What’s the Philippines like?
To describe it to most people unfamiliar with the place, it’s a tropical country full of wonderful beaches and amazing mountains. It’s an archipelago in the middle of Asia with a surprising number of people who speak English well.
I hate the Philippines so much.
Or rather, I love it so much.
It’s funny how the just literally being born in a country can make you love and hate it at the same time.
The Philippines is more than just beaches, mountains, and tropical fruits. It’s more than its violent history with Spain, the Americans, and the Japanese. Mostly, the Philippines is my life. It is my culture.
It’s not just the national costumes, the national anthem, or the national flower. It’s a way of life. Honestly, all of that is done just to unite the country, but what really unites us is our shared experiences. Let me tell you about a Filipino childhood.
Memories of riding the jeep with your mom and sitting on her lap because she didn’t pay for your seat (kids don’t take up much space). Being threatened with a tsinelas when you didn’t do your chores. The weird trinkets they sell at elementary school like the necklace with colored sand, blue ink that disappears after a few minutes on your clothes, or the random street vendor who sells i-scrambol that has that distinct purple (or sometimes pink) colored ice.
I recall my childhood full summers at the beach. Full days spent under the sun (even during noon hours), sunburnt skin at the end of the day. I have photos wherein you can distinctly see the difference of my skin color through the outline of my swimsuit. I recall making sand mounds (castle would be too much of a stretch, they never lasted too long) with cousins and friends.
I recall strict teachers and nice teachers. Classmates having their seventh birthday party at lunch time. After school activities included running around in just a sando and the school skirt (we were always sweaty and in the sun, looking and chasing for grasshoppers in the grass). After school activities included chasing after classmates, doing cartwheels in the carpeted hallways.
Going to Baguio as the top vacation site. It was, in our definition, pretty cold in Baguio. We would walk around with gloves on our hands, knitted hats, and jackets. It was a treat to ride the brightly colored horses. Film photography was expensive, unlike the millions of selfies we take now, taking photos back then was a cherished moment.
Storms were frequent too. Signal number 1 was a frequent category Zambales was placed in. School would often be canceled due to the freakish rain and thunder that visited this tropical country. Floods would occur. People would flee from their homes to evacuation centers in the baranggay. Donations are frequent. Losses were even more frequent.
There are so many more memories in my head about the Philippines. Just looking back at all these memories, it just occurs to me how much of a big part of my life this country has become. I love this country because this is where my life began. This is where my parents were born too. I may not know any cultural dances at heart but I can belt out to Aegis. I can’t understand Ilocano, but I eat like one (diningding, pinakbet, bagnet, you name it).
I don’t know. This whole this is just me rambling about my memories as a Filipina. I thoroughly enjoy living in the Philippines. Despite all the political issues, stressfully influential church over the government, and all the mishaps and tragedies that happened, a lot of good has happened here too. I just have to make sure to contribute to all the good that’s happening here.