Delicadeza. A word that has practically disappeared from today’s vocabulary. And if we are to go by the exchanges that take place on social media, or the behavior manifested by some people in social settings or even at work or in the home, delicadeza is dying, or is dead.
My friend Joy Buensalido has just written a book called “Pinoy Manners–A Modern Guide to Delicadeza for all Generations.” It is an easy read that is all at once light, engaging, humorous and very educational. It is Joy’s hope to revive a sense of delicadeza, which she loosely translates as a “sensitivity” to—or a respect for—others’ feelings.
The rules are divided into several topics according to common situations that we encounter in our everyday lives, but Joy says the rules in the book are not absolute: “Let this be one woman’s set of opinions, expressed in the form of a practical guide that simply aims to enhance readers’ personal, social and professional interactions with others.”
However, if you have known Joy for a long time, you will know that she is graciousness personified, and she exudes sincerity and warmth.
“Pinoy Manners” is a much-needed handbook for all ages, a return to a gentler, more “proper” time.
“When in doubt, don’t,” Joy likes to say, and it’s good advice to heed. Kindness and respect are two traits she has always espoused, traits that never go out of style.
Some of my favorite “rules” from her book are the following.
In a ladies’ restroom, never cut or overtake others who are already in line. This is actually one of my biggest pet peeves. No matter how badly I want to go, I’ve never cut the line on anyone. If it’s an emergency, you can always ask, but never just barrel your way through the line.
Joy says, “When you see this line, don’t overtake and position yourself in front of any of the closed doors because you will have a lot of protesters who will make you turn back. Waiting for your turn is basic good manners.”
“When you spot a senior person you think deserves some preferential treatment in the queue, do give them priority as a sign of respect, but only if your bladder can still hold it back. Some establishments have separate restrooms for seniors and persons with disabilities. You may cheerfully suggest that they use these rooms instead.”
Filipinos love to party and eat but, lately, what I’ve found appalling in some of the parties I’ve attended is how some guests blatantly tell the host that they would like to bring home some of the leftover dishes. This, according to Joy, is a big no-no, more so in the city where most party hosts these days opt to have their food catered or simply order special dishes from fine-dining restaurants to serve at smaller gatherings.
“With a large and roomy refrigerator and freezer at home, the host may want to enjoy the excess food, especially if these are family favorites. The host may also opt to give away the food to other needy families. Thus, unless the host offers to give away some of the food, a sense of delicadeza should inhibit a guest from hinting at, or outrightly asking for, it. Doing so would mean expecting the host to have Styropor packs/food keepers and aluminum foil on hand. And that would be an imposition, wouldn’t it?”
The book has a chapter on social lapses or awkward moments that, because of the Pinoy’s inquisitive nature, often become an occasion for embarrassment.
“Filipinos inadvertently pry into their friend’s affairs when they pose personal questions just to jump-start a conversation. For instance, they think that they are displaying friendly concern when they ask people about their relationship issues, current marital status, or rumors about some family problem they might have picked up from the grapevine. In truth, doing so can cause extreme embarrassment for the person concerned,” Joy writes.
Some questions that must never be asked, unless you are very close to the person, and only if the person is willing to discuss them, are the following:
Is it true you’ve ended your marriage?
Why did you separate from your wife/husband?
Why are you still single?
Strictly a no-no is probing someone’s “deep, dark” family secrets or intruding into another person’s private grief. Under no circumstances should you ask someone about:
A family member who took his or her own life;
A relative spending time in a drug rehab facility or one who has been convicted of a heinous crime;
A close family member steeped in debt;
Other close relations or loved ones who are in situations that are causing distress and anguish among their kinfolk.
Joy stresses, “Do not add to their feelings of pain and aggravation by attempting to discuss such matters and/or giving them unsolicited advice.”
“Pinoy Manners” will make an excellent addition to one’s personal library. It’s easy reading that seeks to enlighten the reader and nurture in him or her a heightened sense of kindness and respect for other individuals. A trait we are so badly in need of nowadays.
For more information on how to order “Pinoy Manners,” please visit the Pinoy Manners Facebook page or call Tina Allarey at 8174471.