Thursday, November 15, 2012

Buying Souvenirs for the Filipino Parent

I finally gave my dad the "Orlando" shirt that I bought him when I had gone to Disney World one month ago. He was excited that I had got him a souvenir.

But how could I not remember when every time I go on a trip, my dad always requests me to get him souvenirs?.

This past trip, he called me a handful of times before I left

Win! he said after I finally picked up the phone.Win, Win Win!

yea? I responded.

When are you going to Disneyland? 

 I'm not going to Disneyland... I'm going to Disney World.

Dad: oh, where is dat? 

Me: Florida

Dad: Oh,.. ::chuckles:: get me a shirt that says.... changes his voice to sound more dramatic. 'Florida'. :more chuckles

It's always a shirt, or a hat. Never does he go out of the ordinary to say get me a magnet, or get me a cup. It's always a hat or a shirt labeled with the name of the place that I am visiting.

You sure you don't want a key chain, dad? I ask. One with a pineapple and the name of the place I'm visiting. 

No, my dad responds as if I asked a crazy question. I want a hat. 

It is when I name off multiple places that I am visiting, or I name off multiple things that I'm going to see at a place (ex: I'm going to California, then Mexico, and then back to Cali), that my dad gets indecisive over what I should get him.

Dad: Get me a hat!. No, get me a shirt... no, get me a hat that says Mexico... o wait, I don't want 'Mexico'... get me a shirt that says 'Los Angeles' ::more chuckles::

Now, don't get it twisted, I am always happy to get souvenirs for family members, but I think it's kind of funny that my dad would feel the need to remind me, as if I'd forget or something. I think it's even funny that he would even request something. And it's like he always acts surprised and touched when I get him something, like he didn't think I'd really get it.

Omgoodness. You remembered.

Me: How could I not? you reminded me like...a million times. 

While his special requests may seem odd to some, he has explained to me his whole reasoning behind wanting shirts and hats from places he has never been to before.

 I want to wear it when I go to the Philippines. 

And I get it. If I had moved from a third world country to a first world nation, in some way or another  - I would want to show that my good fortune was not in vain. That in some way or another, I was able to reap the benefits of the prosperous fruits of America. I wouldn't want to go back to my third world homeland in the same ragged clothes that I left in;  would be kind of embarrassing. Pride is something I feel is a prevalent Filipino thing, even if in retrospect there is nothing really to be proud about.

While my dad is not by any mean rich or very well traveled, he has tons of shirts and hats that say California, Kansas, London, Hawaii, Supersonics, Mariners, and  other random sayings or labels. And while he may not have been to some... most of these places, when he does go back to the Philippines and starts rocking these shirts, he will be sure to spark some interest among the people in his hometown, they might even ask if they could have his shirt. 

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Are Filipinos Asian? ...or are they Pacific Islander?

There are those who will argue that 'Filipinos' are 'Pacific Islander' . The Philippines lie geographically in the Pacific Island! these passionate people would say. They live on an island, they look more like Polynesian people!!

And there are others who will argue that Filipinos are Asian. No!!! they would refute. you are wrong! Japan is in the Pacific Ocean, yet they are Asian!  So...Filipinos are Asian!

 Both groups will argue to their wits end for the sake of being politically correct. Websites, you tube videos, questions posted on internet forums, exist touching upon this subject, all of them trying to come up with a definitive, conclusive answer for this all-important question because... well, this is a very important issue.

I admit that at one time during my younger years (you mean like last year, Winter?), I too was caught up in the technicalities, putting my claim that Filipinos had to, just had to be part of  Pacific Islander since the Philippines was not part of the continent Asia and were more 'brown'. Gradually my opinion changed to a more confused one, as I heard other arguments why Filipinos were considered 'Asian and realized my whole claim to Filipinos being 'brown' was not a true as I myself, was not 'brown' . In those surveys that required you to bubble in your ethnicity and would let you bubble in more than one, I began to bubble both 'Asian' and 'Pacific Islander' for the sake of not being wrong.

Now? Now I have come to the opinion that I just don't care. That's fine if other people want argue about it, but at the end of the day it takes too much time and effort to even care about a technicality.  I just wasted a total of 30 minutes writing about this when I could've been doing other things. Like working.... O_O .

This whole thing makes think me about how often times, people get caught up in things such as technicalities. I don't know what it is, perhaps it is this need to distinguish oneself as different, define boundaries that characterize 'us' versus 'them'. In effect this creates silos, tensions, discrimination etc etc... and maybe I'm getting a little too deep with this, but I guess my whole point is...who fucking cares? How about we use our time and energy to stop caring about something that really doesn't matter, and start caring about something that does the fact that it cost me $23 to UPS a box of birthday presents to my niece in Kansas. Fuckin ludacris. $23!!

Friday, August 24, 2012

Making Rice... the OG way

During one of my weekly trips to Costco:

A: Are you getting rice for your parents? 
Me: Why do you assume that's the only thing that they would want ?
A: Because they're Asian? 

I could think of no clever response to that.... because it was true. The word 'Asians' and 'rice' are synonymous, kind of like 'peanut butter' and 'jelly' - you can't think of one, without thinking of the other. There are some who break away from eating rice on a daily basis due to to wanting to eat healthier, but you never meet an Asian who never liked it, or at least I have never met one in my life.

Some of you might think... rice is rice... is rice. Tell that to an Asian person, more specifically, an Asian person from Asia,  and you have pretty much offended them on the same level as if you would have told them that their child was ugly. (Unless they agreed with you... then that analogy wouldn't work). Different rice brands have different type of flavoring, and while some might think that it all tastes the same, there are those like my dad who will swear, that they are not.

Me: How about we get this rice? 
Dad: NO! Get the California rice...
Me: Why? how is it differernt from the Kokiko rice brand...
Dad: I don't like it... it's not the same.
Me: It's the same think...
Dad: no. 

While most rice connoisseurs cook their rice in rice cookers, there are those - like myself - who choose to cook their rice in a regular ole-pot on a stove. Yes, cooking rice in a rice cooker is easier, is faster, may come even better, but cooking rice in a pot on the stove is the O.G. way. 'O.G.' meaning, it's the way people do it when they couldn't/can't afford rice cookers, it was the way people would make it before rice cookers were even invented. Rice cookers were invented fairly recently considering that rice in itself has been around for centuries.

My rice... bubbling
I suppose the reason for me continuously making rice the traditional way is because of the very fact that it is traditional; it is knowledge that is being lost with each generation's increased usage of the rice cooker. And yes, I know... I know... it's just cooking rice, it's not any sort of dire information that is pivotal to the survival of the human race. But I feel like tradition, even how small or minute, tells us a lot about who we are and our journey as a people and we ultimately gain a deeper appreciation for it. What happens when tradition fades into distant memory, to only become facts written in History books for people to learn from? I suppose we move on, adopt and create new traditions to call our own, but I'd like to think something more is lost when tradition is lost.

So... I make rice the OG way, washing my rice, measuring the rice with my pinky, which I think drives my engineer husband crazy since there is no exact formula for my rice making.

Convo we had when we first started dating....

A: How may cups of rice did u put in?
Me: I don't know... i just poured
A: What? How are you just going pour the rice? You need to know how many cups you put in so you put water accordingly.
Me: I just measure the water by my pinky ::Point to half inch marker of my pinky

Pointing to my pinky
A: Why would you do that?
Me: B/c that's how I was taught?  

and my rice comes out perfect every time.. so I'm sticking to my tradition.

Monday, August 20, 2012

So... I fed my mother-in-law Filipino food

My mother-in-law came into town from Kansas for her 'once a year trip to Seattle' to visit us.

We went to some wineries in the Woodinville area

Mathews Vineyard... so so wine

Chateau de Michelle - made me want to live in a Chateau

Hung out on the beach
Jeti Island Beach

Went to Mt Rainier and got bit by mosquitoes. (Damn you mosquitoes! Damn you!)

And.... we ate Filipino food.

I mean, we ate other foods as well (Buffalo Wild Wings, Thai, Subway, Sonic Burger, Belgium waffles), but feeding my mother-in-law Filipino food was an epic event in itself as I had spent the week prior contemplating Should I ? Or shouldn't I? and if I do, what should I make?

Oh, the problems that we who live in a first world country have to face on a daily basis.

It was partly for selfish reasons that I wanted to make my mother-in-law some Filipino cuisine: I had this craving, one of those deep resounding cravings that wouldn't get out of my head. I would be reading my book about vampires or what not, and all of a sudden the thought would cross my head of mmmm.... longanisa.... with rice... mmmmm. Or, I would be doing one of my runs in the neighborhood and would pass by a house fumed by Filipino food (or at least I wanted to believe that it was Filipino food) and my stomach to start to rumble in hunger at it's first scent.

I suppose that's what happens when you eat Filipino food almost every day of your youth, then you grow up, move out of your parents house, and marry a white guy who likes eating healthy stuff like... turkey wraps, brown rice, and whole wheat bread. Don't get me wrong, I don't mind eating healthy. In fact it's probably a good thing that I've started to eat better considering that Filipinos are known to have conditions of high blood pressure, diabetes, heart problems, etc etc. I'm pretty sure it has to do with diet, but like I said... I get these cravings where I just have to have it.

My hesitancy in cooking my mother-in-law Filipino food was due to the fact that I didn't know if she was going to like it or not. I mean, she's from Kansas where they have chicken huts that sell fried chicken in the middle of no where.

Frotenec, Kansas... this chicken actually gave me food poisening... and the water tastes funny. But Grandma Hulk loves eating here.
And I dont think Asian cuisine has much of presence or is as diverse in the midwest as in the West Coast. 

But I gauged what to make her based on two things :  what people from other different ethnicities have told me they enjoyed in Filipino cuisine and what I have fed my husband that he liked. Nothing gooey, nothing with crawling legs, no fetus' of an bird (balut), nothing weird.

 I decided to make her adobo, pancit, and rice. A basic enjoyable dish. 

I think she liked it. I eyed her like a hawk... well, I tried to be inconspicuous during dinner, but I was watching if she took seconds.. and I think she did. ...I think...O great, now I don't remember. :( What if she didn't like it? She might've said mmmm... this is good ... but she could have just been saying it just to be nice ... that is .. if she said it. Now I don't know anymore. ... o dear. 

I probably am doubting myself and making a big deal out of nothing for no good reason, but people's taste buds are different and it's tough but introducing ethnic foods to people that you're not quite sure how they're taste buds will react. What I do know for sure that she didn't get sick afterwards from my food... because we had the epic day at Mt Rainier and she was fine. ... that's a good thing, right? Maybe I'll offer to make it again next time she comes... and if her face cringes even the slightest bit... I'll know for sure. 

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

The Boater in Me

I was an English major in college. I think its pretty rare for an Asian person to be an English major since most Asian people I know were in business school, were on the medical path, majored in Asian American Studies, anything other than English. Perhaps it is because there exists a disconnect between the English History and background infused in English literature, and the history and culture of Asian people. Or maybe it's because Asian families elevate occupations such as doctors, accountants, engineers that their children see importance in becoming those things. I don't know...

 OH, but I loved it. I loved learning about the History, I loved reading, writing papers, being in discussions and listening in on What does it all mean?!?  I felt intellectually/creatively stimulated. It would seem a paradox that I ended up in accounting, but... it is what it is.

Despite my love for words, I find that a certain boaterness somehow seems to creep up once in a while. Not so much a boaterness in mannerisms - like being surprised the person calling you has their name show up on the caller id.

My dad does this all the time.

Dad:Oh-how did you know it was me? 
Me: Caller ID
Dad: Oh.. hahahahahaaha
Me : O_O

No, it's a sort of boaterness that comes with language. I don't know where it comes from. I mean, I was born here (in the good ole US of A) I watched American television all the time, ate McDonalds all the time growing up. You would think that those types of things would totally Americanize me, me already being American. But no, this boaterness comes out of nowhere. When I'm having random conversations, when I'm writing emails... ha! especially when I'm writing emails.


Friend: Oh man I need an umbrella
Me: Yea, it raining. 

Another Example through email:

Please see attached. contact me for free. (feel free to contact me)

A lot of times when I write these email, I don't get myself until after the email is sent. Then it's like ... dammit! But it's usually too late to recall the message.

Other times, I'll subconsciously pronounce things with a Filipino accent.

Surfrice! (Suprise!)

We're on the second praise... I mean phase. 

I do know the reasoning for this: Growing up I would always make fun of my dad and the way he said things. In fact, I still do sometimes. In effect, I inherited some boaterness. I feel like it's karma's way of saying this is what you get for making fun of the way your dad talks. muahahah..

Ehh, but I probably deserve it.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

I'm Filipino, Dammit!

I'm Filipino, Dammit!!!

That is the answer that I often feel like saying when someone asks me what ethnicity I am.

or in the Vietnamese nail salon:

Where you from? 

Which is a question that usually confuses me because in my head I'm like, Do I tell them where I currently live? or do I tell them where I grew up? and if I tell them that, do I have to delve into where I was born because we moved when I was like 12 so I technically grew up in two places. or... are they really  asking if I'm from this country? 

I usually resolve to answer their question with, "I'm from here". Which, I think in effect confuses them because they follow up with another question:

Oh, Where you born? 

It is then that I decide to give a more detailed, informative answer to avoid further confusion.

I was born in the United States of America and grew up in Hawaii, and in Lynnwood, WA. I currently reside in Everett.

You would think that that would be a satisfactory answer, but no, what they are really wanting to inquire on is my ethnicity.

Nail Salon Lady:  oh, you chinese? 

Me: no, Filipino

NSL: Oh, you Philippines!!!

At that point, she smiles, laughingly tells her coworker something, probably something about how my feet are weird looking and it's because I'm Filipino, and proceeds with my pedi.

But, do you see the amount of confusion that is brought with my identify? People who are asian think I'm Vietnamese, people who are Vietnamese, think I'm Chinese, people who are other than asian think I'm just Asian (ya'll look the same). It's like I don't belong! The truth is,  I am a product of the Filipino melting pot, years of conquistadors wooing the Filipino woman, who was undoubtedly overwhelmed (and probably even turned on) by the tall white man's big guns, ships and booty.


I know what it is that throws people off:  my freckles, light skin, and chinky eyes set me apart from what people see as the "standard" Filipino. It is only when I am extremely tanned do I even resemble a Filipino.

Funny story, this picture was taken in Hawaii in a wedding I was in. The first day I went to Hawaii, I layed out on the beach for 3 hours and got darrrrk!  I was so dark and had such a bad sunglass tan, they had to airbrush me for a wedding I was in. I mean, I thought "airbrushing" was a technical nerdy computer term used by editors to make beautiful people more beautiful in pictures. But no, there is actually a make-up tool that looks like a mini-blowtorch, and they connect the makeup to the device and blow makeup in your face to even out your skin tone. It's nuts, but I am grateful that the makeup artist had that in her little Mary Poppins bag. Does every makeup artist have one of those? 

Anyways, that is probably the only time in my life that I have truly looked Filipino. When I came home from my trip, my dad was like.. oh!!! So black! Just like the darkness... lol. 

 I normally look like a light-skinned mixed kid that nobody knows which ethnicity I belong to. It's okay, though. I'm used to it. As long as I know who I am, I suppose that's all that matters, right? 

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

I want a Magic Mic!

I think I may be the only Filipino in the world without a magic mic

I know, I know. From my desk, I can hear a million Filipinos gasping and muttering Ay Na Ko! Who's anak (kid) is dis?!? She should be e-shame!

I am ashamed. The Magic Mic is a staple of the Filipino household.  And I, who claim the Filipino culture as my own, do not have one.


[Side Tangent - After hearing the phrase all my life, I finally broke down the phrase susmaryosep for the first time.  I now realize what it means! It was quite the revelation... My expression was like.. ooooohhhh!!! ::lightbulb::  and! omg, how boater!!]

In my defense, magic mics are not cheap. I don't even know how some Filipinos can afford the dang thing when it's like, $300 - $400, but as many Filipinos (including myself) are karaoke rockstars, they make it happen.

What makes the magic mic so awesome (for those of you who are unaware that such an awesome karaoke device exists)?

  1. There are thousands of songs available for you to sing
    • From K-pop, to Tagalog, to the classics, to the the Top40, these songs are stored in memory cards that you can switch out and buy to get new songs
  2. Background scenery
    • While the lyrics flash on the tv screen, a slideshow of the most random pictures play. Deep space 9, cows grazing in the meadow, a beach, corn fields, it is literally the most random pictures that never have anything to do with the song playing.
  3. Grammatically Correct?
    • No. A lot of the English songs saved are not grammatically correct. Many an instance has occurred where I would be singing, and would realize the lyrics displayed on the screen are not how the actual song goes. O-well, that is what you get when you have a non-native English speaker translate to English an English song.
  4. Scoring not based on talent
    • At the end of each song, a score pops up. I don't necessarily know how a person is scored, but I have seen people get scores of 99 % when all they did was sing one pitch the whole time. Maybe the magic mic was broken, but in general I've seen better singers  get scored lower than the worse singers.
I realize that these reasons may not necessarily be selling points to those who've never experienced the magic mic experience. But take my word, it's a good time that promotes fun and makes it so there's less pressure for those who can't necessarily sing.

Whenever I go to parties that have magic mic for entertainment, it seems like everyone there who does magic mic at every party has one single song that they sing every time. For some it's I did it my way. For others, like myself - it's End of the Road.  Whatever the song, the song number is always memorized by heart by whoever sings the song.

Singer: 2-9-6-3-5!!!

Me: What song is that? 

Singer: Dat ... is my song.... apter put on 6-4-3-7-8!!!

Me: You're singing Journey again? !? 

I always enjoy going to these parties that have magic mic, it's a good good time. My inner rock star emerges every time I sing my song and for that brief moment, I am a pro. I hope to one day have my own magic mic device that I could use all the time at parties and when i'm at home... by myself.. where no one can hear me. One day I'll make it happen and when that day comes, it will be awesome! 

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Spelling out the Name : A - as in "Apple", F - as in Pilipino

Filipino names can be kind of complicated.

Bellario. Filomina. Jaupner. Charlie-ann. Pilita. 

When I still had my maiden name "Amplayo", I found myself constantly having to correct people on how it was said and constantly having to spell it out as - phonetically - it's not spoken as it is written

My name is Amplayo. It's prounounced, Uhm-ply-yo. It's Filipino. 

A as in Apple
M as in Mary
P as in Paul
L as in .... Lavatory. 

..... etc etc....

Sometime I would play around with the words that represented the letter.

A as in .... Antelope
Y as in .... Yellow.. 
O as in.... as in.... Oreos!!!

Whenever my dad would spell out things for people, he would say words that were an accurate  phonetic representative of the letter, but his accent would throw it all off.

V as in... Bictor
S as in .... Eh-stupid.
F as in.... Prank..(excuse me ? what was that again?)... as in, you know.. I'll be berry prank wit you... 

(sir I'm sorry, I didn't understand what you just said)

Getting others to understand how to spell our surname always took a while when he was spelling it out.

What's funny is when other Filipinos learn of my last name, they always give the same joke.

Oh, your name is Am-pa-la-yo! ? like.. Am-pa-la-ya?? Huh? Mebe your name should be Am-pa-la-ya!!

Me: It's nothing like that at all.

And then they would laugh.

Ampalaya is the Filipino word for Bitter Melon in English.

 It's the nastiest vegetable I've ever eaten and I don't know why anyone would classify it as a 'melon'. Bitter? Yes. Melon? no. From what I have observed, Filipinos love ampalaya. Like, really really love it. They put it in their soup dishes, their stir fried dishes, eat it with rice. I have not had acquired a taste for it. Just thinking about it makes my face do a sour look.

Acutally, this is my post - tequila shot face, but ... it's pretty much the same look as my "sour" face.

So... when my husband asked me to marry him, I was glad he had a 'plain Jane', 'John Doe', last name. Nothing out of the ordinary, just a simple name anyone who passed the 3rd grade would be able to spell. No explanations needed.

Roberts. I like to pronounce it Robert-sus... kind of like Hobbits-sus.

It's a good name, although... whenever I sign off on emails, people who've never spoken to me on the phone or met me in person, think I'm a boy.  They reply to my emails with "Dear sir" or reference me in their emails to someone else as "He". "He referred me to you"

When I read those emails I'm like , but I'm not a boy!!  and I want so badly reply to their email and explain this to them.

Dear X

Please see attached for your documentation 

WInter Roberts
PS... I'm not a boy. I am a girl. 

....  but I don't know if that's professional. So I usually let it slide even though it kind of bugs me.

I had no idea "Winter" was a unisex name...I thought it was a no-name that no one would ever name their kid... except for my mom. 

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

The Resourcefulness of the Filipino

Filipinos have this uncanny ability to make something out of nothing, especially the most random of nothings. This is generally a trait that is common among poor people, and ...Filipinos are a poor people.  I think at some point or another,  when human beings had lived in caves and wore loin clothes made of mammoth fur, we all shared this attribute. But as time passed, inventions were created , and human beings progressed into a smarter species, there was less and less of a need for any sort of ingenuity. Today, we have inventions for just about everything, but this in effect has displaced the creativity and innovativeness that we once had.

But no, Filipinos have not completely lost it.

Give a Filipino a screw driver, plastic bags, and some tape - someway, somehow he will build you a bird tree, given that you allow him to scrap some other surrounding material. I don't know exactly how, but he will, especially if it's for the sake of survival.


Growing up, my family wasn't super poor, but we weren't well off. We lived in an old ranch house that must have been built in the early 1900's. It sat on about 2 acres of land and was built like a motel, a total of ten rooms lined in a row next to each other, with kitchens on both ends of the house. It had been built to house multiple coffee farmers (maybe even their families) back in the day when coffee farming was more of a demand than it is a today. My family, turned one half of the motel like farm house into our home, tearing down walls that separated the rooms. One room became the bathroom room/storage, a few rooms became bedrooms, and another room became my dad's "office".  Cockroaches, spiders, and geckos roamed freely throughout, which would normally freak people out, but when you grow up with stuff like that, you think nothing of it.

We had a few (large) mango trees. People used to come from all over town to get some free mango. Now that I do my own grocery shopping and realize the cost of mangoes, we should have charged them $1 per mango, especially since our mangoes were quality.

 The only problem we had getting the mangoes that were higher than anyone could reach.

How my mom solved the issue:

She found a super long bamboo stick that was growing somewhere, grabbed some wire, made it into a circular loop, attached some old red shorts that she didn't wear to wrap around that loop, and somehow attached the loop to the bamboo. Some people might think, wow, that is super ghetto. But no... it was genius and it worked. It served as our mango picking stick for years. I wish I had a picture of it. Really, it was a sight to see.

Hair Ties ...

My mom always did my hair every morning before I went to school, but would tie my hair with rubber bands.  Yes, rubber bands that you find in Office Depot or Staples that are rolled in a ball and bounce when you drop them on the floor.  Occasionally, she'd switch it up and change the color from plain tan ones to red, but they were still rubber bands.

Me: Mom, can you do my hair? 
Mom: Go to your dad's office and get some rubber bands

So I'd snoop in the drawers where I knew my dad kept the rubber bands and handed them to my mother to use for my hair. Growing up, I didn't know any better. I didn't know that scunci made specialized hair ties for hair that wouldn't pull your hair when you tried to take it off.

I think my lack of proper hair essentials growing up is part of the reason today, why I'm obsessed with hair ties and bobbies pins.

Chocolate Flavored Rice Crispies Cereal...

I don't know where my mom thought of this, but for a time when she'd make us breakfast, she'd make us a bowl of rice crispies with milk, and mix in cocoa mix to make it chocolaty. It kind of made my stomach sore and for a while we didn't say anything. Eventually someone braved it (I don't know who because I don't think it was me) told her we didn't like it and she tossed that recipe out.

Every Container With A Lid Becomes Reusable...

While many families have tupperware sets with different sizes that could store different foods, my family had leftover plastic containers from KFC lunches, cleaned out margarine containers, cookie tins that were reused to hold stuff like sugar; every item with a lid was reused for various items that needed storage.

Me: Mom, where'd you put safety pins? 
Mom: In the container that used to have the lemon cookies. 

And that's how my mom rolled, she'd put all these random things in random containers.

             *                       *                           *                             *                          *                    
There are probably a million other quirky things that my family did that would cause someone to classify as weird. But - growing up, I never looked at any of that stuff as being weird, but as just the way things were. Now that I've been given a such blessed life, I don't have to make sticks out of bamboo and used shorts in order to get a mango, and can afford to buy myself hair ties and tupperware, and essentially anything that need. When I think of if I were given a similar situation where I was in want, I don't know how / if I could survive. In truth, I have probably lost this sense of resourcefulness and replaced it with a sense of whining. Maybe I would eventually figure something out and come up with innovative solutions of survival for everyday functions. but not before experiencing moments of What do I do?!? What do I do?!?" But... I like the way my life is and would hope that we wouldn't have to resort to alter my way of living in order to survive.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

The Competitive Filipino Parent

For a while when I first started my job, my dad told everyone that I worked for Microsoft. Well, he would tell people I worked for Bill Gates, and people would exclaim Huh...  Microsopt?!? as Microsoft is generally the first thing that people think of when they think 'Bill Gates'. My Dad never bothered to tell them otherwise. When asked what exactly I did, he would respond with oh... I don't know. 

Thanks Dad.

I would try to correct him, saying Dad! Why do you tell people that?!? I work for an imaging company owned by Bill Gates, not Microsoft!!!

Dad: Oh.....

But he would continue to tell people I worked for Microsoft anyway.

All my life, I feel like this was the case with my dad: every achievement, whatever educational milestone us kids had accomplished, even things that weren't really accomplishments, he would proudly exaggerate and boast to his friends. It was kind of annoying and embarrassing because I always felt that whatever it was he bragged about was never really a big deal.

Dad: My kid goes to UW
Me: Dad, everyone I know goes to UW... 

Dad: My son is a concert pianist
Me: Dad, sure Scotty is good, but he's never played a concert in his life. 
Dad:  but he could play in a concert... 

Dad: My son graduated valedictorian
Me: Dad, I think it was sumo cum laude.. that's like 4th place

The thing is, it wasn't just him who exaggerated and boasted, other Filipino parents did so as well. It's like there was an unsaid competition between Filipino parents and their kids; the 'whose child is better than the other' competition.

My child is a nurse. (Oh that's nice, mine is is doctor). My child plays concert piano pieces. (Wow, so does mine - but she also singe opera. Does your child sing opera? No? That's too bad, maybe they can learn, but my child is very advanced  ... but I'm sure your child would be able to learn the basics) 

Even when a Filipino parent responds nicely to another parent's prideful boasting, shit talking goes down after the conversation ends.

Bright! she said that her child is bright and wants to be a nurse.  I don't think their child will make it in life.

It is seriously that vicious.

I cannot think of any psychological reasoning behind the competitiveness that exists between Filipino parents. Is it a cultural thing? It is because Filipinos, as a people, are a poor people that many of them feel this need to be exceptionally better than everyone else within society?  Do they have this need to have something to be proud of? To be able to hold their head up and be looked up to by their countrymen? Perhaps it is the idea that if children are a reflection of the parents, those exceptional children equate to exceptional parents who by being exceptional, have helped to elevate the Filipino people. 

I'm pulling these these ideas out of my butt, but really, I don't know the answer to this.

I guess the issue that I have with all of this is that I'm thrown off by the boastful pride of Filipino parents.  Why be competitive at all and gloat to your neighbor on how much better your child is? I understand that it's in a parent's right to be proud about an accomplishment, but there's something to be said about being humbly proud. Ultimately, when this competitiveness kicks in, it is the relationship with the parent and child that can end up strained. Filipino parents will never admit that this occurs, but it does.

I don't think that Filipino parents don't love their children, they do as much as any other parent. However, I do think personal ambition has the tendency to blindsight love and thwart the reasoning for the competitiveness as being an act of love.  But at the end of the day, they do love their children. It just may take a bit for some parents to set aside their ambition and realize that their children themselves are more important, even if they do become other than what a parent envisioned they would be. 

Monday, June 18, 2012

My dad cracks me up

This past Father's day made me think about my dad and about how he cracks me up. A lot of what makes him funny is his boaterness: his inability to pronounce the letter 'v' or the letter "f"


Where is de bix? (Where is the vicks?)

I like de pig pie (I like fig newtons)

Can I get de pries ( Can I get fries? )

I like go to de bits (I want to go to the beach)

Are you going to papers? (Are you going to pay first?)

or the way he describes things in shapes and colors instead of it's proper English name

Dad: The round one
Me: What round one
Dad: The round green one to put on like that

::motions a squeezing motion over his food::

Oddly enough, most of the time I do know what he's referring to, even if his descriptions are vague. Having had to grow up with his vagueness all my life has made me in sync to his descriptive patterns and tendencies, thus allowing me to decipher what specific thing he is referring to. Ultimately, it was a matter of survival.

Me: oh you need a lime.

This ability to decipher his language, by default, has made me one of his few interpreters (the other person being my mom) It's kind of funny that he would need an interpreter, but while he does speak English, his English is so choppy and thickly accented that it has evolved into a totally different language that many find difficult to understand.

Me: He's asking you how are you.
Friend: Really? totally didn't get that. I'm doing good.

I'll admit, growing up I found it so annoyingly frustrating that he had a hard time describing things. Sometimes, I would pretend to not know what he was talking about just so he would figure it out himself in English what it was he was asking or telling me. After so many years, he still does it. But when I reflect upon all the conversations we've had and still have,  it still is annoying, but I'm not as frustrated with it.

He has adapted some ways to ease his communication with people. For instance, my husband and I recently introduced him Chipotle and he has become obsessed with the vege burrito. For days he would rave about it.

Dad: What do you call dat one with begetables that we ate the oder day?. 
Me: ......
Dad: you know.... de wrap one with da tomatoes... and da...mexican?  it was good.
Me: ... Chicken burrito? 
Dad: Yea.. dat one!! Das good. 

At first, he was hesitant about going there by himself because he was self conscious about ordering and having difficulties communicating what  he wanted in his burrito.To resolve this, he called me up and wrote down all the ingredients on a piece of paper to bring each time he went to Chipotle. Now, every time he wants a burrito, he goes there, hands the burrito maker the list of ingredients.. and ::Bam:: a burrito made just like the first time. I bet he would have me make lists for everything if he could so as to make communicating less difficult for him, but I don't see that happening. 

 lol, That guy... cracks me up. 

Monday, June 11, 2012

Filipino Parties and Food

Whenever my husband tells me we're going to such and such event, it is often followed by me asking, Is there going to be any food? Growing up in a Filipino household and going to Filipino parties has left me with this expectation of being fed whenever I go to a house party. And not just being fed, but being fed really well. My family would always go to these parties a couple times a month as, within the Filipino community that lived in Hawaii, it was always someone's birthday that need to be celebrated. More food than could be eaten was always served, but it was served with an understanding the guests would take some home. And so, every party party we went to we ate to our heart's content and left with the party host pretty much forcing us to take food home 

Hoy! you bring house, huh?!? Here! Take some more!!!

But life has taught me that not every party is going to feed you like a Filipino party, but in the back of my mind, I still have this expectation.

Is that so much to ask? To be fed good food that will not leave me hungry and wanting to make a Taco Bell stop after I leave a party? Or to want to leave in order to make a taco bell run so that I won't be hungry during a party.

Unfortunately, there have been many a social gathering that has left me disappointed in only being fed cheese, bread, crackers, grapes, and sun chips.  Don't get me wrong, it's not like I'm ungrateful for the cheese and crackers, it just leaves me hungry

This past weekend I went to a friend's housewarming/Pacquiao fight party that had food galore. Fried Chicken. Fried Rice. Lumpia. Pancit. etc etc I walked in the house with my meager tater tot casserole dish and my mouth seriously went ajar at seeing all the food. 


Now that I'm looking at the picture and see the red velvet cake, I'm like.. dammit, I didn't get any of that!


Oh, and there was more food, but I got a little self conscious at being looked at as weird for taking photos of food.

To my husband: See! See!!! This is what I'm talking about!

Needless to say, we ate throughout the night. At least I did. Even the next day I couldn't help but think about how full I still felt from the night before. I was a happy camper. 

I know not every event I go to is going to leave me as satiated as this one, but what can you do? I guess what I can do is make sure that my own social gatherings don't leave guests as disappointed as I would be. 

Thursday, June 7, 2012

The Filipino Broom

The other day, while I was driving down the street towards my house, I saw a little old asian woman sweeping the sidewalk in front of her house with a Filipino Broom

 Where the heck am I?, I thought. Asia? 

She was hunched over, sweeping intensely like she was trying to get the dirt out of the crevices of the sidewalk. My second thought to this was  Why is she using that Asian broom to sweep the sidewalk? More importantly, she's sweeping a sidewalk.... Who does that? 

I wasn't going to completely pass judgement on the little old woman. If she wanted to sweep her sidewalk with an Asian broom, that was totally her business, but it brought back flashbacks on my childhood and how my own mom used that type of broom to do her sweeping.

Supposedly, there's two types of Filipino brooms.

Walis Tambo

and Walis Ting Ting

Side tangent: The Filipino language is funny in that words often have sounds that repeat. i.e.  Ting Ting (the broom above), Su-su (boobies), Chacha (my cousin's name in the Philippines). Connect any two sounds together, and you more than likely have a Filipino word that means something. My parent's used to call me Win Win when I was a kid, then it was shortened to Win. But... don't start.

Anyways, my mom always used the walis tambo when cleaning.

I always wondered why she used this type of broom instead of a regular broom from the grocery store when it seemed  inefficient. For one, the broom is made for short people. I mean, really really short people. It is probably around three feet tall so even someone who is Filipino short like myself has to hunch over in order to grab the handle and sweep the floor. True, the way the broom is designed allows it to get into corners, but I feel like it sheds a lot  and so adds to the dust/trash that you're trying to pick up.I don't know...I just never thought that it was effective

But ... almost all Filipino households have them.

 Curious to see the overall process, I watched a youtube video on it.

It was interesting to see how much of a process it was to make it and how whole families made this their trade. In this one particular youtube video I watched, this little girl who couldn't be more than 6 years old spreading out the broom grass in preparation for the assembly. I can honestly say that after watching this video, I have a new appreciation for the broom and for the fact that out of nothing and in poverty, people can make such a beautiful product as the walis tambo. It's like a piece of Filipino art.  Ultimately, it makes me want to go to the Philippines and watch someboday make a broom so I could buy it from them. I know that sounds silly, but that's how I feel.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Marrying the White Guy

Today marks 2 years of marital bliss for my husband and I.

Anyone who was there can relate to you about how our wedding was: how I was hungry and stuffed my face with McDonald's chicken nuggets and fries right before the ceremony, how we played smooth jazz versions of Top40 hits like "Shake it Like Salt Shaker" and "Blame it on the Alcohol" during our reception, and how my husband passed out during the ceremony. I won't get into that specifically, but ask anyone who was there and they will tell you how it was. 

Now, 2 years later, we're still married. Needless to say, we've had a lot of  rough patches. By a lot, I mean... a lot, but even after the amount of time we've been together, my husband still has the uncanny ability to give me an extreme case of the butterflies. No really, it's really extreme. So extreme that it's to the point where I feel like I can't keep still and I have this natural inclination to  just tackle him (or at least try to) and smother him with love because I don't know what else to do...

And when he smothers me back with with a terential storm kisses... it's like an overload of happiness and my toes wiggle out of overwhelming joy. The only other thing that has that sort of effect on me is really really good dessert, like Kona coffee ice cream.

mmm.. Kona coffee ice cream. .. ::queue in wiggling of toes::

For a time (like during High School), I thought that I would eventually marry a fellow Filipino. I think it's because I had a lot of Filipino friends growing up who were part of big Filipino families that gave their children debutant balls, that it created a sort of ideal of what I thought I wanted in life: little brown Filipino kids that would run around calling each other 'ate' or 'kuya', or calling their grandparents 'lolo' and  'lola'. 

But... things change, perspectives change, including perspectives on what you thought was ideal. I mean, while I think it would still be cute to have kids running around saying "kuya" and "ate", I've come to the realization that you don't need to marry a Filipino to have that sense of family and to keep those sorts of traditions alive.  Life ... God often gifts us with things that we didn't necessarily specifically think we needed, but we ended up getting and becoming much happier because of it.

And so I met and married my husband. 

Being married to someone outside of my ethnic background doesn't create much of a cultural rift at all, contrary to what some might think - if they do think that at all. If I was fresh off the boat, it would be a totally different story, but since I'm pretty much Americanized - we share a lot of the same interests and sense of dorky humor.

There are some things that may appear out of the ordinary to my husband that, growing up, I always took as a way of life.

Eating Fish with the Head on

Whether fried, boiled in a soup, or baked - it seems to be an Asian thing (not just a Filipino thing) to be served fish as a whole, not chopped into a filet. 
When my husband first spent Thanksgiving with my family (or some other holiday), he was a little weirded out that a piece of fish was served in its full form.  I had to explain to him it's an Asian thing, while the head is not necessarily eaten, it's still served as a whole. 

Talking to Relatives from the Motherland

My father is a big investor of $5 calling cards from local convenient stores. Don't ask me why he doesn't just invest in a calling plan that will allow him to call the motherland whenever he wants. Buying calling cards is what he does; he will buy them to talk for hours not just to the foreign family in the Philippines, he will also talk to family of family, family he's never even met, friends of family and their friends. It's not like they talk about anything particularly important, but I think he misses his home and country so much, he is willing to make any connections that he possibly can with whomever he can from the homeland.

When we were little, my dad would always make my brother and I talk on the phone with these relatives from the Philippines with whom we never met. I always hated it because we never really could understand each other. I'd try to speak their native tongue, they'd try to speak English, but it would just be awkward.

Relative: Hello
Me: Kamusta aunty
Relative: Oh .. mabuti ... 

::then they start talking to me in Filipino because they would think from that one phrase that I said that Iunderstand and speak, but really - I only really knew that one phrase.

Me: ...ehhhh... Here's my dad.

I would hand the phone off to my dad.

As you can see, it's bad enough when my dad makes me do it, but there has been a couple of times when my dad has handed off the phone to my husband to talk to my relatives. He'd chit-chat, ask a few questions about the weather, and you'd think that the conversation went okay, but they probably did not understand anything they said to each other.

Rice Making Method

I grew up eating white rice all my life. It was not until I met my husband that I ate brown rice or even tried Uncle Ben's rice. It was a weird transition, but now I prefer brown rice over white, unless I have a white rice craving. 

I also grew up making rice in the pot, the OG way. Back in the day when there was no such thing as a rice cooker, Filipinos used a method of guess-a-mation where they measured the amount of water needed to make rice based on a pinky - measurement method (the level of water from the top rice level to top water level needs to measure in the middle of the pinky) I think this drives him nut - in being an engineer, he works on exact formulas and measurements, which this Filipino method is not. 

Hulk: How many cups of rice did you put in? 

Me: Uhm, I don’t know, I just poured in the pot 

Hulk: What? How are you going to just pour the rice in without really knowing how much? You need to know how many cups you put in so you put water in accordingly 

Me: I just measure the water by my pinky. 

::point half to the inch marker of my pinky:: 

Hulk: Why would you do such a thing?

Me: I don’t know…. because that’s how I was taught? 

 But, the thing is even though it drives him nuts that I don't have a rice formula, I make perfect sticky rice every time. It's in my blood

 There are a million other things that I probably do that my husband looks at me funny for, due to either my cultural upbringing or just because I'm weird. Lucky for moi, my husband accepts the weird cultural stuff as what it is that people do. and luckly for my husband, I am not overly boater or else... it could be worse.

Anyways, happy anniversary to me!

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Filipino Pride!

It's normal to feel proud of one's cultural background. While there are some who choose to identify themselves with who they are not - i.e. the rich kid from the 'burbs' who pretends like he's gangster (but really... he's just awkward), or that person who claims that their Great Great Great aunt was Sacajawea, thus they are Indian and, by default, know everything about Indians - most human beings have a sense of pride for their nationality and culture.

Filipinos are no different.

In fact, you might even say that Filipinos have a lot of Filipino Pride. I mean, a lot. Maybe even a lot more than usual.

Whatever do you mean? you might ask.

Here are some examples:


I actually saw someone wear this at church.  Seriously, nothing screams fresh off the boat more than this track jacket. 

and the hats

 and the wave of Manny Pacquiao attire that everyone wears because.. well... Manny is Filipino. 

I like how this kid is not Filipino, but he still has Pacman pride

That is just a small fraction of Filipino pride-wear that is out there as there are a lot more out there representing the national colors in all it's glory.While people are free to wear whatever they want and be as boastfully patriotic as they want to be, my personal opinion is:

a I don't think wearing a country's flag is an up incoming fashion trend, unless it's a independence holiday or the Olympics 


 b. Manny Pacquiao is not very attractive. Why would you wear him on  your body? 

On top of having pride for those who are full-bred Filipino, Filipinos tend to claim anyone who has even only an ounce of Filipino ancestry. Even those who are only 2% Pnoy, but look like Canadian-  are classified as Filipino by Filipinos.

For instance,

Okay maybe not Canadian, but apparently his great grandmother was Filipina. 

Google it and look at all the stories that are out there with headlines about his Filipino-ness

 Filipino drafted to NBA. Filipino wins Slam dunk competition! Nate Robinson eligible to play in Philippine National Team. 

To that I say: 

 That's rediculous. He's 1/8th Filipino! 1/8th doesn't really count. He probably doesn't even eat Filipino food! Well maybe he does, but probably not any of the weird questionable food.

Nate Robinson is just one of many celebrities Filipinos will claim as their own. If you look on, there are videos dedicated to famous Filipinos that have somehow made it in the world (see below) 
Cheryl Burke, Vanessa Hudgens, Ernie Reyes, ( and some other people who you're like, Who the hell are they? so then you have to google them) all of their pictures run through a slideshow while a cheesy song plays in the background. 

I know, someone actually took the time to make youtube videos on this. Undoubtedly, more youtube videos will be made on this all-important subject. Maybe even one that will include the American Idol 2012 finalist 
Jessica Sanchez 

Oh American Idol...

My interest in the talent show has waned during the past year, however I did watch a couple of episodes to specifically see Jessica sing. I had read so many facebook updates raving her performance, was asked by a few of my Filipino coworkers - Did you see Jessica sing last night ?

Me: Who's Jessica?
CW: She's Filipino
Me ::confused:: okay

I had to google and youtube her to know what they were talking about. Honestly, I was hesitant to even do so just because I didn't want to fall into that bandwagon.. It is often the case that Filipinos will cheer on an individual like Jessica Sanchez just because she is Filipino, not necessarily because of their talent. They will vote and vote and vote as many times as it is possible to support their favorite countrymen. 

Even people in the Philippines were crazy about her and taking unauthorized days off from school and work to watch live tapings of the shows, which is crazy since a. the Filipinos are poor. and b. it probably costs a lot of money to stream that kind of stuff live. 

After her American Idol loss the other day, one news article quoted the Philippines (as a country) being heartbroken over her American Idol loss. 

Really? Heartbreaken? That's a very strong word... but okay.

But do not be too heartbroken my Filipinos, it is likely that even if she does not make it as a star in the states, she will become a mega-star artista in the Philippines, modeling for Filipino clothing companies and hosting game shows like Game Ka Na ba? (Game NA!)

Anyways, so you get my point about Filipinos having a lot of pride. There's a lot of it. 

To some extent I feel it might be a little much. I mean, it's great that people are proud of their ancestral heritage; people should be allowed to be proud,  but I don't necessarily agree with being completely defined by it. Boisterously labeling oneself as belonging to a group that other's aren't can create divisional lines of "you" versus "us.  This ultimately defeats any sense of unity that is often lacking in our society. How many times have we seen in American / World History the struggle for equality? Yet, in the event that equality is "achieved", there still is this struggle for empowerment over others, this need for people to differentiate themselves in some way or another when it's like.. why can't we just exist without any these racial lines? 

To another end, I do understand why Filipinos are a  proud people. We have had a History of being overtaken and oppressed by conquistadors, occupied by Japanese soldiers during WWII, our Filipino tribal history erased, and currently almost everyone in the country is in a state of poverty.  Filipinos need to feel proud about something, there is the need to have a hope in something other than the crappy situation that is being lived, there is a need to feel that the struggle endured for hundreds of years somehow wasn't in vain and that there is a place in a world for the Filipino who can offer something relevant and amazing enough for someone to be like.. wow, being a Filipino must be awesome. 

and it is awesome being Filipino. There are a lot of great things about the culture and the people that I love and I identify that as part of who I am as an American. Anyways, i kind of went off the intense deep conversational end here so I'll leave it with a light hearted note:

While I identify myself with the Filipino culture, Filipino never believe that I am Filipino because of the fact that I don't look like the traditional Filipino pnay: I am light skinned, have freckles, and my eyes are chinkier than normal. 

are you viet? No? chinese no? what are you ? Pilipino ? Ooohhh!!!

They are usually pretty excited when they make the discovery that I am one of them and am able to say a few select words like "hello" and "I'm hungry" in the native tongue. But it always disappoints me that they don't get that I'm Filipino to begin with. I don't know why, but it does. I feel like it's kind of like not recognizing your own child. O-well. They may deny me initially, but i will never deny them.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

The Smelly Kiss

The other morning, I found myself giving a smelly kiss to my husband.

Wtheck just happened here? I was doing what my parents, aunties, uncles, ninongs and ninangs did to me when I was growing up and what I swore I would never do when I grew up: plant the smelly kiss

For those of you who don't know what this smelly kiss is, it's kind of a weird tradition to explain. So many of us define a kiss as the standard puckering of the lips.  While Filipinos have adopted this westernized method of affection, the rubbing of noses is the way natives back in the day would actually kiss before they were colonized by the Spanish.

 In doing some other research, I found that even after the Spanish taught Filipino natives how to smooch, they would still rub noses and smell.

Was it an act of rebellion against those conquistadors that they chose to continue to rub noses? or did they figure it was affection x2? or maybe they felt weird doing the westernized kiss and so felt the need to offset the weirdness by topping it off with what they knew how to do? Nose rubbing. Whatever the reason, it is a tradition that has passed down from generations.

It surprised me to learn that the nose / affectionate sniffing deal is not a tradition practiced just by Filipinos, but is common among other Asian countries.

...and I thought Filipinos were the only ones doing quirky stuff.

While lip to lip action is what many of us define as a kiss, it is a more recent practice than you would expect. According to  Wikipedia on Snogging, it only practiced among the upper class during the middle ages, never among the lowly. Some cultures had never even heard of kissing. Which is totally not what you see in movies about the middle ages.  Like that one version of Hamlet with Mel Gibson.. I'm pretty sure there was kissing in that movie. Lies!  all lies!

Yes, I know - I did a whole lot of research on this subject, but I couldn't help it. One google search led to another. It was just interesting to learn that this tradition which I had always thought so weird is not uncommon.

::Flashback to my younger days::

Ay na ko. dalaga na ka!! omg, you're a young lady now, my aunts would say after seeing me. Even if it had only been a week or a few days since I saw them, they would still react like I'd gotten boobs or grown 5 inches taller since I'd last seen them.

They would then take my face in both hands and ::WHAM!!: plant a smelly kiss on both sides of my cheeks. Their noses pressed up against my face as they inhaled, holding their held breath for a few seconds. With the exhale of air, they then would give a loud smucker.  I could not get away; I wasn't supposed to get away. If I evaded them somehow, they would find me.

::Fast Forward::

And now I was planting smelly kisses on my husband. I remember the first time I gave my husband a smelly kiss, he gave me an odd look of what the fuck was that?  Did you just smell me? 

Indeed I did, husband. Indeed I did.

He has since gotten used to the quirky kisses and accepts it as my way of showing mas affection. If he thought it was really weird and asked me to stop, I would try, but wouldn't be able to guarantee anything. It's part of my nature, kind of like how it's part of a dog's nature to pee when they want to mark their territory. I don't ever mentally think I'm going to plant a smelly kiss on my husband and my dogs right before I go in the big smooch. No, it's an innate reaction that I have whenever I am overwhelmed with feelings of happiness and love... and I just want to smother them with love. It's the best way I know how. I'd like to think my husband is starting to reciprocate the form of affection, but... probably not. lol. 

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

You like some Choc' lat meat?

A lot of Filipino is good:  adobo, pancit, sinigang, etc. etc. I eat that shit up like nobody's business. I mean, it's so good that even when I'm beyond full and feel like I can eat no more, I continue to eat it. I may  feel guilty afterwards, but that hardly crosses my mind at the time that I'm stuffing my face.

Some Filipino food however, is quite ... questionable, to say the least: baby bird fetus', pig's blood, turtles. ::yuck:: Even though it should be in my blood to like it, my stomach cannot help but turn and do 360's at the thought of it. In my head I'm like,  if Andrew Zimmerman can eat that stuff, I can eat it.  Or not, lol. Maybe he's just a better Filipino than I am.

But I get it and I don't hate on anyone who does eat it.  When you come from a third world country, you eat what you can eat to survive. I just feel grateful that those aren't my only food choices to pick from on a daily basis.

What I don't get is why whenever someone non-Filipino is introduced to Filipino cuisine, like say - if you bring a friend over to keep you company during your brother's birthday and there's all this Filipino food -your Aunties, Uncles, your mom, your dad - you're whole family will try to get them to eat the questionable stuff first. Nevermind the  adobo, pancit, or the lumpia that  everyone loves from first bite, they are always peer pressured to eat the questionables. 

Dad: Come on, eat! Eat! try dis's Choc'lat meat!

And there's always this sly, mischievous smile on their faces that lingers whenever they urge your friend to eat the chocolate meat, like they're playing some sort of evil trick on them. They even scoop the stuff in your friend's plate for them. Your friend, in the meanwhile, looks questionably on that dark, brown,... something-rather, their nose slightly crinkled as the thoughts cross mind  of : does it really taste like chocolate. And if it does, how is that possible ... if it's meat?  

"What ... is ... that?" your friend asks cautiously.

 "Choc'lat meat!", your crazy relative answers with a laugh. Then they all laugh.

It is then that you feel the need to save your friend from the family pressure. You explain to them that, no - it is not made from chocolate. but from pig's blood, boiled and flavored down to taste like adobo. As expected , they cringe as they process the facts in their brain.  You thwart any questioning they might have of but... how??, diverting their attention to the more delectable food items. As they bite into their first taste of adobo and lumpia, they temporarily forget they were even offered pig's blood, until the next day at school  when someone asks your friend how their weekend was and they'll remember: Good,  Winter's family offered me pig's blood, though. egghh...

Not that I'm speaking from personal experience, but it has been always a slight fear of mine that my non-Filipino friends would be grossed out or start gagging if one of my family members got them to eat dinuguan; they would forever be scarred for life and never want to come over to hang out with me. Thus, I always offered to plate up for them:

" I got it, no.. sit.. I got it.Sit ! I got it!" 

For a fraction of a second, I give them a frantic, stern look to get them to sit back down so I could take care of their plate. They are a little alarmed that I would take the slightly demanding (crazy) tone, but I follow up with smile.

 "I just want to make sure you get all the good stuff." 

With that, they concede and I am put to ease knowing my guest does not have to deal with my family trying to get them to eat the questionables. 

At the end of the day, I know you can't change what people eat / what people like to eat, and other people are always going to have this perception that certain foods that some people eat are gross. (eww, he's eating frog legs, eww... they're eating guts!) Shoot, I was watching Anthony Bourdain who was in Africa, and they were eating rats. Rats, I tell you! and I was totally grossing out over that. But it is what it is, and people do what they need to do to survive and make the best out of what they have. I just need to not hate on that. 

In the meantime, my crazy Filipino relatives need to stop calling it chocolate meat, because that is so not what it is.