Thursday, May 10, 2007

Public Display Of Too Much Affection....So Disgusting!

Okay, as a Filipina and an Asian, I lean towards a more conservative outlook when it comes to sexual morality. Of course, as an old foggy, I know that the younger generation sees me as a prude. Hey, I may be conservative and old-fashioned, but I am not naive. I have two brothers, several uncles, male cousins and a father and I know how men are when it comes to sexual behavior. However, this exposure to the male species does not make me feel comfortable when I see public displays of affection.
Yes, I've seen foreign films where even high school kids go necking in hallways, inside their cars, on the pavement, and almost everywhere. These films should have made me immune to foreplay, but I guess seeing it done in real life is another thing, whether I see it here or abroad. Of course, I am more tolerant of seeing caucasians go at it, but I will never get over witnessing blatant acts of passion so wildly displayed in public by Filipinos and other Asians.
So far, here in the Philippines, I have witnessed milder versions of PDA's. Thank God for that! Holding hands, I have no problems with. Even a boy's arm around his girl's shoulders is still tolerable. But too much of octopus hands and lots of hand movements on torsos or below the belt areas are way too creepy. I also feel so uncomfortable when I see sweethearts guzzling necks in public and rubbing their torsos against each other like cats. One time, I saw a couple eating each other's face in a close embrace. Granted, they were inside their garden but anyone walking the street could see what was happening. YUCK! Get a room, please!
I just feel that sometimes these exhibitionists do such acts to make a spectacle of themselves. It is as if they are saying, "Look, I have a sweetheart and see how in love we are. Aren't you envious of our passion?" Okay, okay, so you are so in love and would like the world to witness your passion, but please, spare my eyes such dastardly deeds. I am not interested in your sex life. No need to flaunt that you are very physical with your sweetheart.
When will some people see that necking and petting need to be done in private? Why is there such a need to display their sexuality in front of everyone who are within view? What are they trying to prove--that they are modern and liberal and free to do what they like? I just don't get it. I know that those people who practice more restraint in public can be very sensual and sexual in private.
What can I say? Be affectionate in public, but do so with propriety and respect for the sensibilities of other people. If you cannot do that, please find a room and lock yourselves in. It can be any room. Heck, it can be inside a public toilet or a dressing room. Just make sure no one has to witness what you are doing short of undressing and actual penetration.

Monday, April 30, 2007

Online Chatting

I haven't blogged for weeks now since I've been tied down with other pressing matters and am no longer on vacation. Plus, I am back to one of my hobbies which is online chatting when I feel bored or have nothing else to do.
Now, online chatting is very educational. Aside from the fact that I meet people from all over the world and get exposed to different personalities, I also catch a glimpse of how people think and behave when they can say things they would never say face to face.
Though I chat online just to talk with people, male or female, a lot of people chat online to do nasty things. Cybersex is so common now and with the advent of webcams, online chatters can do more than talk about sex pornographically. It used to be just the sending of pics to online chatmates, but it is more animated now. They just use the net for sexual gratification and nothing more. They can be married or single; it does not really matter to them as long as they can wank off.
On the other side of the coin, some chatters want to meet someone online for romance. For some reason or another, they have this notion that there must be someone wonderful they can meet on the net. Of course, since life has become too busy nowadays, the net has also become the best option to meet romantic partners to beat the lack of time for actual face to face encounters. Now, whether these people also do cybersex while trying to find love on the net or not is something I cannot determine yet.
Then, there are those who spew out their sentiments online. Some use chatting to evangelize people while some trash other cultures or ideas or beliefs. For instance, I talked with this Canadian guy who contacted me first. He told me how much he hated Filipino culture. He called Filipinas prostitutes and hypocrites (for going to church even if they are prostituting themselves). The irony was he said he had a Filipina girlfriend before and he considered her nice. DUH!
As for me, I do have my share of fun online. I prefer clean chat, of course, but have experienced meeting cybersex freaks. During the time I was still in the dark about how to put nasty people on ignore, I got exposed to what people say when they want cybersex. First, they would determine your gender. If the gender suited them, they proceeded with the talk about underwear and sex organs. Some would like you to respond in kind while for some, it didn't matter if you responded or not as long as they could say what they wanted. It was just like reading a pornographic story. Good thing there were no webcams then, though one perverted guy sent me a pic of his erect genitalia. Hey, don't blame me! He said he was sending me his pic. I just didn't know which part he was going to send. Nowadays when I can put perverts on ignore, I am no longer bothered by such nastiness. I do try to be polite by saying I am not into cybersex and would you believe it, some even become nicer to me. This shows that people behave according to what is expected of them most of the time. However, some perverts are beyond salvation. Thank God for the ignore button!
For me it is more fun meeting nice people on the net--The ones I can actually talk to properly and whom I can meet in real life as friends. With this type of people, I learn quite a lot about different culture and lifestyle. I also get to discuss issues and ideas that I would like to talk about. Some of these people have stayed as my online chatmates unlike some who had already dropped me.
I do notice that when I have outlived my purpose as someone's chatmate, I am no longer much of interest to him/her. Meaning, if someone has found a boyfriend or a girlfriend (and usually, men contact me more than women), I no longer get to talk to them that much. However, some talk to me again when their object of interest has dumped them. So I am functioning more like a therapist to them or a stand-by chatmate when things go wrong. It is a good thing I have no expectations of them and know that chatting is an outlet for most lonely people and a lot of perverted ones. Shucks! Does this mean that I am lonely or a pervert? LOL....hopefully not! To be honest, I just like the fact that I can meet some interesting people without going out of the house and I know I can be a "friend" for a season for most of my chatmates.
Well, online chatting has become more than just a behavior for losers as it was commonly perceived years ago when it was not so popular. Today, almost everyone chats either with a relative, a friend they've met in real life and net friends. Some even use chatting as a way to network and provide business for themselves.
I know online chatting will still remain one of my hobbies even though I usually do it for a season when work doesn't encroach on my time. It keeps me from getting bored. It keeps me updated. Long live chatrooms!

Friday, March 09, 2007

Pinoy Mail Order Brides

Aside from the brain drain, the Philippines is also experiencing an exodus of young Pinays, and sometimes even old ones, who migrate to First World nations as mail order brides. They come from all walks of life and from anywhere in the Philippines. All have one goal--to get out of the Philippines as soon as possible!
Forget the usual snail mail version. Now, it is more hi-tech. Filipinas who would like to meet a foreigner just sign up as a member of dating websites for free and wait for men to contact them. Sometimes, they are the ones who contact the men themselves. Other Pinays try Yahoo Messenger or any chatrooms to hook up with a potential foreign lover or two. Once successful, both parties proceed from emailing each other to chatting online to phone calls to the inevitable eyeball session. If all goes well, wedding bells will soon be just around the corner.
Before the onslaught of the internet, the usual mail order brides were those poverty-stricken Filipinas who wanted to have a better life by marrying foreigners. Having no access to a good education to be upwardly mobile economically, these Pinays resorted to drastic measures as their way out of poverty. This is not the case today. True, there are still a lot of poverty-stricken Pinays who try the mail-order-bride route, but even Pinays from the middle class are now experimenting on finding love or luck on the internet.
I don't want to sound jaded about this whole mail-order-bride phenomenon because for all I know there might be true love happening via the internet and overseas phone calls. It is just that I can't shake off this feeling that what has motivated Filipinas to seek foreign husbands is more mercenary than romantic. In the Philippines, the mighty US dollar still rules. Hence, the best ways to get one's hands on this currency are to be an overseas worker, to migrate as a skilled worker, and to marry a foreigner from First World nations.
It also doesn't help my cynicism that I see a lot of these Pinays hooking up with any foreigner despite the age difference. I have seen eighteen-year-old girls marrying themselves off to men almost thrice their age.....I mean THRICE! I, myself, can't see myself falling in love with a man twice my age unless he looks like Pierce Brosnan or Jeff Bridges or the other older Hollywood hunks. And these very old foreigners do not even come close to looking like David Letterman, who doesn't look much himself. Where is true love in such a relationship? And please, don't give me that line that looks are not everything and beauty is just skin deep. Physical attraction is needed in a romantic relationship. Why are these old foggies seeking young and attractive Filipinas in the first place if the physical aspect is not that important? Yeah, yeah, I also am aware of that line that Asian women are seen as a lot sweeter than Caucasian women and less materialistic. Well, I might agree with the sweeter aspect at times but not when it comes to being less materialistic. Filipinas are as materialistic as any woman in the world. The difference lies in the fact that Filipinas easily get high on material things that Caucasian women have taken for granted; hence, the former seem more grateful than the latter.
Yes, I also know that there are a lot of Filipinas who like to have mixed-breed offsprings of the Caucasian variety because the tisoy look is lionized in the Philippines and the mothers can cash in on their children's looks via showbiz and commercials. But still, I intuitively know that Filipinas generally won't seek foreigners if the Philippines can provide a better source of income to help them move upward economically.
I really can't blame these women for choosing the mail-order-bride route. Much as I hate seeing this phenomenon becoming a way of life (since it gives my country a bad reputation), I can't give these Filipinas a better option. Marrying a foreigner is the easiest way out of their desperate situations. Educating them would take years and is not an assurance that their lives will become better as a whole, considering the fact that a lot of Filipinos who have a good education are underemployed. These impoverished women instinctively know that they are better off capitalizing on their youth and looks and the perception of Western men that Asian women are better than their Western counterpart.
Since I can't do anything about mail order brides from the Philippines, I just hope that they do get a better life abroad even though I know from experience that successful Pinoys overseas tend to be snooty afterwards.
Just a note, it galls me to death seeing a google ad of a dating website for foreigners seeking Filipina wives on my own blogsite. I am actually advertising a phenomenon that I would like to put a stop to. Talk about IRONY!

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Public Toilets...A Disaster in the Philippines

After experiencing a slice of life in some First World nations, I must say that I have grown to appreciate more what I have in the Philippines like the fair weather I enjoy almost every day, fresh seafood, a variety of colors for 12 months, youthful-looking skin, more approachable people, and lighter clothes to name a few. However, I am still disgusted with the deplorable state of our public toilets. Being a Third World nation should not be an excuse for having such vomit-inducing washrooms, especially since the government has been trying to win over tourists who prefer Thailand over the Philippines.
When I was abroad, I would seldom have much of a problem if I suddenly get a bout of loose bowel movement ( LBM) or needed to pee. The toilets were usually clean and there was an available roll of toilet paper for public use. Usually, I saw several rolls of tissue inside one cubicle. Running water was also existent and toilets could be flushed. Of course, there was also the complimentary liquid soap, paper towels and hand dryer. Trains also had toilets that I could use with ease. Sometimes, I needed to pay a bit to use a public toilet in Europe but it was a small price to pay for being able to use a clean toilet to relieve myself.
That is not the case in the Philippines. The most decent public toilets available are usually situated inside five-star hotels and posh restaurants, which are shunned by the masses. Some respectable places do maintain clean washrooms but in other venues, people will encounter several problems. One major problem is the lack of running water so toilets cannot be flushed. Another one is the lack of toilet paper. Sometimes one can find liquid soap, but more often than not, this necessity is unavailable. I can accept the lack of paper towels or hand dryers, and even the lack of liquid soap. I just have an issue with the lack of water in a country surrounded by water, albeit saltwater. No wonder public toilets in the Philippines generally stink!
Unclean toilets seem to be one of those perennial problems in this country. Most government buildings have no decent toilet. Heck, most buildings in the cities have a problem with running water so this affects the washrooms. Even most schools do not have decent toilets, unless they are the private schools for the rich. It is even worse in the provinces...uggh! I cringe at the thought of my own out-of-town experiences.
Never mind the fact that toilets in the Philippines are outmoded. What is important is that it is relatively clean. But with the city-wide (not to mention nationwide) water problem, I doubt if public toilets can be truly maintained. There are some places that charge people a few pesos to use a semi-decent public toilet. The payment goes to the maintenance of the toilets. However, unlike in Europe, this is more of an exception than the rule. Hence, public restrooms that can be used for free will usually give you an eyeful of poo and concentrated pee, and the stench of a pigsty (Yuck!) Yes, people actually have toilets at their disposal but they should be ready to be grossed out.
Though it would be a dream come true for me when the Philippines finally has decent public toilets, I just have this gut feeling that I would probably not witness it in my lifetime. I don't know. I just get this feeling that both civilians and the government couldn't care less.

Monday, March 05, 2007

Kris Aquino....Yet Again?

Oh no! Not again. All this brouhaha about the domestic woes of Kris Aquino has shown me once again that most Filipinos would rather focus on melodrama than put their energies on something more pro-active.
I can't say I truly blame my fellow countrymen/women for doing so. I can understand the need to escape from the horrid day to day existence most Filipinos are subjected to. This escapism comes in the form of feasting on the life of a very well-known personality, who in this case is the infamous Kris Aquino. And if it points to all is not well for this personality, so much the better, I guess. I have a strong suspicion that despite her many fans, a lot would like to see the downfall of this gorgeous lass. Filipinos are famous for having crab mentality and tend to be envious and unhappy about the success of other Pinoys, it seems to me.
Now, I am not defending Kris Aquino. Though she is both bright and beautiful (not to mention, successful), she is also tactless, full of herself and bratty. She is definitely a newsmaker and people can't seem to get enough of her. She seems unable to keep her mouth shut about her life and has to give people a glimpse of it directly or indirectly every time she opens her mouth. This poor lass can't help being an exhibitionist and seems to revel in the constant attention of the media. I thought that after the Joey Marquez fiasco, her bowing out from the public eye was going to be permanent. I was wrong. She just couldn't stand not being the center of attention.
Well, she is a somebody and she knows it. Being the daughter of a former president and a national hero is enough to gain the spotlight. It also helps that she is also extraordinarily beautiful and gregarious. I remember the first time I saw her on TV after the assassination of her father. She was so smart-looking with her glasses on. She was also well-spoken and did not use the singsong twang she is famous for today. I thought she would follow in the footsteps of her dad and try to do something worthwhile to change the Philippines for the better. Again, I was wrong. It is such a pity since Kris Aquino would have been such a great politician had she chosen politics and not showbiz.
Because of her choice, the besotted public had been fed a series of scandals that must have given Cory Aquino nightmares. The first controversy was getting pregnant with Phillip Salvador's child. As everyone knew then, Phillip was a married man who was with his mistress when he got involved with Kris. After Kris left Phillip, she had an affair with yet another married man, Joey Marquez. The country was rocked when she revealed on national TV how she was physically abused by Joey and how he had given her STD. Yikes, I still cringe from this memory! As of this writing, Kris is in another fix. She is trying to save a marriage that has been shattered by a supposedly affair of her husband James Yap with a receptionist. If you ask me, this latest controversy is not so shocking as her former affairs but the public is lapping it up. Well, what goes around comes around eventually, my dear Kris. And, it seems to me that you are psychologically attracted to philanderers.
I really wish Kris would retire from showbiz and do something more worthy of her lineage. She doesn't really need the money showbiz is throwing her way. She has enough product endorsements. She has Hacienda Luisita. She has more than enough.
I am sick and tired of her tumultuous love relationships and lavish lifestyle. Why can't she just use her popularity to make life better in the Philippines? As I said before she has the makings of a politician. Being one like her father can still provide her the limelight she craves so much and at the same time provide her the power to transform the entire country and not just a few lives through her game show.
It such a pity indeed since Kris shows no signs of going beyond herself. Her life is such a soap opera. Mark my words, this is not the end of her troubled life. There is more to come and the public will feast on her next issue or controversy yet again. Good grief!

Friday, February 23, 2007

Things to be Grateful about in a Tropical Climate

I used to bitch about how hot and humid the climate in the Philippines is. Being a woman who sweats like a man (Good grief!), I couldn't help but curse the 32-36 degrees Celsius the country puts up with 365 days a year. I have never been enamored with snow, though and have never romanticized winter for I know what a freezer feels like. However, I would prefer having an autumn-like weather in the Philippines, not that I have actually experienced autumn per se, but after experiencing both winter and spring abroad and summer in the Philippines, I just surmised that autumn must be the most pleasant time of the year.
Did I mention experiencing both winter and spring abroad? Oh yes, I did. I've weathered two springs--one in Sweden and one in the US--and one mild winter in Switzerland. This mild winter was actually more spring-like. Well, after finally exposing my body to temperatures below 15 degrees Celsius, I realized how fortunate I am indeed to live in a tropical country and have stopped bitching too much about the Philippine weather. I still dread sweating like a man, but I have a less negative attitude towards this smelly and uncomfortable phenomenon.
In the Philippines, I really don't use lotion that much because I don't see a need for it. My skin is oily and sweaty enough to keep itself well-lubricated and almost wrinkle-free. But lo and behold! My stay in Sweden showed me how a cold and dry climate ages a person about 10 years. Without my lotion, I would have looked like I was in my early forties at the time. Back in the Philippines, I tend to look 5 years younger than my actual age. Imagine the money I save every year by not buying lotion in my homeland because it is not needed on a daily basis.
Most women in the Philippines can rush out of their homes with wet hair and let the hot air blow-dry their damp locks inside a passenger vehicle. Try that during winter, autumn or spring, and I assure you that you will get a headache and some icicles in your hair if it is zero degrees Celsius and below. I know this from experience since I was forced to use a hair dryer abroad to avoid a repeat of lightheadedness. In the Philippines, you won't see me touching a hair dryer because I am too lazy to use one and because the heat gives me a headache. I use the electric fan instead.
The intensity of the sun in the Philippines used to drive me mad literally. I still prefer the cold light of the moon, but after shrinking my cotton clothes in a dryer abroad despite setting it to cold spin, I am more open to the sun's heat which allows me to dry my clothes without shrinking them. Living abroad can be quite expensive since you cannot use the natural heat of the sun to dry your clothes all the time. In the Philippines, we can do without dryers. Isn't it great to do away with some machines?
Do you know how heavy wearing an overcoat, a scarf, gloves, thick woolen sweaters, a vest and thermal underwear all put together feels like? It is like having a kilo of rice spread all around your body. It was so hard for me to move whenever I had to go out during spring and winter abroad. Then, putting on and taking off a bonnet messed up my hair all the time. I also found it extremely tedious putting on layers of clothing before I left the house and taking them off again once I was inside a building. Put on, take off, put on, take off.....that was the drill! Plus, I had to wear socks inside the house all the time to avoid getting chilled. In the Philippines, I don't have to deal with heavy clothing material and layers of clothes. What I wear inside the house can be worn outside the house, even a nightie although that will probably be immodest.
Despite the presence of hot water abroad, I didn't find it enjoyable to take a shower. The reason might be that after a warm bath, I felt cold again. In the Philippines, showers are so pleasurable not only because it cleanses me but also because it is so refreshing and I can take as many showers as I want in a day without drying my skin.
As a matter of fact, winter and spring were a bit depressing to me when I finally got to experience them. No wonder studies show that many commit suicide during winter. Both winter and early spring are devoid of colors. The predominant colors are usually gray and white during winter and more of the gray in early spring. How cold and dreary! Being a Filipino, I have taken for granted the presence of flowers and green leaves all year round. I am indeed grateful now that in the Philippines, I am surrounded by colors almost everywhere and I am exposed to such a variety of colors every day. Gray is practically non-existent except during rainy days.
Of course, some Pinoys might prefer the four seasons of temperate countries, maybe because they find it more exciting to experience four different seasons in a year. That may be so but I prefer to lower my cost of living by having just wet and dry seasons. You know why? Each season requires a different set of clothes. This means, If I choose to live in a temperate country, I need to spend on clothes suitable for each season and have them dry cleaned....and that is quite expensive. We, Pinoys, don't know how lucky we are for not spending too much on dry cleaning and for not buying expensive overcoats, sweaters and thermals every other year.
After several stints abroad, I've finally come to terms with the tremendous heat in the Philippines. I now consider myself very fortunate for being born in a tropical country. Nowadays, I am armed with a big bag filled with alcohol, water, cologne, a towellete, and sometimes powder to address my concern regarding profuse perspiration. Isn't carrying a big bag better than wearing layers of heavy clothes that need dry cleaning? I think so too.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

A Language Pinoys Should Be Proud Of

In the Philippines, because of our colonial mentality, Tagalog-based Filipino is usually considered as the language of the masses while English is the language of the educated and the rich. Hence, it is fashionable to use English even if it sometimes alienates the poor. In some middle-class families, children are trained to speak in English and the help are tasked to do the same when talking to the kids so as to maintain the proper English-speaking environment. Kids, of course, hear their parents speak to the help in Tagalog or notice that the help fumble at English so these children get this idea that Tagalog is inferior to English. Though I believe Filipinos should excel in English since learning any language is a big plus, Tagalog should not be perceived as inferior.
It is a big slap to my face when I hear Filipino kids having a hard time speaking in Tagalog or preferring to use English because English has become sort of their first language at home. I feel insulted when this happens because it makes me feel that being a Filipino is shameful. What's the problem with Tagalog? I know some parents want to give their kids a headstart by training them to speak in English at a young age, but what's the problem with kids being able to use both English and Filipino?
I am not against English per se. I believe Filipinos who know and use English well have an edge over those who are not so good at this language. And knowing any second or third or fourth language is beneficial for that matter. It doesn't mean, though, that using Filipino automatically makes someone stupid. Of course, the general misconception is a Filipino who can't speak in English is naturally dumb. This is so far from the truth.
A lot of Filipinos do not know the edge they have over those who do not know anything about their native language. There is a big advantage of knowing a language that is neither an international one nor something deemed worthy of much notice. What could it be? Well, it is being able to talk about delicate issues or people in a place where Tagalog is not used at all.
When I was in Hong Kong, a place where Filipinos are looked down upon, I was able to use Tagalog to vent out my disgust with the natives right then and there without resorting to whispers or a delayed outburst of anger out of earshot. Together with my companions, I lambasted some of the haughty natives in Tagalog. We talked in Tagalog of how rude one HK salesman was right in front of him. We also mocked in Tagalog those who gave us a bad look. I was so glad then that we could talk in a language they didn't understand so we could hit back with relish.
I was able to use Tagalog whenever I was in a pickle abroad. I used it to warn, receive warnings, ridicule, complain and react. In West Sweden, my fellow Filipinos and I were able to laugh at our culture shock when we talked about the lack of "tabo" and the use of very rough toilet paper in the presence of our hosts. In Amsterdam, my companions and I talked about other nationalities in the area without feeling rude. In the US, I was able to advise my mom on how to behave so she wouldn't make a fool of herself among strangers. In Switzerland, I was warned by my sibling about the do's and don'ts in the middle of a crowded bus, on a train, in a restaurant, and almost everywhere. I was also able to make unflattering comments about foreigners near me like their smelly armpits or their bad behavior towards Asians. In other words, I was able to use Tagalog to ease some of my negative experiences since I was able to talk about them right then and there to my companions.
Yeah, yeah, I know it sounds so petty, but coming from a Third World nation (that predominantly exports domestic helpers, caregivers, mail-order brides and entertainers) has made me defensive of my country's image abroad. Being able to criticize back in Tagalog when I am in their turf can be very empowering. The fact that you can put obnoxious foreigners down or complain about them without them knowing it is so liberating. At least, I am not that powerless and the feeling that I can hit back, albeit in Tagalog, diminishes my animosity towards condescending foreigners.
When I was in Dubai Airport, I got exposed to people from all over the world. Each nationality spoke his/her own language but almost everyone understood English. I realized then that English does help me communicate with foreigners but native speakers of the English language have lost the privacy of their conversations. Almost everyone nowadays will be able to understand the content of their conversations. This is another edge Filipinos have over English speakers. We can eavesdrop on them whether they like it or not. This is another form of empowerment.
I am glad I can use both English and Filipino. I am not glad, though, that Tagalog-based Filipino is still perceived as inferior by Filipinos themselves. We Filipinos should ask ourselves why foreigners trample on us. Could it be they intuitively know that we are ashamed of our culture? Language is part of our culture. English is the second language in the Philippines, not the first. Sadly, as long as we put down our national language, we will never regain our dignity as a people. We will always remain second-class citizens in our own country. Let us not wonder why we are always in a rut and can't move forward. Sometimes, I get this feeling that we deserve it!

Monday, January 29, 2007

The Colonization of the Pinoy Mind

I just hate it when some of my fellow Pinoys and Pinays behave more native than the natives of the country they emigrated to. They tend to act more European than the Europeans or more American than the Americans as if people can't see the actual color of their skin or the features of their face. DUH!
A lot, pretending to have forgotten their native tongue, refuse to use Filipino as their language and propagate the same snobbery in their children. If ever these same people visit the Philippines, they look down on their countrymen/women and usually see themselves as no longer Filipinos and more like the natives of the countries they have chosen to settle in.
Now don't get me wrong, some Filipinos abroad are still okay and they extend the same Pinoy hospitality when you meet them on foreign soil. These are the ones who long to be in the Philippines again and who still relish the idea of garlic rice and dried fish. At home, they also tend to eat Filipino food like sinigang, kare-kare, adobo, and kaldereta. Their kids are trained to speak in Filipino or at least, understand Filipino.
However, I would like to focus on those who tend to feel and think that they are better than most Filipinos just because they have assimilated the culture so well in their new homeland and have a better life over there. When they return to the Philippines as "balikbayans", they tend to act so superior to the natives and keep putting down the backwardness of the Philippines as compared to their adopted country. I hear haughty remarks like "Stupid Filipinos," or "Have you seen this before?" or "In the US/Europe/Canada/Australia/New Zealand, things are done this way or that way."
Okay, okay, I get it. Things are a lot better and done better in those First World countries. But for crying out loud, the Philippines is still a Third World nation so it is so unfair to make such comparisons. Plus, they have decided to abandon their native country for greener pastures already, why do they need to rub it in when they come "home" for a visit? Well, I guess it has something to do with the fact that a lot of Filipinos do envy them and wish they were in the same blissful boat.
But please, give us a break. We, Filipinos, who have chosen to stay or who have unwillingly stayed, have other problems to deal with and don't need any more putdowns. We get the picture, you immigrants are wealthier than most of us in the Philippines even though some of you, not all, are mail-order brides or domestic helpers or TNT's.
I have been abroad a few times before so I have seen for myself how some Filipino immigrants behave out there. Again, not all of them are snooty. I do understand that Filipinos born abroad have no choice but to imbibe the culture of their respective countries. It is but natural and this I can accept without any grudge. What irks me is the Philippine-born migrant who tries his/her best to have nothing to do with his/her country of origin as much as possible (even though, s/he comes to the Philippines for a visit every now and then).
In Amsterdam, for example, there was one Pinay who talked to us briefly when we asked her for directions. My friend and I assumed correctly that she was a Filipina by her looks and actuations (you usually know a fellow countryman/woman by instinct, I guess) so we approached her. After giving us what we wanted, she turned her face to her left so fast to hint that she didn't want to be bothered anymore, even though her body language showed she was in no hurry. Good thing she did not deny her nationality or else my friend and I would have looked like two stupid Filipinos talking to a stranger in their mother tongue.
In the US, one of my aunts had admitted that my cousins ,who were born in the Philippines and who used to speak Tagalog before, had refused to use their native tongue after migrating. It saddened me to see that my aunt did not view this action as a loss but more of a gain. I have nothing against the English language per se but I just hate it when Pinoys who know how to use both Filipino and English make English the superior language to Filipino as if the latter is just for the maids or the uneducated or the backward. Incidentally, this same aunt was guilty of referring to her "kababayans" as "stupid Filipinos" as if she is not one herself. The only reason she became a US citizen is through migration (plus passing the test and taking the oath of allegiance). They can't give me the reason that they had no choice but to use English since it is the language in the US. How come the kids of a Filipino couple I know can speak English and Filipino fluently even though they are in the US? It is just a matter of choice and personal belief.
I also noticed how my Philippine-born relatives behaved in the US. They were more condescending to me than the Americans themselves. They thought I had no idea about American culture. Goodness, with all the Hollywood films and American literature I have seen and read, not to mention that the Philippines was the only colony of the US, I do know a bit, thank you very much. And when I remarked at some new experiences in the US, I was usually greeted with patronizing looks and replies like "Oh, is this the first time you have seen/tasted/smelt/experienced this?" or "Don't you have this in the Philippines?". Come on! They were born and grew up in the Philippines. Some of them subscribe to the Filipino Channel and most of them have visited before. I wouldn't have felt bad if the replies had been innocent but I just couldn't stomach the patronizing air.
I hear stories like this from some of my friends. Some of their relatives act the same way as if they were the natives of the foreign country they migrated to. It can be worse in Europe, I was told. Since Filipinos know English already, acquiring a new one like German or French is no small feat; hence, some Filipinos who have migrated to Europe and have assimilated well tend to be more snooty than their American counterpart. They have the air of "I have made it here and it is not an easy task." Since there is this prevalent thinking that Europeans are refined and cultured, these Filipinos believe that this notion has rubbed off on them as well. So they are now classy and act accordingly. They now couldn't understand why Filipinos, as a rule, are not into fine dining or quiet evenings or nature tripping.
Filipino migrants are not the only ones who belittle the Philippines and her inhabitants (never mind what First World nations think of us). Filipino expats do the same. After being abroad for a few years, some of these expats want to follow the traditions and habits of the country they've seen and lived in. It would have been all right had it not been at the expense of the Filipino culture, as if the Filipino way of life is barbaric. I have nothing against getting the best from other cultures as long as we don't put down ours.
Sadly, it all boils down to how Filipinos think. Even the natives of the Philippines view Filipino culture as inferior to others. It is no small wonder, foreigners, especially caucasians, are treated well in our country. We generally think highly of them and can't even envision having a caucasian serving us hand and foot, right? English is considered as the language used by the rich and the educated. Filipino is seen as the language of the masses. Such views propagate the idea that the Philippines as a nation is nothing without "western" influences. Filipinos become somebody only when they are not much a Filipino in language, actions and thinking. Isn't it a shame that despite our independence, the Pinoy mind has been colonized so well? I am not surprised we don't get proper treatment abroad. As long as we are not proud of ourselves as Filipinos and live in dignity, we will always be living in the shadows of our colonial masters.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

My Fashion Identity

I do not go for trends when it comes to fashion. I usually stick to classic clothes, neutral colors, and natural clothing material. Therefore, most of my clothes are considered safe and can blend with whatever is the trend at the moment (though the fashionable tend to see me as tacky). They are also predominantly made of cotton since I live in the tropics and sweat a lot.
When I find time to buy clothes, something that is quite rare for my personality (I simply detest shopping), my first concern is the fabric. I always ask the saleslady, "Is it made of cotton?" or check the label if it indicates the fabric. If it is not made of cotton, then I move on just for the simple fact that my body needs to breathe in a tropical country. The Philippine climate of 32-36 degrees centrigade all throughout the year is enough to make me sweat just by standing up without making a move. Imagine wearing polyester all the time in that climate. I am so suprised that some Filipinos can stand wearing clothes that are not made of cotton. But then again, they do not perspire the way I do.
One would think that cotton clothes for women are easily found in the Philippines, but this is not the case. A lot of clothes nowadays are tagged as "wash and wear." This means no ironing is involved so cotton is not the main clothing material used by the manufacturer. I was also told by dressmakers that cotton is more expensive so manufacturers try to find cheaper material for their clothes. In addition, most businesswomen tend to prefer clothes that are not easily crumpled. Well, I'd rather look untidy than uncomfortable and sweaty.
After finding the suitable clothing material, I then look at the style. I ask myself, "Will this style last more than one season or is it just the trend at the moment?" If it looks like the clothes will go out of style after a season, then I won't even try it on. I am not rich enough to change wardrobes every other trend. Plus, changing clothes gives a "shopphobic" like me a terrible headache.
After figuring out that what I have found is a classic, I will go into the details of what is suitable for my body type and personality. Since I have bigger boobs than most Filipinas and am chubby, I lean towards a V-neckline or any neckline that shows more of my chest without revealing too much cleavage (I am a bit conservative as a rule). I prefer short sleeves over long ones, again because of the overwhelming heat in the Philippines. I still go for high-waisted pants and skirts even if low-waisted ones can make me look less chubby and more fashionable. I guess, I just dislike tugging at low-waisted pants to keep them up or the feeling that they might slide down my legs if I forget to wear a belt (I abhor belts, by the way). I used to wear tapered pants, a product of my 80's teenage past, but after watching that BBC show of Trinny and Susannah "What not to Wear," I veered away from them and now try to find either flared or bootleg pants to complement my chunky torso. If neither style can be found, I have to settle for straight-legged pants.
Lastly, I will ask for the available colors for that piece of clothing I have chosen for myself. My usual colors are what I call the autumn colors like tan, brick red, olive green, beige, cream, periwinkle, muted orange, or sun yellow. These colors brighten me up because my complexion is a bit yellowish and bronzy, depending on the skin area.
I would be lucky indeed if I can find these autumn colors. Sadly, sometimes the colors for each season are determined by the fashion designers of this world. It seems that red is a favorite, judging by the number of times I see this color on clothes of any given season. Blue comes in second (hence, the reason why I have lot of red and blue items in my closet even though they are not my favorite colors). My problem is I cannot seem to accept certain colors that are available for a given season as part of my wardrobe. I avoid pastel colors, especially pink and lilac. I hate gray. I like white (a non-color) but it doesn't suit my complexion and makes me look fat so I usually skip it. I like black, as well, but with my flaky scalp, black has to stay from my waist down :) So, I am stuck with varying shades of red and blue if my autumn colors are off season. SIGH!
Can you see now why shopping for clothes can be such a nightmare for me? Shopping for a blouse can take hours because I have to consider the clothing material, style, and color before I can buy it. Sometimes, when I have finally found the item that fits all of my criteria, I couldn't find the correct size. Remember I have bigger boobs than most Filipinas so even if it fits my waist, the chest part looks too tight for comfort.
My friends do not have much of a problem. In the first place, they couldn't care less if the fabric is cotton or not as long as it is stylish and in vogue. They don't sweat like a pig anyway. They prefer pastels that are commonly used for women's clothes. They look good in white because they belong to the "winter complexion" like most Filipinas unlike me, an autumn-complexioned Pinay. They don't have big boobs and they are not so chubby so it is easier for them to find clothes in their size.
Yes, I am picky despite being unfashionable, but hey, that is me. My clothes, in a way, speak volumes of who I really am. They show that I am sensible, conservative, down to earth, and practical. I am what I wear and I think I can apply this principle to almost anyone. Given that everyone has the money and choice of what to wear, their clothes will reveal who they really are. In other words, my fashion identity is basically my identity....well, sort of.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

The Consequences of Being a Woman

Yes, I am a woman, unfortunately. This means I have double the struggle in this male-dominated world. Though I have come to terms with my gender, there are many moments when I still prefer to be born a man. Don't get me wrong. It is not that I look down on women, it is just that I know how women fare in this world.
Physiologically, women are at a disadvantage and not just because we are physically weaker(due to less muscle mass). We seem to be naturally exposed to physical pain as we go through the life cycle of a woman. Budding breasts are not as painless as they look. Menstruation, which comes on a monthly basis by the way, has made a lot of us women miserable and made us feel uncomfortable and messy. Then comes the overrated first sexual experience which is more painful than pleasurable, especially if the man is a brute. And how about the nine months of pregnancy that makes us look fat and feel heavy? The pain of looking ugly can be as severe as the pain from the kicks of the baby. However, pregnancy is almost nothing compared to the agony of childbirth. The onset of menopause finally puts a cap on the entire female experience. For most Asian women, menopause is a much-awaited event since it means no more monthly period, no more sanitary napkins or tampons, no more dysmennorhea, and no more unwanted pregnancies. So, as anyone can see, just being a woman is enough to give you a headache.
Of course, it is not only from the physiological point of view that we women are at a disadvantage. Society has put a lot on pressure on us to be beautiful. Imagine this. Before we can leave our homes, we need to put on make-up, brassieres, stockings, well-coordinated clothes and accessories to be considered acceptable. Our hair should be in place, with the use of either a spraynet or hair accessories. We have to smell nice and look good all the time. Isn't the physiological aspect of being a woman burdensome enough?
As women, we are also victims of sex maniacs. The possibility of rape is a reality we need to accept as something that comes with the territory. Even if we don't get raped like some women, we get violated in other ways. We are usually the butt of sex jokes. Riding public transportation will occasionally give us the experience of a deliberate boob or butt graze in one of these rides. It is not unusual to receive sexual stares on our bosoms and rears. By the way, dressing conservatively doesn't necessarily mean we can escape inappropriate sexual behavior from men. Though men relish being the object of sexual desire and some women may actually like this form of attention from strangers, most of us women find it disgusting.
Aside from trying to stay beautiful and becoming sex objects in this world, we are burdened by yet another expectation. Even in this enlightened era, society expects us to have the lion's share of household chores, whether we are married or single. Whether we have a job or just stay at home, we need to do well as an all-around maid or else we are viewed as good-for-nothing individuals.
We are not only expected to perform well as a maid at home. We are also expected to perform well at work in this m0dern age. So one can just imagine how stressful life is for a working woman, especially the working mom. Ironically, performing well at work doesn't usually translate to earning more or getting promoted. Women, more often than not, do not have high-income occupations so performing well as a teacher, for example, will just make a woman a better teacher but not a better earner. On the other hand, most women who do have high-paying jobs are not paid as highly as their male counterparts.
I guess, people should not think ill of me if I prefer to be born a man instead of a woman. In my opinion, men are a lot better off in this world. They don't have big breasts that are hampered by bras. They don't have monthly bleeding that makes tampons and sanitary napkins a fixture in a woman's life. They don't need to put on make-up to look great. They don't have to worry about getting pregnant and seldom feel pain during sex. The only pain I know they experience is during circumcision, which may or may not happen depending on the culture. They don't do most of the household chores when women are around. If they become sex objects, they revel in it. And, they generally do the raping (gay or straight).
Oftentimes, I envy men for being so lucky. I wish they could share the normal female experience to make things even. But hey, why would they want to share a hellish experience anyway? The biological clock is not ticking for them and they have so much fun acting like rogues.
Well, I'm off to the store to buy a new set of sanitary napkins to complement my bloody week!

Friday, January 05, 2007

Women's Rights and Chivalry

As a woman, I thank God that I don't live in the Dark Ages when chastity belts were in vogue. I am grateful to those women who fought for women's rights so now I have the right to vote, the right to higher education, the right to be in the profession I prefer, etc., etc., etc..
However, with the onslaught of feminism/women's rights, chivalrous acts from the male species have declined. I can't say I blame men for being less of a gentleman. They are also confused about how to behave towards women, especially women from developed countries.
Though I enjoy the rights of women today and agree with some of these rights but not all of them(I am anti-abortion), I do miss some male assistance every now and then. I see less and less men offering their seats to women in buses today. The same goes with opening the door for women or helping women carry heavy items. Once, when my brother offered his seat to a pregnant woman inside a bus, someone yelled in derision,"Whoooo, boy scout!" as if it were such a bad thing to do. However, this same brother of mine often questions my plea for some male assistance when carrying heavy items and will usually rub in the women's rights issue--that men and women are equal(so carry your own damned things!).
I think the problem is how men and women interpret women's rights. For the hardcore feminists, the issue of women's rights means not only enjoying the rights and privileges given to men alone, but sometimes behaving like men. For example, if men can enjoy casual sex without being looked down upon by society, then women should also enjoy casual sex the same way. If men can be boxers, weightlifters and combat soldiers, so should women. If men can't be faithful to one partner, so should women. If men fix their own cars, do some carpentry and plumbing, carry heavy items, refuse doing household chores, so should women. The tendency of men, then, is to treat women like one of them. This usually means that women should not expect men to give them special treatment the way men used to do before the introduction of feminism.
It is no wonder that men are at a loss on how to behave towards women with this hardcore view on women's rights. Some men are rebuffed for trying to help women carry their things. Some women couldn't care less if men open doors for them or offer their seats to them. Some women do not appreciate men who refuse to argue with women. These chivalrous acts are seen as backwardness by some emancipated women.
Now why would I like to behave like men in areas where I think women should not dabble in? I believe women can do things men can do, but that does not necessarily mean, they should enter areas where women can be at a disadvantage. I also feel that women should not do things that are not second nature to them. You see, I maintain my personal belief that though all human beings are more often similar and should be treated with respect, men and women do have differences in their physical and psychological make-up.
I don't want women to be boxers. I don't think much of boxing as a sport anyway. Aside, from glorifying aggression, boxing is dangerous. Plus, it does not lend itself to women because women have bigger chests than men (and getting one's boobs hit is quite painful for women). Weightlifting creates unsightly bulges in women(even in men, for that matter). I like to see women with toned muscles but not to look like Arnold Schwarzenegger. Women doing combat is disturbing because I know that if they become prisoners of war, they can be raped and can get pregnant. Since women have monthly cycles, having menstruation during battle can be very uncomfortable. In addition, the aggression needed in war is not something I can accept as second nature to women. I just can't picture women in general as Rambo even if some can act like him.
My interpretation of women's rights is women being given the same rights and privileges accorded to men because they are human beings just like men. Women should be treated with respect and given dignity and not treated as second-class citizens. Women should matter in this male-dominated world. It does not imply following the loose sexual morality of men. It does not mean behaving and thinking like men. It does not mean denying the physiological attributes of women. It does not mean trivializing the traditional role of women(like what most men do).
Women give birth. Women are generally physically weaker than men and emotionally stronger than men as a rule. Women have bigger breasts and can produce breast milk. Women experience menstruation and menopause. Women can easily multi-task.
We should rejoice in being women and appreciate men who still want to act like boy scouts towards us. I don't see myself as the weaker sex when men give me special treatment for being a woman. I don't take offense when men are gentler towards me but brutal towards their fellow men. I do feel insulted when men look down on me for being a woman or when they see me as a sex object. It might look like I would like to have my cake and eat it too, but if this is so, I am not one to complain about it.
Yes, I really would like to enjoy the rights accorded to women today and still be given that special treatment by men for being a woman. What's wrong with that? I am tired of carrying all my heavy stuff without any assistance. I am tired of standing in a crowded bus or room. I am tired of figuring out the plumbing or taking out the trash. I am just plain tired!
So, to those chivalrous gentlemen out there, continue what you are doing, please. Though it is no longer the Dark Ages and women are not that chaste anymore, it wouldn't hurt to be extra nice to women. Some women are not that hardcore a feminist, especially here in the Philippines. Long live male chivalry in this world of partial gender equality!