Balikbayan Shock!

It’s been almost two weeks since this Pinay arrived in the Philippines, thank heavens her “Balikbayan shock” has subsided a bit.What is this “balikbayan shock”?Every homecoming Juan, Maria or Pedro has gone through it. It’s supposed to last for several days before finally re-adapting to the Philippine environment.So what are these things that shocked her?

The climate
It’s so humid in Manila! She wouldn’t have mind the sun’s blazing heat, after all, she’s been living in a continent which worships the sun to high heavens! The sun is what drives a European to leave his/her country of birth for a share of sunny Spain, southern France or most of Italy.
But in fairness, I dare any Filipino to go to Malaysia, Thailand or worst, Sri Lanka, and he will forever be grateful that he is living in the Philippines. Its humidity is average as compared to all these three countries. (But if we are talking about “progress”, that’s another story!)

The Texting mania
For the love of Adam, how can all these kids type, with only their thumb (and sometimes their left thumb! I swear i saw my right-handed nephew doing it this morning!) at such an unbelievable speed! Sure, they also do texting in Europe, but not as bad as here! In France, they tend to talk more on their mobile phones, which is just as annoying, especially when they are on the Metro. They don’t care if everybody around them are forced to eavesdrop on what they are chatting about. Which reminds me… the news that Emirates Airlines will soon allow mobile phone use inside their aircraft while airborne is really bad news! Of course, we still long for peace and quiet even while travelling 30,000 feet above!

I cannot fathom why, most kids of today, from 10 – 21, own a mobile phone, sometimes two (yes, two units!) …. endlessly tapping the keys, from morning till night, and even in their sleep! And when that tiny gadget rings, even if you have just heard them snoring, they will suddenly jerk, read their text message and start tapping on the spot!

the Telenovela culture
nearly all day long, lasting till late at night, GMA and ABS-CBN are showing an endless battery of soap operas! how can our government allow that? wait, i should ask, “how can parents allow that?”

but you know, if these are the only shows available on our two highly-rated free channel TV stations, then we are without doubt producing a generation of dumb Filipinos. Hello! are our students still studying? can we have a balanced type of programming please? one wherein we can watch educational shows, historical documentaries, artistic and cultural programs, travel shows showcasing the beauty of every barangay or province, and oh, so as not to be labeled a “killjoy”, then, a telenovela or two (UK has Coronation Street, France has Plus Belle La Vie).

And why can’t we follow other countries where they ban the advertisement of cigarettes and alcohol?

Did you know that in the UK and in France, each home that owns a television set is obliged to pay an annual TV license to the government. The government in turn distributes this fund among the different “free-to-air” TV stations on the condition that they (TV) have to dedicate a fixed percentage of their total programming towards children’s educational shows, cultural shows, science-related documentaries, etc. Well, i am not saying that we should pay for a tv license. But this system ( they also practice it in the US) works excellently well! Also, we won’t have to be bombarded by too much TV advertising!

the Pinoy Dream Academy

Call me “jologs” (a word i just learned from my pamangkin) but i can shout to high heavens that this show is a poor copycat of my favorite Star Academy in France! but when I discovered that Endemol, the same producer for StarAc France is also a co-producer of PDA.. hummm.. I am not surprised why most of the scripted activities of the “students” are exactly the same as what I have watched in France before I came home.

The Food
But despite all of the above, I would like to say that the Philippines is still on the top of my food heaven list! No genre of French or Italian cuisine or other gastronomical wonders could equal that of our native concoction of ampalaya, saluyot, our very own recipe of grilled bangus, sitsarong baboy, tinolang manok, litsong baboy, fishballs….. the list is endless! the kakaning Pinoy alone is a delight to nibble! (French patisserie is of a different league!).
Hey, my daily diet consists of everything fish! …… bangus, galunggong, tilapia……the taste is simply out of this world! Fish in Europe is bland! besides they are ridiculously overpriced! The most expensive, for one kilo, can already buy you a return ticket to HongKong, how’s that! Incredible but it’s true! Besides, consummable fish in Europe will soon become among the endengeared species list! flagrant overfishing by big companies who use huge industrial machines to vacuum practically all the fish in the ocean!
If only we could export some of our best seafoods to Europe, that could be our niche in conquering the European market.
Our more than 7,000++ islands give us the edge among other Asian countries.
As fish in Europe is food for the Rich, i always tell my European friends that fish in the Philippines is food for the Poor!

The young Filipino
And finally, …..may I say that i just love observing our youth of today. Everytime i go to the mall, I can’t help but notice how they are becoming more and more fashion-conscious, dressing like any ordinary European in the summer! although i wish Pinays wear more of the skirt than the overused “maong”. And most of them are still slim, despite the proliferation of fastfoods.

As to business, there are certainly an increasing number of entrepreneurs around. Countless business stands than the last time i was here. Eateries, food carts, even travel agencies advertising cheap flights to the islands, DIY shops.. and many more!

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