Text and Photos by Henrylito D. Tacio
Filipinos are people born in the Philippines. It’s easy to identify them when they are in the country. But what if these Filipinos are already living in another country? How will you know that person is a Filipino? Or, if he or she was born in another country, how can you identify that he or she is still a Filipino?
Carolyn Castro of Tambuli, the newsletter of Tanghalang Pilipino in Washington, D.C., compiled a list of dead giveaways. You might be a Filipino if you:
Have a “barrel man” in your house, and when you lift up the barrel, the wooden man goes showing (of course, you know what I mean)! Have a “Last Supper” quilt tacked on your dining room wall.
Have a “walking doll” that’s still new even though it was bought 15 years ago because your mother kept it in the China cabinet and never let you play with it. Have an altar or a shrine in your living room. Have a “dirty kitchen” in the backyard or garage in addition to your regular one.
Have an out-of-tune piano, which no one in the family ever learned to play. Have a “Weapons of Moroland” shield for wall decoration. Have carabao or big fork and spoon woodcarvings in your house.
Cover your carpeted floors with plastic liners; ditto your mattress and sofa. Have a tabo (dipper) and a pail in your bathroom; also, a pumice stone (panghilod) for scrubbing. Say “open” (for turn on) or “close” (for turn off) the lights.
Refer to your refrigerator as pridyider. Call all chewing gum “chiclets.” Have a hard time using prepositions (in, or, at) correctly; say “he” when you mean “she,” or vice versa. Say CR (for “comfort room”) instead of “restroom.” Know what “chocolate meant.”
Use your fingers (instead of a measuring cup) to measure rice water. Own a turbo oven, a karaoke system, and a pressure cooker. Bought a karaoke system before the stereo. Dip fruit in salt before eating it.
Eat avocado with milk and sugar. Eat rice with spaghetti. Enjoy pansit and pan de sal sandwiches; also, ice cream and bread sandwiches. Prefer “instant” (three-in-one) to brewed coffee and powdered dairy creamer to fresh milk or cream. Peel a siopao before eating it.
Use a fork and spoon in a Chinese restaurant and wipe your plate and utensils with napkins before using them. Can cut your meat with your spoon. Everything you eat is sautéed in garlic, onions, and tomatoes. Can eat supper for breakfast. Have toyo (soy sauce) circles on your tablecloths.
You try to eject food particles from between your teeth by pressing your tongue against them and making a peculiar noise like tshick, tshick, or pphht. Wash and reuse disposable styrofoam cups, plastic forks and spoons, Christmas wrappers, gift boxes, and, of course, aluminum foil.
Have bottles of toyo, patis, vinegar, chilies-in-vinegar, and banana ketchup on your cabinet. Nibble a toothpick like a dessert. Wave that pom-pom on a stick around the food at a picnic table to keep the flies away. Turn around when you hear somebody say pssst.
Point with your lips when asked where something or someone is; the farther the person or object, the longer you stretch your lips. Bow low, put your hands together, and point them in a direction you are walking, to pass between other people who are conversing. Can say hello by simply raising your eyebrow.
Are standing next to eight big boxes at the airport. Lug a life-size Santo Niño statue aboard the airplane. Make the Sign of the Cross before take-offs and landings. Bring baon to eat between in-flight meals. Are you afraid to go to bed with your hair wet?
Wash your feet before going to bed. Always carry a handkerchief for blowing your nose. Arrive one to two hours late to a party – and think it’s normal. Have a car horn that can make three or more different sounds.
Have a crucifix or rosary dangling from your car’s rear-view mirror. Have crocheted car-seat covers. Decorate your car’s rear window with stuffed animals. Make the Sign of the Cross when you pass by a Catholic church and only a Catholic church.
Here are more: You nod upwards to greet someone. You put your foot up on your chair and rest your elbow on your knee while eating. You have to kiss your relative on the cheek as soon as you enter the room.
You collect items from hotels or restaurants “for souvenir.” You smile for no reason. You flirt by having a foolish grin on your face while raising your eyebrows repeatedly. You go to a department store and try to bargain the prices. You use an umbrella for shade on hot summer days.
You scratch your head when you don’t know the answer. You never eat the last morsel of food on the table. You know how to play pusoy and mahjong. You find dried-up morsels of rice stuck on your shirt. You prefer to sit in the shade instead of basking in the sun.
You like everything imported or “state-side.” You check the labels on clothes to see where it was made before buying. You hang your clothes out to dry. You are perfectly comfortable in a squatting position with your elbows resting on your knees.
You always offer food to all your visitors. You ask for a “pentel-pen” or a “ballpen” instead of just a “pen.” You asked for “Colgate” instead of “toothpaste.” You say “Hoy” get someone’s attention.
You use a walis tingting or walis tambo as opposed to a conventional broom. Your house has too many burloloys. You have two to three pairs of tsinelas at your doorstep. Your house has an ornate wrought iron gate in front of it.
You cover the living room furniture with bedsheets. Your lampshades still have the plastic cover on them. You have plastic runners to cover the carpets in your house. You own a lamp with oil that drips down the strings.
You have an air freshener in your car. You have a family member that has a nickname that repeats itself, that is, Junjun, Bongbong, Maymay, Lingling, or Kaykay.
You put hot dogs in your spaghetti. You consider dilis the Filipino equivalent to French fries. You think that eating chocolate rice pudding and dried fish is a great morning meal. You order things like tapsilog, tocsilog, or longsilog at restaurants. You instinctively grab a toothpick after each meal.
Now, are you a Pinoy?