There are so many reasons why I thank God I’m Filipino. But I’m narrowing it down to my top 10, in no particular order:
1. Pinoy Music. Some critics say we don’t have a distinct sound. I say that IS our sound: we take the best (and sometimes a little of the worst, too) from music all over the world in order to create the right blend that for the most part, only Pinoys are able to understand and enjoy. Foreigners sometimes ask me to translate a Filipino version/cover of a popular song that makes us laugh, but a lot of things get lost in translation. Come to think of it, music is so ingrained in the Filipino psyche that it permeates every aspect of Pinoy life: like it or not, almost every thing has a “theme song” to accompany it.
Relatedly, who would oppose the fact that ALMOST everyone in this country can carry a tune? Even Manong Tricycle Driver was singing Bon Jovi’s “You Give Love a Bad Name” better than Bon Jovi live. I told him he should join The Voice. He just laughed, kept the volume up, and drove away.
2. Sinigang. Nothing beats a bowl of hot, spicy tamarind soup with chunks of meat or fish. Especially on rainy days.
3. Unpredictable Weather. Sun is shining? Bring out the umbrella to give you shade. And you never know, a thunderstorm might decide to show up later. I’ve lost count of how many umbrellas I’ve given away (read: lost in transit), but that doesn’t discourage me from bringing an umbrella and being ready to break out into a Gene Kelly routine when necessary. Sometimes the humidity is excruciating, but a little perspective helps: I’d rather have tropical weather than frostbite. Even Olaf will agree with me.
4. Halo-halo. Ah, that quintessential summer dessert that aptly describes a typical Filipino: comfortingly cool, surprisingly good, and may contain nuts.
5. Pinoy Humor. For clarity’s sake, I’m referring to the common attitude of Filipinos to look for humor even in the darkest circumstances (or make molehills out of mountains, depending on how you see it). Honestly, it sometimes makes me wonder if the Philippines should be named the Bipolar Capital of the World. “Tawanan ang problema” is how many Filipinos deal with their problems, but really, it should be banned by mental health experts because it could trigger bipolar disorder. I’m kidding! I think.
Alice thought she found a rabbit hole to Wonderland, but really, it was a portal to Manila. The Mad Hatter is a regular at Batasan (where the PH Congress convenes), and teaches a course on “How to Kill Time and Get Away With It Like a Pro.”
6. The ‘Ber Months. Although I don’t keep Christmas, I like how Christmas starts really early in the Philippines. Advertisements telling people to “Give Love” start popping up the moment a month that ends in -ber comes in. People (well at least salespeople) start being nice to others. Some start thinking of what gifts to give their friends and loved ones this early, and even if they end up not being able to buy anything at all, there is always that comforting response: “It’s the thought that counts.” I also love how almost everything is on sale during the ‘Ber months.
7. The Filipino Family. We do everything for family. It is a blessing to see grandfolks being cared for by their grown up children out of love. And how children still ask for the elders’ blessing (mano po). Even when our families are dysfunctional or crazy, we love them anyway.
8. The Beaches. Sorsogon. Puerto Galera. Bohol. Cebu. Batangas. My favorite is Paguriran Island in Sorsogon, but almost all the photos of pristine white sand beaches nearby make me happy. I say “nearby” because, thanks to air travel rates becoming more and more affordable, all those dream destinations are now just a few hours of travel away.
9. The Filipino Brand of “Hospitality.” GlobalPost.com lists us as one of the Best Places for Expat Retirees mainly because of Filipino hospitality (or how foreigners are basically treated like kings here). But this Filipino Hospitality™ isn’t just for foreigners. It really is just second nature for Filipinos to share whatever we have with people (even strangers) who drop by our homes for a visit, or who need a place to stay for a few days, weeks, months… This is most evident during times of distress and calamities as well. I’ve experienced being stuck during a typhoon in a city where I didn’t know anyone, but I found people who instantly became Tito, Tita, Ate and Kuya —all willing to help a stranger find shelter.
10. Pinoy Online Power. In 1986, we showed the world how we could launch a revolution without bloodshed, and they branded it as People Power. Today, I am amazed at how, despite being given internet access as slow as molasses compared to our neighbouring countries, Pinoys Online make it look like we own Twitter. How quickly did #HappyIndependenceDayPhilippines become a Worldwide Trend this morning? Or how quickly did #JessicaSanchez make Twitter parties popular?
We still hold the title of Texting Capital of the World (Wiki says the largest average usage of the service by mobile phone subscribers is in the Philippines, with an average of 27 texts sent per day by subscriber. How rich is Manny Pangilinan?). We could very well be FB Status Capital of the World too. I wouldn’t be surprised if, after a cataclysmic event and 3/4th of the world’s population gets wiped out, future archeologists will unearth Facebook’s servers and manage to retrieve data—only to find most of the uploads, selfies, and jejemon messages to be from Pinoys Online. 🙂
In the spirit of #Kalayaan2014 #ArawngKasarinlan #HappyIndependenceDayPH, what’s YOUR Top 10 Reasons Why Love Being a Filipino?
Update: I stumbled across this video produced by Jollibee, and I tip my hat to the people behind it. Salamat!