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Credit: Hans Olav Lien / Wikimedia

Like every other country, the Philippines is subject to a myriad of stereotypes. From its post-colonial image as an uncivilized nation, to its highly sought pristine beaches, and its image as a poverty-stricken country, this country has a mixed reputation that has often preceded its people.

These stereotypes have been widely documented. A 2014 study titled “Filipinos Depicted in American Culture,” states that Filipinos in the early 20th century (a period when the country was under American occupation) were often dehumanized and depicted as treacherous savages, or portrayed as innocent children in political comics. …


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Philippine surfing is at once a haven for virgin beaches and a sensational hotspot for wannabes and experts from around the world. Sure, there’s Waikiki, San Diego, or the Gold Coast — but being a large tropical archipelago has its perks, particularly in possessing a treasure trove of scattered surf spots quite unlike anywhere else. Yet few would know that the origins of Philippine surf culture would come from a Vietnam War-era Hollywood film.

The Apocalypse Now Connection

Released in 1979, Apocalypse Now is regarded as one of the most powerful war films ever made, yet it was also a production said to have paved the way for Philippine surf culture. Set in Vietnam, the Francis Ford Coppola-directed film was actually shot in the northern town of Baler, then a fishing town known more as the site of a major Spanish colonial siege. …


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To be a tourist in the Philippines is marketed as an exciting experience, where one is constantly surrounded by beach parties and town fiestas amid its 7,107 islands — so much so that the Department of Tourism’s tagline is known as “It’s More Fun In The Philippines”. But beyond the scenery, sunbathing, and the suckling pigs lies the country’s ecotourism sector — an emerging form of travel other major destinations such as Costa Rica, Norway, and New Zealand have become known for.

Yet in recent news, the images seem to be disappointing, as Boracay, a popular beach destination, had been closed down by the government for six months. This comes as an effort to rehabilitate its deteriorating environment, scarred by the violations of hotels, nightclubs, and other business establishments that dot the island. In turn, one can hope to see a breakthrough as the government reshapes the island’s ecological and economic practices, going beyond its reputation as a tourism cash cow into a true beach paradise. …


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How do Filipinos celebrate their country’s independence? Can one witness massive festivities in red, white, yellow, and blue — just like how America celebrates the 4th of July? Or are celebrations increasingly becoming more low-key, offering numerous opportunities for patriotic fervor? Whatever the case, Philippine Independence Day offers an interesting look into the nation’s relatively short yet tumultuous history, colorful traditions, as well as the attitudes of Filipinos towards their country.

More than a century has passed since the Philippines was declared free, sovereign from the 333-year long rule of Spain by their very first President Emilio Aguinaldo. Much has certainly changed, as Filipinos continue to reap the benefits of independence, and democracy achieved decades before. Today, celebrations are splintered, ranging from serious political ceremonies, to more lighthearted online tributes to Philippine history. …


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Cambio & Co. founders Jérôme Gagnon-Voyer and Gelaine Santiago. (Photo Credit: Jessica Hoang)

Is it possible for creativity to empower beyond the individual? For Cambio & Co., it’s already being done, as they bridge sustainable Filipino fashion to a wider international market.

We’ve all heard about Philippine design making a name for itself all over the world, from the beautiful furniture pieces of Kenneth Cobonpue, to the fabulous creations of Michael Cinco, whose creations have graced the red carpets of the Golden Globes and the Cannes Film Festival.

It’s now becoming more and more obvious that Filipino-driven creativity is making a difference, especially in boosting the country’s profile in more prestigious circles. Yet with the work of Cambio & Co., a Canada-based fashion social enterprise, they are proving that Philippine design not only stands for excellent product quality, but also a better quality of life for Filipinos as well. …


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Come to the Philippines for a while and you’ll notice that we’ve got 2 distinct seasons — dry (from late March to Mid-June, and December to February) and rainy (the rest of the year). But recently, those distinctions seem to blur into something more like hot and hotter, especially as climate change seems to make our summers a lot more sweltering.

Yes — right now, summer is in full swing, with schools closed and children playing on the street, gravitating towards the delightful sound of the sorbetes cart once it comes near. …


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The Chans, a Filipino-American family on The CW’s Crazy Ex-Girlfriend. (Credit: Crazy Ex-Girlfriend Wikia / The CW)

Filipinos are rarely seen in Hollywood. Growing up (as a Pinoy living in the Philippines), I found it particularly interesting to see someone with a familiar-sounding surname put on the international spotlight.

Watching U.S. shows on cable, my family and I would exclaim “They said ‘the Philippines!’” or “Pinoy, o!” when we heard something related to our country. Usually it was a sports feature on Manny Pacquiao. Or less frequently, an entertainment clip about Lea Salonga. …


The Philippines has plenty of problems — well-documented at that. Yet in the midst of the poverty, politics, and calamities, Filipinos seem to always see the silver lining.

One great example of this would be the country’s handling of Haiyan, the strongest typhoon to ever hit land — which was doubtlessly one of the biggest tragedies in the country’s history. But amid the rubble, images of smiling, and even laughing survivors were seen across the world — putting into light the inherent optimism many Filipinos seem to carry.

As recently as in 2017, the country ranked as third happiest in the world, according to Gallup International’s 41st Annual Global End Of The Year survey. In that specific survey, Filipinos were asked: “In general, do you personally feel very happy, happy, neither happy nor unhappy, unhappy or very unhappy about your life?” About 86% answered they were happy, 2% unhappy, and about 10% answering neither. …


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What does a country’s craftsmanship signify? The first thing that comes to mind is its longstanding traditions, as the result of an artistic heritage handed down through centuries. In the Philippines, these certainly hold true — with the country being a known exporter of everything from mats, baskets, and ethnic fabrics all over the world. Yet in hindsight, this might also signify a lower sense of economic importance.

In a study conducted by Erasmus University Rotterdam in the Netherlands, they describe the emergent thought of craftsmanship being deemed a lower art form compared to conceptual innovation in higher-income nations.

“The educational systems in developed countries sanctified intellectual intelligence and looked down on manual skills. In the arts conceptual innovation had overtaken craftsmanship as the core competence.” In other words, highly unique and conceptual products (including everything from haute couture to smartphones) proved to be of higher value than mere souvenir goods. …


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How is Filipino cuisine right now? It’s an interesting question one could think about — what with various food favorites like fast-food chain Jollibee, lechon and adobo being put on the spotlight thanks to hosts and celebrity chefs such as Andrew Zimmern and Anthony Bourdain.

For instance, Zimmern once predicted that Filipino cuisine would become the next big thing. Vogue.com, on the other hand, called Filipino food “the next great American cuisine” — all thanks to the slew of modern restaurants popping up all over the country. (Think of Bon Appetit-featured eatery Bad Saint in Washington D.C, …

About

Rence Garcia

Rence is a copywriter by day and an aspiring novelist by night. He’s also a contributor to Humaling (http://humaling.com), a blog on Philippine culture.

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