will be expected to support their parents once day and that they should work hard so that they are able to do this.
The family tambay and the family saint
Every Filipino family seems to have one each of this. A tambay is a useless person who does nothing and lets others support him or her. They’re fond of napping during the day and of drinking Emperador brandy. The family saint by contrast is usually a girl, and she will work overseas as an overseas Filipino worker (OFW) and send all the money back to support others. Sometimes they will do this for many decades, and will not marry or have kids. And the family are happy to let her do this.
Reality of life in the Philippines
The reality of life in the Philippines is that life here is hard for many. Yes, some get themselves into financial difficulty by wasting money on those things of show-off value so they can impress others, but some life week to week and have nothing left over at the end. Social Security exists, but it’s like superannuation in Australia. The more you put into it during your working life, the more will be left over when you retire. If you contribute little because you can afford little, the payout at the end will be small. Those in dire need may apply to the Barangay for support and may receive a small pension, but we’re talking about maybe P1,500.00 a month which is very little.
If you are in an Australian Filipina relationship you need to accept that this reality exists. I personally don’t believe that anyone is under obligation to keep lazy people in a sedentary life or to support parents or other relatives who choose to give up work and put their hands out. But if your Filipina wife’s parents can’t provide for basic needs like food, clothing, medicine and shelter, then providing support of even P10,000.00 a month would not only make a big difference but would not be a major sacrifice for the average Australian wage earner.