Philippines vs. The World # 1
Disclaimer: This post is not meant to offend anyone. I just like the sound of ‘Philippines vs. The World’, but it’s not meant to have any kind of negativity whatsoever. I just wanna write down my observations and compare it with my country. Plus, I love the world; so, peace.
Like I said before, I am starting to realize and learn a lot of things here in HK. Now, I am totally convinced that I chose the right country and school to go to. I chose Hong Kong because first, I cannot afford Europe. Second, scholarships were available here. Third, I heard from a friend who came here that this university has an awesome exchange student program and you have like 200 exchange students from tons of different countries. She was right. I think right now we’re around 280 exchange students and their countries of origin range from Lithuania to Kazahkstan to US to Australia to Taiwan. What is diverse? Haha. So yes, I feel like I’m getting the best of both worlds here. I’m not so far from the Philippines but I am experiencing cultures so different from me at the same time. Doesn’t get better than that, so for that, I am very thankful.
Cutting the intro short since I’ve nothing else to say, let us begin. Haha.
Banana. I learned the concept of banana here for the first time from a German friend. So the basic idea is that bananas are yellow on the outside and white on the inside and from what I understood so far it could have two meanings: 1) an Asian who simply grew up in the West and 2) an Asian who may or may not have grown up in the west but acts and looks ‘so Western’. And now that I’m writing about it, they always use it for Asian girls. I’ve never heard anyone using it on Asian guys, maybe it’s just for girls? No idea. Anyway, so yeah you get the point. It’s basically an Asian looking person (who is Asian) who is Western on the inside. I found it pretty interesting. So the negative part of the banana I guess is these Asian girls who have tons of makeup and who dresses so… I don’t know how to call it, differently? Well, whatever, I’ve always believed it’s their choice so maybe I’ve no problem with that (most of the time). And I really thought about this. I mean, I love the whole American pop culture scene, I think, and I know so many people who love it too. The TV shows, the music, the movies, the actors, the clothing brands. And honestly, I’d totally pick US shows over Filipino shows and US movies over Filipino movies (there are exceptions, of course). Plus, it has always been “cool” to like these things and most of the time, the semi-rich to rich people are the ones who love it, so everyone just goes ahead and loves it too; but I can’t deny either that these shows are great, some are even awesooome (e.g. Vampire Diaries!!!), so does this make me a banana? And more importantly, what does it mean if it makes me (and almost all my friends) a banana? Is it a good thing, is it a bad thing? Well, at least I can say that I don’t believe that things are simply just black and white. Almost nothing is like that, maybe just in science and stuff, but almost never in everything else.
Oh, and of course, the accent thing! You may not believe it (and I’ve made so many of my friends laugh about it already) but there are a significant number of local and exchange students here who guess that I’m from the US. Yes, I can hear you laughing right now and yes I know what you’re thinking, but I’m really not kidding. They actually think that. They say that because my ‘accent’ and my English is so good that they think that. This is not a new thing, I’ve heard it before when I went to Singapore and what other reason is there for the presence of tons of call centers in the country. And they ask us if the medium of instruction of our home university is in English and all I could think of was of course. I thought it was like that for all countries – I was so wrong. Ako na ang clueless. I thought of which subjects were taught in Filipino in the Philippines and it dawned on me that well, there’s Filipino and Social Science (not even always), we said that and again, they were shocked. Apparently they learn in their native language. I even have this German friend who has to bring a pocket dictionary and his phone to translate what the teacher is saying. He switches from his notebook to the powerpoint to his phone to his pocket dictionary. I just cannot imagine how that must feel like. He shared that the finance terms are in German in his university, and now that’s the shock for me. I cannot imagine Accounting or Finance or Math being taught in Filipino. The image and the idea of having to do that is sooo alien(?) to me.
Then I remember debates about this subject. To learn or to not learn things in our native language? People argue that learning things in our native language is much easier for students since they don’t have to learn English and translate and stuff. Arguments for being nationalistic always come out too and yes I think it’s kinda true. I mean, come on, people think it’s so cool when you speak English, hence the term conyo (don’t know the spelling), and that’s strange for other countries because they love their language. And speaking of, I remember one night in the park. Another German guy (yes there’s a huge group of Germans here haha) and a local student were arguing about educational systems in Europe and in China. He says that he thinks if local students here did not have to learn an infinite number of characters (seriously, they have a LOT of characters) and instead just had to learn 26 letters of the alphabet, then maybe they can spend their time on more ‘worthwhile’ things and become awesome scientists and advance their country and things like that. The local student then argues that a lot of scientists in US and in Europe are Asians, etc. etc. And so the argument goes on, but I feel like I’m more convinced of the German guy, but that’s just the thing.
I feel like I agree with this German guy because I grew up trying to learn English and learning that speaking English is awesome. I learned English by watching US cartoons, then TV shows (Oh Disney and Nickelodeon) then movies. I know the meaning behind phrases such as ‘show up’, ‘what say you’, etc which does not make sense to some Europeans here because I very much grew up with these phrases and is still growing up with them. And so everyone tells me here that it’s good that I know English. Everyone agrees that it’s very good and it’s very practical and some say they wish they can speak English as good as we can but of course there’s the cheesy nationalistic side that slams the fact that there are tons of Filipino words that are meaningless to me even if they’re not that deep in my face.
I feel this topic is so out of my league and on any other occasion I would never write about this. I never write about “serious” things likes this, I mean I write light happy mababaw things. Haha. But this really made me think. I feel like I’m a banana in a way, you know. And if I am, I know so many other bananas back home. I just don’t know what to make of that. I don’t know, you tell me.
Philippines vs. The World. I just have to so many observations here and I again I can’t help but compare things here (and things I learn from different people from different countries) with things in the country. This banana topic is one and I have other stuff I’d like to write about next time – so yeah. I’m trying to make it like a series of blog posts about this. Yeeees, feeling blogger na talaga ako. Pagbigan please.
But I think you are a strong person.