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100 Best Things About Being Pinoy
FROM the 1896 Revolution to the first Philippine Republic, the
Commonwealth period, the EDSA Revolt, and the tiger cub economy, history marches
on. Thankfully, however, some things never change. Like the classics, things
irresistibly Pinoy mark us for life. They're the indelible stamp of our
identity, the undeniable affinity that binds us like twins. They celebrate the
good in us, the best of our culture and the infinite possibilities we are all
capable of. Some are so self-explanatory you only need mention them for fellow
Pinoys to swoon or drool. Here, from all over this Centennial-crazed country and
in no particular order, are a hundred of the best things that make us
Merienda. Where else is it normal to eat five times a day?
Sawsawan. Assorted sauces that guarantee freedom of choice, enough
room for experimentation and maximum tolerance for diverse tastes.
Favorites: toyo't calamansi, suka at sili, patis.
Kuwan, ano. At a loss for words? Try these and marvel at how
Pinoys understand exactly what you want.
Pinoy humor and irreverence. If you're api and you know it, crack
a joke. Nothing personal, really.
Tingi. Thank goodness for small entrepreneurs. Where else can we
buy cigarettes, soap, condiments and life's essentials in small affordable
Spirituality. Even before the Spaniards came, ethnic tribes had
their own anitos, bathalas and assorted deities, pointing to a strong
relationship with the Creator, who or whatever it may be.
Po, opo, mano po. Speech suffixes that define courtesy, deference,
filial respect--a balm to the spirit in these aggressive times.
Pasalubong. Our way of sharing the vicarious thrills and delights
of a trip, and a wonderful excuse to shop without the customary guilt.
Beaches! With 7,000 plus islands, we have miles and miles of
shoreline piled high with fine white sand, lapped by warm waters, and
nibbled by exotic tropical fish. From the stormy seas of Batanes to the
emerald isles of Palawan--over here, life is truly a beach.
Bagoong. Darkly mysterious, this smelly fish or shrimp paste
typifies the underlying theme of most ethnic foods: disgustingly unhygienic,
unbearably stinky and simply irresistible.
Bayanihan. Yes, the internationally-renowned dance company, but
also this habit of pitching in still common in small communities. Just have
that cold beer and some pulutan ready for the troops.
The Balikbayan box. Another way of sharing life's bounty, no
matter if it seems like we're fleeing Pol Pot every time we head home from
anywhere in the globe. The most wonderful part is that, more often than not,
the contents are carted home to be distributed.
Pilipino komiks. Not to mention "Hiwaga," "Aliwan,"
"Tagalog Classics," "Liwayway" and"Bulaklak"
magazines. Pulpy publications that gave us Darna, Facifica Falayfay, Lagalag,
Kulafu, Kenkoy, Dyesebel, characters of a time both innocent and worldly.
Folk songs. They come unbidden and spring, full blown, like a
second language, at the slightest nudge from the too-loud stereo of a
passing jeepney or tricycle.
Fiesta. Eat, drink and be merry, for tomorrow is just another day,
shrugs the poor man who, once a year, honors a patron saint with this
sumptuous, no-holds-barred spread. It's a Pinoy celebration at its pious and
Aswang, manananggal, kapre. The whole underworld of Filipino lower
mythology recalls our uniquely bizarre childhood, that is, before political
correctness kicked in. Still, their rich adventures pepper our storytelling.
Jeepneys. Colorful, fast, reckless, a vehicle of postwar Pinoy
ingenuity, this Everyman's communal cadillac makes for a cheap, interesting
ride. If the driver's a daredevil (as they usually are), hang on to your
Dinuguan. Blood stew, a bloodcurdling idea, until you try it with
puto. Best when mined with jalape쨚 peppers. Messy but delicious.
Santacruzan. More than just a beauty contest, this one has
religious overtones, a tableau of St. Helena's and Constantine's search for
the Cross that seamlessly blends piety, pageantry and ritual. Plus, it's the
perfect excuse to show off the prettiest ladies--and the most beautiful
Balut. Unhatched duck's embryo, another unspeakable ethnic food to
outsiders, but oh, to indulge in guilty pleasures! Sprinkle some salt and
suck out that soup, with gusto.
Pakidala. A personalized door-to-door remittance and delivery
system for overseas Filipino workers who don't trust the banking system, and
who expect a family update from the courier, as well.
Choc-nut. Crumbly peanut chocolate bars that defined childhood
ecstasy before M & M's and Hershey's.
Kamayan style. To eat with one's hand and eschew spoon, fork and
table manners--ah, heaven.
Chicharon. Pork, fish or chicken crackling. There is in the crunch
a hint of the extravagant, the decadent and the pedestrian. Perfect with
vinegar, sublime with beer.
Pinoy hospitality. Just about everyone gets a hearty "Kain
tayo!" invitation to break bread with whoever has food to share, no
matter how skimpy or austere it is.
Adobo, kare-kare, sinigang and other lutong bahay stuff.
Home-cooked meals that have the stamp of approval from several generations,
who swear by closely-guarded cooking secrets and family recipes.
Lola Basyang. The voice one heard spinning tales over the radio,
before movies and television curtailed imagination and defined grown-up
Pambahay. Home is where one can let it all hang out, where clothes
do not make a man or woman but rather define their level of comfort.
Tricycle and trisikad, the poor Pinoy's taxicab that delivers you
at your doorstep for as little as PHPesos3.00, with a complimentary dusting
of polluted air.
Dirty ice cream. Very Pinoy flavors that make up for the risk:
munggo, langka, ube, mais, keso, macapuno. Plus there's the colorful cart
that recalls jeepney art.
Yayas. The trusted Filipino nanny who, ironically, has become a
major Philippine export as overseas contract workers. A good one is almost
like a surrogate parent--if you don't mind the accent and the predilection
for afternoon soap and movie stars.
Sarsi. Pinoy rootbeer, the enduring taste of childhood. Our
grandfathers had them with an egg beaten in.
Pinoy fruits. Atis, guyabano, chesa, mabolo, lanzones, durian,
langka, makopa, dalanghita, siniguelas, suha, chico, papaya, singkamas--the
Filipino celebrities. Movie stars, broadcasters, beauty queens, public
officials, all-around controversial figures: Aurora Pijuan, Cardinal
Sin, Carlos P. Romulo, Charito Solis, Cory Aquino, Emilio Aguinaldo, the
Eraserheads, Fidel V. Ramos, Francis Magalona, Gloria Diaz, Manuel L. Quezon,
Margie Moran, Melanie Marquez, Ninoy Aquino, Nora Aunor, Pitoy Moreno, Ramon
Magsysay, Richard Gomez, San Lorenzo Ruiz, Sharon Cuneta, Gemma Cruz, Erap,
Tiya Dely, Mel and Jay, Gary V.
World class Pinoys who put us on the global map: Lea Salonga,
Paeng Nepomuceno, Eugene Torre, Luisito Espinosa, Lydia de Vega-Mercado,
Jocelyn Enriquez, Elma Muros, Onyok Velasco, Efren "Bata" Reyes,
Lilia Calderon-Clemente, Loida Nicolas-Lewis, Josie Natori.
Pinoy tastes. A dietitian's nightmare: too sweet, too salty, too
fatty, as in burong talangka, itlog na maalat, crab fat (aligue), bokayo,
kutchinta, sapin-sapin, halo-halo, pastilyas, palitaw, pulburon, longganisa,
tuyo, ensaymada, ube haleya, sweetened macapuno and garbanzos. Remember,
we're the guys who put sugar (horrors) in our spaghetti sauce. Yum!
The sights. Banaue Rice Terraces, Boracay, Bohol's Chocolate
Hills, Corregidor Island, Fort Santiago, the Hundred Islands, the Las Pi?s
Bamboo Organ, Rizal Park, Mt. Banahaw, Mayon Volcano, Taal Volcano. A land
of contrasts and ever-changing landscapes.
Gayuma, agimat and anting-anting. Love potions and amulets. How
the socially-disadvantaged Pinoy copes.
Barangay Ginebra, Jaworski, PBA, MBA and basketball. How the
verticaly-challenged Pinoy compensates, via a national sports obsession that
reduces fans to tears and fistfights.
People Power at EDSA. When everyone became a hero and changed
Philippine history overnight.
San Miguel Beer and pulutan. "Isa pa nga!" and the
Philippines' most popular, world-renowned beer goes well with peanuts,
corniks, tapa, chicharon, usa, barbecue, sisig, and all manner of spicy,
crunchy and cholesterol-rich chasers.
Resiliency. We've survived 400 years of Spanish rule, the US
bases, Marcos, the 1990 earthquake, lahar, lambada, Robin Padilla, and
Tamagochi. We'll survive Erap.
Yoyo. Truly Filipino in origin, this hunting tool, weapon, toy and
merchandising vehicle remains the best way to "walk the dog" and
"rock the baby," using just a piece of string.
Pinoy games: Pabitin, palosebo, basagan ng palayok. A few basic
rules make individual cunning and persistence a premium, and guarantee a
good time for all.
Ninoy Aquino. For saying that "the Filipino is worth dying
for,'' and proving it.
Balagtasan. The verbal joust that brings out rhyme, reason and
passion on a public stage.
Tabo. All-powerful, ever-useful, hygienically-triumphant device to
scoop water out of a bucket _ and help the true Pinoy answer nature's call.
Helps maintain our famously stringent toilet habits.
Pandesal. Despite its shrinking size, still a good buy. Goes well
with any filling, best when hot.
Jollibee. Truly Pinoy in taste and sensibility, and a corporate
icon that we can be quite proud of. Do you know that it's invaded the Middle
East, as well?
The butanding, the dolphins and other creatures in our blessed waters.
They're Pinoys, too, and they're here to stay. Now if some folks would just
stop turning them into daing.
Pakikisama. It's what makes people stay longer at parties, have
another drink, join pals in sickness and health. You can get dead drunk and
still make it home.
Sing-a-long. Filipinos love to sing, and thank God a lot of us do
Kayumanggi. Neither pale nor dark, our skin tone is beautifully
healthy, the color of a rich earth or a mahogany tree growing towards the
Handwoven cloth and native weaves. Colorful, environment-friendly
alternatives to polyester that feature skillful workmanship and a rich
indigenous culture behind every thread. From the pinukpok of the north to
the malong of the south, it's the fiber of who we are.
Movies. Still the cheapest form of entertainment, especially if
you watch the same movie several times.
Bahala na. We cope with uncertainty by embracing it, and are thus
enabled to play life by ear.
Papaitan. An offal stew flavored with bile, admittedly an acquired
taste, but pointing to our national ability to acquire a taste for almost
English. Whether carabao or Arr-neoww-accented, it doubles our
chances in the global marketplace.
The Press. Irresponsible, sensational, often inaccurate, but still
the liveliest in Asia. Otherwise, we'd all be glued to TV.
Divisoria. Smelly, crowded, a pickpocket's paradise, but you can
get anything here, often at rock-bottom prices. The sensory overload is a
Barong Tagalog. Enables men to look formal and dignified without
having to strangle themselves with a necktie. Worn well, it makes any
ordinary Juan look marvelously makisig.
Filipinas. They make the best friends, lovers, wives. Too bad they
can't say the same for Filipinos.
Filipinos. So maybe they're bolero and macho with an occasional
streak of generic infidelity; they do know how to make a woman feel like
Catholicism. What fun would sin be without guilt? Jesus Christ is
firmly planted on Philippine soil.
Dolphy. Our favorite, ultra-durable comedian gives the beleaguered
Pinoy everyman an odd dignity, even in drag.
Style. Something we often prefer over substance. But every
Filipino claims it as a birthright.
Bad taste. Clear plastic covers on the vinyl-upholstered sofa,
posters of poker-playing dogs masquerading as art, overaccessorized jeepneys
and altars--the list is endless, and wealth only seems to magnify it.
Mangoes. Crisp and tart, or lusciously ripe, they evoke memories
of family outings and endless sunshine in a heart-shaped package.Mangoes.
Crisp and tart, or lusciously ripe, they evoke memories of family outings
and endless sunshine in a heart-shaped package.
Unbridled optimism. Why we rank so low on the suicide scale.
Street food: Barbecue, lugaw, banana-cue, fishballs, IUD (chicken
entrails), adidas (chicken feet), warm taho. Forget hepatitis; here's cheap,
tasty food with gritty ambience.
The siesta. Snoozing in the middle of the day is smart, not lazy.
Honorifics and courteous titles: Kuya, ate, diko, ditse, ineng,
totoy, Ingkong, Aling, Mang, etc. No exact English translation, but these
words connote respect, deference and the value placed on kinship.
Heroes and people who stood up for truth and freedom. Lapu-lapu
started it all, and other heroes and revolutionaries followed: Diego Silang,
Macario Sakay, Jose Rizal, Andres Bonifacio, Apolinario Mabini, Melchora
Aquino, Gregorio del Pilar, Gabriela Silang, Miguel Malvar, Francisco
Balagtas, Juan Luna, Marcelo H. del Pilar, Panday Pira, Emilio Jacinto, Raha
Suliman, Antonio Luna, Gomburza, Emilio Aguinaldo, the heroes of Bataan and
Corregidor, Pepe Diokno, Satur Ocampo, Dean Armando Malay, Evelio Javier,
Ninoy Aquino, Lola Rosa and other comfort women who spoke up, honest cabbie
Emilio Advincula, Rona Mahilum, the women lawyers who didn't let Jalosjos
get away with rape.
Flora and fauna. The sea cow (dugong), the tarsier, calamian deer,
bearcat, Philippine eagle, sampaguita, ilang-ilang, camia, pandan, the
creatures that make our archipelago unique.
Pilipino songs, OPM and composers: "Ama Namin," "Lupang
Hinirang," "Gaano Ko Ikaw Kamahal," "Ngayon at Kailanman,"
"Anak," "Handog,""Hindi Kita Malilimutan,"
"Ang Pasko ay Sumapit"; Ryan Cayabyab, George Canseco, Restie
Umali, Levi Celerio, Manuel Francisco, Freddie Aguilar, and Florante--living
examples of our musical gift.
Metro Aides. They started out as Imelda Marcos' groupies, but have
gallantly proven their worth. Against all odds, they continuously prove that
cleanliness is next to godliness--especially now that those darned
candidates' posters have to be scraped off the face of Manila!
Sari-sari store. There's one in every corner, offering everything
from bananas and floor wax to Band-Aid and bakya.
Philippine National Red Cross. PAWS. Caritas. Fund drives. They
help us help each other.
Favorite TV shows through the years: "Tawag ng Tanghalan,"
"John and Marsha," "Champoy," "Ryan, Ryan Musikahan,"
"Kuwarta o Kahon," "Public Forum/Lives," "Student
Canteen," "Eat Bulaga." In the age of inane variety shows,
they have redeemed Philippine television.
Quirks of language that can drive crazy any tourist listening in:
"Bababa ba?" "Bababa!"
"Sayang!" "Naman!" "Kadiri!" "Ano
ba!?" "pala." Expressions that defy translation but wring
out feelings genuinely Pinoy.
Cockfighting. Filipino men love it more than their wives
Dr. Jose Rizal. A category in himself. Hero, medicine man, genius,
athlete, sculptor, fictionist, poet, essayist, husband, lover, samaritan,
martyr. Truly someone to emulate and be proud of, anytime, anywhere.
Nora Aunor. Short, dark and homely-looking, she redefined our
rigid concept of how leading ladies should look.
Noranian or Vilmanian. Defines the friendly rivalry between Ate
Guy Aunor and Ate Vi Santos and for many years, the only way to be for many
Filipino Christmas. The world's longest holiday season. A perfect
excuse to mix our love for feasting, gift-giving and music and wrap it up
with a touch of religion.
Relatives and kababayan abroad. The best refuge against
loneliness, discrimination and confusion in a foreign place. Distant
relatives and fellow Pinoys readily roll out the welcome mat even on the
basis of a phone introduction or referral.
Festivals: Sinulog, Ati-atihan, Moriones. Sounds, colors, pagan
frenzy and Christian overtones.
Folk dances. Tinikling, pandanggo sa ilaw, kari?sa, kuratsa,
itik-itik, alitaptap, rigodon. All the right moves and a distinct rhythm.
Native wear and costumes. Baro't saya, tapis, terno, saya, salakot,
bakya. Lovely form and ingenious function in the way we dress.
Sunday family gatherings. Or, close family ties that never get
severed. You don't have to win the lotto or be a president to have 10,000
relatives. Everyone's family tree extends all over the archipelago, and it's
at its best in times of crisis; notice how food, hostesses, money, and moral
support materialize during a wake?
Calesa and karitela. The colorful and leisurely way to negotiate
narrow streets when loaded down with a year's provisions.
Quality of life. Where else can an ordinary employee afford a
stay-in helper, a yaya, unlimited movies, eat-all-you-can buffets, the
latest fashion (Baclaran nga lang), even Viagra in the black market?
All Saints' Day. In honoring our dead, we also prove that we know
how to live.
Handicrafts. Shellcraft, rattancraft, abaca novelties,
woodcarvings, banig placemats and bags, bamboo windchimes, etc. Portable
memories of home. Hindi lang pang-turista, pang-balikbayan pa!
Pinoy greens. Sitaw. Okra. Ampalaya. Gabi. Munggo. Dahon ng Sili.
Kangkong. Luya. Talong. Sigarillas. Bataw. Patani. Lutong bahay will never
be the same without them.
OCWs. The lengths (and miles) we'd go for a better life for our
family, as proven by these modern-day heroes of the economy.
The Filipino artist. From Luna's magnificent "Spoliarium"
and Amorsolo's sun-kissed ricefields, to Ang Kiukok's jarring abstractions
and Borlongan's haunting ghosts, and everybody else in between. Hang a
Filipino painting on your wall, and you're hanging one of Asia's best.
Tagalog soap operas. From "Gulong ng Palad" and "Flor
de Luna" to today's incarnations like "Mula sa Puso"--they're
the story of our lives, and we feel strongly for them, MariMar
Midnight madness, weekends sales, bangketas and baratillos. It's
retail therapy at its best, with Filipinos braving traffic, crowds, and
human deluge to find a bargain.