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

  1. Balagtasan. The verbal joust that brings out rhyme, reason and passion on a public stage.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. Barrio Fiesta restaurant. Truly Pinoy in taste and sensibility, and a corporate icon that we can be quite proud of.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. Sing-a-long. Filipinos love to sing, and thank God, most of us do it well!
  8. Kayumanggi. Neither pale nor dark, our skin tone is beautifully healthy, the color of a rich earth or a mahogany tree growing towards the sun.
  9. 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 we are.
  10. Movies. Still the cheapest form of entertainment, especially if you watch the same movie several times.
  11. Bahala na. We cope with uncertainty by embracing it, and are thus enabled to play life by ear.
  12. Papaitan. An offal stew flavored with bile, admittedly an acquired taste, but pointing to our national ability to acquire a taste for almost anything.
  13. English. Whether carabao or Arr-neoww-accented, it doubles our chances in the global marketplace.
  14. The Press. Irresponsible, sensational, often inaccurate, American-controlled but still the liveliest in Asia. Otherwise, we'd all be glued to TV.
  15. Divisoria. Smelly, crowded, a pickpocket's paradise, but you can get anything here, often at rock-bottom prices. The sensory overload is a bonus.
  16. 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).
  17. Filipinas. They make the best friends, lovers, wives. Too bad they can't say the same for Filipinos.
  18. 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 one.
  19. Catholicism. Surely caused overpopulation and poverty.
  20. Dolphy. Our favorite, ultra-durable comedian gives the beleaguered Pinoy everyman an odd dignity, even in drag.
  21. Style. Something we often prefer over substance. But every Filipino claims it as a birthright.
  22. 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 magnify it.
  23. Manila mangoes. Crisp and tart, or lusciously golden, they evoke memories of family outings and endless sunshine in a heart-shaped package.
  24. Unbridled optimism. Why we rank so low on the suicide scale.
  25. 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.
  26. The siesta. Snoozing in the middle of the day is smart, not lazy.
  27. 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.
  28. 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.
  29. 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.
  30. 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.

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