Parts of Culture That Filipinos Cannot Escape From
They say that it’s more fun in the Philippines, and with all the lovely beaches and majestic mountains spattered around the archipelago, you know you’ll never run out of things to see. However, the culture and tradition is a different story altogether, and we’re not just talking about the ability of Pinoys to eat balut and isaw.
The Filipino culture is so ingrained in our hearts that no matter where we are, we cannot escape from them. Take the distinct Filipino characteristics below as example.
Filipino Characteristics You Can Never Separate from Filipinos
See video at the end
Tsinelas at all times
Tsinelas—or slippers—must always be worn inside the house. In fact, if you go to another Filipino’s home, you may find that there are various pairs waiting for you as a guest: rubber flip-flops, straw sandals, or slip-on indoor shoes. There are those, of course, who are not too fond of wearing slippers, but there’s no escaping it, unless you want grandma to glare at you every time you see her.
While it’s far from being as bad as those hoarders you see on TV, Filipinos have a tendency to save things like take-out utensils, to-go containers, and even hotel soap and shampoo, in the guise of needing them “just in case.” Filipinos tend to take more than what’s necessary, you never know when you might need that extra packet of ketchup after all. At first it may seem ridiculous, but you will find that you might need the extra condiment on that one day you eat a very bland lunch at your local carinderia. Thank god for small condiment packets, huh?
This is one of the Filipino characteristics that we tend to see often: Filipinos are hoarders even when traveling. For those who work overseas, there is a reason why they go back home to larger-than-life boxes of items and souvenirs from abroad—it’s a form of love. When Filipinos travel to other countries, they more often than not return with balikbayan boxes filled to the brim with food, chocolates, goods, trinkets, and gifts. There’s no shame in it, while others wait for a bag or two, Pinoys will lug around large boxes. It’s all for love for friends and (very) large families, so why try to hide it?
Most Filipino characters are a testament to their cheerfulness, and this one is no different. Karaoke may have come from Japan, but there is never a Filipino party or fiesta where people don’t sing their hearts out. Sure, other nationalities love singing too. As August Rush said, music is everywhere if you just listen. Filipinos take it to the next level, though, with enticing prizes and gifts to force even those who can’t sing on-key to belt their hearts out to the classic karaoke songs. “Dancing Queen,” anyone?
Traditional Filipino Crafts and Items
Tucked away in corners are bundles of straws in the form of brooms, oversized wooden utensils, or rattan crafts that scream Pinoy. No matter where you are in the world, a piece of home will always make your house a little more homey, even if it means using a bundle of straws to clean instead of a vacuum cleaner like normal human beings.
This is one of the Filipino characteristics you can’t really be proud of if you live in other countries, but for whatever reason, Filipinos always seem to run at least an hour behind. Never assume that a 4:00 PM appointment is actually 4:00 PM when you’re meeting a Pinoy. Think 6:30 or 7:00 PM, to be safe. If you’re one of the rare ones who go by the clock, it’s probably best to tell your friends you’re meeting them for coffee when really you’re planning on having dinner.
There’s Spanglish for Spanish-English hybrid sentences, and because the Philippines was under Spanish rule for over three centuries, they also have Tagalog-English hybrids or Taglish. To do this, you just have to mix Tagalog and English words together to form a sentence. Para bang, you speak to them in English tapos you bigla ka na lang mag-Tagalog. [It’s like you speak to them in English, then you suddenly talk in Tagalog.]
Weird naming protocol
Most people show respect to their elders, but Filipinos take it a notch higher, calling their older siblings “ate” or “kuya” and even refer to strangers as “manang” and “manong,” especially if they look older. This show of respect has become so ingrained in the Filipino mind, there is no way you can ever refer to your brother simply as Carlo, he will always be Kuya Carlo, as in you tell your friend, “Kuya Carlo will be picking me up from later, do you need a ride?”
Most people believe that demons and spirits are mythical or are part of silly stories to scare children to bed. Filipinos, however, have such a rich culture that mythology has been ingrained in the minds of our grandmothers. For instance, there is no way that Pinoys can step into dense forests without worrying about upsetting the spirits, so people announce themselves by saying “tabi po” when crossing mostly untouched earth and immense trees to warn the spirits of your presence so that you don’t accidentally plow into them, because doing so would cause you a lot of harm. Even the younger Filipinos whisper those words, just in case.
Of all the Filipino characteristics on this list, this is probably the best. Filipinos are spread far across the earth, and somehow, it always excites us to meet one of our own on foreign soil. This is probably why Filipinos have too many titas and titos. The next person you meet who obviously have Pinoy blood in them becomes a fast-friend, as if you’re holding on to your roots while you are in a place that is not your own. This is also why communities with Filipino population are tight-knit. After all, who can ever relate to all the tsinelas and giant utensils and the massive families that are made up of 75 percent non-blood-related relatives?
Sure, being Pinoy can have its pros and cons, especially when you are an immigrant or born in a country where you are considered a minority; but you have to admit, being a Filipino does have its perks—it’s a friendly community that will put their arms around you if you feel lost and alone in the world.