Best Things about Being
from the Inquirer Magazine [06.12.88]
- Filipino comics. Pulpy publications that gave us Darna,
Facifica Falayfay, Lagalag, Kulafu, Kenkoy, Dyesebel, characters of a
time both innocent and worldly.
- Fiesta. Eat, drink and be merry, for tomorrow is just another
day, shrugs the poor man who, once a year, honors a patron saint with
this sumptuous, no-holds-barred spread. It's a Pinoy celebration at
its pious and riotous best.
- Aswang, manananggal, kapre. The whole underworld of Filipino
lower class mythology recalls our uniquely bizarre childhood, that is,
before political correctness kicked in. Still, their rich adventures
pepper our storytelling.
- Dinuguan. Blood stew, a bloodcurdling idea, until you try it
with puto. Best when mined with jalapeno peppers. Messy but delicious.
- Balut. Unhatched duck's embryo, another unspeakable ethnic
food to outsiders, but oh, to indulge in guilty pleasures! Sprinkle
some salt and suck out that soup, with gusto.
- Pakidala or padala. A personalized door-to-door remittance
and delivery system for overseas Filipino workers who don't trust the
banking system, and who expect a family update from the courier, as
- Choc-nut. Crumbly peanut chocolate bars that defined
childhood ecstasy before M & M's and Hershey's.
- Kamayan style. To eat with one's hand and eschew spoon, fork
and table manners -- ah, heaven.
- Chicharon. Pork, fish or chicken crackling. There is in the
crunch a hint of the extravagant, the decadent and the pedestrian.
Perfect with vinegar, sublime with beer.
- Pinoy hospitality. Just about everyone gets a hearty "Kain
tayo!" invitation to break bread with whoever has food to share,
no matter how skimpy or austere it is.
- Adobo, kare-kare, sinigang and other lutong bahay stuff.
Home-cooked meals that have the stamp of approval from several
generations, who swear by closely-guarded cooking secrets and family
- Lola Basyang. The voice one heard spinning tales over the
radio, before movies and television curtailed imagination and defined
- Pambahay. Home is where one can let it all hang out, where
clothes do not make a man or woman but rather define their level of
- Tricycle or trisikad the poor Pinoy's taxicab that delivers
you at your doorstep for as little as P3, with a complimentary dusting
of polluted air.
- Dirty ice cream. Very Pinoy flavors that make up for the
risk: munggo, langka, ube, mais, keso, macapuno. Plus there's the
colorful cart that recalls jeepney art.
- Yayas. The trusted Filipino nannies who, ironically, have
become a major Philippine export as overseas contract workers. A good
one is almost like a surrogate parent -- if you don't mind the accent
and the predilection for afternoon soap and movie stars.
- Sarsi. Pinoy root beer, the enduring taste of childhood. Our
grandfathers had them with an egg beaten in.
- Pinoy fruits. Atis, guyabano, chesa, mabolo, lanzones,
durian, langka, makopa, dalanghita, siniguelas, suha, chico, papaya,
singkamas -- the possibilities are endless!
- Filipino celebrities. Movie stars, broadcasters, beauty
queens, public officials, all-around controversial figures.
- World class Pinoys who put us on the global map: Lea Salonga,
Paeng Nepomuceno, Eugene Torre, Luisito Espinosa, Lydia de
Vega-Mercado, Jocelyn Enriquez, Elma Muros, Onyok Velasco, Efren
"Bata" Reyes, Lilia Calderon-Clemente, Loida Nicolas-Lewis,
- Pinoy tastes. A dietitian's nightmare: too sweet, too salty,
too fatty, as in burong talangka, itlog na maalat, crab fat (aligue),
bokayo, kutchinta, sapin-sapin, halo-halo, pastilyas, palitaw,
pulburon, longganisa, tuyo, ensaymada, ube haleya, sweetened macapuno
and garbanzos. Remember, we're the guys who put sugar & franks in
our spaghetti sauce. Yum!
- The sights. Banaue Rice Terraces, Boracay, Bohol's Chocolate
Hills, Corregidor Island, Fort Santiago, the Hundred Islands, the Las
Pinas Bamboo Organ, Rizal Park, Mt. Banahaw, Mayon Volcano, Taal
Volcano. A land of contrasts and ever-changing landscapes.
- Gayuma, agimat and anting-anting. Love potions and amulets.
How the socially-disadvantaged Pinoy copes.
- PBA, MBA and basketball. How the vertically-challenged Pinoy
compensates, via a national sports obsession that reduces fans to
tears and fistfights.
- American Power at EDSA. When the USA switched support from
Apo Marcos to Tita Cory and changed Philippine history overnight.
- San Miguel Beer and pulutan. "Isa pa nga!" and the
Philippines' most popular, world-renowned beer goes well with peanuts,
corniks, tapa, chicharon, usa, barbecue, sisig, and all manner of
spicy, crunchy and cholesterol-rich chasers.
- Resiliency. We've survived 400 years of Spanish rule, the
United States bases, American imperialism (or maybe not yet), the 1990
earthquake, lahar, lambada, Robin Padilla, and tamagochi. We'll
- Yoyo. Truly Filipino in origin, this hunting tool, weapon,
toy and merchandising vehicle remains the best way to "walk the
dog" and "rock the baby," using just a piece of string.
- Pinoy games: Pabitin, palosebo, basagan ng palayok. A few
basic rules make individual cunning and persistence a premium, and
guarantee a good time for all.
- Imelda Marcos. For promoting Filipino culture and arts to the