Category Archives: Anecdotes and humour

All packed up

This article was inspired by my parents’ first trip back to Manila, ten years after we migrated to Australia.

If there’s one enduring symbol of Filipinos all over the world, it’s the balikbayan box. Whether we’re travelling home or merely sending presents to relatives, packing these nondescript brown boxes has become a Christmas tradition for many expats.

My Aussie friends, used to exploring entire continents carrying no more than a backpack, are aghast to learn that Filipinos travel with boxes. ‘What do you put in them?’ my friends ask. I shrug. ‘Pretty much anything you can think of.’ Continue reading

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Size matters

I’m not sure how Filipinos developed this fixation with weight, but if you’ve ever been on the wrong side of the scale I think you’ll understand why this article was begging to be written.

Many people believe that asking about the weather is conversational suicide. They’’ve never had to endure a Filipino greeting.

‘Hoy, tumaba ka yata!’ (Hey, you got fat!) It’’s not exactly the first thing I want to hear after a decade of separation. Suddenly, ten years don’’t seem long enough.

Filipino women are fixated on weight. Listen in on any tsismis and inevitably someone will mention the F word: ‘fat’. If you’’re lucky, they won’’t be talking about you. Lately, it seems, my fortune has been in decline. Continue reading

Tabo by Helga Weber

Tales of the travelling tabo

I’m a self-confessed scruncher. This was also the article in which I admitted to having visited Sexpo.

There is one thing I never leave home without and it’s not my American Express. It’s the first item to go into my suitcase and the first to be unpacked. It’s on my packing checklist three times.

‘Mahal, did I pack the—‘

‘Yes!’ my husband usually groans in exasperation after hearing the same question for the umpteenth time.

‘OK, just checking…’ I rummage around for a few seconds. ‘Where? Where is it? OH, MY GOD, WHERE IS MY TABO?’ Continue reading

Faking it in the kitchen

This was my first article to appear in a print magazine, my first column piece and the first writing gig that I was actually paid for.

In my family, cooking is a tradition. Everyone has a signature dish. My specialty was burning food. Once, I forgot I was boiling water and scorched the saucepan.

I married a man who wouldn’t know a tong from a tweezer. ‘You’ll make a great cook,’ he encouraged. The words of a desperate man. I hoped the honeymoon would last long enough to survive my first meal. I was counting on love to keep us alive should dinner explode. Continue reading

The passport in my PC

I pledge allegiance to the IP and the protocols for which it stands.

I don’t do cigarettes, drugs, gambling or orgies. I do the Internet. I have to: I’m a cybercitizen.

At uni, my friends dreamt of going on safari, riding a gondola or trekking the Himalayas. I just wanted to go to Canada to see dexx, my cyber pal. I spent at least $50 a week to log on at the library and chat in the Filipino room at wbs.com. I’m convinced that taking up Computer Science—and free access to lab computers—saved me from bankruptcy.
Continue reading

Bowl of rice - Photo by kittenpuff via morgueFile

Developing an Aussie tastebud

Food is one of the cornerstones of Filipino culture.  Imagine the shock of Vegemite on toast.

Think of quintessential Pinoy cuisine and an entire feast comes to mind.  We have pancít palabok, adobo, sinigáng and, for dessert, ube, kutsintâ, and bibingka.  And that’s just for starters. When I think of quintessential Aussie food, I think of … well, Vegemite and Tim Tams.

Vegemite is a national icon.  Trust the unofficial Aussie national food to be made from by-products of beer manufacturing.  Continue reading