Rudiments of Living a Filipino Childhood

Mary Rosary Flauta | Arts and Entertainment Editor

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Every culture all over the world has its own little something that causes one to think back on their childhood with an array of emotions. This is also true of the Philippines. Every Filipino has gone through a similar majority of items throughout their childhood that shows that they were not neglected at all in the homeland.

Food is an essential item to talk about regarding growing up with the Filipino culture. Simple, everyday foods such as sinigang, a tamarind based soup, adobo, a soy sauce and vinegar based sauce with a choice of meat, and tinola, a chicken broth based soup, to party foods such as lumpia, egg rolls stuffed with vegetables or meat from, kare-kare, a dish made with peanut butter with stewed oxtail, and sisig, a dish made from parts of the pig’s head and liver which is seasoned with salt and lime juice, are only a small portion of the beauty that is Filipino food.

To one who does not eat Filipino food a lot or just is put off by it, I assure you that it tastes better than it looks. In my opinion, Filipino

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cuisine is the best Asian food in that particular continent and all over the world.

Jollibee is a fast food restaurant similar to that of McDonald’s. The differences are that they sell fried chicken, spaghetti, hot dogs, and boba tea and their mascot is a red and yellow bee. Many Filipino children enjoy eating at this restaurant when he or she was young.

Remembering the smell of sweet spaghetti and the grease of the fried chicken is unforgettable to the grumbling stomach of a grumpy little Filipino child. Even now, I love Jollibee with a passion.

One special part of the Filipino culture that was given by the Spaniards when they conquered the Philippines is being late. It is known as Filipino Time. In Spanish speaking countries, if one is invited to a party at 3:00 p.m, no one will come until a couple of hours later.

This has been passed down to the Philippines to one of the most unhealthiest degrees. This is because it is not just parties that Filipinos are late to, but to every event. This is definitely something I am guilty of.

At parties, all Filipinos sing on the karaoke machine. In the Philippines, these machines can be rented, but if you have money, you can buy a machine to keep inside your house. This is true of  Filipinos living in other places. Every child has heard a relative screech into a Magic Sing karaoke machine.

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This is one portion of the Filipino culture that absolutely, positively cannot be overlooked. Filipinos love to sing. I, myself, am urged to feel like Beyoncé or Whitney Houston for one irreplaceable moment in time.

Filipinos also love to dance. Filipino folk dancing is different in a sense that we dance with hulled coconuts, wine glasses, flower arcs, and long sticks of bamboo. A child of the Philippines has definitely tried to dance with those bamboo sticks called tinikling and has gotten hurt doing so.

If you are Filipino living in a different place, you know exactly what a Balikbayan box is for you have seen your parents pack it full of stuff. ‘Balik” means to go back and ‘bayan’ means town, therefore, a balikbayan box is a box that goes back to your family in the Philippines. Usually there will be large stacks of clothes, toiletries, canned foods, and other items that the relatives may need in one corner of your house. When there is time these things are stuffed like sardines into a box and shipped to the Philippines. In a month’s time, your relatives will be calling you and by the time they can thank you for sending them the box, both parties voices will already be hoarse and gravelly because you have just finished saying, “Hello? Can you hear me? Hello? Hello? Uy? Can you hear me?” hundreds of times over.

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This always made me feel happy because my mom would always buy a lot of these items so that her sister could distribute it to their neighbors. It showed me just how much families in the Philippines love each other.

It can go the other direction as well, from the Philippines to where you live in the world. However, the most popular form of getting items straight from the Philippines is by having someone go there and bring it back. This is the best kind of medium because, not only do you get awesome pasalubongs or presents from the Philippines, you also get a family member back whether or not they were petitioned or a parent who went there to visit.

Upon entering a Filipino home, you will be asked to take off your shoes, like other Asian countries. However, if you walk around a Filipino home, you will notice a couple of things. One is a statue of Santo Nino and the other is a picture of the Last Supper in the dining room. This is due to the Roman Catholic “heritage” of the Philippines to honor Jesus Christ by remembering when He instituted the eucharist upon his disciples. The statue is kept because in the Roman Catholic faith followers honor and respect images of Jesus, in this case, baby Jesus.

As a Filipino child, your parents will often tell you to do something for them such as helping with chores. This is mostly predominant in Filipino mothers, however, Filipino children living outside of the Philippines who have parents who speak Filipino have gone through this sentence multiple times: “I’m not yelling. This is how I talk.” This sentence usually is accompanied by, “Now get the thing……the thing……over there.”

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In addition, this is paired with the pointing of the lips, perhaps the most interesting Filipino mannerism. Filipino children are also taught to ask for blessings from elders. This is called “mano po,” where a young one asks for the hand of the elder by saying “mano po” and then brings the hand to the forehead.

This is a mannerism that has died down with Filipino-American teenagers, not so much with Filipinos in the Philippines. I view this as a shame because no other form of culture shows this kind of respect for the elders.

Another thing a Filipino parent, mostly mothers, will do is tell you stories of mythical creatures. Many Filipino children have heard of sirenas (mermaids), aswangs (ghouls), the White Lady, dwendes (elves, dwarves), etc. They tell these stories to make the children go to sleep when they are being too rowdy at night and to make them quiet down by scaring them with these stories.

These are the rudiments of a Filipino child. Scary, weird, comfortable, and mostly happy times would describe a typical Filipino childhood.

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