A girl in the US who was assisting her mother cook the Thanksgiving turkey was quite puzzled when she noticed her mother slice off the two ends of the turkey before placing it in the oven. Wondering why such choice portions had to be removed seemingly unnecessarily, she asked her mother the reason. The mother simply answered “That’s how it has always been done by my mother; I am only following the family tradition.”
Unsatisfied and still curious about true meaning of the tradition, the girl went over to the living room where her grandmother was seated and sought a better explanation. The grandmother said “Well, I did it because my oven back in those days was very small. It was the only way to get the turkey to fit. There’s no reason to do it nowadays with ovens as big as your mom’s.”
Practicing traditions without understanding them
There are many customs and traditions in the Philippines we don’t fully understand, yet we keep practicing them anyway simply because that’s how it’s been done ever since; so we simply accept that it will always have to remain that way. What are traditions anyway? They are just man-made practices invented by people long ago who don’t know any better than us in this modern age. Many of these traditions are actually meaningless or obsolete. We need to ask the deeper question: why do we keep doing these things in the first place?
Many Filipino customs and traditions are in fact detrimental to the financial health of families. There are those that also cause undue stress and trouble to the community. These harmful practices need to be phased out. As radical no-nonsense President Rodrigo Duterte likes to say about bad things Filipinos do: STOP IT! These customs and traditions that contribute nothing to our advancement must see the beginning of their end. Many people however cannot stop things abruptly. We should at least take the first steps to bringing about the full eradication of such unwanted baggage.
The following are just a few practices Filipinos should start deleting from their dysfunctional system:
- Fiestas. Filipinos celebrate the patron saint of their community, but can’t even tell if the dead saint appreciates all their preparations. Financially constrained families have to borrow money to fund this event even as they struggle to pay the tuition of 5 kids, just to save face when relatives pour in to feast over their costly banquet. To help cover expenses, some barangays even have a road-spanning-rope checkpoint to collect “taxes” or forced “donations” from every vehicle passing through.
- Birthday blowouts. It makes people dread the day of their birth because they are coerced by peer pressure and social expectations to throw an all-expense paid party or dine-out meal for friends. Birthdays should instead be celebrated with friends chipping in to give the celebrant an all-expense-paid treat. Now wouldn’t that be something to look forward to?
- Caroling with solicitations. It’s a total loss of the spirit of Christmas (voluntary giving) when people sing in front of your house with the express purpose of extorting (demanding) payment for their unsolicited entertainment services. In some houses, people even turn their lights off just to ward off these annoyances. Maybe it’s why Christmas season is longest in this country – the longer the period for making extra money by legalized extortion.
- Long processions for funerals. Blocking a road for a slow funeral procession causes significant trouble to the entire community, especially if there are no parallel roads to bypass these annoying mourners. Some of these people even close off an entire street to set up tables for the wake that could last several days.
- Late-night karaoke. Filipinos love to sing. However, children need to study and sleep soundly at night. How can people focus or enjoy peace and quiet to recharge for the next day when callous insensitive wannabe performers show no consideration for neighbors with all the sound pollution they create?
- Sunday mass for hypocrites. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not against going to church to learn good values. But Filipinos should just skip going to mass IF they take a special time to listen to a priest on Sunday only to spend the rest of the week lying, stealing, scamming and cheating. It would be better use of their time if they just visited the poor and sick, bringing with them some fruits to have good warm fellowship over. Most Filipinos have lost the essence of Christianity and replaced it with building-focused institutions with programs that revolve around human traditions and entertainment.
- New year firecrackers. Do large sonic bangs really scare away evil spirits as we welcome the coming of a new year? O really? Then in which direction did the spirit go to run away from you? Is it really worth losing your fingers, risking setting a neighborhood on fire or having a little girl’s head blown by a stray bullet falling through the roof just to proclaim “Happy New Year!”?
- Extravagant weddings. Filipinos are in the game of outdoing each other. There is too much pressure on those who want to tie the knot to give an impressive show to all the relatives and friends they invite over to their wedding. New couples should not spend too much on a ceremony, but instead just use their savings as seed money for building their new life together. Ninongs and ninangs are not even needed; they actually only feel coerced when asked. Gifts should be in cash, and not large boxes containing worthless things such as a punch bowl.
Freedom by being different
It’s time for a cool change in the land of dysfunctional zombies. President Duterte is boldly straightening out the crooked road left by his predecessors by removing encumbrances and senseless practices in Philippine society. Measures to address items 5 and 7 will soon be set for nationwide adoption. Anything unnecessary that only makes life difficult for Filipinos should go away.
Be different; be a trail blazer by going against the grain in starting to stop many of our senseless practices. Why not get married far away in a remote beach with just close loved ones invited to reduce expenses? Why not just have simple lumpia and banana cue for the reception? People will even be grateful they didn’t get tempted to pack on too many calories.
Filipinos should really ask themselves why they put up with all the social pressure to be like everyone else. One of my favorite expressions these days is “common sense lang yan”. Common sense is simple: Whatever you see typical Filipinos doing -> simply do the opposite.
Many customs and traditions have only served to imprison Filipinos. It’s time to open the cage and truly fly free. Remember it wasn’t Cory who set Filipinos free; the key to your freedom can be found in one simple word: “STOP”.
Note: Introductory story – compliments of a pastor I could no longer recall.
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