By Jeck G. Tirambulo | Features Editor
Vol. XCI No. 10
Nov. 22, 2019
“Filipinos are not Western enough to be categorised as Westerns yet not Asian enough to be labelled as Asians.”
I have encountered this phrase countless times in the online world, when racial or cultural identities are brought upon or when someone from our country has brought recognition from people around the globe— be it in pageantry or a popular television program. While in most times we consider such chatter as a source of good humor and entertainment, it also shows just how much we Filipinos are robbed of having our own identity, an identity that could have been incomparable to any. As much as we don’t make a big deal out of this petty concern, there are still several things that we can consider as “indigenous” to us Filipinos. Things that could justify who are we as Filipinos:
- We have embraced the culture of family dramas. It cannot be denied that our adhesion to Philippine dramas is not only limited to specific television shows but also to real dramas revolving around prominent figures. Kardashians who? The Barretos can do better.
- Breakfast, lunch, and dinner without rice are just snacks. Although having rice as staple food is also common to neighboring Asian countries, for Filipinos, rice is a complementary food to almost anything edible—regardless of its variant. Bread and coffee? Rice combined with coffee is better. Same goes with toyo/asin and cooking oil plus rice.
- We eat using our bare hands. Perhaps one iconic scene that represents how this practice is almost endemic to us Filipinos was when Miss Universe 1969 Gloria Diaz was asked during the preliminary Q&A. “Is it true that you Filipinos use your hands to eat?” In which she replied, “Why, do you use your feet?” Yes we know how to use utensils but eating barehanded gives fourth dimensional dining experience.
- We love holding that microphone. Our richness in culture have enabled us to have celebrations in everything that gives happiness. Singing is pretty much present in every event. Every neighborhood is expected to know Jukebox hits and have it sung over midnight. Karaoke is part of every Filipino’s life. Hence, an average Filipino is assumed to have sung Frank Sinatra’s My Way more than he sang it in his lifetime.
- We clamour for fame and clout in social media. An average Filipino who owns a social media account can have as much reacts, retweets, or favs as some popular figures from other countries. One could say that this correlates with statistical data regarding the number of social media users worldwide. After all, we’re leading despite the outrageous internet service that we have.
- No one fights to death other than Filipino fanbases. Do I need to elaborate more of this? I have yet to see a particular fanbase more rabid than Filipino fanbases. Maybe not all, but a significant number of them are pinning their idols against each other despite knowing that it offers them nothing other than self-satisfaction.
- We are as resilient as the old Nokia phones. By living in an archipelago that belongs to the great Pacific Ring of Fire wherein typhoons and earthquakes are expected to occur every year, and by having strong spiritual beliefs common among the majority of the populace — are just a few answers to why Filipinos are somewhat resilient to almost any unforeseen circumstances.
The list can go on just as we continue to generate new culture by synergy of different existing cultures. One identity does not define us because we have a lot of them to showcase.