We already expect guests to live with us when they come over to visit. And we welcome them all!
My children look forward to the pasalubong, but I think that much more than the treats, they enjoy the special attention and the unique social interaction. When they find out that relatives are coming from Manila, they get giddy with excitement.
I get excited when guests come over too. There is just something comforting in sharing a home with good people.
My children have a better understanding of the Filipino hospitality when we open our home to guests. They learn the behind-the-scenes preparation, which include cleaning the guest room and bathroom, washing the linens, and stocking the pantry and fridge, not to mention, tidying up the house.
Filipinos are known to be gracious hosts. They offer the best room in the house and prepare the best meals for guests. They stock up on the guests’ favorite items. During meals, the best china and silverware are used. The host entertains the guests and makes them feel like they are part of the family.
Obviously, there will be changes to the host family’s routine, but Filipinos will ignore that inconvenience. The host’s goal is to do whatever it takes to please the guests for the duration of their stay. Gifts are even given before they go back home.
I can’t say that I am typical Filipina because as a host, I only practice some of these noble deeds, not all. I have cleared my schedule several times to accommodate driving for guests (and then I would stay up late to finish work).
I have filled my fridge with milk, eggs, orange juice, yogurt, different kinds of cheeses, a variety of breads, several bottles of jam, cold cuts, and veggies–anything that my guests would be able to snack on and cook easily so they won’t get hungry while I am away at work.
But, I will not offer my bedroom to guests unless it is necessary. And I don’t use special plates for my guests; I own only one set. (I would like to believe that the dishes that I use for my own family are befitting my guests too.)
I am gracious, but not to a fault. If I know that I am overextending myself, I would let my guests know. Instead of making breakfast for them before I leave for work, I would leave a note on the dining table and maybe pull some things out of the cupboard to let them know what options they have for breakfast.
I am hoping that my children embrace the aspect of our culture that honors family and friends, and understand that being a part of a family requires occasional sacrifices.