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Best Things about Being Pinoy
Excerpt from the Inquirer Magazine [06.12.88]

            From the 1896 Revolution to the first Philippine Republic, the Commonwealth period, and the tiger cub economy, history marches on.  Thankfully, however, some things never change.  Like the classics, things irresistibly Pinoy mark us for life.  They're the indelible stamp of our identity, the undeniable affinity that binds us like twins.  They celebrate the good in us, the best of our culture and the infinite possibilities we are all capable of.  Some are so self-explanatory you only need mention them for fellow Pinoys to swoon or drool. Here, from all over this Centennial-crazed country and in no particular order, are a hundred of the best things that make us unmistakably Pinoy.

  1. Beaches! With 7000 plus islands, we have miles and miles of shoreline piled high with fine white sand, lapped by warm waters, and nibbled by exotic tropical fish. From the stormy seas of Batanes to the emerald isles of Palawan -- over here, life is truly a beach.
  2. Po, opo, mano po. Speech suffixes that define courtesy, deference, filial respect -- a balm to the spirit in these aggressive times.
  3. Pinoy humour and irreverence. If you're api and you know it, crack a joke. Nothing personal, really.
  4. Kuwan, ano. At a loss for words? Try these and marvel at how Pinoys understand exactly what you want.
  5. Tingi. Thank goodness for small entrepreneurs. Where else can we buy cigarettes, soap, condiments and life's essentials in small affordable amounts?
  6. Spirituality. Even before the Spaniards came, ethnic tribes had their own anitos, bathalas and assorted deities, pointing to a strong relationship with the Creator, who or whatever it may be.
  7. Bagoong. Darkly mysterious, this smelly fish or shrimp paste typifies the underlying theme of most ethnic foods: disgustingly unhygienic, unbearably stinky and simply irresistible.
  8. Bayanihan. Yes, the internationally-renowned dance company, but also this habit of pitching in still common in small communities. Just have that cold beer and some pulutan ready for the troops.
  9. Santacruzan. More than just a beauty contest, this one has religious overtones, a tableau of St. Helena's and Constantine's search for the Cross that seamlessly blends piety, pageantry and ritual. Plus, it's the perfect excuse to show off the prettiest ladies -- and the most beautiful gowns.
  10. Folk songs. They come unbidden and spring, full blown, like a second language, at the slightest nudge from the too-loud stereo of a passing jeepney or tricycle.
  11. Jeepneys. Colorful, fast, reckless, a vehicle of postwar Pinoy ingenuity, this Everyman's communal cadillac makes for a cheap, interesting ride. If the driver's a daredevil (as they usually are), hang on to your seat.
  12. Balikbayan box. Another way of sharing life's bounty, no matter if it seems like we're fleeing Pol. Pot everytime we head home from anywhere in the globe. The most wonderful part is that, more often than not, the contents are carted home to be distributed.
  13. Pasalubong. Our way of sharing the vicarious thrills and delights of a trip, and a wonderful excuse to shop without the customary guilt.
  14. Sawsawan. Assorted sauces that guarantee freedom of choice, enough room for experimentation and maximum tolerance for diverse tastes.
  15. Merienda. Where else but in the Philippines is it normal to eat five times a day?

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