Estremera: Text quotes and prayers and communicating across cultures

Spider’s web

INSPIRATIONAL quotes and prayers sent as text messages were very popular in the years now almost forgotten, when we had the 5110, 8210, and those Motorola units... Friends sent us texted prayers and inspirational quotes almost everyday, but most especially on special occasions. Not anymore.

Social media has taken over that role complete with videos and graphics... I still have two. Reminders of years gone by.

One is a pastor who just recently asked if he can send random prayers. That’s very thoughtful and so I said yes.

The other has been sending, almost daily, and all I have of him is his number. I no longer asked who is it who sends coz he was never my friend nor acquaintance. I can’t even remember the details of how we exchanged numbers.

All I remember was there was some sort of contest that I judged when I was still editor-in-chief, somewhere out of town, wherever it was, I can also no longer remember. It was one of many contests I judged every year as EIC. Some of the winners were from Davao City so I was asked if I can bring the prizes with me so the Davao winners can just claim these from my office. This texter was one of them.

These two bring nostalgia of sorts, of those years when we sent messages that bode well and not the hate we see daily in social media. It brings memories when our phone inboxes would get clogged and unable to receive and send more messages during special occasions.

But we communicated anyway, as we communicated when there was still no cellular phone.

This brings us to communication and how it is easy to miscommunicate; especially across cultures.

Like: Huhuhu.

We, Filipinos, know that we use “huhuhu” in our posts and messages to indicate sadness or crying.

Guess what? It’s not so in other cultures. This became apparent when after the Sri Lanka bombings, fellow journalists shared messages of commiseration and worries to our Sri Lankan colleagues. A Filipino journo’s reaction to a shared photo of the bombing was: Huhuhu.

The first clue that a miscommunication happened was when the Sri Lankan asked: Are you crying or laughing. The Filipino replied, “Of course, I’m not laughing. Huhuhu is a sad comment.”

I Googled to understand what’s happening, and found this in Urban Dictionary:

Huhu or any number of repetitions of hu is an expression of emotion.

1. In the Philippines, it is the term for crying.

2. In Europe, it is laughter usually associated with a “simple” individual, usually used as a derogatory laugh.

3. In New Zealand, this is the equivalent of hahaha.

And that is just one common expression... How many more words are there waiting to be misunderstood?


SunStar website welcomes friendly debate, but comments posted on this site do not necessarily reflect the views of the SunStar management and its affiliates. SunStar reserves the right to delete, reproduce or modify comments posted here without notice. Posts that are inappropriate will automatically be deleted.

Forum rules:

Do not use obscenity. Some words have been banned. Stick to the topic. Do not veer away from the discussion. Be coherent. Do not shout or use CAPITAL LETTERS!