OPINION: Guests and Visitors

Tin Bartolome

Posted at Jun 23 2017 07:26 PM | Updated as of Jul 05 2017 09:09 PM

We rarely have visitors at home. Usually, we have guests. What’s the difference? Visitors happen to come by while guests are invited. “Guests are the people who are truly important to you," churchingenuity.com says.

Actually, we often invite people over—that’s why they are guests. We’ve had guests who stayed anywhere from a few hours to a few weeks. We used to call our home a halfway house!

Outside the house, our “asPin” (that’s asong Pinoy, a mongrel) named Kiko announces the arrival of people he is not familiar with, sounding fierce and intimidating. But once the front door opens and Vienna takes over, the welcome is so warm—and a little wet as she licks everyone who comes in.

People come to the house for various reasons. My children’s guests come to hang out, sometimes to do some work while ours (my husband and I) have guests over to talk—mostly. The house, especially the one we used to live in, was what was referred to as the halfway house. Actually a UP housing unit, it once belonged to a kind professor who inspired countless teachers and students to look more into their culture. I was also one of those going into transition when I first visited that house. I was leaving a Makati-based law school to go back to my college alma mater for graduate studies in my field.

I shuttled between my parents’ house—my real home, the house my friends rented and at times, I was on my own. My friends and I were like sisters, sharing laughs and hurts and sometimes, even clothes. It felt like I had parents in one house and sisters in another. Whenever we would visit each other’s homes (where the parents lived), we conducted ourselves properly. These days, though, some young people feel so comfortable—to the point of forgetting proper decorum. I once heard one of my sons tell a frequent guest of his to keep off his brother’s ice cream!

But not all young people are overly comfortable. Some are courteous and are even charming! When another son was still in high school, he said he was having group mates over to work on a group project overnight. As the weekend drew near, I asked him how many “growing boys” we were expecting so I could prepare a proper meal for them. I was so surprised when he said he was expecting two girls! Surprised, but really flattered—to have been trusted by their moms enough to allow them to sleep over! 

One summer, his college classmates paid him a surprise visit—there were twelve of them in all, joined by one more friend around midnight— how they were all able to sleep in a 20-square-foot- space, I cannot imagine!

I usually allow my children’s friends to stay as long as they want. There was a time though, when I did not really have much choice. A female acquaintance of my son asked him if she could stay over as she had nowhere else to stay before going back to her hometown. I said yes—with great hesitation as it was my rule not to allow female friends (much less acquaintances) of my sons to sleep over unless I knew their parents.

It now seems like she would have slept over anyway, even if she had to stay in my daughter’s room, and despite not having exchanged more than ten words to each other before that! This girl got her way without asking me personally. She stayed for more than one night, conducting herself as if we had known her since birth, joining us at the table without being invited. And then I found out that she was in Manila primarily to watch a movie and perhaps explore the mall before she went back home!

Another visitor we had was a neighbor’s cleaning woman who was also a part-time evangelist. She knocked on our door and started preaching to my then 10-year-old son. Indignant, I intervened and told her that she was subverting my parental authority over my son and that faith—and religion—were very personal. She should have asked me first whether I would allow her to talk to my son about her faith.

Just as I began writing this, four teenagers came into my usual hangout—the coffee shop near our house. They all carried backpacks and approached different diners, selling local cookies. I had seen them before and I really feel that while these children are taught the value of work, they should also be taught to be ethical.

I took it upon myself to tell them that they should first ask permission from the owners or the people at the counter before they approached the diners. That was basic respect for whoever owned the place—or those in charge at that time. Sometimes, we mistake “public” places to be places where we can do anything we want.

Perhaps, a few lessons on respect for privacy and the right to eat in peace—whether in a public place or not—are in order. There ought to be respect for other people’s space, their right to refuse (to buy those cookies) and not feel guilty.

So, as I was saying, guests are invited while visitors just drop in. Also, guests are presumably welcome, unlike visitors whom we merely tolerate. And as true Filipinos are non-confrontational, we often just stand back or accommodate these visitors and when we fall prey to those out to put one over us, we just charge everything to experience! Remember, we can refuse visitors—but not guests!

Disclaimer: The views in this blog are those of the blogger and do not necessarily reflect the views of ABS-CBN Corp.