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Manners Maketh Man

PR maven Joy Buensalido teaches us the wonders of delicadeza

manners 3The proverb “manners maketh man” means that a man’s character is defined by his manners. This phrase was popularized recently in the 2014 Hollywood film, Kingsman, which is about a group of dapper spies from England that recruits a young chav (an English stereotype of boorish young men) and transforms him into a proper spy like his deceased father. This phrase struck a chord in most of its audience, especially among young fans who now use it as a mantra. Its message is simple and direct, not hard to understand at all. A message that is quite relevant today.

Not all people abide by this fundamental proverb.

MIND YOUR MANNERS Joy Buensalido, author of Pinoy Manners: A Modern Guide to Delicadeza for All Generation

MIND YOUR MANNERS Joy Buensalido, author of Pinoy Manners: A Modern Guide to Delicadeza for All Generation

Times have changed, the rules have changed, and people, too. Most people today don’t think about how others feel. What’s important now is getting that opinion across no matter who it clips, hits, and knocks to the ground (this is particularly rampant on social media). Rumormongering has now become a sport—the juicy detail’s of someone’s private life is entertainment, a common conversation over dinners. Common courtesy is gone.

This is specifically sad in the Filipino context because manners are important in this country. Children are taught GMRC (good manners and right conduct) at schools and simple respect is taught in households. Filipinos are supposed to know how to raise children, what with “po” and “opo” embedded in our language. What happened?

This is the same question public relations executive Joy Buensalido, a pillar in the industry, asked herself. For the past two years, she has been taking mental notes of people’s bad habits during social situations. As a publicist, she has to deal with a lot of people, every day, from meetings to events to parties, as part of her work. Her experiences and her friends’ experiences made her realize that somebody has to teach, or re-educate, people the basics of good manners.

Those notes in her head are now in a book—Pinoy Manners: A Modern Guide to Delicadeza for All Generations.

“When I first thought of it, it was not as timely as today. During my time, delicadeza was practiced, but people now won’t practice it,” she says.  “The boundaries now have become looser and looser. Now, although times have changed, we can still practice delicadeza.”manners 1

She defines delicadeza as “sensitivity to another person’s feelings.” In the book she also quotes journalist Conchita Razon, who says, “Delicadeza is a Spanish word. It derives its almost intangible quality from the word delicado, which means delicate, fragile, easily broken, irreplaceable, precious. When dealing with people, delicadeza is kindness or attentiveness. It suggest gentleness, the exquisite qualities of sensitivity, tactfulness, and refinement. All these virtues are borne of a sense of propriety and decency.”

Her book tackles different social situations where she gives tips on how to observe basic courtesy—from properly queuing in a line to respecting the elderly. The situations are her and her friends’ personal accounts. Most of it are pretty basic but it is surprising that people still don’t know how to handle such situations and avoid these very common mistakes.

For instance, the “weight gain and weight loss” issue. It’s very Filipino to comment on a friend or a relative’s apparent weight gain/loss disregarding the fact the cause may be a health issue. It is rude but people still do it, especially among close friends.

Joy points out in the book: “The next time you’re tempted to exclaim, ‘You’re incredibly thin! What did you do?’ to someone who has lost considerable weight, simply remember the rule of thumb: ‘When in doubt, don’t!’ Just zip it.”

The 133-page book covers the basics, but Joy says she has to write additional volumes to cover more, like how to behave as a passenger on a plane or basic courtesy rules on the road.

Education or the lack of it may be the obvious culprit but that answer is simple: R-E-S-P-E-C-T. It’s that simple.