Monday, December 26, 2011

Surviving a Filipino New Year

In the Filipino Culture, the Christmas Season isn't done yet. But after the Noche Buena, just a week later, there comes another almost equally big celebration here in the Philippines. It is the celebration of New Year's eve. Some say Christmas is for kids, and New Year is for adults, and there's some truth in that. Children benefit the most in Christmas, but it is the adults that enjoy a lot more upon the entry of the next year. Read on if you're in the Philippines and making your New Year Pinoy Style. It helps to take a look at some need-to-knows.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Only a Pinoy Does This

Couldn't help posting this. I saw someone share something like this on Facebook. Didn't believe it until I did the same. This is a proof how imaginative a Filipino is. I never looked the wrestler Batista as a reincarnate of Manuel L. Quezon before.

Now you know how a Pinoy handles boredom.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Tambol sa Pasko

So you have some maracas and tansan tamborines. Great job! This recycling-reminiscing thing is also helping the Philippine environment since these supposedly trash items are put into good use. We've been making Christmas singing sound a lot better, and at the same time giving Mother Nature a break. But there's still one more instrument out there that Pinoy kids use in caroling, and this is the tambol.

Here in the Philippines, we love the sound of drums. The explosion of bass, the rhythmic beats and the hypnotizing effect, all of these are enjoyed throughout the islands. Part of the Filipino culture is making a lot of noise. In fiestas and rituals, there is an appropriate beat of the drum, so during Christmas, its not a surprise there are still drums being used. Of course you can't expect kids to bring real and expensive drums here. For this instrument, all we need is a big can, a broken umbrella and lots of rubber bands.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Crispy Aguinaldo sa Pasko

Food lovers who thought they'd find edible stuff here, I'm so sorry to disappoint you. Yeah, crispy frequently applies to something eaten. Even me, with the mention of crispy I think of the crunch, the crackle then a flood of great flavors. But this time, I'm using it for something else.

Don't go Emilio Aguinaldo, this isn't even about him at all. Well, at least not nowadays.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Maracas for Caroling

It don't end with tansan tamborines for caroling during the Christmas season in the Philippines, we Filipinos are too dynamic for things to stop there. We were taught to make use of what we have in our surroundings and making maracas for Christmas caroling is just among the many skills we should give to our young ones.

All you need are some regular items that may end up in the dumps. I'd say its best to help take care of the environment so some recycling is good. A couple of emptied cans, some wooden sticks and pebbles or monggo seeds would do the trick for this mini project.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Making Christmas Tamborines

"Pasko na naman, O kay tulin ng araw. Paskong nagdaan tila ba'y kailan lang! Ngayon ay Pasko, dapat pasalamatan. Ngayon ay pasko tayo ay mag-awitan!"

In an unrehearsed and innocent tune, its what kids would sing over and over again to your house during the Christmas season. The colorful Christmas lights, the festive mood and all those smiling faces, the singing kids is a great addition to the holiday cheer. I was once part of this tradition. We make our own instruments, going house to house at sundown and singing our hearts out.

Filipino Ingenuity is really top rated. We can make tamborines out of everyday items without having to spend a peso. Let me show you how.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Not the usual for Bonifacio Day

I made something for Bonifacio Day. What if there was Facebook already in the late 1800's? Find out for yourself!

Here's a bigger image of the photo: Andres Bonifacio FB

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Philippine Sword Hunting in Aklan

I have always been fascinated by swords. Since I was a kid, I have played imaginary sword fights with sticks and have longed to own a real one. These tools of warfare are the most revered and respected of all ancient weaponry. A true man will be left in awe at the presence of a beautiful sword, feeling the power and the danger emanating from the weapon.

Very few nowadays knows about swords in the Philippines. The weapon may have outlived its purpose as we are in an era needing more sophistication. Presently, if not being used for cutting and chopping, swords become ornaments. Thus the makers of Philippine blades faced with a vanishing trade had taken up other means of livelihood, but a few others stayed behind. I have heard of stories of blacksmiths in the island of Panay and an unplanned trip to Aklan made me grab the opportunity to track down and find the makers of Visayan swords.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Surviving Christmas in the Philippines 2

From Pinoy Lifestyle
On my previous article, my last words were "Surviving a Filipino Christmas at home is just a fraction of what else goes on outside." Damn right that is! When its Christmas time in the Philippines, it is an adventure to go out. In the center of cities when its night rush hour, you get the hustle of people and the bright lights all around. Go sub-urban, the peaceful flickering of Christmas lights and parols mesmerize anyone passing by. Welcome to a guide to surviving Christmas in the Philippines as a Filipino would do.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Surviving Christmas in the Philippines 1

You think Christmas in the Philippines is all celebration? Think again. Its a lot more than what you really think. The Holidays is a tough season. May not look so for everyone, and many wouldn't really mind. Perhaps because its a time when everyone thinks of happy thoughts, feeling good about everything around and when everybody is "nicer." All I could think of is the word "magical" in this context. Why people feel good? Maybe that's really the miracle. 

But no matter how magical things may be, you may need to read on for some challenges that lay ahead. Here's a guide how to survive a Filipino home.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Jeepney Riding 101

The fight for survival goes on and on daily. In the streets all over the Philippines, every move you make is an act of survival. Our country is tough and to a certain extent dangerously charming. Even public transportation is risky business. The roads are still dominated by one vehicle, the jeepneys and their drivers. To ride a jeepney, you have to learn a few things to pull through.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Kesong Puti Syndrome

We Pinoys know how to make cheese too, and in fact, we have been making them for a long time already. It goes by the name kesong puti

This soft cheese is made from carabao's milk, salt and rennet (traditionally), usually coming from some Tagalog provinces. For those who don't know rennet, it is a stomach enzyme of a carabao, cattle or goat that plays an important part in production of kesong puti. I wouldn't tell of how to get rennet because its out of topic already, and its gross. Besides, one can buy ready rennet than bothering how to make it. Anyway, the cheese easy to make and very easy to enjoy. All you need is some hot pandesal and a noisy stomach in the morning.

Monday, November 7, 2011

A Taste of Philippine Cigars

My trip to Tarlac to find old-style Filipino brown cigarettes has been delayed again and again and again. Now a north Luzon road trip seems a long way off. To appease the nagging desire to find something truly Pinoy related to tobacco I bought something available "locally."

 The Philippines has a long history with tobacco. Even today, many still in the northern parts of Luzon make a living out of growing and harvesting these plants. My curiosity pushes me to find out how good our products really are.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Beware of Bangungot

Sleep should be a zone of comfort. When you sleep, everything is different. It is a daily getaway from the daily hassles of life, and a reclusion where all great things can happen. This is also where the not so great things happen, but hey, its just a dream.

Sounds great right? But what if one doesn't wake up? The old folks had always warned us. Sometimes sleep can kill. In the Filipino Culture, sleep at times is feared.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

The Scariest Places in the Philippines

Since a lot of Filipinos had outgrown the fear for the mythological beings of the Philippines, what replaced it is fear of ghosts and hauntings. We now have a tendency to believe that supernatural events that happen are caused by ghosts or some spirits. There might be isolated experiences in some places, but there are many who claim hauntings are stronger in some places.

We Pinoys like being scared. Somehow it becomes entertainment, something that we can talk about. Especially on times like these. Times when it is believed that spirits are let loose on earth. When that happens, not everyone would want to be in one of these places.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Ghouls - Corpse Eating Aswang

Death is something that we fear. To many, death is a source of pain and loss but there are some who grow more excited as death nears. They aren't the tyrants or the mass murderers of the country. What I'm talking about are the guys who feast when someone dies. Literally feast when someone dies. They feast on the dead. They are known by a lot of names like segben, buso, kagkag, balbal and others, but they are still popularly known as aswangs, only these feeds on corpses.

They are said to look like ordinary men and women when they are not invisible, although their nails are curved and they smell rotten bad. When a person is about to pass away, they are said to be near. These type of aswang senses the sweet smell of ripe langka from the dying. The nearer to death, the stronger the sweeter and stronger the smell.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Tikbalang - The Pinoy Man-Horse

To many Pinoys, the mere looks of a tikbalang is very terrifying. Imagine meeting a tall, well-built man with the head of a horse and horrible teeth. Maybe the teeth went bad because of smoking all those cigars. Even I find it really creepy and the thought of encountering one is frightening. It is said that the creature's legs are extremely long when it sits, the knees levels with the head. Inspite of its scary description, the tikbalang is never violent. Meeting one spells out only two things, the creature's submission to you or the creature making you lost.

Beware when you are traveling, never get separated from a group. Even as a group, the tikbalang may still make you lose your way. The way they do it, they exhaust and confuse the traveler. It has also been told that the creature sometimes kidnaps children and keep them deep in the forest. For what purpose, I cannot say. One thing for sure, they won't be eating those kids.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Aswang - Pinoy Supernatural Creatures

At twilight, as the sun goes down, when the leaves of the makahiya and ipil-ipil starts to fold, the fear of the creatures of the night increases. The first time I heard about aswangs were the ones told by our kasambahay when I was a kid. They would tell of stories that they too heard from the old folks of their rural provinces. For a very long time, these creatures had lived vividly in our imagination and from time to time we hear of people testifying close contact.

With the non-stop life here in the metropolitan cities, belief in the aswang don't seem appropriate. There has been less and less dark places and fewer trees. More and more buildings continue to rise from the ground as living spaces become concentrated. People know each other and if someone goes missing, someone would notice. If something strange happens, news travel really fast. A very different jungle for descriptively primitive and carnal beings. But the question is, are they really primitive?

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Dun sa Divisoria

Its always a busy day at Manila. The hustle and bustle of the city, the struggle and haggle with life, the sweat and soot all around. Glory may have faded, but old habits persist. There are still lives to live, wares to sell, polluted air to breathe and places to go. Such a place exists in the Philippines. Such still is very much part of the Filipino Culture.

Such a place is Divisoria.

Divisoria is a destination for the thrifty Juan with a meager income. Since almost everyone I know says their income is meager, everyone I know wants to go there. It is the center of wholesale, retail and the best sales. But to be there, one must let go of convenience and be one of the crowd. One must be part of the massive circle where everyone walks at Divisoria. Being one of the crowd, one is left without a choice but to blend in. Stand out too much, you get mugged or your wallet and cellphone stolen. One way or another, your money will still be taken from you. Its either the stores or the bad guys will.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Top 5 Pampainit ng Pinoy

Photo from iprovoked
Seriously, if your looking for something for adults, you should be looking somewhere else. Wholesome tayo dito pre. What I meant on pampainit is pampainit ng tyan. :)

We are in a tropical country. If its not sweltering hot and sunny, its wet and rainy. During these months of rain you'd be too lazy to do anything at all. Even I would just want to slack around and doze the whole day off given the chance (which happens most of the time on weekends). We Filipinos fortunately found pampainit tactics that takes away the gloom of rainy days. I give you the Top 5, starting with...LUGAW.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Extra Rice Please!

Every Filipino is a rice person. Not nice ha, but rice. Then again, sige na nga, you could say nice...generally. :) For a lot of countries in Asia, it has become the foundation of our cultures and the foundation of our very lives. Thousands of years ago our ancestors were eating rice already, and up to now, these grains has been the source of our sustenance.

Admit it, you won't feel fully satisfied if you ate your lunch or dinner without kanin. Somehow you get that feeling parang busog na hindi. Nothing beats ulam and rice. I pity those who try to adapt the American and European culture by not eating rice for whatever reason. They're giving up something that is a part of being a Filipino.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Another Perspective of People Power and EDSA Revolution

We are proud of what we have done years ago. We are proud that we Filipinos had shown the world we can unite and cause change. Are all Filipinos involved in the EDSA Revolution or only a mere handful of those in Metro Manila? Maybe nakiki-isa in spirit yung mga taga Visayas at Mindanao. Who knows.

Nothing against the "heroes" of the nation who rallied in EDSA to "risk their lives" for Democracy. It was indeed a display of People Power. Could be someone you know was there. Maybe you can ask how things has changed.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Larong Pinoy, Luksong Tinik

We are children of the sun. Not the literal anak araw or albinos. Living in a tropical country, the Philippines is blessed with a lot of sunlight. And the Filipino culture brings us outside of our houses most of the time. If you stay indoors, its either you are too old or too sick. We work, we socialize, we play outside. To be out is to be alive.

When we were young we play outside our houses. There's a time to behave, there's a time to be wild. When there's sun, open space, and a few kids...the fun begins! And larong pinoy is more often than not done outside. A favorite, is luksong tinik.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Paano ba talaga mang-Harana?

It is a very puzzling thought when you realize that a lot of people try to talk about harana, but no one seems to know much about it. We know it is singing to a woman, but do we really know how it works? Probably the harana most of us had seen was from the movies, which is quite far from reality. In short, we really don't have a clue.

Harana is a social thing, with some friends supporting the suitor, dressed up in their best. But it isn't just singing under the window of the maiden. I have read in haranista Florante Aguilar's blog that in Cavite, a serenade is a ritual with several stages and I'm thinking it doesn't get completed in one night all the time. Subtlety and respect apparently are champion virtues here, so if you're going to harana, don't leave home without it.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Lechon Baboy

In all cultures there will always be a roasted pig, except of course with our Islamic brothers. Somewhere in the world there will always be a pig roasting, but never will it be as popular like it is here in the Philippines.

Falling in love with this dish is very easy. Its crisp, light skin and soft, juicy and delicious meat is hard to ignore when set on the table. Litson or Lechon is almost always present in all feastings and celebrations all over the country.  People are looking forward for the next time they will be able to taste. A friend of mine, a lechon fanatic, always gets lit up whenever lechon is served. Why is there so much anticipation and excitement over this? Mainly because of two things: its taste and its price.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011


Drawing by Romeo Tanghal Sr.
I bet not all Filipinos would recognize the words Tanan. Most of those who "were" familiar with the word might have forgotten it already because it hasn't been used for a very, very long time.

We've heard of stories from our parents and grandparents. Our old and wrinkled lola recalling lolo and her maiden days with "kilig" in her eyes. Chances are, they ran away with each other. Chances are, Lolo said to her "mag-tanan na tayo."

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Chasing Filipino Cigarettes

The Philippines used to be the largest exporter of tobacco in Asia, all thanks to the tobacco monopoly in the 1700s. Those were quite harsh times for Filipinos, and it seems that era had almost left no traces. We are not starved of tobacco anymore. Look all around, American blend cigarettes are everywhere. American blend! I asked myself the question, why a foreign blend? Isn't there a Filipino blend?

Apparently there were. Aside from our grandparents wrapping their own tobacco in leaves and lighting them straight up, there are cigarettes Pinoy style. I remember visiting provinces of the North and South Luzon and seeing old ladies smoking dark long sticks of tobacco with the lighted end in their mouth. Classic right? Well, those are hard to find in Metro Manila.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

I want Siesta

Imagine it is sooo hot outside. Not a soul is moving, not even the dogs of your neighbors are active. Only the leaves of plants and trees moved by the wind seems to stir. Typical afternoon. Typically, the best time to ZZZZzzzzzz, specially if you're staying in the province. Ride a duyan or a tumba-tumba while holding an abaniko, its gonna be like an escape from the country's tropical afternoon heat. I miss sleeping in the afternoon. I miss siesta!

Friday, September 2, 2011

Pinoy Gang Weapons

From Sidney
There has been gang wars everywhere in the world. Our country is no exception. It is a natural phenomenon that people with similarities group together and fight for its members when threatened or abuse. Not a surprise that Philippines became home to a few of notorious gangs.

A Filipino is by nature a warrior. Ask a foreigner about Filipinos, most likely what he'll answer is either a smiling hospitable Asian or a fierce fighter. They think of Filipinos as a person who has a knife hidden somewhere in the body ready to stab anyone foolish enough to get us pissed. Our heritage says it all, we are fighters. The boys who killed Magellan, the north Luzon Head Hunters, the Moro warriors who don't seem to care about bullets and of course Manny Pacquiao. These are guys fighting for a worthwhile ideal, but for the pinoy gang fights, I can't really say what their ideals are.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Filipinos and Rain

Its been a while since I saw the sun shine brightly. No, I didn't got locked up in prison. It is the rainy season here in the Philippines, the storms have arrived and the sun went into hiding. The weather gadget in my laptop shows more rains ahead, and honestly, I don't know if I'm gonna be happy about it.

The past few days you wouldn't survive without an umbrella. Given the amount of rain, there has been flooding in different places in the Philippines.  It was wet everywhere. Kept me wondering how Filipinos of old deal with the elements.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Prevent Dengue

Time and time again it has been proven, prevention is better than the cure. Stopping something before it occurs is the best. How to stop dengue? We stop the mosquitoes.

They are a force to reckon with. I tell you its no easy task. They've been here for millions of years, and they won't be slowing down. If they're gone for a while, they'll be back.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Pinoys VS Dengue

It is very disturbing that a lot of children are succumbing to the deadly dengue. Year after year after year, the tropical illness continue to wreak havoc. The question is how to go against the disease and the carriers?

So you suspect you got dengue? Well, it really is a big deal. Dengue is violent and deadly. Better go to a doctor to make sure. At a critical stage of the sickness, organ dysfunction and severe internal bleeding can occur. Chances of survival are high with the proper medical attention, but it is surprising why too many still lose their lives to the virus. Actually, dengue virus is not that fearful. What is scary are the effects it causes to the body.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Gagamba Derby

We Filipinos love to see a fight. On some drunken summer nights in the suburbs, it isn't surprising that groups of intoxicated tambays begin shouting and hurling rocks or bottles at each other. It isn't also surprising as the fights happen, people will go out of their houses to watch. We love the drama and we somehow love the danger. But the biggest reason probably is to know who will prevail and if we guessed the winner correctly. Such is the mentality of a Filipino in a derby. But what about a spider derby?

I'm not sure how this started in the Philippines. Maybe one of our ancestors got bored making chickens fight and he noticed a lot of spiders in the house, got a stick and made 2 arachnids fight. Or maybe some foreign guy (as always) showed how it is being done. I just realized that the last sentence makes us look very stupid or very unoriginal, always some foreign guy introducing something to us. Oh well, that's life.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

First Time Mo?

Photo from Kristal
Firsts are very special. We Filipinos love to cherish the first time, most especially Filipinas. There's always a first for everything, and the experience is thought of as worth remembering. But then its not just about reminiscing in the Filipino Culture. It goes way deeper than memories or things that we may care about.

Has anyone told you when you visit a church for the first time and wish, it will come true? How about the first rain of summer can cure bungang araw or prickly heat? Old people say if you do good in the first day of the year, good things will happen all throughout. The same thing will happen if you do bad...its gonna be a bad year.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Dragonboats and Gold

Tampa, Florida. The World Championships for the International Dragon Boat Federation. The Philippine Team are once again World Champions. But to many, they don't have a clue what it was all about.

There is a sad indifference in how we treat our athletes. They don't have support, the cheers and crowds. The Philippine Dragon Boat team is no exception. They won gold in Florida. They astounded the people there, they astounded the world. I'm not sure if that's the same case here in the Philippines, but hopefully they'd be given a heroes welcome back here.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Flutes, Bieber and an Aeta Boy in Pampanga

We Pinoys are very talented. But somehow, some don't just make the break. Or maybe talent isn't just what everyone needs. I guess one would need luck and the right opportunity.

This kid has been selling flutes in Pampanga, and to sell flutes, he sings for people. It is common in the Philippines children helping out their parents in earning money to sustain the family. I don't know the whole story. I'm not even sure if he still goes to school or is he eating right every day. All I know is this kid got potential.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Ramadan Begins

Ramadan in the Philippines began at the rise of the sun today. As of the moment and until 29 days later, each day from sun up till sun down, will be a day of denial of worldly pleasures. Such like food, water, alcohol and other things are avoided during daylight by the Islamic community as part of the practice of their religion.
Fasting is one of the Five Pillars of Islam. Just like any other religion, fasting is important but none prescribe and implement widespread practice of such like Islam. Fasting is a way to train oneself to be in control of mind and body, pushing it to the limits.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Balat Sibuyas ka ba?

We Filipinos are very complex, and somehow our ancestors have mapped out our psyche. Our language has been equipped with terms that pertain only to traits unique to us Pinoys, and some traits although common too with other cultures, we have our own terms to call it. Among them is "Balat-Sibuyas."

Photo from Renatoely
Sibuyas or Onion, one of the world's most popular cooking ingredient, thrives plenty in the Philippines. The skin is very thin and and easily removed, and upon this observation the popular idiom came from.
You will probably hate the people branded as balat-sibuyas. Its not the same thing as being sensitive. Well yeah, somehow being sensitive is connected, but in a very wrong way. Balat-sibuyas persons are so sensitive almost to the point of paranoia. Tell them something, they take it very seriously, or misinterpret it totally. Most of the time, you will be very, very careful when talking in front of such a person.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Friday is Munggo Day

Photo from Allan Reyes
Go out and eat at the karinderyas  all over Metro Manila, I'll bet my right hand that on a Friday, majority of these eateries are serving munggo! Hmmm, maybe 2 fingers would do instead of the whole hand.

Dubbed as the poor man's dish, ginisang munggo is still one of the best tasting food in the Filipino Cuisine. Well, if its gonna be eaten once every week, it won't seem as great. Cooking it with just monggo beans and sauteed garlic and onions is boring, but if you include shrimp, pork, tomatoes, chicaron, tinapa and dahon ng sili...WOW!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Davao's Clean Drinking Water

I've been hearing a lot about Davao lately. It has been in the news every now and then. Aside from the luscious fruits and the fantastic weather all year round there, you can't miss the low crime rate and the mayor beating a sheriff of court. Maybe the reason for low crime rate there is because the mayor is very "hands-on."

But as they say, Davao is still a fabulous place. Fruits, beaches and clean drinking water. Yup, clean drinking water is in Davao. As claimed by many, it is the second cleanest in the world.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Juan Tamad

Juan is a popular name in the Philippines, but I have my doubts if more moms have been naming their children Juan nowadays. Aside from it doesn't sound sophisticated, the name has had a bad reputation because of Juan Tamad.

Juan Tamad or Lazy John was a term popularized in the 1900's  and still famous today because he waited for the guava to fall into his mouth rather than getting it. For some reason he became the representative of Filipinos and every foreigner looks at every Juan to be Juan Tamad.

We can't blame them, but we can't be blamed either! After being colonized for hundreds of years, where do you think our practices came from? 

Juan Tamad is actually an insult to us. Many see us stupid and guillible. Well, guillible, true, but stupid?!? The fact here is, we Filipinos are very nice and trust easily. We believe in the benefit of the doubt, yet...we get fooled. What's worse is...we get fooled again. Stupid? No, we're just easy to convince.

The best example of that? Look around you. You will not see Juan Tamad. Most Filipinos work so hard even if the returns are small. Is that Tamad? Absolutely not. Most really just lack the motivation. With such bad opportunities here in the country for everyone, I myself might take the "guava option" instead of wasting my time and energy. Maybe Juan Tamad is not the right term for us.

You do agree that Juan Tamad is just a myth, right?

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Askal, The Pinoy Dog

They roam around, bark around and sometimes chase children snarling and growling. They are dogs of the streets.They are the Askals.

Askal is a street term of Asong Kalye. The Philippine Mongrel is usually a stray dog, found in the streets scavenging on garbage and leftovers. And usually they are smelly. These resilient dogs, most of the time adopted as pets, outlive the pedigree breeds. Loving and very loyal, most Pinoy families remember housing an askal as a pet.

These dogs have been here in the Philippines since time immemorial, and theoretically, they are closely related to Dingoes of Australia. The difference is the askal is very domesticated and very comfortable living near people, maybe because of the free food or just being part of the pack. Either way, these dogs have been a deep part of the daily life of a Pinoy.

And since they have been around for ages, some localities were eating dogs for a long time too. In Benguet, it is culturally allowed to consume dog meat, but on other parts of the country, it is not encouraged. Still, asocena remains very popular. Maybe the issue here is that dogs are too cute and too close to us to become food. We would have the same sentiments for pork if somewhere along history, pigs became household pets all over the world. But too bad for pigs, it isn't. Also, pigs aren't cute.

Monday, July 11, 2011


The legend of the Yo-yo says that hundreds of years ago, it was used as a weapon. Who would ever thought that this toy was a weapon before? But it doesn't stop there, because the guys who were said to use this as a weapon Pinoys! Imagine Filipino warriors screaming while attacking with spinning yo-yos in their hands, with one doing a walking-the-dog trick to smash the foot of his opponent. Funny stuff isn't it?

Well, it shouldn't be really making much of a difference if it was used as a weapon before. After all, the history of the yo-yo dates back even to the Egyptians, so we can't own the origins of it. But what we know for sure is that it was a Filipino who made the mass popularity of the toy possible. It was Pedro Flores, an Ilocano immigrant to the United States, that started this worldwide craze and led to innovations of the yo-yo. He became rich at the time of recession in the US. Talk about ingenuity.

But enough of this Pedro guy. Here's a video of how the world would look if a yo-yo is still being used as a weapon...

Sunday, July 3, 2011

The Anahaw

Who ever thought of making this plant the National Leaf of the Philippines has got to be joking! Even the people who was convinced must be crazy. What merits does this plant have to become a nation's symbol?

Honestly, there is nothing significantly historical or distinct about the plant. Nothing really special about the plant since it grows also in other regions of Asia. As of the moment, no wow scientific discoveries about the plant like cure for cancer, or AIDS or help in stem cell research. So why is the Anahaw a National Symbol?!?

Perhaps it is because it is a symbol of resourcefulness for us Filipinos. Why? Making something extraordinary out of an ordinary thing is distinct. This plant could probably be ignored or treated as an ornamental only. But no, we made it a part of our lives. 

We made so many things out of something common. Our ancestors has been using the Anahaw as part of our shelters as the roof and sometimes the walls. The leaf has been used as pambalot (food wrapper) for tikoy, or as a makeshift lunchbox for children going to school since lunchboxes were very expensive before. 

It has been made into Abaniko (fan), which is very beautiful and a work of art. A relief on a crowded place, or simply a refreshment from a hot, humid day, the colorful abaniko is an indispensable item in a Pinoy's everyday life.

Its really not about the object itself. That's why its called symbol. Its what the object symbolizes. And for the leaf, it symbolizes our ingenuity and resourcefulness.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Ang Supremo

Andres Bonifacio, a-tapang a-tao...

When I was a kid, this was a popular rhyme with a naughty ending. One of the bravest, the most aggressive, and the most ambitious of the Filipino heroes, the Supremo was one of the founding members of the Kataastaasang, Kagalang-galangang Katipunan ng mga Anak ng Bayan. Later on, the Katipunan led the "premature" armed revolt which sparked the independence of our country.

Married twice after the loss of his first wife to leprosy, he never had any direct descendants. From accounts of historians, he wasn't a prestigious military leader but was a great tactician. He was never really good at politics but he could rally people with his passion and his love for his countrymen and country. Too bad because he was beaten to the presidency of the Philippines and was "executed" for crimes of treason against a "government" which his Katipunan created and nullified on a council session. I'd say he was assassinated, to which many historians agree.

Ka Andres by Jebbie Barrios
Still, no matter how bitter Andres' end was, his accomplishments are just too great to ignore. Even though Jose Rizal did not give blessing to him (did Andres really needed that?), probably because of lack of plan to fully execute a successful revolution, he was the first to rally the thousands who are willing to die for freedom. We went to war anyway, and although he initiated, he didn't expect things to go as they did. But the important thing is he rose to the occasion. Acts of violence is a last resort, during the time of Bonifacio, the choices are to wait, get abused and raped, or stand-up and fight. He said we must choose to fight. And we won our freedom.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

The Sarimanok

My first encounter with this legendary bird wasn't very overwhelming. The Sarimanok appears on the station ID of a local TV station in the Philippines back in the late 90's which one can probably see at least twice a day. It became just a nice bird with lots of colors. It doesn't seem very special, and it looks like a rooster.

But then again, the bird is very symbolical.

It means wealth and prosperity to the Maranaos. Tracing its roots to Islam due to the involvement of Muhammad in this, it is of no surprise that its popularity is widely accepted in the southern parts of the country. The Maranao legend says of a sultan's daughter being swept by a colorful rooster that turned to a dashing, handsome young man and the two was never seen ever again. The sultan then created visual replicas of the bird so that she can remember her daughter through it. Maybe he finds it easier to remember the chicken, rather than her daughter.

It is surprising that we Filipinos have a legendary bird too, just like the Phoenix. It is through the nature of its appearance that it probably got its name. Sari means cloth or garment, which is generally full of colors and  Manok (you should go back to being a baby if you're Filipino and don't know what manok is). The Sarimanok  is a colorful chicken indeed.