Understanding the Filipino
Beyond his Penchant for Music and Beauty
By Apolinario Villalobos
According to Osang, the Filipina winner of The Netherland’s first X Factor, Filipinos will no longer be allowed to join singing contests in that country. It could just be a joke of Osang as Filipinos are also known for cracking jokes to spice up interviews. In the field of music, Filipinos are practically known the world over. Many may not be so lucky to garner the title, but still, they can give anxiety to other contestants. A youtube I viewed last year, showed an American telling his viewers, “if you want to hear real singers, go to the Philippines…”. It seems that the Filipino when brought into this world, instead of a pitiful cry, he instead, let out a melodious scream.
But the Filipino is more than the musical notes…more than the instruments that he can play. The Filipino in whose veins flow various culture, is first and foremost, God-fearing. Be he a Christian or an Islam adherent, the Filipino’s life revolves around the Most Benevolent. Aside from Roman Catholics that comprise the majority of the population, the Orthodox Catholics, Western-based Christian sects, indigenous Aglipayan and Iglesia ni Kristo, as well as, the typical Filipino Islamic faith, have successfully amalgamated to form a very strong spiritual foundation on which the Filipino proudly stands.
Many international beauty titlists are married to Filipinos. Among the most notable is Ms. Armi Kuusela, an early Miss Universe titlist and married to the scion of the prominent Hilario family. When the beauty pageants started many years ago, the Filipina contestant aside from the representative of Thailand are always anticipated to land at least, on the top ten. During the latter years, the Filipina representative persisted, showing her best in the face of stiff rivalry posed by the Latin American beauties. And, just like in international singing competitions, the Philippine representative in several beauty contests that have mushroomed lately always leaves an impressive mark.
The Filipino has always been known as “pliant like a bamboo”, a survivor in the right sense of the word. The more than four centuries of Hispanic subjugation followed by those of the short-lived American and Japanese, did not break the Filipino spirit. Although, there was fierce resistance, the Filipino easily swayed with the onslaught of the colonial misfortunes, and fed on the cultural nutrients that they brought. With their passing, the Filipino twanged back to his upright posture – with unblemished and fully intact pride!
As a survivor, the Filipino is resourceful. For instance, the two-day old almost molded boiled rice, he can prepare into a delicious snack called, “winilig-wilig pop rice”, after thoroughly washing the almost spoiled precious staple, dried under the sun and fried in coconut oil with sprinkling of brown sugar. Out of the discarded foods from restaurants, called “pagpag”, he can prepare thoroughly-cooked dishes, of course, after equally, thorough washing…although, the sanitation and health agencies do not allow this, for the record. But rather than die of hunger with a gaping mouth and glassy stare, or allow his guts to be punctured by acidic intestinal fluid, the Filipino can courageously take this last resort! If other nationalities can eat deadly scorpion, drink blood of the cobra, and swallow live wriggling baby octopus, why can’t the Filipino partake of left-over food cooked thoroughly?
The young Filipino could cross a swinging bamboo bridge, or swim across a swirling river to attend his classes, in a school, several hills away from his home. He can walk kilometers of distance under the scorching beating of the sun just to occupy his seat in a crowded classroom, or study his lessons under a tree while his stomach grumbles for having nothing, not even a sip of coffee for breakfast. For the duration of his school year, he can also wear the same white shirt and a pair of khaki pants that he immediately washes as soon as he reaches home. He can mumble a thankful prayer for a half-cup of burnt rice salvaged from the bottom of the pot, drenched with a little water and sprinkled with salt.
Part of the Filipino’s discipline is the caution from his parents to behave and show his best self when there are visitors, as well as, clean the house very well, so as not to displease them. This he does with utmost obedience. And, additionally, to always give the visitors the best part of the chicken when they are invited over for dinner. All these the Filipino does as he is used to sacrificing for others.
The Filipino is a practical human being, as he is willing to accept what is realistically on hand. He does not vie for what is impossible because he is easily pleased. He has an easy smile and with an ever-ready hearty laughter for anything funny, even if it pertains to him, though, with limitation that borders on respect.
The Filipino loves food! There is only the problem with identity because many preparations are tagged with foreign names, especially, Hispanic. Nevertheless, they are concocted with ultimate patience and diligence inherited from his ancestors. This love for food can be observed during fiestas and other special occasions such as Christmas, birthday, baptismal, and wedding parties, or even last dinner for a wake.
Understanding the Filipino beyond his love for music and beauty, will make one appreciate how this guy who belongs to the brown race has survived the waves of corruption that besets his country!