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!
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.
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!
Philippines is a South East Asian country sharing maritime borders with Taiwan, Vietnam, Palau, Malaysia and Singapore. A map would explain better than me, right?
Major cities in Philippines
Let us cover the basics right away
More Trivia coming up!
Here are ten more things that to know before we start on our virtual travel.
1) Philippines is the world’s second largest archipelago, meaning large group of islands and it consists of about 7500+ islands. Only about 2000 and odd are inhibited and the rest may not even have a name on the Atlas.
2) The people of Philippines are called Filipino (male) or Filipina (female) and many of them are fluent in English. In fact Philippines is the fifth largest English-speaking nation.
3) However, they have more than 180 languages, most of them are still living. One of the majorly spoken language is Tagalog and it is influenced by Spanish, who ruled the nation for a really long time.
4) If you ever visit to Philippines, you will find many colorful tricycles and Jeepneys (modified Jeeps) for local commutes, more than cabs or Uber.
Have ever travelled in a Jeepney? If you visit Philippines you can. Learn more about the country in our weekly feature Flyaway Friday.
Do you know that the “new shiny thing” is really a syndrome? I am positive that I might be afflicted by it. I am talking about the feature we started at the beginning of the year called Flyaway Friday. I know it has been a while since we visited France and Finland, so I guess it is time for another trip, don’t you think?
So pack your bags and get ready to spend your Fridays dreaming about Italy this month.
We will learn about the country, talk about books set in Italy and I am saving the best for the last, have an Italian blogger tell us more about the country and its people. Sounds exciting right?
So let us start with the basics about Italy, shall we?
Italy is one of the common country in the bucket list for many of us, thanks to all the books and the characters we fell for.
I am sure we know Italy is an European country, somewhere in the Mediterranean region but we need to know a bit more than that before we travel, don’t we?
1.Italy, or Repubblica Italiana, is surrounded by water on three front and shares its land border with a lot of countries viz France, Switzerland, Austria, Slovenia, San Marino, and Vatican City.
2. The eternal city of Rome is one of the oldest city’s of the world and it is about 3000 years old.
3. Rome is the home to the famous Trevi fountain, which is 85 feet in height and 65 feet in width is one of those must see tourist place in Italy. Yes, it is the one where people make a wish by throwing in coins.
4. The major Italian cities you need to know are: Rome, Venice, Florence, Milan, Naples
5. Did I say almost 80% of Italy is hilly or has a mountainous terrain?
6. It may come as no surprise that the Italians brought many of the cheeses like Mozzarella, Parmesan, Ricotta to the world.
7. The world’s first woman graduate and a Ph.D holder, Elena Lucrezia Cornaro Piscopia was born in Venice, Italy.
8. The Vatican City and the Republic of San Marino are located with the Italian territory.
9. Europe’s three active volcanoes Etna, Vesuvius, and Stromboli are all in Italy.
10. Many of the leading brands like Lamborghini, Gucci, Prada, Aramani, Ferrari call Italy their home.
11. While Italians have a long life expectancy with one of highest number of centenarians, they also have the lowest birth rate in the western world.
I have Jenny, better known as Tecsie, from Finland to share us about her country and their Finnish ways of life. I know her from our common Discord groups and then her blog Tecsielity;. She is a book worm, designer, video gamer and of course a blogger. Here is her bio that she shared with me:
Jenny (or Tecsie, either way is fine) is a 25-year-old Finnish lover of books and video games so she blogs about both of them. She’s currently obsessed with the Outlander series and also enjoys napping a lot because it’s cold outside.
Jenny takes over from here:
The common stereotype of Finnish people is that we are silent people who possibly drink a lot of alcohol, listen to metal and of course enjoy the sauna. Most Finns probably won’t deny these.
Small talk is not a big part of our culture and people are very comfortable with silence but don’t worry, we also have some chattier people among us. We may warm up to strangers a little slowly, but once you get to know us you may find that we’re actually very friendly people. And yes, we do love our saunas!
You can pretty much expect to find a sauna in every Finnish house, they’re that important. Yes, we go in there naked and yes, it’s very hot. The temperatures can be anything from 60C to 120C, but personally I think 60-70 is the most comfortable. It may sound way too hot if you’ve never been in one, but it’s actually very comfortable and especially lovely in winter.
A fun sauna tradition is gathering a bunch of leafy birch branches (vihta) and hitting your back with them (it’s supposed to be relaxing for the muscles and it also makes the sauna smell really good).
All the snow
Another thing you can of course expect to find in Finland is snow. Since it snows everywhere in the country it doesn’t affect the life much, we don’t close schools etc. for any weather and buses and trains will run unless something actually breaks down. I have unhappily walked to school in -30C weather quite a few times in my life.
Winters have become a lot milder these past few years though, especially in the southern Finland and even my area had surprisingly little snow last year despite being pretty north. Lapland still gets the harsher winter no matter what, and that’s probably part of the reason majority of the population lives in the south. North is the way to go if you wish to see the northern lights though! I know many tourists come here just to see those.
Our traditional foods probably won’t sound very fancy compared to many countries, but I’ll introduce a few examples anyway. My personal favorite are Karelian pasties which are basically rise wrapped in a rye crust and they’re so good! It’s common to put egg butter on them, but I prefer just normal butter. Karelian stew is also very good (it’s usually beef or pork stew). Some holiday related things would be mämmi (rye pudding) on Easter, and star shaped Christmas tarts (joulutorttu) that usually have plum or apple-cinnamon jam in the middle.
Don’t be alarmed if a Finn offers you salmiakki, it’s just salty liquorice. I’m personally not a fan, but it’s a very popular candy here it may be slightly hilarious to offer it to people who have never tried it. We also have a weird love for tar flavored things because for example tar flavored soda is a thing.
Finland in media
Finland does not come up a lot in fictional media (or elsewhere, I mean there’s a conspiracy theory that Finland doesn’t exist) which is why Finns are always very excited if something has Finnish characters in it or someone even just mentions us! You may see the phrase “Suomi mainittu! Torille!” on the Internet a lot if we’re actually included somewhere. It means “Finland mentioned! To the marketplace!”.
Some examples of Finnish fictional characters: M.K. (aka Veera Suominen) in Orphan Black and Ritva Tuomivaara in the game Wolfenstein II. Vikings has also had two Finnish actors (Jasper Pääkkönen and Peter Franzén) in major roles in the newer seasons.
Since I already taught you one great Finnish phrase, let’s continue with a few more of those:
Moi/Terve/Hei = Hello
Mitä kuuluu? = How are you?
Terveydeksi = Bless you
If you’re learning Finnish it’s also important to know that there are a lot of different dialects in different areas, so if you end up coming to Finland it probably won’t hurt to research a little bit how people talk in the particular area you’re going to so you won’t be completely lost. (Most Finns are pretty okay at English though.)
You’ll notice the difference even in such simple words as I or you. I can come up with at least five different ways to say each of those.
You = sinä, sää, sä, sie, nää
One of my favorite very local words is “pahki”, which basically means bumping into something or someone. If you tried to use that in southern Finland people most likely would have no idea what you’re talking about unless they’ve happened to hear it before!
Thanks Jenny for your time and sharing with us a glimpse of your Finnish life. You can contact here through her blog and social accounts.
Have your bags packed and ready to go on a trip around the globe on our weekly feature on ‘Flyaway Friday‘? Last month we took a trip to France and we returned safely, didn’t we? As you all know I am obsessed with snow and ice these days following my trip to Georgia, so I decided to pick up a country that would help me continue to do just that. And here it is – we are traveling to Finland this month.
Finland, offically called the Republic of Finland, is one of the north European countries. I am sure you would know that, but let us learn a little bit more about Finland before we take the trip. Shall we get on with it?
Some more facts about the country to begin with:
Here are a few things you can learn right away to impress your friends and family.
Did someone say I am nerdy?
1) Finland shares the border with Russia to the east, Norway to the north and Sweden to the northwest.
Photo Credit: peabodylibrary
2) You can see the northern lights or the Aurora Borealis from the northern Finland for most part of the year.
3) Oh how could I forget to mention that the Santa Claus village is in Finland where one can see the real Santa Claus? All you have to visit Rovaniemi, the capital of Lapland, Finland. The small town receives about 300,000 annual visitors every year.
Photo Credit: visitrovaniemi
4) You can celebrate new year twice in 24 hours in Finland. Finland is two hours behind GMT and Sweden is just one hour behind GMT which means you can celebrate New Year’s Eve in Finland and then cross over the Karesuando outpost (specially marked for this purpose) to regain the lost 60 minutes and celebrate NYE again.
5) Though called the land of thousand lakes, there are about 188000 lakes in Finland which have the cleanest water in the world.
Photo Credit: spawellbeing
6) Finland just celebrated its 100th anniversary of independence on December 6, 2017. Everything that you see Finns winning in today’s world has been achieved in the past 100 years, which seems a mighty success to me.
7) James Bond’s favorite globe chair was designed in Finland by Eero Aarnio. It is just one example of the sleek, minimal and functional Finnish designs that have become a fashion statement.
Photo Credit: inspirationfeed
8) Finns are generally said to be silent and introverted people. At least that is how they are portrayed in the Finnish Nightmares and other blogs. (I am mentally filing away that question to ask our Finnish guest blogger who will be writing on one of these Fridays)