|Amakan houses and empty spaces where amakan houses once stood|
At the end of each interview and focus group discussion, I ask respondents what (if any) questions they have for me. About half of the respondents don't have any questions and prefer to move on with the rest of their day. Of the respondents who elect to pose questions, most inquire about the research itself or how I am enjoying life in the Philippines. If Ada is with me, then I am often asked "lalaki or babae?" (boy or girl), "how many months?", and "is the father Pinoy?". This 'second interview' typically lasts only several minutes.
Today, the second interview was much longer. There was a back and forth of questions, a comedic performance, a round of pass-the-baby, and peals of laughter. I tried to answer the questions as fully and truthfully as I could but I didn't have all the answers. Here's a smattering of their queries.
They inquired about the Canadian climate and weather:
- What kind of precipitation is there in Canada?
- How cold is it?
- Do you like snow and cold?
- What are the seasons in Canada?
- Do people freeze in the wintertime?
Other questions delved into family and personal matters:
- Do you have more children?
- How old are you?
- Where do you stay here in the Philippines?
- When did you arrive in the Philippines?
- Where is your husband? What does he do here?
- What is your husband's job? Does he have a salary here in the Philippines?
Then, there were the food questions:
- Do you eat rice?
- Why don't you eat rice three times a day?
- What do you eat?
- Is it true that there are people in the USA who only eat fruits and vegetables and bread?
- What is your favourite Filipino food?
There were questions about social issues in Canada:
- Are there poor people in Canada?
- Is there a social safety net for poor people and unemployed people in Canada? Does the government provide them with free housing?
- How does the welfare system work?
And, some questions about transportation:
- How long does it take to get to the United States? By car? By plane?
- Are there buses in Canada?
- How do people travel long distances in Canada?
- Why do foreign men like Filipina women?
- Why do foreigners always walk [instead of taking a motorella, jeepney, habal-habal (motorbike)] even when it is so hot and only 7 to 10 pisos?
- Why do American men walk so fast - like this [imitation of a man taking enormous strides]? His Filipina wife has to walk so fast just to keep up [imitation of a women hurrying around taking four or five tiny steps just to keep up with the husband], and she's usually pregnant [arm gestures to indicate a pregnant belly].
And now my closing questions to you:
- How would you have answered the above questions?
- What question(s) do you have?