Monday, 19 January 2009

Taking the Malu Fernandez trail to infamy

I'm yielding my personal space to this article written by a certain Ethel S. Timbol -- whom I believe is the same Ethel Soliven T. who used to edit the Lifestyle section of the Manila Bulletin.

A Wiki entry described her as the "Dean of Philippine Lifestyle Editors"...... (ano kayang say dito ni Thelma San Juan?)

Soliven's piece, titled "When Pinoys behave badly...what can one do?" was posted on the Business Mirror website.

My initial reaction: Kawawang mga ‘bagong bayani’ …nilait na naman ng isang KSP na “journalist”

Read on and be the judge.

By Ethel S.Timbol
Business Mirror

’YAN ang Pinoy” is a popular expression spoken either with pride or in shame. v Unfortunately we say it more often as a negative, such as when we see Filipinos behaving badly and wish we could kick them in the butt. v Pinoys do behave badly and nobody bothers to tell them off. We may mind other people’s business in many things but at times like this, we shrug our shoulders or laugh if to say, “Bahala sila.”

Bahala is right because we ourselves could be just as guilty for doing the very same thing we criticize others for.

As the local saying goes: “Basta may gusot, may lusot.”

About a year ago, a newspaper columnist got mighty slammed when she castigated some overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) for behaving badly on a homebound flight from Europe that she happened to be on, as well.

Remember, OFWs are dubbed our “modern heroes” because their foreign-exchange remittances are the backbone of our sagging economy. Overseas workers send home billions of dollars and euros to their families here.

The woman columnist didn’t expect the brickbats hurled at her for chastising these uncouth seamen and domestic helpers who, she wrote, wreaked havoc in the plane cabin and messed up the comfort rooms. You don’t do that to “heroes,” no matter what!

Well, I’m sorry, but I agree with her. Stuck also on a homebound flight from Frankfurt , a favorite hub for homecoming OFWs, I had to wait out a two-hour delay in that huge terminal because it took that long for the airline to load the balikbayan boxes of our Pinoy “heroes.” This was before the new luggage restrictions.

During the flight, I attempted in vain to sleep because I was squeezed between overly boisterous seamen who were celebrating their going home. I didn’t begrudge them, but what does one do when your seatmates are jumping all over the place, guzzling beer and swapping jokes?

By midflight, the toilets were a sorry stinky mess and the flight attendants were not about to clean it up—no thank you!

I guess the difference between myself and that columnist is that I had more or less gotten used to such misbehavior (not only by Pinoys) over years of traveling the globe. Believe me, there’s no difference between squalling toddlers and drunk seamen—the toilets are always filthy. Nobody pays attention when the seatbelt lights flash on.

Minutes before landing, the guys—red-faced with too much beer—rushed to the toilets. Not surprisingly, the stewardess merely rolled her eyes and turned away.

Don’t bother to blush.

Perhaps recruitment agencies should be required to provide seminars for outbound OFWs on rules and proper behavior. This should include the proper way to use the toilet. Remember, most OFWs come from the province and probably never saw a toilet seat before or flushed a toilet. So they squat on top of the seat and fidget with the toilet tissue till it unfurls on the floor. They most likely can’t find the “Flush” button. No one has told them not to pee on the floor, or that one should wash afterward. These are the simplest things that we take for granted but are so new to the probinsyano.

On the other hand, city folk also have plenty to learn about certain nasty habits, such as taxi drivers opening the car door to spit on the street, and people tossing things out of car windows, buses and jeepneys. Do they think the streets are one huge garbage bin?

You don’t dare throw trash on streets in countries like Singapore and Malaysia and cities like Marikina . And yet, for some insane reason, we have this urge to get rid of that candy wrapper or cigarette stub immediately. Can’t wait to get to a trash can, eh?

Well, okay, we just don’t have enough trash cans on sidewalks and that’s because, believe it or not, people also steal garbage cans!

At fast-food eateries, we don’t pick up our trash to dispose of it in trash bins provided for that purpose. So fast-food chains have to hire busboys to pick up after you.

And there’s jaywalking. One solution to unraveling traffic jams is to require buses and jeepneys to load and unload at their respective designated spots and for commuters to obey the rules. At least now they’re learning to queue for their ride.

We cross the street only on pedestrian lanes, which vehicles should respect and stay clear of during stop lights.

Rules, rules, rules! They are the only way to restore order to our chaotic country.

We need rules about waiting in line. No doubt, everybody is guilty of trying to sneak into a line instead of going to the end of the queue. A favorite trick to join friends already in line, especially if they’re near the entrance. Tsk, tsk, tsk.

On the subject of punctuality, I am convinced that it is not in the Pinoy’s vocabulary.

Somewhere in our Hispanic heritage, we acquired the habit of being late. It’s a no-no to come on time, as expats discover quickly. So, if you want your guests to come at a certain time, the invites should read an hour earlier.

Another bad habit is piling food on our plates at an eat-all-you-can buffet. We all want to get our money’s worth—at least, that’s the excuse for all that excess food. I call it kanin baboy—the baboy obviously being the person piling it up on his plate.

Alas, we have so many bad habits that I could write a book on. But for starters, these should suffice—in fact, they are far too many as it is.


  1. What is it with lifestyle writers and OFW's. Is there a sign on our forehaeds that say we are less of a person than they are.

    I feel irked at Ethel's remarks and do not believe asingle part of her narrative. Bakit kamo, any Filipino male, unruly and uncouth as they may be, will still exercise the idea of treating a woman with respect, let alone the situation where she said she was placed in between two beer guzzling seamen. Hindi naman siguro ganun ang nangyari, exaggerated lang ang lola ethel.

    What also irks me is that sa dami ba naman ng tao na nakasakay sa economy, why does she single out the pinoys as the reason for stinking the toilets on the plane. I just do not get it.

    In a time where the financial crisis is rocking every nook and cranny of the globe,the remittances coming from OFW's are a huge factor in helping keep the Philipine economy afloat.

    But of course, if flying with fellow Filipinos is such a big deal for her, i suggest she flies first class next time....

  2. natural po siguro talaga sa ating mga pilipino ang maglabas ng sariling opinyon. kita nyo tong isang ito,:
    Ethel Timbol- imbes na makisama sa kanyang mga kababayan na inapi at dinapurak, e sinang-ayunan at binigyang-katwiran pa.