February 27, 2009


Friday, February 27, 2009 Posted by Mary , , No comments
My friend, Lyn, and I ate dinner at Coco Amigos tonight. This is one of the restaurants by the boulevard in Dumaguete that is frequented by foreigners. It also happened that across the street, in the area known locally as the tempurahan (where vendors sell different kinds of street food), a group of artists from the city were having a show to celebrate National Arts Month. The title of the presentation was Balak Ug Balitaw sa Tempurahan. Balak is the Cebuano term for "poem", and a balitaw is something like a song or an exchange of love verses between a male and a female. The organizers described this show as "a gathering to give a spirited rendition of Cebuano poetry, with a sprinkling of Cebuano love songs". Needless to say, everything was in the local dialect.

The moment the show started, I immediately noticed the manager of the restaurant getting upset. He ridiculed it and complained aloud about how "noisy" it was. (And no, it wasn't noisy--it was a poetry reading!) A group of customers (Filipinos who looked like his friends) from one table joined in with him.

This really pissed me off. I don't know why the manager was upset. It's not like their establishment owns the area. It's certainly their fault for having an open-air restaurant. In my mind, they should have been thankful because something out of the ordinary was there for the tourists to see. They had their in-house entertainment and the sounds clashed, but it's not like the show was an everyday affair. I'm thinking he was probably afraid that their foreign customers would get upset because the show was in Cebuano, not English, and that it was not entertaining enough (no dancing girls dressed in skimpy outfits) for his retired expat regulars. What a perfect example of how pathetic Filipinos act when it comes to foreigners. We try to change everything we are to accommodate all their whims and desires. We no longer have any culture left!

I remembered Japan and how they treat foreigners. If you are a foreigner there, you're the one who has to adjust. You have to learn their language, sit on the floor, leave your shoes by the door, and use chopsticks. Here, meanwhile, we try to hide what we really are just to make them comfortable.

I'm not saying we go back to speaking only Filipino. I'm an advocate for learning correct English. I'm not saying we go back to wearing bahag, either. I just wish the average Filipino, not just the literati, would learn to appreciate, if not preserve,  our culture and share it with other nationalities. Because really, we should be able to offer more to our visitors than just women, sex, and servitude.

bahag - loincloth which was commonly used throughout
the Philippines before the arrival of European colonizers


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