A nation of hypocrites? Response to ‘I’d rather go hungry’ girl

Bertrand Rodriguez Jr
We declare war almost immediately on anyone who insults our “Pinoy Pride,” yet we are also the first to downplay any positive stride that our nation has achieved

Here we go again overreacting to what one foreigner said about “US” Filipinos. Indeed, the best way to wage a war against the entire Filipino nation is to say something bad about the Philippines and Filipinos in general no matter how trivial it may seem.

Believe it or not, I actually find “eight out of the ten things” that the “I’d rather go hungry than eat Filipino food again” girl mentioned in her article about Filipino “Street” Food absolutely TRUE! I personally don’t like the kind of food I find on our busy streets and how it’s served anyway. I really don’t find it palatable and healthy. As a Filipino though, I must admit that I still do enjoy the occasional fish balls or squid balls on the street. However, I don’t go raving about these and declaring they’re the best in the world. It’s just me being Filipino loving the fish balls on the street, and I don’t expect everyone in the world to like them. (A foreigner also responded to the article. Read it here.)

When I was still a student at the Manila Science High School surviving on the little baon I had mostly to pay for my school lunch and jeepney fare, I could never make myself go to a local carinderia or buy anything from a hawker on the street on my way home even if I had money to spare. I was poor, but I’d rather starve and wait until I reach home to savor what my mother had prepared for dinner.

Let’s accept it. You could get sick from eating and drinking contaminated food and liquid. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure after all. Street food being exposed to a lot of elements is not at all the most hygienic and most healthy food you’ll find in the Philippines.

The author of the now infamous article about Filipino food is living on a US$25-a-day budget. That may already seem a lot to an ordinary Filipino, but as a traveler, you’ll really have a hard time budgeting it to cover your accommodation, airfare, other transportation costs and, of course, food, which you may not find to your liking! I’m sure seasoned travelers can live on less, but that’s already close to being a parasite to your host or hostess, which a lot of travelers are now doing to support their “jet-set” lifestyle.

As an avid traveler myself and having been fortunate enough to travel and live in several countries in 3 continents, I find the food options in our country a bit limited and too hard to stomach sometimes. 

Sweet or salty

Let’s face it. Much of our food is either sweet or salty. The sugar content is way too high to give someone an insulin shock or a sugar crash, while the salt content can really make someone’s blood pressure shoot up to stroke levels. Think of the sweet (and pseudospicy) BBQs, the different kinds of noodles we have and the different kakanin. CARBS GALORE! And yes! We do love our tuyo and danggit among many others. TOO SALTY!

Some of my foreign friends even complained about the lack of diversity in our dishes here in Manila. One of them was so disappointed to find pork in everything. Again, that’s his opinion so I’ll let him have it.

You can find many people all over the world rave every now and then about Japanese, Chinese, Italian, French or Thai food. As for Filipino food, it is not globally known. In other words, it’s not really that popular. And Agness Walewinder agrees!

I’ve been on the streets of Bangkok and enjoyed the 30-Baht Pad Thai several times. I may be partial to Thai food, but its explosion of flavors is enough to catapult it to one of the world’s best cuisines. In one dish alone, you’ll be able to taste something sweet, sour, salty and spicy. In the same dish, you’ll get to nourish your body with enough carbohydrates, proteins and fats. I honestly cannot say the same about any of our dishes.

However, I’m not going to delve deep into justifying why other cuisines are or might be better than ours. I just want to make us more aware that other people’s opinions do make sense even if they could make us cry in shame or in anger. So before we declare that “I’d rather go hungry than eat Filipino food again”-girl persona non grata (or perhaps we have already done so), let us pause for a while and take a breather. Yes! We love our food and we’re proud of it, but that doesn’t mean that it’s to everyone’s liking.

Blind patriotism

What I find really disturbing and distressing is not the article itself and how the author lambasted our street food but how Filipinos react time and time again whenever a foreigner or tourist says something negative about any facet of our Filipino-being.

Remember Claire Danes? Can’t we pause for a while and study the merits of what the author wrote first before succumbing to our blind patriotism? Our blind patriotism has always gotten ahead of us. Are we too blind to see our inherent faults? There is actually some truth to that article, and mind you the author liked the grilled chicken with what she perceived as the local sauerkraut (achara) when she was in Cebu. She’s not really that anti-Filipino food after all!

Is it really that hard, Kabayan, to accept somebody else’s opinion? Perhaps it’s the reason why we seem to find it difficult to progress as a nation, because we are often too blind to see and accept our faults, weaknesses and inadequacies. How can we possibly fix something if we cannot see that there’s something worth fixing in the first place?

We are too quick to demonize somebody, especially a foreigner, once he or she says something negative albeit true remark on our country or anything related to being Filipino. However, how often do we look at ourselves and admit that there’s indeed something wrong in all of us? We always shout “Pinoy Pride,” but do we really mean it? Or are we simply a nation of hypocrites?

We are always proud as a nation, but every time something positive is said or mentioned about our beloved Philippines we dismiss it as fallacious or worse just downright impossible. Let me give you a classic example of how Filipinos often denigrate the Philippines even while he’s shouting and defending “Pinoy Pride” all the time.

One of my friends recently shared an article on his Facebook page about how the Philippines would become the 16th largest economy in the world by 2050. I’m actually shocked at how he only got to learn this now, when I’ve already been posting this article online for the last year or so. Aside from reading amusing comments like, “Buhay pa kaya ako no’n?” or “Wow! 70-plus na ako no’n”, I was utterly disappointed and disgruntled over reading “Asus! Asa pa!”

That article and a similar article highlighting how the Philippines could be one of the next countries to watch out for in terms of economic growth were released by globally known and respected financial institutions. Yet, our “Pinoy Pride” simply scoffs at this idea as downright impossible. 

Is it too difficult to believe that we could be one of the greatest in the world someday?

We declare war almost immediately on anyone who insults our “Pinoy Pride,” yet we are also the first to downplay any positive stride that our nation has achieved.

We go about traveling around the world in our endless diaspora and proclaiming to all citizens of the world, “There’s no hope in the Philippines that’s why I’m here – that’s why I left the Philippines.” Is that “Pinoy Pride”? Why not say instead, “I’m here because I’m my country’s best export. You should be lucky to have me?”


Just like any other country in the world, the Philippines is not a perfect country, but instead of elaborating to the point of exaggerating all the conundrums our country is facing to any foreign ear, why don’t we inject a little bit of optimism that we are here for our Inang Bayan, to do our part in nation building no matter how small or how hard it might be?

After all, a nation defines itself not just in how it valiantly defends itself against its enemies but more so in how it prides itself on its achievements no matter how trivial they may be.

The idea of the Philippines becoming the 14th or 16th largest economy in the world by 2050 still might be a long and arduous journey ahead, but the success of the prediction depends on how Filipinos think of themselves in general.

If we continue to lose hope and faith in ourselves and simply succumb to pessimism and cynicism, then by all means let us simply continue our diaspora all over the world, so that one day the Philippines as a nation would just be a thing of the past.

If, on the other hand, we feel that this is possible and work religiously and tirelessly with other Filipinos to make it a reality, then the Philippines can regain its rightful spot in the community of nations. Most of us might no longer be alive by then, but we do owe it to future generations of Filipinos, so it must be done.

And perhaps on that glorious day, everyone will be liking Filipino food too! – Rappler.com 

Aside from being an OFW for the past 7 years, Bertrand is also an OFP, a proud Overseas Filipino Patriot, who remains true to his Filipino roots and identity no matter where he goes and resides. He is an educator by profession and an aspiring writer and businessman. He hopes to retire as a philanthropist someday.


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