You know a foreigner’s been exposed to Pinoy DNA when…

A Filipino stew, using tamarind and pork. Mmmm.

the famous sinigang na baboy, with all the trimmings including gabi I hope :p

There are many ways to be infected with Pinoy DNA (Di Na Awkward), but the most popular are to have a Pinoy girlfriend (or, less frequently, boyfriend), to have relatives by affinity and big groups of friends (known as barkada back home) who are Filipino, and lastly to bear the preponderance of Filipino colleagues or workmates at the workplace.  Below are strong signals that an erstwhile dayuhan (foreigner) is no longer considered an outsider, for not only do Pinoys eagerly love to welcome a former outsider into their fold (misery loves company); once a (or an honorary) Pinoy, always a Pinoy!

S/he no longer finds adobo/menudo too salty, sinigang too sour,  Bicol express /ginatang gulay too spicy, or leche flan too sweet.  I know just the thought of these home cooked dishes, especially to Pinoy expats, causes some of us to salivate and drool, but I can’t imagine how most aliens who are used to more bland, un-spicy and un-spiked dishes would react.  It seems that most of them develop a taste for tangy, sharp-tasting and strongly seasoned foods that we are used to, for I have not found a dayuhan who hasn’t liked our food or at least understood why we prepare our dishes the way we do.

Either that, or they are too courteous to make comments about their wives’ / girlfriends’ cooking.  Of course we can’t expect them to take in adidas, balot, IUD or dinugaan as we’ve been born with these treats, and especially since it’s an acquired taste, but I do know some Kiwis who’ve gotten used to and actually included sinangag, pancit and boneless bangus in their regular diet / menu.  I even had to tell a mate that the chop suey he had gotten used to was a less spicy version of the chow mien and nasi goreng across the South China Sea.

S/he no longer minds or raises hell when everybody talks Tagalog/Visayan/Ilokano in her/his presence.  This used to be a real issue with me, being a purveyor of  political correctness, not to mention sympathy for the husband of a new Pinoy friend who visited our flat frequently.  Everybody would speak Tagalog and all its permutations (Batangueno Tagalog, Bulakeno Tagalog, Caviteno Tagalog) while the Kiwi barely had a chance to follow any of the simultaneous conversations that Filipinos , whenever they get together, frequently conduct.  I would vainly attempt to translate the numerous phrases flying through the air, when his wife once told me : hayaan mo na Noel. Sanay na sya.  I slowly learned to give up after that.

S/he knows most of the obscene / curse words from our language / dialect, and moreover knows how to counter them, for example, when someone sez do you know p-ina mo, they come right back and say yes, and p-ina mo rin.  Sort of makes us blush to learn what they already know, but it’s one way to break the ice, especially in front of salty-speaking beer-drinkers and lambanog-shooters.  Even the objectionable language from different dialects all over the archipelago are fair game, particularly when the foreigner in question has made the rounds of the Islands.  Because foreigners love to hop around the islands, learning a few words here and there seems to be an indispensable part of the travelling experience, and they are all the richer for it.

I've heard that unauthorized DVDs of "Magkaribal" have English & Samoan subtitles. Cheesy!

S/he has at least working knowledge of the Pinoy fondness for telenovelas, not only the homegrown kind but from everywhere tearjerkers abound.  Used to be in the old country,  TV prime time was filled with canned shows from the US, and maybe a weekly special or two from Superstar Nora Aunor or Star for all Seasons Vilma Santos.  Nowadays right after the 6:00 news, you are expected to watch three hours of soap operas featuring homegrown talent like the Baretto Sisters (Gretchen and Claudine), love teams like John Lloyd and Bea or Piolo and Angel, or can’t miss blockbusters from Korea (Boys Over Flowers) and Taiwan (Meteor Garden) or even reboots of proven winners from Mexico (Marimar,  Maria Mercedes, Echabelita, etc).

The simple formula of poor-girl-meets-rich-boy (or poor-boy-meets-rich-girl), fantasy epics or rags-to-riches sagas spanning three generations is run through the mill again and again, across language barriers and cultures and Pinoy viewers will lap up whatever is served them.  Evidently we do our local recipes well, because Samoans, Fijians, Tongans and other Polynesians love our telenovelas, to the extent that whole seasons of pirated DVDs are available, if you know where to look, in Islander communities in NZ, and we wouldn’t be surprised if the same were available in Aussie.  Now, as someone with a significant other, girlfriend or GFF/BFFs from the Pinoy community, you should be prepared to put up with endless viewing of these drama staples, especially if the Pinoys in question are new migrants and/or are Gen X or Gen Y members, who were probably still in the Philippines when the soaps reached or near the peak in popularity.

Just a tongue-in-cheek warning to our guests and white-skinned mates : keep in mind those behavioral observations above and you can’t go wrong in getting along with us Pinoys.  Have you any other tips in mind?

Thanks for reading!



7 thoughts on “You know a foreigner’s been exposed to Pinoy DNA when…

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  6. Hi! What an amazing description about those “Pinoy” foreigners we have! haha! Just thought I’d share this with you:

    It’s an Aussie going to the market and doing a cooking show in straight Tagalog/Filipino. Yes, he’s learned a whole LOT about our culture — DNA! haha! Hope you can share this with your friends and family as well =)

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