Filipinos’ Love For Vices (Bisyo)

This is the Sixth in this continuing series titled Filipinos Love For Bs.

Many Filipinos have told me or at least asked me (and people like me) why do we sugarcoat the Filipino or why do we not talk about the dark realities about these friendly people of the Far East.

But then, I have thought about that often enough. And almost always I tell myself, I do talk about the dark side of the Philippines or of the Filipino people.

It’s just that I talk or write about what is good about the Filipino first. Or that I say it in the context that many other people do the same or even worse, which is of course also the truth.

And that is not to justify Filipinos or to give them an excuse. That’s just the ugly truth. People are people where ever place they came from.

Innocence Or Backlash?

Many Filipinos (like many other people around the world) haven’t travelled 50 or more miles away from where they were born or grew up in. And because of this and many other factors, many people are so sheltered, so naïve, disillusioned, lived (living) a hard life, depressed, heard nothing but what’s wrong about them, were badly discriminated against or were otherwise victimized, they think their people are the worst of the worst.

And the thing is that this has made them their own worst enemy. Today, the harshest critics of the Filipino is often their fellow Filipinos themselves. And it does not help that the 7,100+ islands that make up the Philippines is way too heterogeneous (ethnically, culturally, linguistically, religiously and economically). Hence we see actual Filipinos ask their fellow Filipinos, “Who Are The Real Filipinos?”

And unlike many other Asian cultures who have seen some serious nationalism, love of country and patriotism and who have sacrificed enough to support their local products and services, the Filipino people still has a long way to go on being that solid and united for a continuing length of time to even effect a change.

And that is precisely why many if not all other Asians in their part of the world have surpassed the Philippines in many aspects of life. And I am not going to touch about the misplaced nationalism or the so-called Filipino Pride here as that is not really the answer to anything.

A World Without Filipinos

Many people around the world love Filipinos. Many people around the world admire Filipinos. Many people around the world wouldn’t survive a month without Filipinos. Although like everyone else, there are many rotten apples in the Filipino “bayong” (basket). And as human nature and nature itself takes it course, more and more apples in the “bayong” have gone rotten too.

 ARAB NEWS, June 19, 2008
ARAB NEWS, June 19, 2008

There are millions of Filipino sailors in the open seas, millions of engineers and other workers in the Middle East, Asia, Australia and the islands in the Pacific. There are millions of domestic helpers in major cities such as Hong Kong and SIngapore. There are millions of nurses, caregivers, doctors and other health professionals in the United States, Canada and across Europe. There are Filipino singers, entertainers, musicians, actors, animators, graphic designers, IT professionals, and teachers all over the world. The people from these countries wouldn't be hiring these many Filipinos if there are other people out there who could do a better job.

We may not know it but there are other people out there all over the world, who love Filipinos. I know that is hard for many Filipinos to wrap their minds in, but this is true. Now, Filipinos should probably start loving themselves but of course not until they look in the mirror and admit that there are many things about them that are just wrong and need to be changed.

Sadly many Filipinos merely practice finger-pointing and the blame-game but often forget to look at the most important person who needs to change, themselves, yes the man (woman) in the mirror.

And of course the Philippine government who pushed Filipinos to work overseas and see them sustain the Philippine economy should now give back something to these Filipino Overseas Workers and their dependents in the form of something to come back to once they do decide to come back home for good. I mean with all the experience, all the skills, all the training and everything else that they have gotten abroad, there should be a way to channel all these to something long-term such as into training the local work force, uplifting the local industries and even give the opportunites to open up businesses painlessly and specifically just for them.

But then we are not talking about all that specifically but rather we are talking about what's wrong with the Filipino themselves.

And before we start talking about what must be done to create a better Philippines, we need to talk about what is wrong with it first.

Four Vices Common To All

Filipino Vices (Mga Bisyo)

People are people and Filipinos are too. Yes even though in the distant past, Filipinos have been likened to dogs. And sadly until today, in some places that still happens. Filipinos have also been likened to pigs, also in a demeaning sort of way. But even though a small percentage of the population do eat dog meat, for practicality and cultural reasons and a few also pig out, Filipinos are not dogs and Filipinos are not pigs. They are people too, just like everyone else. Yes, notwithstanding the saying, we are what we eat. If we are then you should watch what you eat from now on.

And as I was saying, Filipinos are like everyone else. They are in many ways better, in several others average and in the rest, sure, the worst of the worst.

Four Vices (Bisyo) of the Filipinos That Interestingly Enough All Start With the Letter B

Babae (Woman)

Now in many ways, the biggest if not the most destructive vice of the Filipino is related to lust. Although I believe, this is more likely the result of a need to look macho or have an attitude of machismo. Or to project virility and strength as we can say that many Filipinos have an issue with identity and self-confidence as there are just too much timidity, passivity and lack of confidence. And many Filipinos would rather be called “Babaero” (womanizer) than be called a “Bakla” (gay, often derogatory).

“Babae” is the Tagalog word for woman. But it also means a mistress. And yes, many married Filipino (men) have been known to have kept one, two or even more of them. Just like everyone else.

A point to consider here though is that there is no divorce in the Philippines. Yes, even in this day and age, the Filipinos are still very much seriously religious and fanatic Roman Catholics. And yes even more Catholic than the Spaniards who brought the cross into the islands close to 500 years ago. And so somebody has to ask this question, what will a typical Filipino do if he needed to but cannot divorce his wife? Or vice versa of course. I know this is no excuse. And I do not advocate it. But as in everything else, there is always two sides to a coin, and this is the other side of this issue who nobody is talking about.

Note: I do not favor divorce, unless those in instances which are allowed by God’s law.

Beer

The second vice of Filipinos is related to them being naturally friendly and love the camaraderie and the company of friends and yes of family members.

And whenever Filipinos get together, they do some or all of the following:

  • they talk endlessly, they eat, they shop,
  • they criticize one another, they eat out, they watch movies,
  • they talk about their problems and try to outdo each other on who has the worse problem, they eat in, they watch a game or a sports event,
  • they gossip or talk about somebody not in their company at the moment, did I say that they eat?

And they, yes, they drink alcohol. They drink socially, they drink casually, they drink in solidarity, they drink to express sympathy with someone, they drink to try to drown away their problems. And they drink because they have done it almost every day of their lives since as far back as they can remember,

Beer is a top choice, San Miguel Beer being in the center of that as they can trace their brewing years in the islands to back to the 1890s. Although gin, scotch whisky, vodka and a few others alcoholic beverages are also well consumed.

It is also important to note that the Filipinos have a few locally made beverages which like beer and the rest they partake in, very early in the day, during the course of the entire day, at the end of a long day’s work and yes during any kind of celebration, funeral wakes included. Among the more common local concoctions are the tuba, bahal, lambanog and basi.

Baraha (Playing Cards)

The third vice would be the Baraha. And not just on cards, Filipinos would bet on and gamble on many other things. And yes, not unlike any other culture. Toss coin, dice toss, anything.

Filipinos start playing cards as early in life as is possible and they play it as often as they can. And that probably explains a lot about why the casino dealers in the Philippines are well loved by their patrons, locals and foreigners alike. They just have that long a time to practice their skills and wares. And this also explains why the Filipino (card) dealer can be seen anywhere from the casinos in Las Vegas to the casinos in Macau (Macao).

There is also a card game that Filipinos play and normally they are played when somebody dies, a newborn, an old person, man or woman, it does not matter. But anybody who dies and anywhere a wake is happening, even if it is on a sidewalk, a game of “sakla” can be legally played.

Back in the day, we have games such as "pusoy", "pusoy dos" and of course "pares-pares" and all the varieties of poker. (I know all these starts with a p, if that means anything).

Now, reluctantly I may have to add a fourth vice.

Bingo

And this would be the one that everyone knows and loves, the game of Bingo.

As far as I know, this is the only game (of chance) that even the strict Roman Catholic Church in the Philippines aren’t opposed to and even host within their local church and school grounds. And that’s saying a lot as there aren’t very many things the Philippine Catholic Church do not oppose.

Now in case you have no idea, Filipinos will bet on everything and anything. They invent new card games just for this very purpose ("tongits" anyone?).

They bet on what would be the last two digits of the score of the games of the Philippine Basketball Association (yes the local version of the NBA). And this is part of the reason for the continuing popularity of this pro sport in the country. They also bet on boxing matches, billiard games, pool, games of darts, rounds of golf and most other sports events they play and watch.

They bet on “sabong” or in cockfighting.

They bet on race horses and interestingly enough they also have a race track named Santa Ana.

They used to bet on the game of Jai Alai as well, until it was banned by the Philippine government in the 1980s. Although I heard that the high-speed game is staging a comeback if it haven’t already. Yes, just what the doctor ordered, more games to bet on.

And lastly aside from both the legal, colorum and the underground or otherwise illegal casinos and lottery games all over the archipelago, there is also the illegal numbers games of “jueteng” and “masiao” that are ever so popular to both the rich and the poor, but yes especially the masses.

And of course, a few local politicians are pushing to make "jueteng" legal. Yes, if you can't beat them, then join them. Now, if the Filipino people can only start to elect better qualified people into public office. But this is totally a different story.

Anyway, now indeed more than ever, I am all the more convinced of the Filipinos love for everything starting with the letter B.

What do you think?


Sabong: (Cock)Fight To The Death (Not for the faint of heart)

Love is like a gamble.

Sometimes you lose, other times you win.

Sometimes a windfall, other times breakeven.

But do you know what hurts?

When you see that you should have won,

but you didn't place in your bet.

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