Por the Kulture: Mga Istorya sa Pilipinas (Part 1)

Translation: Stories in the Philippines

English translations will be in italics. Prepare for Taglish.

Hello everyone! Kumusta kayo? (How are you all?) Ay diyos ko— (Oh gosh) *plane shakes violently*

Well folks, looks like we are flying through a little turbulence. For your safety, please remain seated and tighten your seatbelts. We have quite a while until we land, so, in the meantime, does anyone have any stories to share? Ok, pwede akong mauna muna! (I can go first)

Facebook… remember her? Or him? Not tryna assume genders here in 2019, but do websites even have genders? Well, for a time, there was that “moe anthropomorphism” era.

mnamo415 via Deviant Art

Oh dear, what a time to be alive. But anyways, I fell back into my old Facebook account I had when I was younger and started scrolling through my timeline. Seeing my old posts of pictures and statuses I wrote when I was visiting the Philippines sparked some interesting memories. What a way to spend this long flight, eh? 

Oh Shoot, A Flood

Torrential rain paralysed large parts of the Philippine capital on August 19 as neck-deep water swept through homes, while floods in northern farming areas claimed at least one life
Romeo Ranoco via Reuter; The Telegraph

According to Google, November though May are the best months to visit the Philippines. What happens during June through October you may ask? Floods. We ain’t talking about no puny puddles, I’m talking floods. If there is even a hint of rain, some form of flood is very likely to follow. I mean, at least the airplane tickets and hotels tend to be cheaper during these times.


Since this photo was taken, the house had been remodeled.

Like weather, floods are unpredictable. Even if it wasn’t a flood month, I experienced my first baha (flood) a few years ago. On May 2014, my family and I visited our relatives in the Philippines. Aking tatay, pinsan, at ako, (My dad, cousin, and I) were going to San Isidro to visit my dad’s side of the family. This was also the place my dad grew up with his seven other siblings.

Unfortunately, we were told the area was flooded and couldn’t get there by car. It was also about a hundred degrees outside and my baliw na tatay (crazy dad) was wearing long jeans so we were definitely not planning to walk there. The only transportation we could ride to get there (through some bargaining) was a tricycle. But probably not the kind of tricycle you may be imagining.

via Kapwing

Although there were various water levels Philippine floods tend to reach, luckily for us, the worst it got was the water level just reaching a little above our ankles while riding the tricycle. Good thing I was wearing tsinelas. (slippers/flip-flops) 

Replacing the gloomy skies and rain storms for blazing heat, we probably looked like this:

Image result for philippines flood tricycle
Getty Images via AFP; The Telegraph

But another symptom of this wonderful heat is the thunder you may often hear during the night hours. There was this one time where my family and I took a pit stop at McDonalds. The minute we stepped out of the vehicle, our skin was encapsulated in warm air. Fortunately for us, it was an evening where hints of a light breeze floated around. As far as we knew, the environment outside was at peace when we entered McDonalds. But as soon as we ordered our takeout, and started to head outside towards the vehicles, chaos erupted. 

The first signs were the flickering lights, cracks of lightning and the thunder clouds that rolled in. Then, BOOM, all the lights went out and we were in a blackout. While the backup generators attempted to light up the room again, rain poured harder and harder by the second. The employees started to pick up mops to soak up the water that had seeped through the thin spaces under the door. 

There, we made a decision. We readied ourselves, preparing both mind and soul. With one umbrella being shared among our party of two vans, we conducted a plan to get from the entrance door to our transports. With one brave volunteer on umbrella, another on regulating the ins and outs of the entrance door, we had the elders escorted first. Through a couple people at a time; elders, women, children, the vans slowly filled up. But just as we thought we had evacuated the last person, one of the vans’ driver’s seats were empty.  Where’d he go? An tito ko (My uncle), was now trapped in the McDonalds by this storm. Literally everyone thinking “Ay my gulay, iniwan namin siya sa banyo ng McDonalds!” (Oh my vegetable, we left him in the McDonald’s bathroom.)

But just as one honorable tribute volunteered to rescue him with an umbrella already in hand, that crazy man, my tito (uncle),  full on naruto sprints his way to the car. And with all of us in awe, a towel is thrown at him to dry off.

I’m really selling this whole trip to the Philippines thing, aren’t I?

via Facebook

Triple Threat

This one’s quite simple. I, a stupid and oblivious kid, thought eating popcorn, cotton candy, and ice cream would be the greatest plan I’ve ever thought of. Spoiler, it was not. Nothing against my dad, but if my mom wasn’t in Thailand, this may not have happened. She would definitely not let me eat these three things consecutively in a day. But I did not come up with this plan from thin air. I was inspired when my dad, his relatives, and I went to the Robinsons Place Mall in Malolos.

Image result for robinson mall malolos
Robinson’s Place Mall, Malolos

We were planning to see a movie here, so that’s where the popcorn came into play. When we finished the movie the first thing I laid my eyes on when we got out of the theater was a cotton candy stand. And soon enough I was devouring cotton candy while walking around the mall. Did I mention the Philippines gets piping hot? Well, silly me saw the words “chocolate dipped cone” and thought that was a good idea after all that eating. Fast forward a few hours, I was on the verge of collapsing, because I didn’t feel so good. Specifically, my stomach felt like it was deteriorating every step I took. My tita (aunt) was kind enough to buy me medicine for an upset stomach but that kind of made it a little worse. We quickly took a jeepney back to the house so I could rest. 

Toa Heftiba via Unsplash
Yannes Kiefer via Unsplash

That ride was kind of a ride through hell kind of thing. Both for me and the people around me. Every little bump the jeepney went over was followed by my little voice complaining about the pain. As soon as we got back, I went upstairs to cool down with AC and was given a bimpo (small face towel) to put on my forehead under the assumption I was getting sick. A couple minutes had passed when I felt I was on the verge of hurling my insides out. Racing down the stairs, I positioned myself in the bathroom. Let’s just say it went out faster than it went in. Needless to say, I felt better after that. 

via Facebook


Here we thought we had a nice dinner at Shakey’s, this pizza place in Laoag City of Ilocos Norte Province. That is, until the morning came. The extended family were altogether in a hotel and we had planned to head over to the beach the following day. When I woke up that morning, I had learned my dad had stomach flu and had thrown up in the middle of the night. There were Gatorade bottles and Skyflakes crackers on his bedside. When I went over to check on my cousins and aunts in their room, lo and behold, most of them were on the same boat as my dad, with empty cracker wrappers and Gatorade scattered about their hotel room. The remaining survivors did attempt to go to the beach, but we ended up pulling over and turning back around during the drive because one of my aunts caught the same bug. That’s how most of my family got food poisoning. We weren’t sure which dish was the culprit, but we definitely knew Shakey’s was the cause of their horrific mornings.

via Facebook

Sorry, that was a lot to process, right? Let’s take a quick break.