When I was younger, I was embarrassed by all of the things that my family did because we were Filipino; other kids were quick to point out that these things were not “normal.”
For example, most of my friends took baths. Based on TV commercials, adults took showers. In my family, we filled a small basin of water and took a “bath” from that. Once I became aware of this discrepancy, I told my mom I wanted to take baths. The conversation would go something like this:
Me: I want to start taking baths. All my friends are doing it.
Mom: No. That’s a waste of water.
Me: But you want me to fill the sink with water when I do dishes instead of letting the water run. Isn’t that like giving the dishes a bath?
Me: What about showers?
Mom: No. Still too much water.
Then one day I realized that she couldn’t stop me from taking a shower so I started doing it anyway.
There were a lot of other things that my family did that made me feel different from my friends. Little did I know, other Filipino families were doing the exact same things; it wasn’t abnormal at all!
These days I take pride in these shared experiences. I’m sure my Filipino friends and family could come up with more items, but this is what came to mind just off the top of my head:
- multiple variations of the Last Supper, Virgin Mary, Crucifix, Rosary, and Nativity Scene all over the house
- kitchens with a gigantic spoon and fork for decor
- food eaten with your fingers or a normal-sized spoon and fork, but no knife
- rice, garlic, soy sauce, and fish sauce (patis) for every meal
- fish with body intact, including head
- roasted pig (lechon) with body intact, including head
- a Karaoke machine
- gigantic straw mats big enough for an entire family to sleep on
- floor space large enough for line dancing
- lots of uncles and aunts that you aren’t actually related to
Recently I met up with one of my Filipino friends for our annual get-together and she said that she was looking for a gigantic spoon and fork for her kitchen. What a great idea! Instead of comfort food, it’s sort of like comfort decor.
Maybe I can ask my parents to give me a set for Christmas.