10 Not-So Secrets of America

Three months. I have been here three months.

It has been fun except on days when I miss my family and friends... and fish balls... and pirated DVDs.

It has also been enlightening. This is the first time I actually get to "live like a local" and along with it are some discoveries about the American culture.

#1 They don’t iron their clothes

My mother irons everything ESPECIALLY underwear. It touches our most sensitive part, she wants to make sure those germs die before we put it on. She would puke at the barbaric habit of Americans wearing unironed clothes. Nope, that won’t fly with my Mom.

#2 They need to be careful with their adverb of manner & adjectives

I was in a car with my friends and they all started complaining about the horrible traffic in 101. We were moving, 10 miles per hour and they call it “horrible traffic.” I wanted to scream, ‘101 got nothing on EDSA boy!’

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#3 They get more diseases because they are too clean

Bring these people to EDSA and they will most likely drop dead in 10 minutes. Their lungs are simply not used to inhaling gazillions of airborne virus caused by our excellently maintained busses and jeepneys and undiagnosed viruses coughed out by malnourished people walking around. Filipino lungs are badass man! We have millions of people travelling everyday, riding those open jeepneys running alongside 20-year-old buses and cars that emit smoke that are so black, the devil will be put to shame… and we breathe in and out like we’re in an Amazon forest. We eat those street foods that have been prepared and cooked out in the open as if they are grilling organic barbeques in the middle of a Caribbean forest. And it tastes uh freakin mazing.

#4 Their food is horrible… oh! Horrendous!

Now I know why the West raged war just to get their hands on Asia’s spices because their food is horrendous. We pay $20 for a barbeque that tastes like paper… an organic paper. These people need to learn how to use pepper, salt and lemon. I feel like that they just grab a live chicken, kill it, and roast it… or fry it. For the love of effin’ gawd. America, meet salt and pepper. I miss the days when I could find Mauel L. Quezon in my pocket and still end up having the best meal of the week. Here, I could spend $50 for some freakin’ gourmet food that our [askal] dog would puke at.

#5 One Hour Travel Time is Unforgivable

My work is a bus ride away. It’s an hour 20 minutes, one way. Whenever people learn of it, they look at me like I just lost an arm and a leg or something. It is unfathomable to them how I could possible travel 2 hours and 40 minutes everyday. They can’t believe there is actually someone who would subject themselves through that. Do take note that this is one ride. I don’t transfer busses. The bus arrives more or less on time (by Philippine standards). When I stand by the road to wait for the bus, cars that pass by don’t belch polluted smoke. And it’s cold, so I don’t perspire. Well, America. An hour 20 minutes on the road in the Philippines is a good day. No, it’s an excellent day. And yet, they pity my fate. Oh poor me.

#6 Americans Know How to Fight Hold “Uppers”

In the areas where I go, I don’t worry about some amateur hold up gang getting on to ask for our money. It would be extremely foolish for them to do that because Americans don’t carry cash. If hold-up men take debit cards and credit cards, people can reach for their phone, call their banks and ask them to block their ATM. I actually go around carrying a couple of $1 bills and a couple of quarters. Regular bus riders buy a monthly pass card. If someone gets on the bus and announces a hold up, everyone will look at him and say, “Dude, you might as well kill us because we’ve got nothing to give you… not even if we try.”

#7 Their Politeness is More Sincere

Pinoys are known for being friendly and accommodating but I have a feeling it is motivated by our inferiority complex. We are eager to please people, make them feel welcome because we feel their interest is more important than ours. We give them food even if it means we have nothing left for us. It’s our way of saying, “Please like me.” Americans are polite because it is common humanity to be polite but never at their own expense. They won’t be polite if it is inconvenient to them. They don’t feel the need to offer food to their visitors. They don’t feel vthe need to provide their guests with anything that will cause them inconvenience.

#8 If They Crash To Poverty, It’s Because They Throw Away Everything They Have

If they have leftover food, they throw it because if they give it away, they might get sued if the person ends up having allergic reaction to one of the ingredients or, God forbid, they burn their tongue because the food is “too hot”. If they don’t like their TV anymore, they throw it. If they don’t like their jacket anymore, they “donate” it. If they don’t like their sofa anymore, they leave by the street for anyone to pick. Restaurants throw away every ingredient they didn’t use for the day and unconsumed food they pre-cooked. There’s like an entire province in Asia that you could feed with that!

#9 They Owe Asians

Who washes their clothes? Asians. Who cleans their houses, hotels, and offices? Asians. Who develop drugs to cure their diseases? Asians. Who employs them? Asians.

#10 Their culture is anchored on comfort

Maybe it’s the weather. It’s a cold country. It makes them lazy. They like everything easy. They want things to be within walking distance from where they live even though they will always drive, from schools to malls. They don’t like living their homes except to have fun. They don’t like getting up from bed or staying away from their bed too long. So they invented machines with buttons they can push to heat their food, wash their clothes, dry their clothes and clean their house. They don’t like explaining themselves too much, so they developed a system of ‘privacy’ where even people in your own home can’t enter your room even if that other people actually own the home you are living in. I don’t know if I will ever be “American enough” to leave some of the values and customs I lived for 33 years BUT it has been fun getting to know the American life. Let’s see what 2014 awaits.


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