1 We are a predominantly Catholic country, and are therefore raised in a very religious environment
Which explains why: You have a painting of the Last Supper hanging in your dining room
“Ang paniniwala ng mga Kastila na naipasa sa atin, ang pagkain ay isang sagradong gawain, tulad ng ginawa ni Hesus noong Last Supper,” explains John Enrico Torralba, professor of Philippine Studies at DLSU. So it is not only a holy reminder of the sanctity of eating, it also provided parents with another excuse to scold their offspring. “Kaya noon, pag kumakain kami at maingay kami, pinapagalitan kami. Sasabihin samin, “Uy! Sagrado ang pagkain.”
2 We are big fans of home décor. Ironically, we are also the least efficient users of space
Which explains why: We also have giant wooden spoon-and-fork décor in the dining
Professor Rowell D. Madula, undergraduate coordinator of Philippine Studies, says: “Galit tayo sa space. Yung mga malalaki, yung exaggerated, yun yung mga nilalagay natin sa bahay. Tsaka kasi, kapag marami kang decoration sa bahay, nagsi-symbolize din yun ng wealth sa buhay.” And nothing spells extravagance and bountifulness like a giant spoon looming over your head as you dine on tuyo for the nth time this week.
3 The Spanish taught us to be respectful of elders
Which explains why: We do pagmamano, or “bless”
Chalk this one up to our mentality of prayle worship. Professor Torralba explains that the Spanish priests loved having the common folk come up and “kiss the ring,” so it quickly became a symbol of utmost respect and obeisance that spread to include all elders and persons of authority. But sanitation in colonial times can be sketchy, and you don’t know whose skirt that prayle’s hand been up in, so for purposes of keeping clean the hand-kissing turned into forehead-touching. “Para maiwasan yung sakit, ang naging kagawian o kalakaran na lang is hawakan ang kamay at ilagay sa noo. ‘Mano’ means hand, a kiss of the hand.”
4 We are a very facial race
Which explains why: We point with our lips
Most Asians revere the concept of the face. Face-to-face interaction is valued, and we see to it that mannerisms are translated into facial expressions. “Yung pagkaway, tumataas-baba yung kamay. Ganun din naman sa kilay,” says Professor Torralba. “Kumbaga, sina-substitute mo lang yung kamay sa mukha. Sa atin kasi, nakikita natin yung sincerity ng kausap natin sa pamamagitan ng pagtingin sa mukha o sa mata.” Ironically, pointing with our lips is thought of as rude, when it is in fact a reflection of our respect and sincerity for our kausap.
5 We are a shy bunch, and as hosts, always offer the last piece of food to our guests
Which explains why: We always hesitate to grab that “shame” piece
We’ve all been there. That inuman session where everyone stared at the last piece of kropek, secretly wishing someone would eat it already—hopefully, that someone being you. And apparently, our hiya always wins over greediness. The concept of a “shame piece” is universal and doesn’t just apply in the Philippines. It is customary for the host to take the last piece, but the host, out of hiya will offer the last piece to his guests,” says chef, culinary instructor, and food blogger Pam Obieta. This hiya is a cultural thing, opines Prof. Torralba: “Mahalaga kasi sa ating mga Pinoy yung concept ng saving face. Iniiwasan natin ang mga gawaing maaaring magbigay sa atin ng masamang imahen. Sa pagkain, iniiwasan natin yung magmukha tayong matakaw o greedy.” Next time you’re all in a staring contest over that last piece, do what we do and just pop it in your mouth. The satiation will soon overcome any semblance of shame.
Want to brush up on your Pinoy trivia knowledge? Discuss Pinoy-isms? Get nostalgic with classic Onli in da Pilipins tales? Like the Mang Juan Republic Facebook page at www.facebook.com/MangJuanRepublic and take part in the fun!