Philippines: Love it or Hate it?

Last night, I delivered my C4 speech on our Toastmaster meeting. The goal of a C4 speech is to use the right words to deliver your message and to avoid the use of unnecessary jargon.

It was nerve-wracking.

But it was basically my fault because I have started tinkering with the idea a mere few days ago (people who know me understand that finding a topic is a BIG problem of mine since I’m just damn too indecisive!), and had started making the speech the night before!

To top it off, I can’t really devote too much time in speech-making while at work, so you can imagine how panicky I was becoming by lunchtime. By that time, I’ve only finished making half the speech and I haven’t practiced yet! πŸ™

*slaps myself in the face*

That’s what you get for procrastinating, sister!!!

Regardless, I’ve already promised Eric that I’ll give a speech that day, so I had no other choice than to push forward despite my lack of preparation. At that time, I vowed never to put myself through such punishment again (and in the background, fellow Toastmasters are just so waiting to say, “See? That’s what you get for not preparing ahead of time.”)

*wags finger at me*

Okay, okay… so I dug my own grave so I should just lie quietly on it.

But as Father Ferriols had said, “Lundagin mo, beybe!”” (Just take that leap, baby!).

So I breathed deep and delivered my speech… to very warm reviews!

Surprisingly, I was voted the best prepared speaker of the night! πŸ˜€

What a very nice surprise indeed… though I knew I didn’t really deserve the hoopla since I prepared the last-minute, I couldn’t help but be encouraged by the audience’s reaction.

Although next time, I vowed to myself to start preparing earlier!

Afterwards, I went around the Warner area and bought myself a super-cute pink PINK dress, one of the few “cute” dresses in my closet right now (well, since I don’t go shopping often, why not get what I want when I see it?!) and David picked me up and together, we checked out this newly-opened wine bar at Linsen N. Road.

Ooooh, tipsy. Drank around 4 glasses of red wine and was smiling on the way home. Time just flew so fast, I didn’t know it was already 2:30AM! πŸ˜‰

Anyway, here’s the speech for me to share. Enjoy and hope you have a very happy and productive Thursday!


Philippines: Hate it or Love it?

A lot of you may be surprised to know that I come from the Philippines. When people ask me where I’m from and I tell them I’m Filipino, the most common reactions I get are, “What?! But your skin isn’t dark,” or “How come your English is so good?” or “Hey, my former maid is Filipino.” Filipino by the way, is the term we call the locals back home.

Let’s admit it.

In general, when people think of the Philippines, most think of the words, “poverty,” “domestic helpers,” or “maids,” “corruption” and “bumper to bumper traffic.” I don’t know about you, but all of these terms have negative connotations to them. That was why, when I first got here,I was actually embarrassed to say that I was from the Philippines.

I’m going to be frank here by saying that with a reputation of being chaotic and corrupt, the Philippines has a serious image problem. Not only is it known as one of the most corrupt countries around and one of the poorest countries in the Asian region, but the Philippines also ranks 118th out of 178 countries in terms of Gross Domestic Product per capita. A high 12.2% of 89.5 million Filipino people are unemployed and 10% of our Gross National Product lost to corruption and crony capitalism. Having the image of being a dangerous and dirty place doesn’t help the Philippines by much as well.

So how can you be proud of being associated to such a country where other people would react with a condescending “Oh” after finding out where you’re from?

Upon further reflection however, I realized there were far more to the Philippines than meets the eye. There are far more to the Philippines than people realize and like a diamond in the rough, the Philippines is full of surprises, showing that you can’t really judge a book by its cover.

For example, ever heard the phrase, “beauty in chaos?”

I think it describes the Philippines quite well.

And how chaotic can the Philippines be? Let’s take the traffic back home β€” it’s absolutely terrible. The last time I was home, it took us almost three hours to get home, whereas it would’ve just taken us less than 20 minutes without traffic.

However in amidst all these the commotion, the Philippines also house some of the most beautiful natural wonders in the world. It contains 4 of the top 10 best scuba diving and one of the top 5 diving beaches in the world. It’s also home to Boracay, a four-kilometer white-sand beach hailed as one of the world’s finest. Plus, with a coastline twice the length of that the United States and over with 7,107 islands available, the Philippines is arguably Asia’s beach capital and every tourist’s dream.

Aside from going to the beach, there are a lot of things you can do. For example, you can also opt to go scuba diving over wrecks in Subic Bay, observe the marine wildlife and whale sharks in Sorsogon, wander over the world heritage site, Banawe Rice Terraces which was carved from the high Cordilleras over 2,000 years ago, the Eighth Wonder of the World, and home to the largest eagle, the smallest mammal and the smallest volcano in the world, among others.

Safety-wise, most of this tropical country is laidback, stable and relatively safe. Of course, don’t don jewelries or expensive bling when you’re walking on the street, but if you just be aware and be careful, then you should be just fine. If you’d rather test fate and show off your expensive gear, don’t say I didn’t warn you but pray to God that you don’t get robbed.

Aside from the lovely sights, the thing I miss back home is the people. Perhaps due to our over 300 years of association with Spain, Filipinos are emotional and passionate about life in a way that seems more Latin than Asian. It’s amazing that despite the poverty and hardships, the Filipinos still remain very laidback and fun-loving.

I remember my dad telling me that you give a Filipino P100 (or just NT$65), and he can have fun the whole day. How? He’d wander around the malls so he can enjoy the free aircon, eat a cheap meal at the food court and maybe watch a movie. That was his idea of a perfect day. Another incidence is when we gave our houseboy a raise of P300 (or NT$200). How did he spend the whole thing? He spent the whole thing on a ride around town in a taxi — just because he’s never ridden a taxi in his whole life.

More than the usual welcome you get when visiting other countries, Filipinos are exceptionally warm friendly and are famous for being very hospitable even towards strangers.

For example, if you were to go to an unfamiliar town and rap on a door to ask for directions, it’s not uncommon for the host to invite you in for a cup of instant coffee and share a warm conversation with you before sending you on your way. When they have you as a guest in the house, most hosts will spare no expense in making sure you’re served the best, most delicious food possible before offering the master bedroom for you to sleep. Though Filipinos are known for their kinship and camaraderie, close family relations and piousness, hospitality is still what we’re famous for. Seldom can you find such people who’ll enjoy the company of foreign visitors — It’s a common denominator of the Filipino character and what distinguishes its race.

Yes, from its fascinating landscapes, active volcanoes, tropical forests, splendid beaches, and coral waters, What’s more, teamed with a group of warm and friendly people, the Philippines has a lot to offer. Yes, as Orison Swett Marden had said, “Achievement is not always success, while reputed failure often is. It is honest endeavor, persistent effort to do the best possible under any and all circumstances.” The Philippines may not be the richest country in the region or the biggest. Nevertheless, it’s managed to bring out the beauty out of the chaos and my pride for calling this place my home.

Toastmaster of the evening.

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4 thoughts on “Philippines: Love it or Hate it?

  1. i love this post! really! thanks for sharing your thoughts. the problem sometimes with many is that they only see the negatives. more often than not, they forget where they really came from and what it is really to be proud of! kudos to you for this!

  2. i just got back from manila yesterday. feels good, inspite of the warm weather and traffic. hehe it’s still home to me since all my life ive lived there. family, friends, experiences. if filipinos wont love their country, who will… =/

  3. Faye and Reeyuh, thanks for the compliment. Yes, no matter how bad the Philippines is, there’s still a lot to thank for! πŸ˜€

  4. the PH is on my list of “must visit” places. in fact, planning to go there this year. hopefully it’ll happen.

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