3 cringe-worthy items of Pinoy reality that we think are secrets

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OF COURSE, I’m proud of my country.  And of course like any of you adobo-eating, TFC-watching and Arnel-Pineda/Charisse-listening faithful, you’d never deny the fact of your homeland, nationality and skin color, proud as you are of your lahing kayumanggi.  It’s just who you are.

Just the same, there are some things we’d rather keep among ourselves, fellow Pinoys (and spouses, you’re stuck for life I’m afraid).  Every country has its deep dark secrets that have been with us for generations and I’m wondering if you’ve been keeping this from friends from other countries.  If so, let me give you some sage advice.  They already know, or are already discovering our not-so-nice qualities.

But before that , some kind words.  Among all the big migrant groups in New Zealand, I daresay that our ethnic group is in the top three most popular, if not the most popular ethnic group or nationality.  I’ve wrung your ears out in posts past about the motley reasons, and I probably don’t need to enumerate them here but I’ll still give you a few : our famous trait of pakikisama (“getting along”), sturdy work ethic, more-or-less acceptable English, ability to laugh ourselves, etcetera etcetera.  You know the rest.

But this post isn’t for flattering you or me.  It’s one of those few times that we’re not positive and point out the negative in ourselves.  Here we go :

depressing regionalism. In a special “prayer for the faithful” portion during one Pinoy Mass I attended, each individual prayer was read in a different dialect, which Mahal discerned almost immediately because the first prayer was in her beloved Pangalatok.  I also heard my mom’s Bicolano and my fraternity brothers’ Ilokano and Bisaya, and the lasting impression I got was that our various sub-languages sound so different from each other.  This is the most visible indicator of our famous regionalism, which our history textbooks teach us was the main reason various colonizers were able to subjugate us with ease.

I never found out how true or factual this was and considering how long ago since our colonial times, we probably never will.  But to this day, each Pinoy knows how fragmented and disjointed we are, especially overseas.  I mean, wherever in the world, you will find Chinese Associations, Hindu groups, even various organizations representing different nationalities.  But we Pinoys just can’t be Pinoys.  We have Batangueno associations, Ilonggo associations, Pampango groups, as many groups as there are fruits in the Pinoy orchard.  I don’t know about you, but with so many provincial groups it certainly looks to the average non-Pinoy that our sense of national identity isn’t that well-developed.  In short, with kanya-kanya, tayo-tayo and sila-sila, how do we get anything done as a people?

superstitious. I have worked in Makati, the most modern city in the Philippines for around a decade, and often visited in it for years more.  Yet I have never, I mean never seen a building with a 13th floor.  I have attended many wakes and funerals in my time, also back home, and I have never seen a pregnant woman in attendance.  And there are so many superstitions associated with every facet of life, be it weddings, baptisms, funerals or even birthdays.

In many homes, You won’t see many mirrors facing each other, or beds facing doorways because according to the practice of feng shui, these invite bad luck or worse, death to the homeowner and his/her family.  Wow, that’s really tough for the designer.

Every culture has its own set of superstitions but because of the centuries old practices of Catholicism, rural beliefs and Chinese as well as other cultural influences, it’s a multi-dimensional tapestry of superstitions in the Philippines, and I can’t even begin to tell you how many there are.  Hard to believe, but we’re nearly past the first quarter of the 21st century, but many of us are controlled consciously, subconsciously or otherwise, by our superstitious beliefs.

We are held in Big Tobacco’s thrall.  First, a large part of the Northern Luzon region relies on tobacco, so it will always be part of our economy, fueling jobs and business from farmgate, to manufacturing all the way to the retail sari-sari store (and don’t forget downstream industries that benefit); you can’t imagine our country without it.  So much so that every branch of government is in the pocket of Big Tobacco, whether the latter needs billions in subsidy, billions in tax breaks, friendly regulation, or simply looking the other way when Tobacco does its own bit of subtle advertising.  In practical terms, cigarette companies can do anything they want in our country, and there is nothing we can do about it.  That is the biggest, ugliest and worst-kept secret in the Philippines.  Ultimately it’s not that surprising, since it surely is happening in other so-called “developing” countries, but the least we can do is be honest about it to our Kiwi (and other) friends.

There, I’ve said it.  There are many more cringe-worthy items about us that we’d rather not tell, but ultimately we should let others know for them to better understand us Pinoys as a people.  These are just the ones that came to mind, please give me a buzz and tell me if you’ve got any more.  Thanks for reading and mabuhay ang Pinoy!