Friday, November 11, 2011

WHERE'S THE PATIS?

WHERE'S THE PATIS?
By Carmen Guerrero Nakpil

Travel has become the great Filipino dream. In the same way that an American dreams of becoming a millionaire or an English boy dreams of going to one of the great universities, the Filipino dreams of going abroad. His most constant vision is that of himself as tourist.
To visit Hongkong, Tokyo and other cities of Asia, perchance, to catch a glimpse of Rome, Paris or London and to go to America (even if only for a week in a fly-specked motel in California) is the sum of all delights.
Yet having left the Manila International Airport in a pink cloud of despedidas and sampaguita garlands and pabilin, the dream turns into a nightmare very quickly. But why? Because the first bastion of the Filipino spirit is the palate. And in all the palaces and fleshpots and skyscrapers of that magic world called "abroad" there is no patis to be had.
Consider the Pinoy abroad. He has discarded barong tagalong or "polo" for a sleek, dark Western suit. He takes to the habiliments from Hongkong, Brooks Brothers or Savile Row with the greatest of ease. He has also shed the casual informality of manner that is characteristically Filipino. He gives himself the airs of a cosmopolite to the credit-card born. He is extravagantly courteous (specially in a borrowed language) and has taken to hand-kissing and to plenty of American "D'you minds?"
He hardly misses the heat, the native accents of Tagalog or Ilongo or the company of his brown-skinned cheerful compatriots. He takes, like a duck to water, to the skyscrapers, the temperate climate, the strange landscape and the fabled refinements of another world. How nice, after all, to be away from good old R.P. for a change!
But as he sits down to meal, no matter how sumptuous, his heart sinks. His stomach juices, he discovers, are much less neither as apahap nor lapu-lapu. Tournedos is meat done in a barbarian way, thick and barely cooked with red juices still oozing out. The safest choice is a steak. If the Pinoy can get it well done enough and sliced thinly enough, it might remind him of tapa.
If the waiter only knew enough about Philippine cuisine, he might suggest venison which is really something like tapang usa, or escargots which the unstylish poor on Philippine beaches know as snails. Or even frog legs which are a Pampango delight.
But this is the crux of the problem  where is the rice? A sliver tray offers varieties of bread: slices of crusty French bread, soft yellow rolls, rye bread, crescents studded with sesame seeds. There are also potatoes in every conceivable manner, fried, mashed, boiled, buttered. But no rice.
The Pinoy learns that rice is considered a vegetable in Europe and America. The staff of life a vegetable!
And when it comes  a special order which takes at least half an hour  the grains are large, oval and foreign-looking and what's more, yellow with butter. And oh horrors! - one must shove it with a fork or pile it with one's knife on the back of another fork.
After a few days of these debacles, the Pinoy, sick with longing, decides to comb the strange city for a Chinese restaurant, the closest thing to the beloved gastronomic county. There, in the company of other Asian exiles, he will put his nose finally in a bowl of rice and find it more fragrant than an English rose garden, more exciting than a castle on the Rhine and more delicious than pink champagne.
To go with the rice there is siopao (not so rich as at Salazar) pancit guisado reeking with garlic (but never so good as any that can be had on the sidewalks of Quiapo) fried lumpia with the incorrect sauce, and even mami (but nothing like the down-town wanton)
Better than a Chinese restaurant is the kitchen of a kababayan. When in a foreign city, a Pinoy searches every busy sidewalk, theatre, restaurant for the well-remembered golden features of a fellow-pinoy. But make it no mistake.


9 comments:

  1. Personal insights: Well I love this literary piece since it is written by a Filipino writer and the idea of the author revolves in Filipino culture and was compared with American culture.

    It is a story of a Filipino citizen who missed the Filipino delicacy, culture and traditions. One of the reasons why I chose this piece since the certain person is trying to adapt the American culture even if he really wants to practice the usual culture that he have here in the PINAS (Philippines).

    I can relate since I am once a little girl of my dad who always follow his rule and sometimes being scolded and as time goes by I became mature and no longer my daddy's little girl and needs to adapt the new rules and decisions I have to made for myself, the thing here is I really miss my dad's advices and statements which mold me to be this individual today.

    Just to share there was one time I wrote a letter because I was upset since I was not able to buy a new set of dress because they were so busy and unexpectedly my daddy replied explaining the things I need to accept in order to understand what life is, and in the last part he said "he love me forever and he will never get tired supporting me throughout my journey" it's just although we need to adapt the new set of traits and changes I still miss the old me in my daddy's lap and sharing each other stories while combing my hair. <3

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  2. Nemine’s output shows how Filipinos can sacrifice their own time and wants in life in going abroad just to help their families left in the Philippines. It reminds me also of how proud I am to be a FILIPINO. Indeed, it is also a big challenge to adjust of the things or the culture that what we used to have like what had happened to a Filipino in the story. If I am in the shoes of this Filipino, I will also experience what he had experienced like when he compares the food, clothes and culture of Filipinos to foreign cultures. It will be very hard for me also if I am with his situation.

    But experience is our best teacher in life and I admire Nemine for adapting new rules and decisions in her life and she became mature because of it. Like her I can say that I am a papa's girl who sometimes being scolded also by not following his rules in the house but my father told me that he is not angry with me, he just love me in the way that he only knew. He just want me to realize what are my mistakes and be mature to understand what he did to me.

    Thanks Nemine for being an inspiration to remind me these things.Your piece of literature contains a meaningful point of view in life which can influence me.

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  3. It is true that a person can hardly adapt to a certain tradition and culture for he/she is unaccustomed to it. There are lots of adjustments to be done just to acquire the new environment where we in.
    But life is a changing process and there are no other things which is constant except change. Is is good to explore new things and to acquire new customs but we must not forget where we came from which is the reason of what we are today. Changes are not bad it's just depends on us on how we acquire things that are beneficial to our growth as individual and as a rational being.
    This literary piece will serves as an eye opener and it reminds me that even if we are trying to adapt things, our real personality will still remains as we go on through our own journey..

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  4. The story is such very interesting, since that it talks about the Filipino who went abroad just to help their loves here in the Philippines.

    I could understand Filipinos wouldn't actually have a choice like that because a lot from back home depends on them so they'll just take whatever comes their way. For all we know it could mean the future of their family or something. Some of their families in the Philippines would understand that their love ones who are working abroad are actually sacrificing a lot to give them a better lifestyle and they should be more appreciative of it. They don't actually pick up money around the street.

    It is not different for Filipinas who are married to foreign men and some professionals. They actually have better lives abroad. They can afford to do things and buy things they want and enjoy their lives.

    We all know that it is not easy to leave someone you love, but for their own goodness we will do and sacrifice everything just to give what they want and provide their needs.

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  5. Change and Sacrifice is a part of our dreams that we should all be willing to do. To release the things that may hinder our dreams are natural factors that will come across. There is nothing to fear about losing them, because new things are to come, and we should embrace it as we embrace the old things we released before.

    However, it will remain as a part of our lives, as an additive element that comprises our whole being. It may be gone as a thing but its purpose and its product will remain in ourselves as we venture new things.

    It is like the main person in the story where he is comparing and misses his habitat in the Philippines, he is already tasting his dream, yet; unable to savor the flavor because he is not yet ready to release his connection with the past. It was good that he really strove hard in order to get to that dream and later on had realized that he will never be happy with that decision. At least, he was able to discover that he can't be far with his country.

    Old things matter. Because it played a big role of our existence. It will never be rotten and be withered because it is all a living replica of our development. This simply means that all the things that has gone to us will permanently be unseen but will be a companion for everything.

    It is an eternal and everlasting factor that is a gush forth that will remind us of how we were mold.

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  6. Change and Sacrifice ARE parts of our dreams that we should all be willing to do (supposedly, this is grammatically good, sorry for that). :D

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  7. Our dream place, our ideal place, and the best place we could imagine is in abroad. Almost of the students study hard for their greatest aspiration of going abroad, to travel new places, and thinking of earning dollars there. Despite in all of this we still don’t know what lies in us when we go abroad, aside from the culture shock is the difference of cuisine being served in every restaurants, like in the story chosen by Angel, he desperately find foods which tastes even little “pinoy” style but none of those are good enough.

    The story Where’s the Patis shows that not all beautiful things and places that we see are admirable because still the best place is in the most comfortable and livable place where we find joy and belongingness, it’s our own country.

    Yes, it’s also an adventure and a new journey to go abroad but it’s not going to be that easy because first you also need to sacrifice the presence of your family, friends, and loved ones, then you need to embrace another world that seemed to be so alien to you. Going to abroad doesn’t mean that when you come back you immediately become rich, actually that’s the wrong notion of Filipino’s that is why even if how hard many still tried and to see their fate their.

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  8. Hi there Nemine. Even though I haven't experienced going abroad and have a sense of that Filipino food cravings,still, it presents the idea how Overseas Filipino Workers strive to fight the feeling of homesickness. I guess it's not just really about patis or any Filipino food the author wants to imply. It also suggests "culture shock", the mindset of the Filipinos and human nature per se.

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  9. wala po ba itong picture?
    kailangan ko lang po yung pinaka cover po nito,
    salamat po.

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