I have been asked…

by Evans Yonson

Barcelona – teaching english to spanish people is a very rewarding job (not monetarily though) for someone like me. the profession, wherever it may be, offers more than that. it is the psychological rewards that go with the preparation and delivery, which make teaching young and adult a more satisfying one.

i have shared some anecdotes and experiences with you about my classes. but if there’s one unifying factor that unites these experiences, it is the question – what are the similarities and differences between the philippines and spain have?

whew!!! i get this question more from my young learners than the adult ones. it is a surprise to me how these young minds are so interested about my background, my country, my color, my languages, my religion, etc.

A ride in the remote towns means a social experience.

we are a unique culture. just like any other country, the philippines has its own peculiar features that make totally different from the rest of the world. we had 333 years of spanish occupation, almost 50 years of american rule, a few years of japanese and british governance. the chinese were already trading with the filipinos more than 200 years before magellan set foot in the philippines in 1521.

A small tricycle can fit in twelve persons. We always have a way of taking in everyone as much as possible. Everybody happy, always.

our food is a fusion of spanish, american, japanese, chinese cuisine. but each region has its own local culinary features. we may identify adobo as something filipino, preparing it in cagayan valley is completely different from those of the  mindanaoans. dinuguan in laguna and bicol is an entirely different dinuguan in cebu. or take suman in luzon, it is almost always eaten with sugar or mango but in cagayan de oro, we eat it with bread as a sandwich.

rice is taken from breakfast to dinner and even in snacks. fried rice with eggs and chorizo for breakfast. puto (rice cake) for midmorning snacks. lunch with adobo and rice. late afternoon merienda is champorado on a rainy day with fried dried fish. rice with any viand during dinner. and if you’re still up after midnight, tapsilog is the best option.

The freshest catch can bring the whole island together.

religion (i.e., Christianity) is strong in the Philippines. an estimated 81% of the 92 million Filipinos are practicing Catholics. by practicing, i mean we go to church regularly. we attend almost all possible rituals of the Church. more than 10% are Christians, 5% are Muslims and the rest practice other religions. before the rediscovery of the philippines, the natives were already practicing a religion, as evidenced by the leaders of the past, Lapu-lapu (an indigenous religion), Rajah Sulayman (Islam).

because the philippines is an archipelago, we’re not only separated by water, we are also divided by our languages and dialects, 171 all.

we also have 4 seasons – a hot dry season (march – may) ; a hot wet season (june – september); cold wet season(october – december) ; and, the cold dry season (january – february).

not all filipinos are brown. because of interracial marriages, we have become the world. because of our contacts with other races and given our indigenous backgrounds, some have remained brown. others are dark. some pale.

Our weddings are fun and serious at the same time. Some are tall. Some are small. Some are big. Some are dark. Some are yellow. But we are all beautiful.

when i say these things to my students, they realize that we are indeed a different and an entirely different race.