Let us all pretend that today is the 32nd day of January 2019 and not comment about how I skipped posting our Flyaway Friday feature. Real life keeps tripping my schedules. Anyway I am here for my Philippines special Flyaway Friday!
This week we have Jennilyn of Rurouni Jenni Reads talking about her life in the Philippines and to tell us about everything we need to know for our virtual travel. Thank you Jenny!
Say hello to Jennilyn, fellow travellers!
Jennilyn is a Filipina who loves books, braids, cats and cakes. She is an accountant IRL but she secretly wants to become a famous frog someday. Like so many of her countrymen, she is an ace karaoke singer. Her favorite color is green.
Hello to everyone here at Elgee Writes! I am Jennilyn, your friendly book blogger at Rurouni Jenni Reads. In this guest post, let me talk to you about my beautiful and beloved country, Philippines!
Experience the Filipino hospitality
If there is one Filipino trait that I can be most proud about, it’s our hospitality. We are a bunch of warm, helpful and smiling people. We make such a fuss when we have visitors over, whether it be our own Filipino relatives or foreigners. Filipinos give our best to our visitors. If we are expecting guests, we make sure to clean the house thoroughly. If our visitors are staying the night, we give up the best room in the house even if that means that we have to sleep on the couch o on the floor.
Another aspect of our hospitality is how we willingly open our home to anyone. When you visit a Filipino home during mealtimes, it is imperative for the homeowners to say, “Tara, kain!” which means, “Let’s eat!”. We would gladly welcome an unexpected guest to dine with us even if we actually do not have enough food to share around.
Filipinos are foodies
Our original Filipino cuisines, sinigang and adobo, are my favorite food. Sinigang is either a pork or seafood broth soured by tamarind or any local citrus fruits. I always ask my mother to cook sinigang for me when I am sick.
Adobo is pork, chicken or fish braised in soy sauce and vinegar. Eating sinigang, adobo or any other Filipino ulam (dish) is always accompanied with sumptuous helpings of rice. A meal isn’t a meal here without rice. Our sacred food motto is “Rice is life.”
Our home cooking has also various foreign influences. From the Chinese, we have pancit (stir fried noodles topped with meat and veggies) and lumpia (spring rolls). Pancit is a staple in Filipino birthday celebrations because our elders believe that eating pancit gives the celebrator a long life. From the Spanish, we have tomato based dishes: afritada and menudo.
Our use of vetsin (monosodium glutamate) as seasoning and our halo-halo (shaved ice topped with different sweet preserves, plus milk) have Japanese influences. And of course, our love for burgers, fried chicken and pizza is influenced by the Americans. We have American fast food joints here like McDonald’s, KFC and Pizza Hut. But no Filipino fastfood experiene is complete without eating in Jollibee, a homegrown fastfood joint.
Pro tip: Jollibee’s sweet and saucy spaghetti is a must-try.
Go Ghetto, if you wish
If you wanna go ghetto, we have an amazing array of street food. Some of my favorites are kwek-kwek (deep fried quail eggs in orange batter), taho (silk tofu with sago pearls in brown caramel sauce) and isaw (grilled chicken intestines). If you want your street food on the exotic side, you should try our balut (boiled fertilized duck egg).
A love-hate relationship with city life
I am born and raised in Manila, the capital city of the Philippines. If you want to feel our country’s history, Intramuros is the place to go. Food tripping in Binondo is also an something that you shouldn’t miss. You can roam around Binondo all year-round but better visit during the Lunar/Chinese New Year to witness the celebrations of our Filipino-Chinese community.
On weekends, some Filipino families go on picnis on public parks like Luneta and the Quezon City Circle. But more often because it’s too hot outside, we flock in droves to airconditioned malls. And by golly, we have plenty of malls here.
There’s lots to love in the city but there are also lots of stuff that we have to improve on. Our cities are overpopulated because people in the province migrate here in the hopes of better job opportunities. Where there is overpopulation, there is loitering and littering and a higher crime rate. I admit that I’ve been pickpocketed more than once, lol. The commute and traffic is also a daily struggle.
Visit our tropical tourist destinations
Manila is not only the place to be in our country. The Philippines is an archipelago of more than 7,000 islands and that means lots of island-hopping and beach-bumming. I am personally a fan of travelling our own country.
I have already gone to the beaches in Batangas (which is only a few hours drive from Manila) and Palawan (less than an hour plane-ride from Manila). I have also gone sight-seeing in Bohol and white-water rafting in Cagayan de Oro and I honestly can’t get enough of our tourist spots. I intend to save more for future travels in my own country before I save up for travel overseas.
Our claim to fame
Filipinos tend to have this fascinating proud moment when fellow Filipinos achieve something internationally. It’s a nice trait to be proud of our own but sometimes we can get all intense that even me gets weirded out. Like whenever a Filipino wins a boxing match or a Filipina nabs the crown of a beauty pageant, the Internet better brace itself for a flurry of #PinoyPride posts and comments. It’s as if one Filipino’s success is the achievement of the whole nation.
We even rejoice in the most mundane things in pop culture that mentions us or our country. A contestant in a talent show abroad has .00315% drop of Filipino blood and we’re like, yaaas #PinoyPride! A South Korean girl group waves our flag in their music vid(eo) and we go, yay #PinoyPride!
Speaking of fame, a Hollywood film with 40% of the scenes shot in our country is the Jeremy Renner-starrer Bourn Legacy.
In terms of internationally published books, The Magic Strings of Frankie Presto by Mitch Albom had a protagonist who lived in Manila to teach classical guitar. A character in Inferno by Dan Brown described Manila as “the gates of hell” and some of us actually lost our chill about it.
Read books by Filipino authors
But if you ask me, there is no better depiction of the Philippines in films and books than the films and books created by Filipinos. And since I am a book blogger, let me recommend a few books by Filipino authors.
Adult literary fiction: All My Lonely Islands by VJ Campilan
Mystery and crime fiction : Smaller and Smaller Circles by FH Batacan
YA Contemporary: What About Today by Dawn Lanuza
Romance: Promdi Heart by #romanceclass authors anthology
Learn our language
Almost all Filipinos are bilingual. In Manila, locals speak Tagalog and English. We use English in business correspondences and in classrooms, then we use Tagalog in our household and in our casual conversations. Some Filipinos can even speak in more than two tongues. My mother for instance, also knows Kapampangan and Bicol, two dialects from our provinces.
Even if we know English well, we Filipinos are endeared by foreigners who can speak our native tongue. So to end my guest post, let me teach you some basic Filipino that you can use when you visit our country in the future. It’s important to note that we pronounce our words exactly as spelled and our vowels are all short vowels.
- Mabuhay! = A general greeting that literally translates to “long live” but can be used as “hello”
- Kamusta? = How are you?
- Salamat. = Thank you
- Pasensya na. = Sorry.
- Yes – Oo (informal). Opo (formal)
- No – Hindi (informal). Hindi po (formal)
Thank you Jenny!
That is all for now folks and I cannot thank Jennilyn enough for providing the images and videos along with her post. Seriously this is fabulous girl. And you know what girl, I might actually visit your nation one of these days, just to be a beach bum!
I would love it if you guys give a shout out to her through her social accounts!
Let us chat
Have you ever read a book set in Philippines or with a Filipino character? Have you visited the country or is it on your bucketlist? Let us talk.