Der Philippinisch Charakteristische

I have Filipino blood. My family is Filipino. My family’s history (pre-birth of me) is very Filipino. Yet there is one thing I cannot understand. When Filipinos face adversity, they always find a way to smile. So, taking a stab in the dark here, most of my readers here might be Filipino, and they know what I’m talking about. But if you aren’t Filipino, I’ll give you a little background.

Currently, Metro Manila is experiencing an extreme downpour, and it’s causing massive flooding. The picture above isn’t a river, it’s in a middle of a city.

Here’s a news article

Here’s a video:

More videos here
For non-Manilans, Recto underpass is a 4-lane (or 6-lane), 3-story deep tunnel. So yeah, that isn’t a canal or a river, it’s a road.

And here’s what some Filipinos do when they have free-time (these are all in the city):

All kidding aside, Filipinos have this will smile at the face of adversity tribute, and I never understood it. I don’t have this part of being Filipino, and probably because I didn’t grow up in the Philippines during my initial cultural absorption stage. I don’t know if finding the humour in something that has affected millions of people is a good or a bad thing. As I said, I don’t really understand this smiling thing.

I’ve always been honest with how I feel and what I think, and I think that smiling or laughing at the disaster at hand is just a way to cope with the situation. It’s probably effective, but I don’t think it’s right. I’ve been called “too German” or “too honest/frank” (to which I say, “no, it’s called extreme truthfulness”) or “un-Asian like.” Yeah, I know. WTF, right?

I don’t find floods amusing. I don’t think there’s anything to smile about. I don’t think it should be taken lightly. In the video above, you could see people trying to grab the cameraman’s attention, blissfully ignoring the state of Recto underpass and the people who are near it. One of the field reporters in the video said (translated and paraphrased) “they even brought their floaters as if they were going to the resort.” And this is true. I’ve seen it myself.

Should I be proud that Filipinos can still find time to fool around while Mother Nature pummel Metro Manila with a torrent of rain? Or should I feel ashamed that Filipinos cannot take things seriously, and will only do so when a human life is at stake?

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