Foreigner's experience from the Philippines

Discussion in 'Filipino Martial Arts' started by pinoy, Jun 1, 2006.

  1. pinoy

    pinoy Valued Member


    The following is from a British journalist stationed in the

    His observations are so hilarious!!!! This was written
    in 1999.

    Matter of Taste
    By Matthew

    I have now been in this country for over six years, and consider myself
    in most respects well assimilated. However, there is one key step on
    the road to full assimilation, which I have yet to take, and that's to
    eat BALUT.

    The day any of you sees me eating balut, please call immigration and
    ask them to issue me a Filipino passport. Because at that point there
    will be no turning back. BALUT, for those still blissfully ignorant
    non-Pinoys out there, is a fertilized duck egg. It is commonly sold with
    in a piece
    of newspaper, much like English fish and chips, by street
    vendors usually after dark, presumably so you can't see how gross it is.

    It's meant to be an aphrodisiac, although I can't imagine anything more
    likely to dispel sexual desire than crunching on a partially formed
    baby duck swimming in noxious fluid. The embryo in the egg comes in

    varying stages of development, but basically it is not considered macho to
    eat one without fully discernable feathers, beak, and claws. Some say
    these crunchy bits are the best. Others prefer just to drink the
    so-called 'soup', the vile, pungent liquid that surrounds the
    feathery fetus...excuse
    I have to go and throw up now. I'll be back in a minute.

    Food dominates the life of the Filipino. People here just love to eat.

    They eat at least eight times a day. These eight official meals are
    called, in order: breakfast, snacks, lunch, merienda, merienda ceyna,
    dinner, bedtime snacks and no-one-saw-me-take-that-cookie-from-the-

    The short gaps in between these mealtimes are spent eating Sky Flakes
    from the open packet that sits on every desktop. You're never far from

    food in the Philippines. If you doubt this, next time you're driving
    home from work, try this game. See how long you can drive without seeing
    food and I don't mean a distant restaurant, or a picture of food. I mean
    a man on the sidewalk frying fish balls, or a man walking through the
    traffic selling nuts or candy. I bet it's less than one minute.

    Here are some other things I've noticed about food in the Philippines:

    Firstly, a meal is not a meal without rice - even breakfast. In the UK,
    I could go a whole year without eating rice. Second, it's impossible
    to drink without eating. A bottle of San Miguel just isn't the same
    without gambas or beef tapa. Third, no one ventures more than two paces
    from their house without baon (food in small container) and a container of
    something cold to drink. You might as well ask a Filipino to leave home

    without his pants on. And lastly, where I come from, you eat with a
    knife and fork. Here, you eat with a spoon and fork. You try eating rice
    swimming in fish sauce with a knife.

    One really nice thing about Filipino food culture is that people always
    ask you to SHARE their food. In my office, if you catch anyone
    attacking their baon, they will always go, "Sir! KAIN TAYO!" ("Let's
    This confused me, until I realized that they didn't actually expect me to
    sit down and start munching on their boneless bangus. In fact, the
    polite response is something like, "No thanks, I just ate." But the
    principle is sound - if you have food on your plate, you are expected to
    it, however hungry you are, with those who may be even hungrier. I
    think that's great!

    In fact, this is frequently even taken one step further.
    Many Filipinos use "Have you eaten yet?" ("KUMAIN KA NA?") as a general

    greeting, irrespective of time of day or location.

    Some foreigners think Filipino food is fairly dull compared to other
    Asian cuisines. Actually lots of it is very good: Spicy dishes like Bicol
    Express (strange, a dish named after a train); anything cooked with
    coconut milk; anything KINILAW; and anything ADOBO. And it's hard to beat
    the sheer wanton, cholesterolic frenzy of a good old-fashioned LECHON
    de leche (roast pig) feast. Dig a pit, light a fire, add 50 pounds of
    animal fat on a stick, and cook until crisp. Mmm, mmm... you can
    actually feel your arteries
    constricting with each successive mouthful.

    I also share one key Pinoy trait ---a sweet tooth. I am thus the only
    foreigner I know who does not complain about sweet bread, sweet burgers,
    sweet spaghetti, sweet banana ketchup, and so on. I am a man who likes
    to put jam on his pizza. Try

    It's the weird food you want to avoid. In addition to duck fetus in
    the half-shell, items to avoid in the Philippines include pig's blood
    soup (DINUGUAN); bull's testicle soup, the strangely-named "SOUP NUMBER
    FIVE" (I
    dread to think what numbers one through four are); and the
    ubiquitous, stinky shrimp paste, BAGOONG, and it's equally stinky sister,
    PATIS. Filipinos are so addicted to these latter items that they will
    even risk arrest or deportation trying to smuggle them into countries like
    Australia and the USA, which wisely ban the importation of items you
    can smell from more than 100 paces.

    Then there's the small matter of the purple ice cream. I have never
    been able to get my brain around eating purple food; the ubiquitous UBE
    leaves me cold.

    And lastly on the subject of weird food, beware: that KALDERETANG
    could well be KALDERETANG ASO (dog)...

    The Filipino, of course, has a
    well-developed sense of food. Here's a
    typical Pinoy food joke: "I'm on a seafood diet. "What's a seafood
    diet?" "When I see food, I eat it!"

    Filipinos also eat strange bits of animals --- the feet, the head, the
    guts, etc., usually barbecued on a stick. These
    have been given witty
    names, like "ADIDAS" (chicken's feet); "KURBATA" (either just chicken's
    neck, or "neck and thigh" as in "neck-tie"); "WALKMAN" (pigs ears);
    "PAL" (chicken wings); "HELMET" (chicken head); "IUD" (chicken
    intestines), and BETAMAX" (video-cassette-like blocks of animal blood).
    Yum, yum.

    "A good name is rather to be chosen than great riches"-- (Proverbs

    WHEN I arrived in the Philippines from the UK six years ago, one of the
    first cultural differences to strike me was names. The subject has
    provided a continuing source of amazement and amusement ever since. The
    first unusual thing, from an English perspective, is that everyone here
    has a nickname. In the staid and boring United Kingdom, we have nicknames
    in kindergarten, but when we move into
    adulthood we tend, I am glad to
    say, to lose them.

    The second thing that struck me is that Philippine names for both girls
    and boys tend to be what we in the UK would regard as overbearingly
    cutesy for anyone over about five. Fifty-five-year-olds colleague put it.

    Where I come from, a boy with a nickname like Boy Blue or Honey Boy
    would be beaten to death at school by pre-adolescent bullies, and never
    make it to adulthood. So, probably, would girls with names like Babes,
    Lovely, Precious, Peachy or Apples. Yuk, ech ech.
    Here, however, no one bats an

    Then I noticed how many people have what I have come to call "door-bell

    These are nicknames that sound like -well, doorbells. There are
    millions of them. Bing, Bong, Ding, and Dong are some of the more
    common. They
    can be, and frequently are, used in even more door-bell-like
    combinations such as Bing-Bong, Ding-Dong, Ting-Ting, and so on. Even our
    appointed chief of police has a doorbell name Ping. None of these
    doorbell names exist where I come from, and hence sound unusually amusing
    to my untutored foreign ear.

    Someone once told me that one of the Bings, when asked why he was
    called Bing, replied, "because my brother is called Bong". Faultless logic.

    Dong, of course, is a particularly funny one for me, as where I come
    from "dong" is a slang word for well; perhaps "talong" is the best
    Tagalog equivalent.

    Repeating names was another novelty to me, having never before
    encountered people with names like Bim- Bim, Len-Len, Let-Let, Bam-Bam, Mai-Mai, or Ning-Ning (I even encountered a Boom- Boom once).

    The secretary I inherited on my arrival had an unusual one: Leck-Leck.
    Such names are then frequently further refined by using the "squared"
    symbol, as in Len2 or Mai2. This had me very confused for a while.

    Then there is the trend for parents to stick to a theme when naming
    their children. This can be as simple as making them all begin with the
    same letter, as in Jun, Jimmy, Janice, and Joy.

    More imaginative parents shoot for more sophisticated forms of
    assonance or rhyme, as in Biboy, Boboy, Buboy, Baboy (notice the names get
    worse the more kids
    there are-best to be born early or you could end up
    being a Baboy).

    Even better, parents can create whole families of, say, desserts (Apple
    Pie, Cherry Pie, Honey Pie) or flowers (Rose, Daffodil, Tulip). The
    main advantage of such combinations is that they look great painted across
    your trunk if you're a cab driver.

    That's another thing I'd never seen before coming to Manila -- taxis
    with the driver's kids' names on the trunk.

    Another whole eye-opening field for the foreign visitor is the

    phenomenon of the "composite" name. This includes names like Jejomar (for
    Jesus, Joseph and Mary), and the remarkable Luzviminda (for Luzon, Visayas
    and Mindanao, believe it or not). That's a bit like me being called
    something like "Engscowani" (for England, Scotland, Wales and Northern
    Ireland). Between you and me, I'm glad I'm not.

    And how could I forget to mention the fabulous concept of the randomly
    inserted letter 'h'. Quite what this device is supposed to achieve, I
    have not yet figured out, but I think it is designed to give a touch of
    class to an otherwise only averagely weird name. It results in
    creations like Jhun, Lhenn, Ghemma, and Jhimmy. Or how about Jhun-Jhun

    How boring to come from a country like the UK full of people with names

    like John Smith. How wonderful to come from a country where imagination
    and exoticism rule the world of names.

    Even the towns here have weird names; my favorite is the unbelievably
    named town of Sexmoan (ironically close to Olongapo and Angeles).
    else in the world could that really be true?

    Where else in the world could the head of the Church really be called
    Cardinal Sin?

    Where else but the Philippines!

    Note: Philippines has a senator named Joker, and it is his legal name.

  2. |MT|omar

    |MT|omar Thai Boxer

    hahaha i cant belive i read all that, but it was good :)
  3. inthespirit

    inthespirit ignant

    That was amusing. :)
  4. Amok

    Amok Valued Member

    HAHA! That article is dead on.
  5. Pat OMalley

    Pat OMalley Valued Member

    Fantastic, he seems to have got the PI down to a tee from the British point of veiw, it made me laugh and brought back some very fond memories.

    Yes I have eaten Balut, and I love it. Hey I have two great kids so it must work hehehe!

    Top stuff, has he written anymore like that, would love to see them if he has.

    Best regards

  6. Andy Gibney

    Andy Gibney New Member

    Hi Pat,

    Trust you to eat Balut. I'm glad I'm now vegetarian. In my days as a meat eater I had the most revolting food I've ever eaten in the PI. 'Hairy Pig Soup'. I didnt realise it was 'Hairy Pig Soup' at first. It came as dried meat and they added this sort of watery gravy - as I was eating the meat I realised there was a long hair sticking out of the meat. Not a loose hair, one imbedded in the meat. That was the same trip we took out to the beach - 4 hrs in a bus, another 4 hrs back and stopped by the militia all brandishing M16's. Our guide explained we were the British Arnis team out for a day trip! So we didn't get shot. How cool is that?

    As a result about 5 of team came down with Lapu-Lapu's Revenge caused by coconut milk offered to us by the locals at the 'beach' - which I neglected to mention had been blown away by a tropical storm.

    Do I miss the Philippines? Are you kidding? Los Angeles seems almost civilised by comparison. I'll tell you what though. As bizarre as it may seem, if you want to understand the FMA, at some point you have to go to the PI. Then you'll realise why Pat, Krishna, John Harvey, me, Bob Breen and the others that have been there are they way we are :)
  7. juramentado

    juramentado lean, mean eating machine

    That article's been floating around for some time now. And yes it''s still quite amusing.

    I for one don't eat balut anymore. I had a nasty experience it with a few years ago and I've sworn off it, except for the yoke. That's just too tasty to pass up.

  8. Pat OMalley

    Pat OMalley Valued Member

    What makes you think that was Hairy Pig:eek: Remember that scabby dog that was running around just an hour earlier, where did that dog go:confused: ;) Hey I enjoyed it, and I still love the PI, mind you I will try my hand at anything. Had snake, lizard and monkey when I was with the Eban and Dyak Indians in Borneo and if your hungry enough you will be surprised what looks and tastes nice.

    The only thing I did turn my nose up at in Borneo was deep fried Sago worm, and that is only because they looked like giant fries maggots, had they have chopped them up I may well have tucked in. Mind you after a few cups of Tuak or Arak who cares:D

    But they do say I have an iron stomach though, which helps.

    Best regards

  9. aml01_ph

    aml01_ph Urrgggh...

    Hairy Pig may not even be dog. Just double dead pig! :eek:

    I've had snake, lizard and frog all of which as adobo and all of which tasted like chicken (a much TASTIER chicken). I've been fortunate to have tasted wild pig which tastes superior to the market variety. I've never eaten monkey, mainly because I've seen them when they're slaughtered (they cry).

    I wonder if the Brit who wrote the article knows that the tastier Filipino dishes are usually seasoned with patis or bagoong. ;)
  10. Vinzee

    Vinzee New Member

    hehe try a BOB ONG book.. I think its the green one.. I think he has an answer for that article...
  11. stickfan1

    stickfan1 New Member

    He hit the nail on the head.

    structuring of nicknames used in Phil are true... I was amased at how many nicknmames were mentioned that were ones used by my family members.

    ...Unfortunately myt nicm\name is a little too sissy to mention. :p
  12. Pat OMalley

    Pat OMalley Valued Member

    No it's not, after all a good majority of us understand the Pinoy way, so go on let us in on it, we won't laugh:) ......... Honestly:rolleyes:

    You tell me yours and I will tell you mine;)

    Best regards


Share This Page