You Know You’re Filipino If…

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This book is a “Pinoy Primer” selected and edited by Neni Sta. Romana-Cruz.  These are funny and heartwarming traits Filipinos are known for, wherever they are in the world.  🙂

I wish I could put the entire book in this post but it will take too much time and effort, hehehe.  You should get the book especially if you have foreign friends who seem to be baffled by your quirky habits. :mrgreen:


Family Matters – You know you’re Filipino if…

  • You’re related to everyone.
  • You have uncles and aunts named Boy, Girlie or Baby.
  • You have relatives with the letter “h” slipped into their names, as in Jhun, Mhike, Bhen, and Sahmeeh. 😆
  • You have relatives whose nicknames consist of repeated syllables, such as Jun-Jun, Ling-Ling and Mon-Mon. 😆
  • The prospect of sending your elderly parents to a nursing home is inconceivable.
  • You abide by your parents’ house rules even if you’re over 18.
  • You live with your parents until – and at times even after – you’re married.
  • You demand that your children sing and dance to amuse your friends and relatives.

Where We Live – You know you’re Filipino if…

  • You decorate your living room wall with family’s framed diplomas, certificates and plaques.
  • You decorate your dining room wall with a giant wooden spoon and fork and a picture of the Last Supper.
  • You keep a Sto. Niño shrine in your living room.
  • Your house has a “dirty” kitchen and a “clean” kitchen.
  • You keep a tabo in your bathroom.

Health and Hygiene – You know you’re Filipino if…

  • You shower at least once a day.
  • You use a stone to scrub yourself in the shower.
  • You prescribe ginger brew and salt mouthwash to treat sore throats.

The Way We Eat – You know you’re Filipino if…

  • You eat with your hands.
  • You eat more than three times a day.
  • You think a meal is not a meal without rice.
  • You don’t need a knife to cut your food.
  • You think sandwiches are snacks, not meals.
  • You feel compelled to greet anyone who sees you eating with the words “Let’s eat.”
  • You swing your legs when you like the food.
  • You like sweet spaghetti.
  • You love “dirty” ice cream.

There… these are all I could write down at the moment.  There’s plenty more where these came from.  You can grab a copy at any National Bookstore outlet.  It’s published by Tahanan Books. 😀


Magnificence – Rolando A. Carbonell

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Magnificence is another masterpiece by world-famous Filipino poet, Rolando A. Carbonell. Since I have already given a background on him, let me instead share what he wrote on my book:

Dearest ***  ****,

Am so very grateful for your selflessness and congeniality in relating to me.

I love and admire you,

Rolando A. Carbonell

Great man that he is, bestowed with riches and fame, he remains humble and he continues to relate to people on a “soul level.”  This is why all the words that he has written for me [there were three short notes he gave me on different occasions], have remained as a huge inspiration for me to always follow my heart… he is living proof that following one’s heart and listening to one’s soul will always get you where you want to go… because where you want to go and where you should go will be in sync when you heed the voices of the heart and soul.

Here are a few of my favorite poems from the book:

A Remembered Face Among the Crowd

During a wake, among the motley crowd,

She suddenly appeared like a dream smiling

Fleetingly in my direction through the camera’s eye,

And I caught her in a flash to forever stay

In my remembering mind.

The fresh language of her young gestures,

The flashing of her pearly-white teeth…

And her soft, tender lips ripening

Into a kiss.  Ah, what bliss even just to dream

That she were mine, indeed, O what miracle!

The memory of her presence still engulfs me

Like a dream, and like the bird of paradise

She came into my life uninvited, unknown,

Yet she already belongs to me

In some magical, inexplicable way.


I remember you once with starlight in your hair,

And blossoms of roses breathing down your face.

We were both young, and love wafting in the air;

We were both innocent then and in state of grace.

Now that destiny has pulled us apart,

Each with a secret, unhealed wound in the heart,

Life has made us both more distant than strangers –

No longer even friends, surely, no longer lovers.

Yet in my heart I carry so many blissful memories

Of you, and the many journeys we have taken,

The fusion of our hearts and souls, the bliss

We experienced remain still pure and unshaken.

Perhaps, it’s better this way for us to evolve separately;

Grow in greater freedom, and be enlightened ultimately!

A Quantum Leap of Faith

Like a flight of birds across the windswept sky,

Memories come piercing through the curtain

Of my mind.  There’s a storm.  Oh, what a time to cry!

Indeed, in love and life, there’s nothing truly certain.

Tears of loneliness well up from my eyes.

Where is my true love?  And, oh, how time flies!

Soon this borrowed life is gone –

Still so many things are left undone.

It’s no use now for worries, tears, and fears –

Instead I must go on writing the songs of my years;

To go on dreaming of white light and God’s grace,

And dare to live fully here now, beyond time and space.

Even as time and memory draw me towards Death,

I shall go on living in love, hope, and invincible faith.

Killing Time in a Warm Place – Jose Y. Dalisay, Jr.


There were about eight of them; my father woke me up as gently as he could, and I found myself staring into the barrel of a carbine.  I was being arrested, they said, for violation of the anti-subversion law.  I thought they were exaggerating; I wrote manifestos and such, and I was 18; I was a flea.

A few days later we were trucked off to a new “detention” site — the Ipil-Rehabilitation Center in Fort Bonifacio… We sat on benches in the evening and watched the Marlboro sign in the Guadalupe skyline.  Sometimes, it almost seemed serene.  There was terror roaming about the country, and it would reach us with every new incoming batch, and now and then someone would get picked on by the guards and beaten up…

Most of us would eventually be released under one amnesty or other.  My own deliverance walked straight out of Kafka:  one day in August, an officer arrived with a sheaf of papers, among which were mine.  I was taking a shower when I heard my name being called over the PA system:  “Dalisay, to the guardhouse!”  The news, at the guardhouse, was always either very good or very bad.  The officer looked at me and said:  “Dalisay, are you still here?  We have nothing on you.  Pack your bags and go home.”  I had been in prison for most of 1973 — seven months and four days — not bad, by martial-law standards.


The novel tells the story of every man, woman and child who lived during the time of martial law under Marcos’ orders.  The internal conflict of every Filipino during these times, whose blood boils at being under the martial rule:  voices suppressed, souls enchained and spirits crushed; and the human desire to stay alive, thus; silencing the inner cries that long to be heard and simply learning to survive.


The story starts with the protagonist, Noel Bulaong, reminiscing about his childhood days in his native land in Kangleong, somewhere in the Visayas region.  He is on a flight going home from the US to bury his father.  He reminisces about how he and his friends would pick up coconuts that fell from the tree and take these to a neighbor who would turn these into coconut candies:  bucayo.

Fast-forward to college life in Manila where Noel decided to study.  By his 2nd year in school, Noel was already among the students staging protests against the Marcos government and his martial law.  This was introduced in the book via a protest being dispersed by the military,

In my second year of college, I ran across that field in a blind panic, hurried along by gunfire.  The university was under siege by the military; we had set up barricades of commandeered tables, benches and chairs near the spot from where I had admired the study horses.  We camped behind this makeshift wall, students and professors alike, listening to speeches and singing revolutionary songs.  Our bones were cold, but our breath was warm.  People talked of France and China and Vietnam.  On the other side of the barricades stood Marcos’ assembled legions:  truncheon-wielding riot police in khakis and cobalt-blue helmets, the army in fatigues, riding armored jeeps.  All through the morning emissaries had crossed over from one side to the other.

Having survived this attack, Noel and his comrades settled in an apartment where they talked about the movement while in hiding.  Noel by this time has decided to quit school.  Talk of childhood days in their respective homes, family anecdotes and planning for counter-attacks took up most of Noel’s days, hidden in this apartment.

Fast-forward again to the future where Noel now serves as assistant to the Deputy Minister and writes his speeches, among other things.  He has decided to leave the movement after being released from prison.  He has lost contact with his other comrades.

Laurie, a former comrade in their apartment-hidden days ran into Noel one day and she has likewise decided to leave the movement.  Perhaps both feeling misplaced, and disoriented, wanting to connect with each other in a way that would touch the persons that they used to be, Noel and Laurie made love.

But nothing came of this.  They both decided it was too much too handle… too overwhelming an emotion that they wouldn’t be able to cope.  They once again lost touch and last Noel heard, Laurie had gone back to the movement and is hiding in the mountains.

Their leader during their student-activist days, Benny, was also imprisoned and after pulling some strings, Noel managed to have Benny released.  A few days later, Benny was found dead, floating in the river, eyes gouged out and signs of torture were evident.  He was killed for being a traitor.

As the novel nears its end, Noel is depicted as a somewhat still misplaced soul, crying to be free from the restraints that society has enchained him with; and yet torn inside because he wants to remain alive.  Alone, orphaned with the death of his father, orphaned with the burial of his beliefs and true self in order to survive, Noel ends his story on this note:

Bless me, Father, for I have sinned.


Killing Time in a Warm Place won the 1993 National Book Award for Fiction and was Co-Winner of the 1993 Palanca Grand Prize for the Novel, and Winner of the 1993 UP President’s Award for Most Outstanding Publications.

Beyond Forgetting-Rolando A. Carbonell


The book is a collection of poems by world-renowned Filipino poet, Rolando A. Carbonell.  He has received numerous awards for his works including the Pride of Malay Race Award for Poetry.

The title poem talks about a lost love, longing, and the desire to rekindle the flame.  It has become one of the most beloved love poems of all time, spanning generations of readers in the Philippines and all over the world.

Having met the man and spent a good many hours on several occasions talking about his poetry and his journey into the discovery of his spirit, one will be instantly taken in by his soft-spoken words and gentle manner.

This man exudes love in many levels and inspires a lot of aspiring poets to never stop believing in themselves and to always listen to the heart and the spirit for you will always be guided to the right direction when you take heed of what they are whispering to you.

Beyond Forgetting

For a moment I thought I could forget you.

For a moment I thought I could still the restlessness in my heart.

I though the past could no longer haunt me – nor hurt me.

How wrong I was!

For the past, no matter how distant, is as much a part of me as life itself.

And you are part of that life. You are so much a part of me — of my dreams, my early hopes, my youth and my ambitions – that in all tasks I can’t help remembering you.

Many little delights and things remind me of you. Yes, I came. And would my pride mock my real feelings? Would the love song, the sweet and lovely smile on your face, be lost among the deepening shadows?

I have wanted to be alone. I thought I could make myself forget you In silence and in song… And yet I remembered.

For who could forget the memory of the once lovely, the once beautiful, the once happy world such as ours?

I came because the song that I kept through the years is waiting to be sung. I cannot sing it without you. The song when sung alone will lose the essence of its tune, because you and I had been one.

I have wanted this misery to end, because it is part of my restlessness. Can’t you understand? Can’t you divine the depth and tenderness of my feelings towards you?

Yes, can’t you see how I suffer in this even darkness without you?

You went away because you mistook my silence for indifference. But silence, my dear, is the language of my heart.

How could I essay the intensity of my love when silence speaks a more eloquent tone? But perhaps, you didn’t understand…

Remember, I came, because the gnawing loneliness is there and will be lost until the music is sung, until the poem is heard, until the silence is understood…until you come to me again.

For you alone can blend music and memory into one consuming ecstasy. You alone…

Mga Tambay sa Tabi-Tabi

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Mga Tambay sa Tabi-Tabi roughly translated as loafers/idlers hanging out on the streets/street corners is a graphic book by the artists collectively known as Ang Ilustrador ng Kabataan [INK] or Kids’ Illustrators if I’m not mistaken.

Alright, translating this book from the vernacular into the universal language — English — is pretty hard for me.  It’s just hard to find the literal translation of some Filipino words and when you have translated some of these to another language, the impact simply diminishes. 😦

But do not let this translation issue deter you from getting the book.  There is an English translation right under the descriptions of the creatures so the book can reach a wider readership. I am quoting descriptions here verbatim so I won’t have a hard time with the translation thing. 🙂

The book is a collection of creatures of Philippine folklore, some of which are scary; others annoying and others laughable.

Here are a few of the more popular ones:

1. Ani-Ani

Resembling humans in appearance but standing usually about eighteen feet tall, the Ani-Ani comes out during the new moon.  It has the ability to shift its appearance into a carabao, a horse or a pig.  It may usually be found smoking while sitting on a branch of a large tree like the talisay, and it usually likes blocking the path of night travelers.  A distinctive feature of the Ani-Ani is its strong goat smell.

2. Batibat

The Batibat dwells in holes in tree trunks, and even after the tree trunk had been used in the construction of a house or the fabrication of a bed as a post, the Batibat continues to live in the hole.  The Batibat is the bearer of nightmares.  It sits astride a sleeping victim, who has had too much to eat or drink.  Its short weight is enough to suffocate a person to death.  They say that the victim must bite his thumb or wriggle a toe during a nightmare to drive the Batibat away.

3. Bawa

In the sky, in a cave called Calulundan which hides behind a curtain of blue smoke, lives the dragon Bawa.  This gigantic bird rarely leaves its cave dwelling and when it does, it is because it is extremely hungry.  But of all things, it likes to eat the sun or the moon, or both; which inevitably results in an eclipse.  To stop the Bawa, people must make noises, or placate it with music or food offerings.

4. Berberoka

The Berberoka is a deceitful creature.  While lying across the river, it sucks in all the water to make it appear shallow and create a false dam.  Then it slowly releases the water to drown the unsuspecting victim which he will then eat.  The Berberoka is a huge ogre that despite its power and size, has a morbid fear of crabs.

5. Calanget

They say that a farmer always needs to seek the permission of the Calanget before he could use a field, since the dwarf is considered the true owner of the land.  The Calanget lives in a mound in the forest or in the ricefield, and he never hesitates to inflict illness on anyone who will dig up or upset his mound.  The Calanget is short, with a large head, and is often barefoot.  It dislikes ginger, pepper, vinegar and food with salt and spices.  And they say that when a witch tries to communicate with it, it replies with a whistling sound.

Note:  There are about 60 creatures that you can read about in the book.  The pictures here are poor representations of the actual graphics in the book.  It was published last year by Anvil Publishing.

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