Regardless of the way I feel about Philippine politics and the clowns running the government, making life of ordinary Filipinos a painful Semana Santa reenactment, except that it’s not just on Holy Week, but ever single day, I believe part of what makes me beautifully strange and unique are my Pinoy roots and idiosyncrasies. They say that our culture defines us. The way we see ourselves is probably how other people would view us as well. No, it’s not always sunny in Philadelphia. It is though in the Philippines. Not literally, but in our hearts. We can always find it in us to laugh even in the most unfortunate of situations. Our brand of optimism is incredibly unique that way. Waist-deep floods? No problem! A bunch of our men would still be playing basketball in the floating makeshift basketball courts, or swim over to the next-door neighbour to offer assistance in any way possible. And that’s just one of them million crises we are capable of bearing with grace and shared mirth.
That we are a mixed race may have a lot to do with our versatility, but everything we do is distinctly Filipino. It’s in our DNA even when our passports no longer have PILIPINAS emblazoned across the cover. If there is still some lingering confusion as to what makes us more Pinoy than we’d care to admit, these should somehow set the record straight. Ready?
You know you’re undeniably Pinoy when…
1. You respond to a “Hoy” or “Pssst!” in a crowd.
It may sound inappropriate or impolite and it may very well be, because we do have names after all, but in our culture, we hardly take offence when addressed as “hoy” or “pssst” in a crowd. No, there are no direct translations for these weird sounds and you simply pronounce them as spelled.
2. You have a walis tambo and/or walis tingting in the house.
Ahhh, the ubiquitous walis tambo or ‘soft broom’. Usually made from dried stalks of grass, this is used for sweeping dust and dirt off the floor inside the house. Long before the introduction of the vacuum cleaner to the Pinoy households, the walis tambo has been doing a wonderful job of keeping floors clean. There is also the walis tingting or broomstick made from coconut midribs and used mostly outdoors, i.e., for sweeping the yard. Also effective in swatting flies, and smashing cockroaches. Or chasing away prankish kids trying to steal the ripe mango fruits dangling prettily off the branches and/or terrorizing your pets.
3. You have a tabo in your bathroom.
What is a tabo? It is but a small bucket with a longish handle for easy grip, easily held with one hand, and used to scoop up water from the timba (or pail) when taking a bath, manually flushing the toilet, or even watering the plants. No Pinoy is stranger to the sight of tabo, but if you’re reading this and you’re not one of us and therefore really confused about the trusty tabo and its usage, watch this video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E9xm8_d9MdE
4. You always leave your shoes or slippers outside the door before entering the house.
Rich or poor households alike, we Filipinos have this almost-sacred custom of leaving slippers and shoes at the door before entering the house. While this may not be an exclusively Pinoy thing as it’s also commonly practiced in most Asian countries, in the Philippines, you simply do not walk into the house with your shoes. Unless, of course, the owners insist that you do so.
5. You hastily make the sign of the cross whenever you pass by a Church or before crossing the street.
It doesn’t matter if you’re a non-practicing Catholic or have long abandoned your religious faith because 8 out of 10 times, you won’t be able to resist the urge of making the sign of the cross each time you’d pass by a Catholic church or when crossing the street. In a densely populated megalopolis like Metro Manila, crossing the street is almost always like a Russian roulette trip of meeting the Maker.
Photography (or more to the point, taking ‘selfies’ and ‘wefies’), eating, singing, dancing and shopping have ostensibly become the modern-day Pinoy’s favourite activities. If you’re a typical Pinoy perpetually looking out for the best deals, gadgets, tools and offers to fuel your passions, but desperately hating the trip to the mall because of traffic, then trust Zalora, ASOS, Lazada, Honestbee, etc, to give you that hassle-free browsing and shopping experience right on your laptop or mobile! And if you fancy some cash rebates off your purchases, ShopBack will give you that in three very easy steps. Sign up today!
6. You ALWAYS have a cup (or more) of rice with your meals.
A meal is not a meal without rice. Period. We have tocilog, hotsilog, dangsilog, and many other ‘silog’ variations for breakfast, lunch and dinner – even merienda sometimes. For our ardent love of rice, you could say that we’re not as terrified of carbs as most people are. But here’s a paradox: We also love to complain about our weight! Like all the time.
7. You were taught “pagmamano sa nakatatanda” by your parents when you were little and grew up practicing it.
Pagmamano is a time-tested Filipino custom signifying respect and deference to authority, that has survived even the most western of foreign influences. How it’s done: The younger person would ask for the elder’s hand and touch one’s forehead with it while bowing. One usually asks by saying “Mano po” (Literally, “your hands please”). In return, the elder blesses the younger person. Though it’s probably no longer the norm in most households in Metro Manila (with more people opting to make beso intead), it remains to be a practice in the provinces and rural regions.
8. Your heart skips a beat when you see this guy and immediately shout “Kuya, pabili!”
‘Tahoooo, taho kayo riyannnn!’ Taho, a Philippine street food sold by peddlers known as “magtataho”, is a soft gelatin-like snack made from processed soybeans topped with caramel and tapioca pearls (locally called sago), often served hot/warm. Though there are now fancier versions of this delicacy being sold in shopping malls, Pinoys still generally prefer to buy from the familiar kuya or manong magtataho. Well, at least I do.
9. You (or your parents) wash, keep and re-use disposable plastic cutlery because sayang naman kung itatapon lang!
Not that we don’t have enough silverware, we just loathe the idea of ‘wastage’. Or sometimes, the reason can be as petty as “cute kaya!” or “souvenir sa handaan ni ano ito!“.
10. You know this man’s name (probably more than some of your own uncles or cousins) and can recognise his face on a billboard 500 metres away.
Manny Pacquiao aka Ang Pambansang Kamao, is one of our modern day heroes. His fights are often credited with the rarest ‘no traffic’ phenomenon in Metro Manila and overall low crime rate in the entire Philippines. No other modern Filipino – athlete, celebrity, politician, etc – has ever enjoyed that level of apotheosis.
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