June 09, 2013

WTFs of Filipino Culture Part II-ish

(Blogger's Note: I was debating on whether to use THAT *points to title* title, or THIS--The One Where I was a Tour Guide For A Day--but then looking at my blog stats, it seems that Part I was well-received by readers, so...)

Yesterday I did a favor for my sister, who asked me to tour one of her friends from Hong Kong. Her friend is Taiwanese, who has been living in Hong Kong for the last four years (I think). She is here in Manila for a two-week business trip, and yesterday she brought along another colleague who is Indian, currently working for the same company in one of their branches in India.

The weather was a bit tricky that time, with forecasts of thunderstorms brought about by then Tropical Depression 'Dante'. My boyfriend and I were a bit worried about the weather, since our plan was to bring our guests to Tagaytay for food trip and volcano viewing. We still went through with the plan, and despite of a VERY foggy morning (as in the fog was already creeping on our feet!) accompanied by a short burst of rain, we were still able to get a glimpse of the volcano while we were having lunch at Leslie's (our guests enjoyed the bulalo and the laing). We even had time for coffee at Bag of Beans, a bit of shopping in Ilog Maria Honeybee Farm, and some Jollibee Chicken Joy for dinner. All in all I think it was a successful tourist-y activity.

Pictures shared by our Taiwanese guest (except the one with the Chicken Joy, that was my boyfriend's)

Travel from Manila to Tagaytay (even if it is just from Alabang) took some time, so during the ride we were able to exchange stories about each other's countries. Admittedly, there are only a few things I know about Taiwan, Hong Kong, and India (and most of them I only learned from the Internet and social media), so I was really happy to learn something new about other parts of the world. I consider myself as an avid traveler, but I genuinely believe that travelling won't do you any good if you don't learn anything about the places you've been to, as well as the people you meet.

This being said, I would like to share some of my thoughts about yesterday's activity:

  1. There are no seasons in the Philippines, please lang. One of the first questions our guests asked us was if the weather in the Philippines is always this hot. We started explaining by saying that throughout the year the temperature is usually in between 25c and 30c, then went on saying that it is during the summer months when temperatures can get really hot. They reacted by saying, "You have seasons in the Philippines??" and we just sheepishly said that we were used to calling it that way. I was a bit embarrassed that time, because I was talking to people who ACTUALLY have seasons. Taiwan, Hong Kong and even India experience the four seasons. We in the Philippines only have wet season and dry season, so what's all this crap about us having summer (even spring??). Nakakahiya, parang nagfi-feeling tayo. Please people, we have to stop deluding ourselves. 
  2. Parents, do not limit your children to learning English ONLY while they are growing up. Today's generation are so obsessed with making English their primary language of communication. I've seen parents who can talk fluently in Filipino, but switch to English-only mode when they talk to their kids.  My guests even asked me if English is the native language of Filipinos. 'Wag ganun. Sure, we pride ourselves for being the Asian country who can communicate in English better than our neighbors, but we should never undervalue our native language. In Taiwan, they used to speak in Taiwanese (a dialect similar to Fukien). When the Chinese government took over, they prohibited the use of Taiwanese in schools and in homes, and mandated the people to learn Mandarin instead. Some time later, the laws became more lax, and people were allowed to learn Taiwanese again. But it was too late, because a generation has already passed where people are no longer using Taiwanese any more. Now, Taiwanese is slowly becoming a dying language. I don't want that to happen to Filipino (whether it is Tagalog or our other local dialects).
  3. Traffic in the Philippines is an abomination, and our driving style isn't cool, either. Our Indian guest showed a lot of interest in the different types of vehicles used in the Philippines. From his observation, sedans and SUVs are the prominent type of cars he sees in the road, compared to India where they usually have hatchbacks and motorbikes. When we apologized for the traffic situation during the ride, he said that the traffic is actually not that different from India. Drivers in India also have a general disregard for road rules, and the road-to-car-volume ratio is also as congested. While that comparison came as a bit of a relief for me, I was also disappointed because it means that we are no different from the crazy Indian driving videos being shared all over the Internet. Pinagtatawanan natin sila, with matching /smh, pero 'yun pala ganun din pala tayo. Anyare?
  4. Pimp up Manila - and I do not mean it by adding more shopping malls. One of our challenges in organizing the tour is WHERE THE HELL ARE WE GOING TO TAKE THESE GUYS?? I cannot take them to Binondo, heller one of them is Taiwanese (which has a lot more Chinese influence than us). I cannot take them to MoA, heller one of them is living in Hong Kong and shopping is a LOT better there. I cannot do much food trip activities, heller one of them is Indian and there are certain food restrictions required. Yes, we went to Tagaytay but are at the mercy of the weather. Where's a good viewing point? Sky Ranch? Maybe impressive for us, but our guests have Hong Kong Disneyland. We ended up in People's Park in the Sky, but the state of that place is depressing. We had to tell the story of Marcos' dictatorship just to justify the lack of building maintenance. Good thing that they were a bit impressed at Ilog Maria, with their inexpensive organic soap (anything organic costs a LOT in Hong Kong). My point is: if you're a foreigner and staying in Manila, there's nothing much to do except to go to the malls or eat local cuisine. Which really isn't much.
  5. It's about time that we start to love our country. Our guest from India has a LOT to say about his country, and we learned a lot from him. We learned that India is HUGE (this being a sub-continent), that they also divide the jurisdictions by states, that the Taj Mahal glows during the full moon because of the flawless marble finishing, that there are a lot of differences between the northern part and the southern part of India - food, culture, interests, etc. and that most of the Indian elements we know today come from the northern part, that the food restrictions depend mostly on what religion you are practicing, and a lot LOT more. His knowledge about his country surpasses mine, considering that India is more than twice bigger than the Philippines. He knows what type of curry the southerners tend to eat, while I have no idea on what is the difference between Pampanga adobo and Batangas adobo.

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