Posts

The Car Culture in the Philippines

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        I remember getting up one morning at 4 am to go from San Ildefonso, Bulacan to Tagaytay.  Here in Italy people get up that early to avoid being stuck in traffic and all you can find on the road at 4-4,30 am is few people who work night shifts and little more.  Sure enough, even in Bulacan, the National Highway was clear at 4,30 am and so was the North Luzon Expressway.  But when we got to the toll gate and entered the E.D.S.A. Avenue......... naku po(gi) grabe ang trapik! ("my goodness, traffic was a heck of a mess").  It took us more than 5 hours to make it to the South Luzon Expressway, as traffic was not moving an inch on the EDSA, but, once on the South Luzon Expressway traffic was smooth again and we made it relatively quickly to Lake Taal.  But why are cities and even much smaller towns in the Philippines so jammed with trapik ?  One reason is certainly the cronic lack of adequate infrastructures but, as a foreigner married to a Filipina, my idea is that way to

Is the "Ay" Marker in Tagalog the Same as the English Verb "To be"?

One of the most common markers in the Tagalog language is ay. It may appear as if ay  is the equivalent of the English verb "to be", because, for example, the literal translation of a phrase like ako ay Pilipino is "I am  Filipino". However, in reality, far from being a verb, let alone the verb "to be", which doesn't really exist in Tagalog, the function of ay is simply to invert the order of a phrase, and in the example above ako ay Pilipino is merely the inverted form of Pilipino ako. In other words, because in Tagalog there is no such thing as the verb "to be", such phrases as "I am Italian", "she is beautiful" or "Mario is a doctor" in Tagalog have no verb and are literally rendered as "Italian I" ("Italiano ako"), "beautiful she" ("maganda siya") and "doctor Mario" ("doktor si Mario"). The "ay" marker simply switches the order of such phr

The Filipino Toxic Culture and How to Deal With It.

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I have been married to a Filipina for 20 years now and I know a thing or two about the Philippines and its culture. I do love the Philippines and its outstanding landscapes, its mixture of Spanish, Asian and American architectures, its cuisine and so much more, and I would go back there one million times to explore every nook and cranny of the archipelago. What are some of the toxic traits of the Filipino mentality? But, unfortunately, the Philippines is not just those amazing and fascinating things. It is also some of the nasty things that, from time to time, I mention in my blog and that qualify as "toxic". These include: Bahala-na (basically leaving things to chance and then expecting a higher power to take care of the consequences) Ningas kugon (when Filipinos have no clear plans or goals and their plans and goals easily fizzle out) Filipino time (the habit of always showing up late at an appointment or not showing up at all)

The "Bawal Umihi Dito" Sign as a Metaphor of the Pinoy Mentality

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One of the many "bawal" signs in the Philippines I remember riding on a trycicle with Tito  Benje, my Filipina wife's uncle.  After overtaking a bus on a double solid line (as Filipinos always do), he said something along the lines of " sa Pilipinas lahat ay pwede", basically meaning that in the Philippines you can do whatever you want and that road signs and markings are, more often than not, mere decorations. Bawal Umihi Dito, Bawal Magtapon ng Basura Dito.... One of the features of the Philippine landscape is the huge amount of signs that remind people that urinating against a public or private wall, on a sidewalk or against a pole and disposing of the garbage on the side of the road, in a river or a canal is not socially acceptable and that the offender might (theoretically) be given a multa, should a  buwaya be around. My bayaw told me in a very straightforward manner that Filipinos love urinating and disposing of their garbage exactly there where a sign s

Kung Bakit Takot sa Akin ang mga Unggoy sa Pilipinas

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Karamihan ng mga lalaki sa Pilipinas ay walang balahibo sa katawan. At, syempre naman, ang mga unggoy na nasa kagubatan sa Pilipinas ay sanay sa mga lokal na tao at hindi sa aming mga foreigner. Sa aking bansa maraming lalaki ay may makapal na balahibo sa katawan. Ako ay may tunay na gubat sa katawan at makapal pa! At syempre, kapag nakikita ng unggoy na nakatira sa gubat ang isang taong may makapal na gubat sa katawan, medyo takot iyon..... Unggoy na nasa gubat malapit sa Biak na Bato Ang makapal na gubat sa katawan ko Biak na Bato

General Gregorio Del Pilar & General Del "Pilay"

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The famous Filipino general Gregorio Del Pilar was born in the province of Bulacan. My wife was also born in the province of Bulacan, so I am half Bulaquenyo. Now, because last November I stumbled and fell very badly and, as a result, had a 5th metatarsal fracture in my right foot and had to spend 5 weeks at home, unable to go anywhere, I became "general" Gregorio Del "pilay". Pilay is a Tagalog term for "lame" and, because I have experienced what it is like to be "pilay", I am Gregorio Del Pilay, the bayani ng biak na "buto", a play of words for the "Biak na Bato" National Park in San Miguel, Bulacan. While in Bulacan I visited the famous "Biak na Bato", a historic place where another bayani, general Aguinaldo, hid in the "kuweba ni Aguinaldo". So I have become another Bulaquenyong "bayani", si Heneral Del Pilay from "Biak na Buto", because biak na biak ang aking buto....at masakit pa..

The Filipino Woman

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I am writing this post from the perspective of a foreigner married to a Filipina. What does the quote-unquote "typical" Filipina look like and what does marrying the stereotype Filipina entail? (Obviously there is a lot of Filipinas whom I know who have little to do with this "stereotype", but many definitely fall into the category I will be discussing in this article). DIFFERENCES BETWEEN THE TYPICAL FILIPINA AND THE TYPICAL WESTERN WOMAN Traditionally a Filipina is raised with the idea that she shoud lean toward becoming like the stereotype known as ‘Maria Clara’, the image of a woman who is defined as follows: "shy, demure, modest, self-effacing and loyal to the end. The openly provocative, sexually aggressive female who is frequently associated with the American female image is still comparatively rare in the Filipino culture". There are some Filipinas who join Facebook groups for Westerners looking for a potential Filipino wife who do post sexuall