three things that drive foreigners crazy bout us pinoys


[Note : if there’s one thing I’ve learned the past two weeks, it’s that fatigue and blogging don’t go along well.  thanks very much tugang Aline Parrone for the video above, Waray-waray is a popular folk tune that originated in Tacloban and the rest of Eastern Visayas region.  Waray is also the common term for the ethnic group in the region.  Let’s continue praying for both the living and the dead there.  thanks Kevin Ayson for the video below! Mabuhay po! ]

I HAVE excellent sources for this blog post’s research : word-of-mouth, urban legend, and tall tales.  Seriously, tidbits and morsels of anecdotes here and there are probably the only thing/s I can share with you, given that everything else is already on the internet, that I’m relatively so isolated from both homeland, family and friends, and finally that my life and schedule are governed by my hours at work (not that I’m complaining).

But you and I have seen on the world stage how the international community has reacted to the death and destruction left by Typhoon Haiyan : an outpouring of love and generosity, in both aid and effort, from nearly every country on the face of God’s Earth.  You and I know the reason/s for this.  the unshakeable spirit of humanity and the fact that this was probably the strongest storm (on record) to ever hit land.

Last but not least, I have to believe that the groundswell of altruism also has to do with the fact that Pinoys are so visible on the world stage, whether as skilled workers or tradesmen, artists, performers and athletes, or what have you.  We can count ourselves as one of the most charming, visible and engaging people on earth, and that’s not just because I’m a Pinoy.  You can see it everywhere.

But like anyone else, we’re not perfect.  Here are some things our foreign brothers and sisters (foreigner is actually a rude term, when I am in NZ the word is never used on me, it’s always guest or visitor) find simply inexplicable about us, given the general positivity we generate :

we smell and look like roses, but live in generally dirty surroundings.  This is one of the most hurtful comments I’ve heard, but it’s true.  A Scottish prosthetics specialist I know told me once, how can you observe such good hygiene, yet live next to a dead, polluted river?  How can you dress so immaculately, yet walk casually among rubbish and filth?  At first I took offense, but I realized that it was true.  We do pay scant regard to how our rubbish and waste are collected.  We do see our countrymen spit and urinate everywhere.  And yes, we do live in an environment of dead rivers, streams and lakes, for so long now that it looks like it hardly matters to us.  (And does it, really?),

It looks like an incongruity because Filipinos in general are so clean and neat in their appearance, we bathe and take showers like water was running out tomorrow, and use perfume and colognes liberally, no matter what our station in life is.  If we showed half the concern we do on ourselves as we do our environment, how different it might be for the health of our  environment.

we are politically correct when it comes to recognizing women, but not among the poorest of our poor.  Ahead of the US and some older democracies we have had our first lady president, Supreme Court chief justice and senior lawmakers, we honor and lionize our beauty queens for leadership roles, and give prominence to the role of women and society.  All very good.  But we don’t bat an eyelash when our kababaihan are forced by poverty and hardship to prostitute themselves at home and abroad, turn our heads away to the willing (and unwilling) exploitation of our women on the internet, and shrug our collective shoulders when Pinay workers get a raw deal abroad.

We pay lip service and say the right things when it comes to recognizing our countrywomen, but accept it as a fact of life when women are objectified and become victims of white slavery wherever criminals and unscrupulous governments take advantage of our women.  It’s almost become a curse.  Our Filipinas are among the most beautiful in the world, defer to male elders and menfolk by force of tradition, and are taught early in life that it’s better to be seen and not heard.  Because of these perceived virtues, our sisters are preyed upon by those who earn blood money in the flesh trade.  And you know what they say : all that is necessary for evil to triumph, is for good men to do nothing.  I can just hear commonsense asking: Is there a shortage of good men in the Philippines?

Groundhog day.  we experience a dozen plus typhoons every year, a dozen plus major and minor earthquakes in the same period, and a couple of volcanic eruptions every now and then.  But we still scramble to save lives, property and reduce suffering everytime the wrath of God comes in various shapes and forms.  It’s like a foreigner saying, you know what’s gonna happen, you know what it’s gonna do when it happens, and you know what to do to avoid it, so why don’t you do it???

Granted what happened in the Visayas region was beyond the anticipation of even the most prudent government effort, but given our experience with such similar and parallel events, I can’t help but wonder if more lives couldn’t be saved.  It is so much water under the bridge, sumalangit nawa ang mga kaluluwa ng ating mga kabayan, but if Haiyan doesn’t change the way we face disasters and relief efforts, I guess nothing will.

As mentioned earlier, this is all a simplistic compilation on how people overseas see us.  Whether or not it helps, it’s just food for thought.

Mabuhay ang Pilipinas, and thanks for reading!

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7 thoughts on “three things that drive foreigners crazy bout us pinoys

  1. Pingback: honoring the custodians of our pinoy culture | YLBnoel's Blog

  2. Koya, as always, a delight to read your blog, and always a reminder of what I should and could and would have been, except that I am not and will never be like you. Hats off to you Koya.

    But you know me. I need to say something – blame it on my education, line of work or simply my personality. But unlike you, “that my life and schedule are governed by my hours at work” – this is not my case. So, while enjoying my pinot grigio in this freezing temp while watching “The Blacklist,” ( you have to watch it), the news, and 2 other shows (talk about ADD), let me join in the discussion.

    Issue 1: Cleanliness and Environment – one is personal and the latter is economic.
    Here is my opinion on this. Those in the urban areas show less concern, as you have said, about their environment such as dirty esteros, stinky garbage, etc. because they feel helpless on these – just too much for them to attend to. And Filipinos are not known for initiative. They do not volunteer, lest they be called pasikat or mayabang. (Volunteerism has been campaigned by ex-Mayor Gordon to no avail.) They wait for someone else to start. In the provinces, their concept of clean environment is simple, rustic, well….provincial But they do basic cleaning such as the dried leaves, crude fence, etc. But do not tell them about environment in terms of forest conservation, aquatic preservation, etc. This is against survival for them. That encroaches on economic necessities. But the issue of washing clothes, be it in the river or the public poso, no matter how tattered these clothes are, taking a shower even with just a bucket of water or from the busted street pipe, that is upbringing. That is cultural. And the cologne…this is Johnsons baby cologne or whatever they can afford. Inexpensive ones.

    Issue 2: On Women – Not only women. If you are popular, we idolize you…no matter what, regardless of your past. Erap? Marcos? The list in unbelievable. But if you are a nobody and bring disgrace to our country or community, we do not know you. We disown you in a heartbeat. We are impressionable as a people. Blame it on our historical anecdotes where the Dayuhan are venerated and the locals are relegated to…well…just one of us. And this stretches to our hospitality taken to an extreme negative extent. “Nakakahiya naman sa bisita.” There goes the savings.

    Issue 3: Groundhog day – We do learn our lessons. They move or they want to move but there is nowhere to go and the family and the barangay block their way. Plus financial. The pull of the affinity and extended family is just too strong. So they will move but not too far, or they will be back. Remember the virtue of the national hero? Ang hindi marunong lumingon…so they stay… they do not want to be branded. Walang utang na loob! – that is the worst label!!!

    Generally, for Filipinos to move, they need to be lead. Someone strong has to move or lead them. This I think is also the reason why, on a broader perspective, what will lead the Philippines to a major change is not so much a change in system as a change in leadership – personality. The society does not understand the system. But they embrace personality – a hora mismo.

    Koya teka kain muna ako…LOL What’s your ulaM
    This is better discussed in person over bottles…and the ramification is endless.

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