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.

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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.

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