In 2014, POC’s Buhay Pinoy continued to celebrate the Filipino spirit especially in the face of the rising challenges threatening the prospects of our beloved country.
The Pinoy’s vaunted bamboo-like resiliency has been shown once again in another series of disasters. Perhaps nothing demonstrates this more dramatically than the fact that many of us have accepted a constant sense of impending catastrophe as “the new normal.”
Remembering Ondoy during Mario by Julie Fuertes juxtaposes the two super typhoons, which lashed almost exactly five years of each other, and draws out similarities in that both brought heavy rains and both caught us flat-footed. On the other hand, in his story on Ang Bagyong Ruby which visited the country later in the year, Ben Banares gives voice to a communal fear that the succession of typhoons have engendered into the Pinoy psyche. This fear, he hopes, can be harnessed positively to result in rebuilding better the stricken communities. Fuertes’ piece also ends with a hopeful note – that tragedy can bring out courage, faith, generosity and love.
For the Pinoy, no event is so dreadful it cannot be made light of; no person or institution so exalted it cannot be laughed at or down. The Newskupow series by Ben Banares was a laugh-a-minute showcase of the indomitable sense of humor Filipinos are famous for. Fodder to the author’s satire-churning mill are our follies and foibles — from the Pinoy every man to celebrities to politicians and government leaders.
Some memorable examples: The spit-happy traffic constable who almost got away with almost murder, Boy Pandesal ‘s tormentor, the producers of the “gaga girls”/“bobo boys” video, Mommy Dionisia and Kris Aquino and their antics, government leaders and politicians and the revolting extent of corruption and inefficiency they appear to be capable of.
In Newskupow, PNP Director Alan Purisima is” Poor is he Ma,” Senators Cayetano, Trillanes amd Drillon are the Senate hearings’ “3 Stooges,” Mar Roxas is “Boy Padyak,” “Boy Bigas,” “Boy Sibuyas,” and “Boy MRT,” and PNoy himself, “Boy Sisi,” “Boy Patutsada” and “Boy Benggador.” The lampoons were likewise unsparing of institutions like the SONA (“Sisihin Others Never Aquino”) and the three equal branches of government (“executhief,” “legislathief,” “hoodiciary”).
For the Filipino, family is first as it should be. Stories like Jasmine Bautista’s Motherly talents you never knew you had and Julie Fuertes’ How to yell less and love more provide pointers for better child-raising and building more positive relationships in the home.
The Filipino father’s stereotype role of going out to the world to hunt, sow and otherwise provide for the family gets a turnaround with Rachel Yapchongco’s When the man does the cooking and Richard Ramos’ Hey Mr. Mom: The Househusband Phenomenon. Both stories assert men who cook, clean, look after the children and manage the home are not lesser fathers. On the contrary!
How we turn helpless and desperate when the kasambahay – especially our kids’ nanny – leaves or takes a vacation is highlighted in Joey Francisco Cruz’s Kasambahay blues: Nang magpaalam si Yaya Inday. The story is chockfull of comic episodes on how a trusted kasambahay is courted, indulged and cajoled to make her stay.
Rachel Yapchiongco’s Maniwala o hindi: Mangkukulam, mambabarang, mananambal and Lucky charms: Mga pampaswerte sa buhay show that a part of the population is still steeped in old beliefs – about the supernatural, about powers beyond what we can see, hear, feel and sense — which can impact into their lives.
What makes the Pinoy tick? Buhay Pinoy writers took a close and critical look at our collective psyche. Some conclusions that might prompt us to think of a makeover:
We can be vain and tend to put too much store on the superficial. Richard Ramos’ back-to-back stories on Vanity, they name is Pinoy and The Importance of good looks are an indictment of our penchant for “loving to look good” while “loathing to make it obvious.” He reminds us that while good looks can be a social plus, the “the qualities that really affect people and perceptions are those that are mirrored by internal values and feelings.”
In her Bato-bato sa langit, ang masungit, pangit, Tess Doce Halili affirms the ascendancy of a good and pleasant disposition over a beautiful face. In her own words: Ang maganda ay ang taong maganda ang ugali at busilak ang kalooban. Sila yong mahahaba ang pasensya, malalalim ang pag-unawa at maganda rin ang tingin sa kapwa.
The Filipino sense of pakikisama or camaraderie is outstanding, perhaps unparalleled. In fact, we sometimes do it to a fault, says Richard Ramos’ in Pinoy Pakikisama: OA na ba? Set a limit to giving in to what the group dictates, Ramos urges, especially when our sense of what is right and wrong is breached.
The bad guy – the babaero (adulterer), the lasenggo (drunkard), the jerk, the spoiled brat, even the ex-convict — is open to change, but watch out, it may be just for show or a flash in the pan. Manuel Calleja’s essay on Transformation, reinvention or just put on? gives the “prodigals” some benefit of the doubt, but draws the line when it comes to corrupt politicians who may present a made-over front during elections.
Tell me how you treat a waiter and other service people (the sales ladies and salesmen, the security guard, the janitors and utility persons) and I will tell you who you are. So how do we behave when we do not have to be nice? The Waiter Rule by Richard Ramos gives us the low-down.
Stories on life in the metropolis also made it big in Buhay Pinoy in 2014. In Top 10 survival driving tips in Metro Manila, Jose Cruz tells of mishaps to watch out for when one is just learning how to drive in the city of macho drivers. Richard Ramos describes Monster traffic jams: The horror that have become the nightmare of even the most jaded city slicker, especially during the latter part of the year. Rachel Yapchiongco, in her typical motherly fashion, gives pointers on how to ensure a safe and pleasant cab ride in Manong taxi driver and you.
Finally, how much of Christmas holiday junkies we are is evident in stories redolent with anticipation of the season. Toni Tiu offers practical advice on Christmas gift-giving to someone who has it all. For those who may worry they may be losing the Christmas spirit, she gives assurance that the holiday may be refreshed or “reformatted” in many ways in Jaded with Christmas? Tweak it, reinvent it. And in Lessons from the manger, Rachel Yapchiongco reminds us that Christmas is all about how the King of heaven and earth humbled himself by being born in a lowly manger, a clear call to be humble and turn away from materialism.
A big Thank You and a Happy New Year to all our readers. May 2015 find us, Pinoys, more resilient, more optimistic and cheerful, more family-oriented, more accepting of our follies, more ready to tweak parts of our lives than needs fixing, and more eager to do our bit in bringing peace and justice to our troubled country and planet.
Photo: From flickr.com, some rights reserved