1. Merienda: Where else is it normal to eat five times a day?
2. Sawsawan: Assorted sauces that guarantee freedom of choice, enough
room for experimentation and maximum tolerance for diverse tastes.
Favorites: toyo't calamansi, suka at sili, patis.
3. Kuwan, ano: At a loss for words? Try these and marvel at how Pinoys
understand exactly what you want.
4. Pinoy humor and irreverence: If you're api and you know it, crack a
joke. Nothing personal, really.
5. Tingi: Thank goodness for small entrepreneurs. Where else can we
buy cigarettes, soap, condiments and life's essentials in small
6. Spirituality: Even before the Spaniards came, ethnic tribes had
their own anitos, bathalas and assorted deities, pointing to a strong
relationship with the Creator, who or whatever it may be.
7. Po, opo, mano po: Speech suffixes that define courtesy, deference,
filial respect--a balm to the spirit in these aggressive times.
8. Pasalubong: Our way of sharing the vicarious thrills and delights
of a trip, and a wonderful excuse to shop without the customary guilt.
9. Beaches! With 7107 islands, we have miles and miles of
shoreline piled high with fine white sand, lapped by warm waters, and
nibbled by exotic tropical fish. From the stormy seas of Batanes to
isles of Palawan--over here, life is truly a beach.
10. Bagoong: Darkly mysterious, this smelly fish or shrimp paste
typifies the underlying theme of most ethnic foods: disgustingly
unhygienic, unbearably stinky and simply irresistible.
11. Bayanihan: Yes, the internationally-renowned dance company, but
also this habit of pitching in still common in small communities. Just
have that cold beer and some pulutan ready for the troops.
12. The Balikbayan box Another way of sharing life's bounty, no
matter if it seems like we're fleeing Pol Pot everytime we head home
from anywhere in the globe. The most wonderful part is that, more
often than not, the contents are carted home to be distributed.
13. Pilipino komiks: Not to mention "Hiwaga," "Aliwan," "Tagalog
Classics," "Liwayway" and"Bulaklak" magazines. Pulpy publications that
gave us Darna, Facifica Falayfay, Lagalag, Kulafu, Kenkoy, Dyesebel,
characters of a time both innocent and worldly.
14. Folk songs: They come unbidden and spring, full blown, like a
second language, at the slightest nudge from the too-loud stereo of a
passing jeepney or tricycle.
15. Fiesta. Eat, drink and be merry, for tomorrow is just another day,
shrugs the poor man who, once a year, honors a patron saint with this
sumptuous, no-holds-barred spread. It's a Pinoy celebration at its
pious and riotous best.
16. Aswang, manananggal, kapre. The whole underworld of Filipino lower
mythology recalls our uniquely bizarre childhood, that is, before
political correctness kicked in. Still, their rich adventures pepper
17. Jeepneys. Colorful, fast, reckless, a vehicle of postwar Pinoy
ingenuity, this Everyman's communal cadillac makes for a cheap,
interesting ride. If the driver's a daredevil (as they usually are),
hang on to your seat.
18. Dinuguan. Blood stew, a bloodcurdling idea, until you try it with
puto. Best when mined with jalapeño peppers. Messy but delicious.
19. Santacruzan. More than just a beauty contest, this one has
religious overtones, a tableau of St. Helena's and Constantine's
search for the Cross that seamlessly blends piety, pageantry and
ritual. Plus, it's the
perfect excuse to show off the prettiest ladies--and the most
20. Balut. Unhatched duck's embryo, another unspeakable ethnic food to
outsiders, but oh, to indulge in guilty pleasures! Sprinkle some salt
and suck out that soup, with gusto.
21. Pakidala. A personalized door-to-door remittance and delivery
system for overseas Filipino workers who don't trust the banking
system, and who expect a family update from the courier, as well.
22. Choc-nut. Crumbly peanut chocolate bars that defined childhood
ecstasy before M & M's and Hersheys.
23. Kamayan style. To eat with one's hand and eschew spoon, fork and
table manners--ah, heaven.
24. Chicharon. Pork, fish or chicken crackling. There is in the crunch
a hint of the extravagant, the decadent and the pedestrian. Perfect
with vinegar, sublime with beer.
25. Pinoy hospitality. Just about everyone gets a hearty "Kain tayo!"
invitation to break bread with whoever has food to share, no matter
how skimpy or austere it is.
26. Adobo, kare-kare, sinigang and other lutong bahay stuff.
Home-cooked meals that have the stamp of approval from several
generations, who swear by closely-guarded cooking secrets and family
27. Lola Basyang. The voice one heard spinning tales over the radio,
before movies and television curtailed imagination and defined
28. Pambahay. Home is where one can let it all hang out, where clothes
do not make a man or woman but rather define their level of comfort.
29. Tricycle and trisikad, the poor Pinoy's taxicab that delivers you
at your doorstep for as little as P3, with a complimentary dusting of
30. Dirty ice cream. Very Pinoy flavors that make up for the risk:
munggo, langka, ube, mais, keso, macapuno. Plus there's the colorful
cart that recalls jeepney art.
31. Yayas. The trusted Filipino nanny who, ironically, has become a
major Philippine export as overseas contract workers. A good one is
almost like a surrogate parent--if you don't mind the accent and the
predilection for afternoon soap and movie stars.
32. Sarsi. Pinoy rootbeer, the enduring taste of childhood. Our
grandfathers had them with an egg beaten in.
33. Pinoy fruits. Atis, guyabano, chesa, mabolo, lanzones, durian,
langka, makopa, dalanghita, siniguelas, suha, chico, papaya,
34. Filipino celebrities. Movie stars, broadcasters, beauty queens,
public officials, all-around controversial figures: Aurora Pijuan,
Cardinal Sin, Carlos P. Romulo, Charito Solis, Cory Aquino, Emilio
Aguinaldo, the Eraserheads, Fidel V. Ramos, Francis Magalona, Gloria
Diaz, Manuel L. Quezon, Margie Moran, Melanie Marquez, Ninoy Aquino,
Nora Aunor, Pitoy Moreno, Ramon Magsysay, Richard Gomez, San Lorenzo
Ruiz, Sharon Cuneta, Gemma Cruz, Erap, Tiya Dely, Mel and Jay, Gary V.
35. World class Pinoys who put us on the global map: Lea Salonga,
Paeng Nepomuceno, Eugene Torre, Luisito Espinosa, Lydia de
Vega-Mercado, Jocelyn Enriquez, Elma Muros, Onyok Velasco, Efren
"Bata" Reyes, Lilia
Calderon-Clemente, Loida Nicolas-Lewis, Josie Natori.
36. Pinoy tastes. A dietitian's nightmare: too sweet, too salty, too
fatty, as in burong talangka, itlog na maalat, crab fat (aligue),
bokayo, kutchinta, sapin-sapin, halo-halo, pastilyas, palitaw, pulburon,
longganisa, tuyo, ensaymada, ube haleya, sweetened macapuno and
garbanzos. Remember, we're the guys who put sugar (horrors) in our
spaghetti sauce. Yum!
37. The sights. Banaue Rice Terraces, Boracay, Bohol's Chocolate
Hills, Corregidor Island, Fort Santiago, the Hundred Islands, the Las
Piñas Bamboo Organ, Rizal Park, Mt. Banahaw, Mayon Volcano, Taal
Volcano. A land of contrasts and ever-changing landscapes.
38. Gayuma, agimat and anting-anting. Love potions and amulets. How
the socially-disadvantaged Pinoy copes.
39. Barangay Ginebra, Jaworski, PBA, MBA and basketball. How the
verticaly-challenged Pinoy compensates, via a national sports
obsession that reduces fans to tears and fistfights.
40. People Power at EDSA. When everyone became a hero and changed
Philippine history overnight.
41. San Miguel Beer and pulutan. "Isa pa nga!" and the Philippines'
most popular, world-renowned beer goes well with peanuts, corniks,
tapa, chicharon, usa, barbecue, sisig, and all manner of spicy,
42. Resiliency. We've survived 400 years of Spanish rule, the US
bases, Marcos, the 1990 earthquake, lahar, lambada, Robin Padilla, and
Tamagochi. We'll survive Erap.
43. Yoyo. Truly Filipino in origin, this hunting tool, weapon, toy and
merchandising vehicle remains the best way to "walk the dog" and "rock
the baby," using just a piece of string.
44. Pinoy games: Pabitin, palosebo, basagan ng palayok. A few basic
rules make individual cunning and persistence a premium, and guarantee
a good time for all.
45. Ninoy Aquino. For saying that "the Filipino is worth dying for"
and proving it.
46. Balagtasan. The verbal joust that brings out rhyme, reason and
passion on a public stage.
47. Tabo. All-powerful, ever-useful, hygienically-triumphant device to
scoop water out of a bucket and help the true Pinoy answer nature's
call. Helps maintain our famously stringent toilet habits.
48. Pandesal. Despite its shrinking size, still a good buy. Goes well
with any filling, best when hot.
49. Jollibee. Truly Pinoy in taste and sensibility, and a corporate
icon that we can be quite proud of. Do you know that it's invaded the
Middle East, as well?
50. The butanding, the dolphins and other creatures in our blessed
waters. They're Pinoys, too, and they're here to stay. Now if some
folks would just stop turning them into daing.
51. Pakikisama. It's what makes people stay longer at parties, have
another drink, join pals in sickness and health. You can get dead
drunk and still make it home.
52. Sing-a-long. Filipinos love to sing, and thank God a lot of us do
53. Kayumanggi. Neither pale nor dark, our skin tone is beautifully
healthy, the color of a rich earth or a mahogany tree growing towards
54. Handwoven cloth and native weaves. Colorful, environment-friendly
alternatives to polyester that feature skillful workmanship and a rich
indigenous culture behind every thread. From the pinukpok of the north
to the malong of the south, it's the fiber of who we are.
55. Movies. Still the cheapest form of entertainment, especially if
you watch the same movie several times.
56. Bahala na. We cope with uncertainty by embracing it, and are thus
enabled to play life by ear.
57. Papaitan. An offal stew flavored with bile, admittedly an acquired
taste, but pointing to our national ability to acquire a taste for
58. English. Whether carabao or Arr-neoww-accented, it doubles our
chances in the global marketplace.
59. The Press. Irresponsible, sensational, often inaccurate, but still
the liveliest in Asia. Otherwise, we'd all be glued to TV.
60. Divisoria. Smelly, crowded, a pickpocket's paradise, but you can
get anything here, often at rock-bottom prices. The sensory overload
is a bonus.
61. Barong Tagalog. Enables men to look formal and dignified without
having to strangle themselves with a necktie. Worn well, it makes any
ordinary Juan look marvelously makisig.
62. Filipinas. They make the best friends, lovers, wives. Too bad they
can't say the same for Filipinos.
63. Filipinos. So maybe they're bolero and macho with an occasional
streak of generic infidelity; they do know how to make a woman feel
64. Catholicism. What fun would sin be without guilt? Jesus Christ is
firmly planted on Philippine soil.
65. Dolphy. Our favorite, ultra-durable comedian gives the beleaguered
Pinoy everyman an odd dignity, even in drag.
66. Style. Something we often prefer over substance. But every
Filipino claims it as a birthright.
67. Bad taste. Clear plastic covers on the vinyl-upholstered sofa,
posters of poker-playing dogs masquerading as art, overaccessorized
altars--the list is endless, and wealth only seems to magnify it.
68. Mangoes. Crisp and tart, or lusciously ripe, they evoke memories
of family outings and endless sunshine in a heart-shaped package.
69. Unbridled optimism. Why we rank so low on the suicide scale.
70. Street food: Barbecue, lugaw, banana-cue, fishballs, IUD (chicken
entrails), adidas (chicken feet), warm taho. Forget hepatitis; here's
cheap, tasty food with gritty ambience.
71. The siesta. Snoozing in the middle of the day is smart, not lazy.
72. Honorifics and courteous titles: Kuya, ate, diko, ditse, ineng,
totoy, Ingkong, Aling, Mang, etc. No exact English translation, but
these words connote respect, deference and the value placed on kinship.
73. Heroes and people who stood up for truth and freedom. Lapu-lapu
started it all, and other heroes and revolutionaries followed: Diego
Silang, Macario Sakay, Jose Rizal, Andres Bonifacio, Apolinario Mabini,
Melchora Aquino, Gregorio del Pilar, Gabriela Silang, Miguel Malvar,
Francisco Balagtas, Juan Luna, Marcelo H. del Pilar, Panday Pira,
Emilio Jacinto, Raha Suliman, Antonio Luna, Gomburza, Emilio
heroes of Bataan and Corregidor, Pepe Diokno, Satur Ocampo, Dean
Armando Malay, Evelio Javier, Ninoy Aquino, Lola Rosa and other
comfort women who spoke up, honest cabbie Emilio Advincula, Rona
Mahilum, the women lawyers who didn't let Jalosjos get away with rape.
74. Flora and fauna. The sea cow (dugong), the tarsier, calamian deer,
bearcat, Philippine eagle, sampaguita, ilang-ilang, camia, pandan, the
creatures that make our archipelago unique.
75. Pilipino songs, OPM and composers: "Ama Namin," "Lupang Hinirang,"
"Gaano Ko Ikaw Kamahal," "Ngayon at Kailanman," "Anak,"
"Handog,""Hindi Kita Malilimutan," "Ang Pasko ay Sumapit"; Ryan
Cayabyab, George Canseco, Restie Umali, Levi Celerio, Manuel
Aguilar, and Florante--living examples of our musical gift.
76. Metro Aides. They started out as Imelda Marcos' groupies, but have
gallantly proven their worth. Against all odds, they continuously
prove that cleanliness is next to godliness--especially now that those
darned candidates' posters have to be scraped off the face of Manila!
77. Sari-sari store. There's one in every corner, offering everything
from bananas and floor wax to Band-Aid and bakya.
78. Philippine National Red Cross. PAWS. Caritas. Fund drives. They
help us help each other.
79. Favorite TV shows through the years: "Tawag ng Tanghalan," "John
and Marsha," "Champoy," "Ryan, Ryan Musikahan," "Kuwarta o Kahon,"
"Public Forum/Life," "Student Canteen," "Eat Bulaga." In the age of
variety shows, they have redeemed Philippine television.
80. Quirks of language that can drive crazy any tourist listening in:
"Bababa ba?" "Bababa!"
81. "Sayang!" "Naman!" "Kadiri!" "Ano ba!?" "pala."
Expressions that defy translation but wring out feelings genuinely
82. Cockfighting. Filipino men love it more than their wives
83. Dr. Jose Rizal. A category in himself. Hero, medicine man, genius,
athlete, sculptor, fictionist, poet, essayist, husband, lover,
samaritan, martyr. Truly someone to emulate and be proud of, anytime,
84. Nora Aunor. Short, dark and homely-looking, she redefined our
rigid concept of how leading ladies should look.
85. Noranian or Vilmanian. Defines the friendly rivalry between Ate
Guy Aunor and Ate Vi Santos and for many years, the only way to be for
many Filipino fans.
86. Filipino Christmas. The world's longest holiday season. A perfect
excuse to mix our love for feasting, gift-giving and music and wrap it
up with a touch of religion.
87. Relatives and kababayan abroad. The best refuge against
loneliness, discrimination and confusion in a foreign place. Distant
relatives and fellow Pinoys readily roll out the welcome mat even on
the basis of a
phone introduction or referral.
88. Festivals: Sinulog, Ati-atihan, Moriones. Sounds, colors, pagan
frenzy and Christian overtones.
89. Folk dances. Tinikling, pandanggo sa ilaw, kariñosa, kuratsa,
itik-itik, alitaptap, rigodon. All the right moves and a distinct
90. Native wear and costumes. Baro't saya, tapis, terno, saya,
salakot, bakya. Lovely form and ingenious function in the way we dress.
91. Sunday family gatherings. Or, close family ties that never get
severed. You don't have to win the lotto or be a president to have
10,000 relatives. Everyone's family tree extends all over the
archipelago, and it's at its best in times of crisis; notice how food,
hostesses, money, and moral support materialize during a wake?
92. Calesa and karitela. The colorful and leisurely way to negotiate
narrow streets when loaded down with a year's provisions.
93. Quality of life. Where else can an ordinary employee afford a
stay-in helper, a yaya, unlimited movies, eat-all-you-can buffets, the
latest fashion (Baclaran nga lang), even Viagra in the black market?
94. All Saints' Day. In honoring our dead, we also prove that we know
how to live.
95. Handicrafts. Shellcraft, rattancraft, abaca novelties,
woodcarvings, banig placemats and bags, bamboo windchimes, etc.
Portable memories of home. Hindi lang pang-turista, pang-balikbayan pa!
96. Pinoy greens. Sitaw. Okra. Ampalaya. Gabi. Munggo. Dahon ng Sili.
Kangkong. Luya. Talong. Sigarillas. Bataw. Patani. Lutong bahay will
never be the same without them.
97. OCWs. The lengths (and miles) we'd go for a better life for our
family, as proven by these modern-day heroes of the economy.
98. The Filipino artist. From Luna's magnificent "Spoliarium" and
Amorsolo's sun-kissed ricefields, to Ang Kiukok's jarring abstractions
and Borlongan's haunting ghosts, and everybody else in between. Hang a
Filipino painting on your wall, and you're hanging one of Asia's best.
99. Tagalog soap operas. From "Gulong ng Palad" and "Flor de Luna" to
today's incarnations like "Mula sa Puso"--they're the story of our
lives, and we feel strongly for them, MariMar notwithstanding.
100. Midnight madness, weekends sales, bangketas and baratillos. It's
retail therapy at its best, with Filipinos braving traffic, crowds,
and human deluge to find a bargain.
101. Language creativity.
"Tadbalik", "yosi", "dehins". Acronyms like "M.U." (mag-un, ala Bisaya) or, KSP. HHWWPSSP (holding hands while walking
pa sway-sway pa). Pauso words or phrases like "Chicken!",
"Ahhh-mmmm", "Apir", "Kaka ka" etc.
102. Ice Candy
ICE KENDI (or as some would say, "ice kinde"). Any Pinoy neighborhood will have at least one household that sells this cool, refreshing stick of flavored ice. Guaranteed ultimate satisfaction as you suck the flavor out of this homemade frozen delight. A big hit during the summer season. Flavor? You name, we'll make it!