Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Mind Your Pinoy Table Manners

Browsing through an "old" February 2012 issue of the Philippine Panorama, there was an article that may spark an uncomfortable reaction from true Pinoys and many lovers of the Filipino Culture. The article by the writer talks about minding your table manners, imposing that it should be practiced by everyone, and that our local table practices are distasteful to people of other countries.

Distasteful is such a heavy word when pertaining to practices and traditions of a culture. Its the same as calling the people repulsive because they eat in a certain way. Some of these eating practices has been going on for generations and it has been part of an identity that makes people stand apart. These are simply the way things are, and respect should be duly given.

Why should we practice European or American Table Manners when we are Filipinos living in the Philippines? A few years back, there was a campaign against colonial mentality and the promotion of Philippine made products. Here we are back again to our old habits, and pushed even closer to the very thing that kills our love and appreciation of our culture. Indeed, fine dining like an American or a European is elegant, burgois and classy. Eating like a foreigner can simply impress people, proving that you are "educated, cultured and well-bred" like them, then you begin saying that the way other people do things is repulsive.

But we are Filipinos. We eat the way we do, because we enjoy our food better this way. Eating galunggong don't need a fine dining set to be enjoyed, not even in eating longganisa with egg and fried rice. Bagoong doesn't really have to be scooped by a spoon, a chunk of unripe mango or just fingers will do. So what if the way we eat is offending to foreigners? They're the ones who should be careful in offending our practices and our culture, as they're far away from home. Life and traditions don't stop because they're here eating with us, on Philippine soil. Should we be in their lands doing our stuff, it will be a different story.

What I read was a nice magazine article by Chat Alejandro, detailed and cohesive. What is upsetting is the slur on Filipino Dining Culture and the blatant promotion of foreign dining practices and behavior. We have our own way of doing things. We should be proud of it and never make foreigners a standard in aspects of culture. Masarap kumain ng nagkakamay at nakataas ang paa! In response to this, I'll write an article about Filipino food and table manners.