The  Carabao  is the national  animal  of the Philippines.  It  symbolizes,  strength, power,   efficiency,  perseverance and most  of  all,  hardwork.  That is my  perception  of  how  a  carabao is.   To many,  it’s    more  than  just  a farmer’s  helper  in the field.  The  carabao has always  given its   best for  the  Filipino  farmer.  It  is  the  alternative  to a  tractor,    the  alternative  to  a  machine-powered  plow, never  complaining and  always  at  the  “mercy”  of  its  master.  The  “beast of  burden”,   as  the Filipinos  loved  to  call  a  carabao,  is in  fact  the “filipino’s  best friend”.  It  can be relied  upon  to  work incessantly.  The  beast  helps  to  feed,  and  it  becomes  itself   a  good  source  of   food  for the Filipinos.  At  this present  stage  of  the  economic  situations   the Carabao  is  milk  and  meat  for  the Philippines.  Carabeef   is the  best meat  choice  in-place  of  the  usual  cow’s  meat  we  devour for lunch  or  dinner.  The  Philippines  may experience scarcity  of  other  types  of   meat,  but  carabao’s  meat  will always  be  present.  

The name carabao is unique to the Philippines, but the creature itself is not. Elsewhere, English speakers call it by the generic name water buffalo.  This animal is found in parts of Asia, from India eastward. It looks something like our cattle but has horns that curve back to form a crescent. It is a true buffalo, known to scientists as Bubalus bubalis, not the shaggy bison  of North America.

But  what really is the  carabao for the Filipinos?  It  is  the  Filipinos’  all.   Because  the  Filipinos  are  to  some  extent  “carabao”  themselves.  Filipinos  back in the Philippines  or  abroad   work  like  carabaos,  at  least  the majority  of  the  Filipinos do.  That is  our  character.  We  show  strength  and  power  to discharge  of our  tasks  at  work  or  outside  of it.  The  pinoy’s  display of  efficiency  to  his  “boss”  in the  Philippines, or  “amo”  to   some  who  are  abroad, is beyond  question,   because  they want  to impress upon  them  that  they  are  very much  concerned  in fulfilling  their  job to  their  best.    Filipinos  demonstrate perseverance  at  most times,  complaining  less  than  others  even  if  the  number  of hours  at  work  would  take  more  than  what  is required,  because the  pinoy  wants  to earn more  to send  back home.    A  Filipino works  hard  for  the  “green bucks”,   for the euro”,   to  satisfy  the  needs  of his  relatives  back  in the Philippines.   Characteristics  that you can  only  find  in  a  “carabao”.   Are  Filipinos  therefore  “personification”  of  the creature  we  call  the   “beast of  burden?”   

Back  home,  Filipinos  do  not  seem to realize   that  Filipinos abroad work like  the  carabao,  and  those  abroad  do not realize  that  Filipinos back home,  suffer  like the carabaos. They’re  subjected  to  constant test of  their  strength  and power  to surmount  the  hardships  they  face  on a  daily  basis.  Hardship  not  only  on the  financial  aspect but as  well on  the social  end.  Filipinos  back home suffer  from natural calamities –  floods,  volcano  eruptions,  typhoons,  earthquakes,  etc.,  that  most  of  Filipinos  abroad  do not  suffer.   At  home,  traffic literally  “kills”  the normal  movement  of  local  commerce  and  trade.   Stress  is  manifested  on the faces  of  pinoy’s  back home.  Health  service  is  insufficient  and   education  is  weak.  Filipinos  abroad do not suffer these.  Children abroad  have  sufficient  means  to  experience   a  good  life  ahead,  while  a  lot  of  children  back  home,  have to wait  for  Christmas  day  to eat a good meal  or  receive  a  new  toy,  or  new  clothes.  

Both  ways,  Filipinos  back home  and  abroad  “work hard”  like  the carabao.  But each of  them  experience in  some  ways  a  huge  amount  of  hardship wherever  they  are,  however, the difference  lies  perhaps  in  that Filipinos  in  the Philippines  remain as  the   “beast of burden”,  while  Filipinos  abroad   have  been  converted  to become  the    “beast with  comfort”.     

Are  we  not  at all  “carabao’s”  to  a  great  extent?

Your comments are welcome….Eric

Let me invite you to visit my Youtube Vlog on the Carabao.. which I am sure you will enjoy. Please click on the video.


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Teacher, Public Speaking and Life Coach, Book and Poem Writer, Folkloric dancer and choreographer, a father, friendly and an admirer and beholder of natural beauty...God believer..

5 thoughts on “SYMBOL OF HARDWORK

  1. This is a piece of writing that awakens the minds of the Filipino people. Every piece of information is true, not even debatable. Excellent metaphor.


    1. Right you are. I just go for what is the reality back home and about the Filipinos abroad..Thanks.


  2. I agree, Tito Eric. Filipinos often use the term “kayod kalabaw” which means working your butt off even without getting what we really deserve. It is also a misconception that people here think of their relatives working abroad are “rich” because they are earning dollars or euro, not considering the fact that they make huge sacrifices to be away from their families just to give them a comfortable life here back home.


    1. Thanks Mi. You’re right, “kayod kalabaw”. I know of many Filipinos here in Spain who are really literally speaking “burning their eyebrows” to earn their keep. Although they could have all the commodities in life being abroad, free housing, access to a lot of facilities which you could hardly afford to enjoy in the Philippines, yet, to earn the “euro” takes a lot of hardwork and perseverance. Filipinos are made to face the hard realities of life. But I guess, we should all be gratified for what we have no matter how little things are within our reach. Kisses to all.


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