I don’t think I am Filipino enough. And here’s why.
I don’t eat anything coconut. Not Buko Juice. Or any pastry with coconut on it. I don’t like the feel of coconut between my teeth. I think it is tough and rubber-y.
I don’t eat anything purple, like ube. Well, the only purple food I like are grapes. I guess I am too visual, and purple food doesn’t appeal to me.
I don’t eat bananas. I know that when I was younger, I loved bananas. But now, I can’t even smell them without getting turned off by them. It is just too slimy.
I don’t eat durian – smells too bad. I don’t like sago’t gulaman. I don’t eat halo-halo. I don’t enjoy kakanin.
I hardly eat a lot of Pinoy dishes: kare-kare, dinuguan (though I was tricked by Des into eating this… until now I convince myself it was Adobo), menudo (and other boy band-named food), mechado, lechon (unless I have to), sinigang…
And I don’t eat fish if it looks like a fish. You can just see them stare at you, asking you why you are eating them. And why do we do that? No one puts a whole pig on their plate and eats it. Even lechon, though cooked whole, you only get portions of it to put on your plate.
Oh I don’t eat anything that comes off a cart in the middle of a busy intersection – isaw, fishballs, betamax, taho, balut, etc. etc. Seriously, how can you dip your food in a jar where people have double-dipped before you? And how can you eat innards and …. ugh.
I can go on and on about food. But I also don’t like going to malls when they are jampacked. Or riding jeeps – you aren’t even facing front! Commuting, in general, is hard. Which is also strange, because anywhere else, I love commuting. Maybe the chaos of running and jumping in jeeps and buses bothers me.
And the clincher – I don’t even speak Tagalog that well. I use the excuse that my mom is Ilonggo and my dad is Tagalog (and a lot of the people who help us out at home are Bisaya), so our mode of communication at home is English. But, you can only use that excuse until you are 12. I am trying. But I get so tongue tied all the time.
So do those things make me less Filipino?
I hope not. Because I love the Philippines.
I love the weather. The extreme Summer heat and the torrential rainy Typhoon season.
I love the beaches and the islands. And the fact that you can drive a few hours and you end up at a beach with beautiful sand and water.
I love the smiles and the warmth of Pinoys. And that everyone will go out of their way to help you.
I love the country. And I kid you not when I say that there is really no other place I would like to live except the Philippines. All the other places are nice to visit, but nothing beats the Philippines.
I love how we love families. Though some activists are trying to convince us otherwise, Pinoys will always love their families (old and young) – and will always take care of them.
I love our facial expressions and “call signals”. Even if i don’t answer to”pssst”, I love how it gets everyone’s attention.
I love our names. And how we can call our kids Ondoy. Onday. Marimar. Pacquaio. I am sure there are Charice’s already out there.
I love how we bounce back. In the midst of natural and man-made (government) disasters. And even through the struggles, we smile and make jokes.
I (secretly) love our Filipino passport. It may be annoying, but we get to visit all the embassies of the countries we want to visit. And we get to talk to immigration officials. Ok… maybe I don’t really love this part.
But I love being Filipino, even if I don’t think I am Filipino enough.
There is not other country for me. No other better people. And no other way of life I’d rather have.
So one of these days, I will eat that ube-covered banana. And drink that coconut shake with sago and gulaman. And eat dinuguan (again) with purple puto with coconut shavings on top. And then go to UP to eat isaw and drink taho. Because that’s what Filipinos usually do. And I am proud to be one!