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Archive for February, 2020

10 Times I was a Proud Pinoy Abroad

  1. Music is the Universal Language – Once I was attending a Legal Pluralism Conference in Depok, Indonesia and attendees were enjoined to participate in the Cultural Night/Fellowship; Everyone scrambled to have a presentation and they all quipped, “Oh, you guys will sing…All Filipinos can sing!” Yup, we do love karaoke.


  1. English as the mark of Civility – I have been attending one conference after another, presenting at different panels, and I started to wonder why they always choose the Filipino to be speaker or rapporteur. I soon realized it was because of our ability to speak clear, coherent English. An Indian barrister once told me in Indonesia, “I loved your presentation because your English was amazing and I could understand everything, unlike the Chinese guy’s. Did you study abroad?” Of course, I didn’t so I proceeded to explain that English was the medium of instruction in Philippine schools.


  1. We Are Everywhere – I arrived in Geneva on a weekend and so few people were out and about; I was having difficulty finding my way to my hotel when I heard a familiar dialect being spoken on the tram. I smiled at the 2 women and asked for directions. They asked, “Ah, kararating mo lang?” Trust that only Filipinos on their way to their 2nd or 3rd jobs to be walking about on Sundays.


  1. Pinoy Frugality – Again, having arrived on a snowy weekend in Amsterdam, I discovered that most food establishments were closed and only a few corner groceries were open for business. The friendly Asian cashier was expectedly Filipino who not only punched my goods, but actually advised me which items were the tasty and affordable ones. “Ma’am, yung isa ang kunin mo – mas mura at mas masarap.” Filipino frugality at its best!


  1. Kabayan means Friend, not just Countryman – I was once stuck in Hong Kong with 2 friends enroute from attending a Labor Migration conference in New Delhi, India and we had already consumed our last dollars. We happened upon an Overseas Filipino Worker on his way home for Christmas and struck a conversation with him. He was so happy to be going home he offered to treat us for coffee at Starbucks. Afterwards, we parted at our respective Departure Gates, and he cheerfully shouted out, “Salamat, Kabayan! Maligayang Pasko!”


  1. Hospitality is in the Heart – One of our best Filipino travelling traits is ensuring we have a relative or friend we can meet up with abroad. These contacts are sometimes not only expected to arrange for our accommodations, but more importantly, someone who will be showing you around the usual tourist sites. As such, our meet-ups are happy mini grand reunions. Filipino hospitality goes beyond Philippine shores after all.


  1. The Ubiquitous Pasalubong – Another aspect of Filipino travelling is the duty to bring with you pasalubongs or padala – token packages for the friends and relatives abroad who are sorely missing some native delicacies. It is a great burden on your baggage limit, but don’t worry because the souvenirs and pasalubongs on your return trip will also be worth it. Non-Filipinos can never understand that Pasalubong goes beyond the unique concept of gift-giving; it is an expression of high regard and affection.


  1. A Talent for Haggling – Because Filipinos love their pasalubong and souvenir shopping, we are also known to be the best hagglers and bargain-hunters. We smile, we charm and befriend the sellers to give us the best price for our choice item, feigning disinterest and pretending to leave, before acquiescing to the agreed price. Our tour guide in Macau once told a vendor, “These are Filipinos – you have to let them bargain and negotiate for the price of your goods!” That being said, we got the green jade bracelet I coveted for a fair price.


  1. Truly Cosmopolitan – I was in Beijing, China for a Regional Training along with about a dozen other nationalities. Our host put us up in a grand hotel which served a variety of cuisine from Asian to Western. One of the restaurants served food with only chopsticks as utensils. Our Indian friend struggled with her food, while she marveled at how easily we Filipinos managed to eat with them. She asked if that was how we ate in the Philippines; we replied that we actually use spoon and fork, but we learned to use chopsticks nonetheless. Later that day, dinner was steak a la carte and we were just as comfortable using a knife and fork.


  1. Pinoy Courage – I was touring the sites with my nephew and his wife in Geneva after a human rights training, when some overly-friendly Arab-looking men offered to take our photo with our camera. They were all touchy-feely although we refused their assistance and soon we discovered why – they had snatched my wallet! I was so incensed because it had my ID cards and remaining stipend in dollars and once we saw them rifling through my money a few yards away, I gave chase and shouted for the police from the top of my lungs. They were so shocked that a short but feisty Filipina was actually coming after them that they returned my wallet along with my money. When we reported the same at the police station and they asked me what my wallet looked like, I showed them and they were so surprised that I got it back along with my cash. Don’t mess with a Filipino abroad because she brings with her all her Pinoy qualities.