Sunday, June 8, 2014

Helpful Filipino Traits

Filipinos ('Pinoys') at Everest BC. Mostly GMA7 media crew.

There are notable Pinoy habits, traits, skill or style  that sometimes help us cope up with the challenges of the great outdoors.  Or even boost satisfaction or enjoyment! 
Here are my few takes:

      1. Mahilig kumain” (loves to eat). Good food boosts morale. Good appetite means better survival, or even performance. Our taste buds are dictated by 2 things: kanin (rice) and ulam (viand).  While western (or westernized) climbers prefers freeze dried goodies, or lots of ‘energy packs’ like gu, gel, etc. – if we can get hold on some steamy rice and viand – we’d naturally go for it.  Tropical camping will always dictate a laborious effort of cooking rice and dishes, not to mention carrying packs of rice and preserved meat.  Yes, even for trips longer than 3 days. In my Everest expedition, we have boxes of food supply.  We had 4 kinds of dried fishes, assortment of Pinoy canned goods, but more importantly – a Sherpa cook that was trained to cook Filipino dishes.  According to my lead guide then, “no appetite, no food, no energy, no summit..”  And heeding his advice, I started to eat a lot after the cook started preparing ‘better meals’ of Adobo, Sinigang, Beef steak, Tinola and other Filipino dishes.  Sarap!

       2. Mahilig magdaldalan” (talkative).  While sometimes, we prefer to listen to the natural sound, there will be times that the ‘eeriness of quietness’, or perhaps the sound of the elements (wind, torrential rains, thunder) are better covered up with cheers or laughter.  And Pinoys are good at exchanging endless jokes and funny ‘barber’s stories’.  Being a lonely-Pinoy in a diverse group are at times, challenging in terms of creating this light and fun environment.  I was just lucky to be in the presence of equal wackos once in a while.
      3. “Laging nakatawa” (always smiling).  Maybe it’s in our genes to be simply happy or contented. Smile makes other feel better or more optimistic.  I’ve seen a few Pinoy exceptions of course, but the general Pinoys-in-the-great-outdoor were always positive and smiling even in miserable conditions.  It helped boost morale, it helped me coped up with difficulties, it gave everyone hope. 
       4. We speak English.  In whatever form or proficiency level.  In our local mountains, we could be speaking in Filipino, Bisaya, or other language or dialect.  But outside, we adapt and use English most of the time.  Perhaps occasionally a Filipino-style English, but comprehensible nonetheless. I used to think (and still do sometimes) that being in a diverse, multinational group – I’d be at the bottom in terms of language proficiency.  An old,  pre-conyo” era thinking.   But in reality, among numerous nationalities in a group, we’d most likely be at the top 10% of good English-speaking dudes.  Speaking a common language (and English would be an inevitable first choice) – is key to better understanding and team effectiveness. And enjoyment.  I've experienced being in a big group where some members don't mingle at all because of language barrier.  Somehow, some cultures expect that other people in the universe can and should speak their language.
      5. We’re generally sociable.  Maybe shy at times, but sociable. We get along well with people. We like to party.  Really, we even welcomed Magellan’s Spanish convoy and showered him with parties.  It was just bad (for him) to be later involved in a skirmish between 2 warring tribes (wherein Lapu-Lapu’s men eventually ‘got’ him w/ their bamboo spears penetrating through his armor seams).  I’ve seen travelers or climb team members being more reserved, and I don’t think it was only because of a language constraint.  Being more sociable contributes to better team bonding - and overall, trip satisfaction. 

      6. “Matiisin” (high tolerance to discomfort).  This is true for the majority of the population especially those in the middle and below-middle in economic capability scale.  This high tolerance in discomfort is one very important trait in mountaineering and other outdoor sports.  I’ve seen people quit because they couldn’t manage the ‘bad experience’ - the bad food or living condition.  Well, those ‘bad’ things are pretty normal in the outdoors, and patience and high tolerance to nuisances are keys to successful trips.

While these may be common traits of other nationalities, especially well-traveled  individuals, somehow – there’s still that distinctive ‘angle of difference’ that made some of these traits very Pinoy.

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