Best Things about Being
from the Inquirer Magazine [06.12.88]
- Balagtasan. The verbal joust that brings out rhyme, reason and
passion on a public stage.
- Tabo. All-powerful, ever-useful, hygienically-triumphant device
to scoop water out of a bucket and help the true Pinoy answer nature's
call. Helps maintain our famously stringent toilet habits.
- Pan de Sal. Despite its shrinking size, still a good buy. Goes
well with any filling, best when hot. Not to forget pan de Monay and the
local pan de Rizal.
- Barrio Fiesta restaurant. Truly Pinoy in taste and sensibility,
and a corporate icon that we can be quite proud of.
- The butanding, the dolphins and other creatures in our blessed
waters. They're Pinoys, too, and they're here to stay. Now if some folks
would just stop turning them into daing.
- Pakikisama. It's what makes people stay longer at parties, have
another drink, join pals in sickness and health. You can get dead drunk
and still make it home.
- Sing-a-long. Filipinos love to sing, and thank God, most of us
do it well!
- Kayumanggi. Neither pale nor dark, our skin tone is beautifully
healthy, the color of a rich earth or a mahogany tree growing towards
- Hand-woven cloth and native weaves. Colorful,
environment-friendly alternatives to polyester that feature skillful
workmanship and a rich indigenous culture behind every thread. From the
pinukpok of the north to the malong of the south, it's the fiber of who
- Movies. Still the cheapest form of entertainment, especially if
you watch the same movie several times.
- Bahala na. We cope with uncertainty by embracing it, and are
thus enabled to play life by ear.
- Papaitan. An offal stew flavored with bile, admittedly an
acquired taste, but pointing to our national ability to acquire a taste
for almost anything.
- English. Whether carabao or Arr-neoww-accented, it doubles our
chances in the global marketplace.
- The Press. Irresponsible, sensational, often inaccurate,
American-controlled but still the liveliest in Asia. Otherwise, we'd all
be glued to TV.
- Divisoria. Smelly, crowded, a pickpocket's paradise, but you
can get anything here, often at rock-bottom prices. The sensory overload
is a bonus.
- Barong Tagalog. Enables men to look formal and dignified
without having to strangle themselves with a necktie. Worn well, it
makes any ordinary Juan look marvelously makisig (good-looking).
- Filipinas. They make the best friends, lovers, wives. Too bad
they can't say the same for Filipinos.
- Filipinos. So maybe they're bolero and macho with an occasional
streak of generic infidelity; they do know how to make a woman feel like
- Catholicism. Surely caused overpopulation and poverty.
- Dolphy. Our favorite, ultra-durable comedian gives the
beleaguered Pinoy everyman an odd dignity, even in drag.
- Style. Something we often prefer over substance. But every
Filipino claims it as a birthright.
- Bad taste. Clear plastic covers on the vinyl-upholstered sofa,
posters of poker-playing dogs masquerading as art, over-accessorized
jeepneys and altars -- the list is endless, and wealth only seems to
- Manila mangoes. Crisp and tart, or lusciously golden, they
evoke memories of family outings and endless sunshine in a heart-shaped
- Unbridled optimism. Why we rank so low on the suicide scale.
- Street food. Barbecue, lugaw, banana-cue, fishballs, IUD
(chicken entrails), adidas (chicken feet), warm taho. Forget hepatitis;
here's cheap, tasty food with gritty ambience.
- The siesta. Snoozing in the middle of the day is smart, not
- Honorifics and courteous titles: Kuya, Manoy, Manong, Tita,
Aling, diko, ditse, ineng, totoy, Ingkong, etc. No exact English
translation, but these words connote respect, deference and the value
placed on kinship.
- Heroes and people who stood up for truth and freedom. Lapu-lapu
started it all, and other heroes and revolutionaries followed: Jose
Rizal, Andres Bonifacio, Apolinario Mabini, Melchora Aquino, Emilio
Aguinaldo, the heroes of Bataan and Corregidor, the comfort women who
spoke up, and those who look after the welfare of their people.
- Flora and fauna. The sea cow (dugong), the tarsier, calamian
deer, bearcat, Philippine eagle, sampaguita, ilang-ilang, camia, pandan,
the creatures that make our archipelago unique.
- Filipino songs, OPM and composers. "Lupang Hinirang,"
"Anak," "Handog," "Hindi Kita Malilimutan,"
"Ang Pasko ay Sumapit"; Ryan Cayabyab, George Canseco, Restie
Umali, Levi Celerio, Manuel Francisco, Freddie Aguilar, and Florante --
living examples of our musical gift.