A lost guy asked another for directions and the person directing gave the other a gesture – not by pointing his finger towards where the other should go but instead, used his lips to point the way. It’s one singular Filipino habit of giving directions. And it is practiced practically by most, I mean most of the Filipinos in or outside the country. I searched in the WWW, and to my great surprise it is not included in any of the listings – which are thousands – about habits around the world. . Conclusion, very singular therefore.
Another singularity is the “tabo”. What is a “tabo”?. It is any small round container, plastic or metal, that Filipinos use to take a bath or to wash their hands with but most of all it is the common alternative to the toilet paper. I remember full well decades back, that since most of the showers back then do not function, to simplify matters, Filipinos “invented” a way to pour water on the body and “tabo” is the handiest tool you can lay your hands on to complete the bath. Even some Filipinos who live in foreign countries cannot get rid of that habit and continue to use a “tabo”. A question of hygiene? Well, for Filipinos it is both hygiene and inexpensive – economic and socio-cultural habit.
What else? Men peeing alongside the road or against any wall, wherever convenient. Yes, true!. A few years back, I visited the Philippines and to my jaw-dropping surprise, I saw half body high cubicles standing along a road (cannot remember the name) from the Ninoy Aquino International Airport, and each one is about 200 meters away from the other. I asked my brother who picked me up, what are those for? And precisely he explained to me that they are “urinals” for men who cannot wait to get home, (especially those who had one drink to many) so they have a place to attend to their personal necessity. Awful !, I told my brother. Very “disgusting” more so because they were built along the road leading to the airport where tourists pass through regularly. Besides, as you ply along the road, you smell the repugnant odor of, yah….pee. Anyway, I heard from someone that the road had already been cleared away of those urinals. Thank goodness!. Yet, peeing against a wall or along the road remains as how they had always been ….. a singular Filipino habit.
What about the habit of drinking. Go to a “beer house” (the equivalent of a “bar” in other countries), and you will find a group of men drinking around a table. So what is the habit – the habit is that the empty bottles of beer are left on the table uncollected. It does not matter if there are 10’s of bottles on the table, waiters or waitress do not collect them. In the event that they are really piling up, what is done is to bring out a case container for the beer which is placed right under the table, if not alongside the drinking men. And most of the time, a group of drinkers end up with two or three cases of beer containers. Why so? My theory is that, it is more of a “show-off” to the rest of the other drinkers that their group is more a bunch of “macho-men” than the others. Funny, isn’t it?. Yes, but it is a regular view in any beer house gardens as these places are fondly called.
I could write a lot more, way a lot more, about Filipino habits or peculiarities, singularities, idiosyncrasies, characteristics, oddities, mannerisms, kinks, etc., but whatever you call them , they are “only in the Philippines”.
If you’ve got something to add…please let me know.
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..
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