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9 Things Filipinos Should Do In Their Twenties (According To My Relatives And Neighbors)

Thought Catalog is wrong. Your 20s aren’t for “finding yourself” and “trying new things”. It’s not for backpacking across Europe, surviving massive hangovers, or dancing with strangers. Not if my neighbors and relatives have anything to say about the matter. And boy, do they have A LOT to say about it.

In fact, here, have a list.

9 Things Filipinos Should Do In Their Twenties (According To My Relatives And Neighbors)

Job Fair

Image grabbed from Philippine Star article. (Unable to find original source, if any.)

Failure to accomplish the following list will result in some form of discrimination from your elders.

#1 Get a job with an impressive title.
Preferably one with “Manager” or “Executive” in it. Never mind how much your salary is or that everyone in your office is also called a manager.

#2 Work for a famous company or institution.
Unilever. Jollibee. Globe. If you can’t accomplish Item 1, at least make your workplace name-drop-worthy. People like to mention things like “My neighbor’s daughter works in Meralco!” to those who don’t care. It’s your duty to provide them with name-dropping fodder. Failure to do so will result in not getting Fruit Salad delivered to your doorstep on Christmas.

#3 Make lots of money.
Didn’t you hear about that kid who earned millions of dollars from an iPhone game? Why can’t you make some cellphone games? Where are your millions, Adult Who Graduated From A University And Works On Computers?!

#4 Work abroad.
Everything you do in your career is just a stepping stone to working abroad:

  • You’ve been promoted? When can you transfer to the Australia branch?
  • You had a salary raise? When can you apply for a Canadian Visa?
  • You have a six-figure salary? Mmhm. Yeah, well, My Daughter Who Works In London sent me Toblerone. You lose.

#5 Buy a car for yourself and a house for your parents.
Or risk being compared to the sister/brother who did.

#6 Send your parents on a vacation abroad.
Your third-cousin did it. Your neighbor’s second son did it. Why can’t you?! This is a simple matter which all twenty-somethings should be able to afford!

#7 Get a boyfriend (or a girlfriend) then get married. In style.
Right after graduation, the same people who threatened to disown you if you don’t stick to studying will get a lobotomy. They will push you on dates and matchmake you with every eligible person in a 5-mile radius.

You are supposed to be thankful. You are supposed to invite all of them to your wedding. You are supposed to serve great-tasting food, invite local government officials as sponsors, and always ALWAYS include crispy pata in that take-home food package for your  guests. (Otherwise, your wedding will be declared a failure.)

And it doesn’t end with marriage. The next agenda in the Life of A Successful Twentysomething is:

#8 Have kids.
Otherwise, you will spend family reunions backed into a corner, listening to your almost-deaf Grandma shouting tried and tested ways to make babies. (Read: sex-talk over lechon baboy and fruit salad while your niece and nephews drop in every now and then to beg for aguinaldo.)

#9 Be a godparent to at least 10 kids.
Someone has to sponsor all the babies being made due to #8, right?

Now that you know the (slightly impossible) standards of success for your age, you can either aspire to them or just avoid all after-church chitchats, neighborhood aunt run-ins, and family reunions until you’re 30.

Your choice.

[Update: Since I’m an expert on being a non-successful Filipino (my score on this list is a whopping 0/9) I shared some ways on how I cope with the guilt-tripping in a separate post: What To Do If Your Elders Think You’re A Failure]


There are 42 reactions to this story, leave yours below?

  1. jayeannev on December 5, 2013

    lol so true. xD

    • Mary on December 12, 2013

      IKR? 🙂

    • lol.,., hate this in a good way.,., coz it was so true.,. 😀

  2. Arkanthiel on February 6, 2014

    Well, the Crispy Pata is always good advice.

    You can never have enough Crispy Pata

    • Mary on February 7, 2014

      That + leche flan and your wedding will be pronounced a “success”!

  3. Hahaha! Try being the 32 year-old Swedish son-in-law of an LA-born Filipina.. not THAT is an interesting place to be in:)

    • Mary on February 7, 2014

      I pity you for the culture shock. But if you ask anyone who grew up here, they will tell you there’s no “Top N Things Never To Say To Filipino Parents”.

      You are not supposed to say anything! Do not complain. Do not answer back. Do not pass go. Do not collect $200… 😛

      • kristine on February 7, 2014

        hahahaha so true!!!

  4. direk opang on February 6, 2014

    nigga please… dont be a sheeple

  5. wewa on February 7, 2014

    This describes koreans as well.

    • Mary on February 7, 2014

      Maybe working your ass off to buy everything your family (up to third cousins twice removed) demands is an Asian thing. Although there are awesome parents who are exceptions to this… 🙂

  6. Arlet on February 13, 2014

    HAHAHA this is probably the only list that sums up my fears right now.

    • Mary on February 13, 2014

      Sorry… Just treat it as a sort of impossible checklist. 😛

  7. Kris on February 14, 2014

    THIS. This is why I love Mary even though I don’t really know her in person. 😛 Haha

    • Mary on February 14, 2014

      I love you too! 🙂

  8. Haha! So true!! Ugh. Annoying :/ So many (impossible to achieve) expectations.

    • Mary on February 21, 2014

      True. Let them keep their fruit salad!

  9. Sheepish on February 20, 2014

    I just couldn’t stop laughing whilst reading them all. So typical of the majority of Filipino parents/relatives. Haha!

  10. Weng on February 21, 2014

    hahaha baliw ka Ate Mary, sobrang benta! So true actually, except the getting-married-and-have-kids part. Ayaw ni mama nun. lols. XD

  11. yen on February 21, 2014

    harharhar. can’t stop laughing! nice one 😛

  12. archerangel on February 21, 2014

    i love the irony of this post :))
    if you dont want your parents and/or relatives discriminate you for not fufilling any of the reasons above, move out of the house and live your life the way you want it to be (that is if you are brave enough to do so) :))

    • Mary on February 21, 2014

      Yes! The best revenge is for us non-fruit-salad-receiving adults to live an amazing life despite not accomplishing most of the things on this list. 😀

  13. Marc on February 21, 2014

    I agree with all the points. Don’t you love it when you get a phone call from some cousin-100-times-removed telling you that you are now the godparent to their newly born twins without you even knowing the aforementioned cousin’s name? Wonderful, isn’t it?

    • Mary on February 21, 2014

      *ring ring*

      “Hello? O, apo! Nanganak na si Pinsan #234! O binyag kahapon. Ikaw yung Ninang, ah? Prinoxy ka na lang namin, ah?”

  14. Muchacha on February 21, 2014

    So if I work in ADB, United Nations or the World Bank, I should be ashamed? I have a feeling a myopic thinker wrote this

    • rumandreds on February 21, 2014

      ADB, UN, and World Bank are famous institutions.

    • Muchacho on February 21, 2014

      I think you’re the one being myopic about this. The companies she mentioned above were examples. Have you ever heard of them?

  15. Ina on February 21, 2014


    and at this rate, i’m screwed. darn it, mary! </3

    • Mary on February 21, 2014

      Wow, umikot papunta sayo? Ang galing. 🙂

  16. Cee on February 21, 2014

    Finally! A list that a twenty-something Filipino can actually relate to! I’ve always believed that Thought Catalog gets things right, most times; not anymore with your list around. You’re so ‘write’ on this one. I couldn’t stop laughing! 🙂

  17. borja james on February 21, 2014

    traditional filipino thinking.

    • Mary on February 21, 2014

      Sad, right?

      I used to explain myself every family reunion but now I just let them ask, “bakit di ka pa mag-abroad” for the nth time.

      It’s probably Lola-speak for “I want you to live well”.

  18. POLO on February 21, 2014

    what the fuck did I just read

  19. Nick on February 21, 2014

    I understand the resentment in the post; I and some cousins are hearing some of these regularly, even the ones living overseas. However, I do wish to point out that a lot of the “norms” for 20 year olds that parents and older relatives try to force-feed or subtly suggest aren’t said with malice. All of these are rooted in mainstream, family-centric Filipino culture. These norms are what allowed many families to survive and eventually prosper in older times when they experienced less (technological) comforts than what 20-somethings nowadays grew up with. Filipinos today also seem to value individuality more. The dawn of the digital age, increasing variety in money-making opportunities, and ease of travel, gives 20-something Filipinos more resources and options for exploring themselves and what the world has to offer. Older generations of Filipinos may not see the value in that. They had different education, different hardships, different goals in life, and experienced a different culture. I don’t think it’s reasonable to expect older Filipinos to suddenly change their values to be more in tune with the values of the 20-something Filipinos (and the blogs you named which predominantly writes things from a Western, liberal perspective).
    On a side note though, having a family-centric culture does have it’s advantages. They provide strong social capital when you are in need. Even in the USA which is prizes individual liberty, 20-somethings are returning to their parents’ houses for support because of the lingering effects of the recession.

    Nice rant btw. You expressed, what I think many 20-somethings are angry about.

  20. Nix on February 21, 2014

    This is an awesome piece. I’m turning 22 this Sunday and can I just say…. I’m screwed! Haha!

  21. Jorell Ambagan Canuel on February 21, 2014

    Well guess what, Fuck you. 🙂

  22. Mike on February 22, 2014

    I was a management trainee at jollibee right after graduation. Then I became a medical doctor. I wouldn’t worry too much about items 3 to 6. It may come late but still doable. As the list wound down, so did all my bouyed up feelings. I’m turning 40 soon. Lol

    • Mary on February 22, 2014

      That’s amazing. I’m actively trying to survive while ignoring this list (haha) so it helps to know people like you who have succeeded at it.

  23. Dane July Beriong on February 22, 2014

    How can you “always” give out crispy pata when you only get married once? (well ideally) 0_0

    • Mary on February 22, 2014

      Haha! I didn’t notice it could be read that way.

      • Dane July Beriong on February 22, 2014

        Well I get what you mean but other people could take it differently, and you know that.
        :v Anyway, great read. Inspired me to go out and work my butt off. Lol.

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