A Latina in the Philippines Part 1

In travel on July 23, 2010 at 6:57 am

In the municipality of Bato on a padyak

To be honest I had never been in a country that appreciated my looks for beauty. In all seriousness I’m from Colombia and the standards of beauty in the country that makes more Miss Universe’s than other countries in the world isn’t up to par with what my parents gave me for genes…Let’s just put it this way…I’m not your typical Colombian who has 36-24-36 or 90-60-90 measurements…those bottle curves as they call it. So, when I go to Medellin I go by pretty unnoticed in a sea of gorgeous women.

And yet in the Philippines, my look is actually seen as beautiful. In a culture where being lighter skinned isn’t frowned upon but actually worked on (women use umbrellas to go out, there are medical treatments to keep you lighter looking, make up is used to give the impression of a lighter glow) I have the advantage of being fair and have wavy hair…which are aspects that accentuate what Filipinos consider to be beautiful.

Some people have even asked me if I’m mestiza (a mixed between a Filipino and another culture). And because I can’t hide my look, I get stared at a lot and people want to take pictures with me (I had never experienced this before…now I know how celebrities must feel).

And this isn’t the only observation where my cultural differences are truly noticeable…

•    Good manners when eating– I was taught to wait for everyone to have their food before starting a meal, to help the owner of the house wash dishes as a sign of thankfulness, to pray before every meal, to use utensils, to keep your elbows off the table, to wait until everyone is done eating before getting up from the table…but in the Philippines you can put all those Spaniard/South American good manners (or what I consider good manners) aside and learn new ones because it is done quiet differently in this side of the world. Obviously these are observations from traditional Filipino homes and not from touristy restaurants in the city…

  • At the table while having a family meal it is okay for Filipinos to eat with their hands…in fact, it’s part of their culture and even in nicer more sophisticated barrios restaurants are popping up all over offering tourists the chance to experience this ‘real’ or more authentic culture. It’s funny…when you travel and don’t know anyone in the country you get charged extra for experiencing life as it is truly lived -when in fact all you really had to do is stay a couple of days with a real family (in a bed and breakfast type place) and enjoy that part of real culture with your stay.
  • Filipinos don’t use knives…it’s all about the fork and spoon…they have mastered a way of using these two utensils to cut, eat, and set food aside.

•    The people in this country are pretty shy compared to what I’m used to. When you ask them a yes or no question they answer with their eye brows (not even their head)

•    Relieving stress isn’t done with a glass of wine or with some aguardiente or rum and coke after some dancing or playing of cards after work or on the weekends…the Philippines is all about karaoke and videoke- regardless of age, gender, whether you sing well or not, you are bound to hear your neighbor at 7pm or even 7am singing away to Taylor Swift or the Bee Gees. And, if a beer is the way to go on occasion, it is predominantly done by men as women in this country are rarely seen drinking any form of alcohol…no wonder people were staring at me the other day while having dinner ☺

It is obvious that while the Philippines, Latin America and South America were all conquered by Spaniards we still have an immense amount of cultural differences that I continue to explore as I carry-on my three week journey in this amazing part of the world.

  1. This was beautiful Liliana. your observations are all very interesting, I don’t know if i would be as perceptive to pick up an all these customs you’re experiencing. I hope you and B. are enjoying your time there. Also, lmao @ Karaoke 7 in the morning, hilarious!!!!

  2. Hehehehe…while I agree with you on everything. I can’t help but disagree with you on one thing and say you are, have been, and will always be beautiful no matter what you think. And if you need a reminder, just look at your wedding pictures…stunning! I hope this journey continues to bring you many wonderful experiences and moments. You truly deserve that and more.

  3. que buena nota hiciste lili que bueno q la estes pasando muy bn y conociendo esta cultura y tambien dejando el nombre de nuestro pais con mujeres lindas como tu y como dice cata no es q ellos te vean linda es q eres linda….. abrazo y saludes a my boss

  4. ahhhh, you guys are all so awesome! Muchas gracias por las lindas palabras…and just to clarify it’s not that I have low self esteem issues or think I’m ugly (although the reminders that I’m pretty are always welcomed 🙂 hehehe.) It’s that I had never experienced people stopping me in the streets to tell me so with such humbleness and true sincerity…not in a sexual or flirtatious manner about my looks. In fact, I get it predominantly from the women which is an even bigger compliment.

  5. Hey Lili. I miss you! This was great and I can’t wait to hear more. I’m sure I’ll have lots of questions.

  6. oh yeah! you should start writing all of your questions down…or better yet send them my way as you think of them so I can make sure to ask them while I’m here and can have an answer for them 🙂 Miss ya!

  7. Hey bike girl!!!! nice to see you’re having a wonderful time. Your are beyond beauty es ese magnetismo que sale de tu corazon, esos Filipinos si que son sensibles, sino preguntale a Brian! ahh pero una cosita el pais Latinoamericano que ha ganado mas veces el Miss Universo y el Miss Mundo es Venezuela.
    Miss you Lili 😦

  8. Ahhh, muchas gracias Natty…y en eso si tienes toda la razon Venezuela se las trae con sus reinas. Miss you too!!!

  9. hi, i came upon your site through the WP dashboard. i am filipino and i enjoyed reading your observations. yes, filipinos, especially outside metro manila, do like to eat with their hands–“kamayan” it’s called, from the word “kamay” or hands. have fun exploring the country.


  10. Thanks Suzette for adding some insight and also for visiting the blog. I’m truly enjoying your country 🙂

  11. […] the Philippines on the other hand, eating is a completely different experience. As I mentioned in a previous blog post, food is eaten with a fork and spoon and even sometimes with your hands. No mmm…banana […]

  12. Philippines compared to nations of Southeast Asia: Different, yet so similar.

    Philippines compared to nations of Latin America: Similar, yet so different.

    Excellent article. I’m American of filipino descent by the way 😉

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