By Jay D. Balnig
The Traveljournal-CREAM Magazine
How much do we know of Austria? Operas, Vienna sausage, Glock firearms manufacturing, clean and safe place to visit, the famous Dunabe River, home of Mozart and the city that has the most number of coffee houses in the world is Vienna.
religious and cultural procession in Vienna
But, did you know that Austrians have practices that are similar to that of Filipinos? Here are some of them:
1. Leaving one’s shoes outside before entering a house.
2. The homeowner shakes the hand of the visitor as a sign of respect and generosity.
3. A man cannot kiss a woman’s hand unless the former is from another country.
4. A girl can kiss a boy but a boy cannot kiss a girl or a boy.
5. If you wish to give flowers to a girl, the number of flowers should not be in even numbers (except for 12). Otherwise, this is bad luck.
6. Majority of Austrians visit their elders during weekends and they go out for a picnic, adventure trip, food trip or other opportunities for family bonding. In the Philippines, Filipinos love to go to parks, beaches, malls and other places to give their elders a good time.
7. If you meet somebody, it is impolite not to greet them. Austrians greet “Gruss Gott” (Greet God) and “Auf Wiedersehen” (Good Bye).
Filipinos in Austria
During my visit in Vienna, I found some kindred souls who made me feel at home. I went to McDonald’s Restaurant near Saint Stephen’s Cathedral for breakfast because it was the only resto that fit my budget. I was surprised to learn that their crew speak Hiligaynon, a dialect spoken mostly by residents of Western Visayas in the Philippines. As it turns out, 90% of the crew came from my very own country’s Bacolod City, Tigbauan and Oton (Iloilo province), and Tibiao (Antique province).
One of them is Jonathan Nava who has lived in Vienna for 20 years already. He is one of the 20,000 Filipinos in Vienna who work as fast food chain crew, factory workers or professionals employed by big companies. They also gather in June in order to celebrate the Philippine Independence Day.
A Dose of Austria
Also, did you know that the government of Austria provides citizens with many privileges?
One of them is free tuition from pre-school to college (that is why most of them are very educated). There are more than 10 big universities in Austria and the post popular is the University of Vienna. Built during 1365, it now offers more than 181 degree programs, 55 bachelor programs, 110 master programs and 13 doctoral programs. The university also garnered 15 Nobel prizes from 1914-2004 in the field of chemistry, physics, medicine and literature. Currently, they have over 93,000 students.
Additionally, Austria has a beautiful landscape, historic towns and imperial cities. It is surrounded by the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Italy, Switzerland, Hungary, Slovenia and parts of Germany; no wonder most Austrians speak German.
Some of the historical landmarks that tourists shouldn’t miss are the Hohensalzbug fortress, Schonbrunn Palace, the World’s oldest Zoo in Schonbrunn that was established in 1752, Holy Trinity Shrine (Graben), Wiener Rathaus, Royal family’s Burggarten, Hofburg Imperial Palace, Prater Amusement Park and Balvedere Complex.
Come to Austria and we hope that you enjoy your trip./JDB