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.