Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Things Found in Filipino Homes

The home is the sanctuary of every family in the world. Here you can find all the things that reflect the culture and belongingness of a person. If you want to know more about someone, a trip to the person's house will show you a lot.

A home can tell you a story, how affluent the family is, how tidy and organized they are, and a whole lot more. The house can also reflect the nationality of the family dwelling there. For us Filipinos, sometimes it isn't that easy to spot but if you look closer, there are things that you won't find in houses of other cultures. Here are a few of the things that were usually found in Filipino Homes:

Tabo at Timba. These are the most versatile and most useful tools inside the house of a Pinoy. Most of the time it is inside the bathroom so try not to bother looking for this somewhere else. The tabo at timba are the descendants of the clay pottery banga and its counterpart. It is a very important part of our lives specially back when home water systems means a trip to a nearby stream or a balon and its been stuck that way ever since.

Tsinelas. These are not the fluffy, comfy and colorful slippers. The one I'm talking about are the durable rubber sandals you can wear on water, mud, sand and soil. It can be used for work, play, bathing, drinking...whatever a Pinoy can do, he can do it with a tsinelas. They were used to be made of abaca or leather, but now, almost all wearable material can be made into a tsinelas.

Oversized Wooden Spoon and Fork. A classic Filipino home would have a carved pair on the wall of the dining table. Usually made of the common hardwoods of the Philippines like kamagong, these go on display along with a mural of the Last Supper. No one really knows when people started hanging these or why it is being displayed. We love eating with our hands, or most just eat with a spoon so many really don't understand why. Might be worth an article in the future.

Banig. Sleeping on the floor is not cool. You should sleep on a bed, a chair, a papag, folding bed or at least mat. And here in the Philippines, a mat is made of coconut leaves woven together called banig. Sleeping on a banig isn't comfortable. Yet, sleeping on one can be considered a tribute to our ancestors who slept on these too. It can be quite harsh, but maybe that's the reason why most Pinoys don't suffer from back problems. Soft beds can create soft people and soft people got soft backs. We Filipinos, we've gotta have hard backs to withstand a lot of hardships, so a banig fits the system perfectly well.

Suyod. In the country, it used to be very easy to get lice on your hair. It usually starts with children. When they play with other children, these blood-sucking pests jump from one head to another, causing outbreaks especially during summer. Since Filipino families sleep together, even the older ones get lice. The suyod helps mothers catch kuto and their eggs by working it on the hair like a comb, with a white cloth to catch falling stuff from the head. It used to be a favorite afternoon bonding between mother and daughter, and as they say, the best part of it is when you catch a lice or its eggs and pop them with your nails.

Arinola. Be careful when in a typical Filipino home, especially in the bedroom. Somewhere in the corner, there could be an arinola filled with pee and its gonna be a disaster if you accidentally knock one down. Its usually painted white, made of tin or some light metal with a handle on the side like a really huge cup, only it is filled with stuff not for drinking. Nowadays, it can be plastic and it can be colorful. Why an arinola? In the past, our ancestors have their restrooms separate from the houses traditionally. Since it is not practical going out of the house to answer nature's call, the arinola's  portability was employed. The hassle of this, it needs to get cleaned everyday and the danger of being knocked over.

Kulambo. These aren't usually seen in broad daylight, more so nowadays when mosquito prevention has been more efficient. But in the provinces, there's still a lot of people using mosquito nets while they sleep. It was needed in the past because most houses were designed to be well lit and well ventilated, and all windows and doors were open until a few minutes before sleeping. Since all mosquitoes have already settled in the house by then, they can have a feast already when we start sleeping should there be no mosquito nets. In combination with a banig, the kulambo is tucked in the corners of the banig after everyone goes in, and everyone gets a good night sleep. There are different sizes of the kulambo like a small one for the babies, a medium sized for singles or couples, and the large sized for the family.

These are just a few of the things you can find. I'm sure there are more that others noticed.