Back after half a year!
I guess I was just so exhausted living the dream, exploring the world and just exploiting the undiscovered treasures hidden from the eyes of man. That or lazily living my days baking different recipes for cupcakes, cookies and half-assed Indian spice blends.
So after a good six months, here’s the Top 10 Tips for Filipinos going to the US for the first time.
1) Never Mention That America is Great
This holds true especially if the American you are talking to has any, all or any combination of the following: US Flag shirt/shorts, bald eagle perched on his shoulder, and a registered assault rifle.
The gun may be feared but not as much as the following of endless chanting, growling and howling of how “We’re number one!!!”
2) Travel in Groups of 2s
As Filipinos, we are generally used to one cup of rice (at least), a ladle of ulam and a sauce-bowl of clear (and free and refillable) broth as a meal. All American food served outside the dollar menu of some fast food restaurants will be portioned to accommodate the dietary needs of more than one person. By traveling and dining by two, you can effectively cut the cost of dining out while saving the inevitable leftovers.
3) Keep Conversations to Simple Greetings
You will find yourself being greeted almost everywhere you go. They sound genuine, even initiating eye contact. And half the time, probably are. However, do not engage in deeper conversations that deal with the following topics: where they are from, what they do for a living, how their family is. This is taken as a go signal to initiate their either sob story of how they got a metal plate on their head or their rags to riches story of how they climbed the tower of success through determination, hard work, sleepless nights and coffee.
There I just saved you 30-45 minutes from your day.
4) Be Ready for Manual Labor
I’m pretty sure you’re used to being served and treated like a king at your local Jollibee with people carrying your tray for you, clearing the table for you, fetching you an extra spoon/glass of ice/napkins and someone clearing the table after you. But in America, you will be expected to do all of that by yourself in most fast food establishments. You throw your own trash and put your own tray away. If you need something, you have to get it yourself.
5) Try to Not Speak at All
Liberal states such as California and New York are very politically correct and anything you say, do or think will be considered against one’s religion, sex, race, nationality, age, gender or social class. Also, being in conservative states, most usually in the south, being anything other than the norm (i.e., straight white Christian) will most likely result in a heavily accented threat. Just to avoid both instances and anything that falls in between, just shut up.
6) Do Not Drive
Although technically, driving in America is a complete dream but if you are in any way used to driving around any part of metro Manila, you’re better off with just saving the lives of the people on the road. People in America are extremely disciplined in that, they always give way to other people, they make a full stop at a stop sign even when there is no one else in sight from any given direction and at any time of day. Their highways have proper rules on who gets to use the innermost lane and when and where you can enter said lane. If your muscle memory is adjusted to driving on the SLEX, NLEX or other major highway, just avoid the road to avoid the expedited deportation that’s bound to happen.
7) Choose Between Two Types of Food
It’s either you have a combination of meat-cheese-sauce or a very heavily confusing healthier option.
Much of the menu basically consists of a combination of pinkish, almost alive piece of meat, gooey, melty cheese and some kind of overpowering sauce like barbecue, cream or in most cases additional cheese in form of a sauce.
In the rare case you might have a hankering for something lighter, be ready to choose from an assortment of choices: gluten free, vegan, raw, paleo, no carb, all carbs, no fat, high protein, organic. Choose all boxes that apply.
8) Bring Your Own Spoon
These people only eat rice in Chinese restaurants and when they do they make themselves look clumsy, toddlers who haven’t developed their fine motor skills by eating rice with a fork. It’s the most unrefined thing to watch, like seeing monkeys use primitive tools for the first time. And when you do use a spoon to shovel that warm, fluffy goodness into your mouth, you will get that human equivalent of a golden retriever tilting his head to the side.
You will always have to seek for a spoon wherever you go. It would just be less exhausting to use your own.
9) Do Not Mess with the Sports
Sports spectatorship is intense in America. Most Americans engage what is known as a cubicle life. They work all day, come home to an empty home and distract themselves by watching any or all d the top 4 sports showing on TV: basketball, football, baseball and ice hockey. The sports industry takes advantage of this by giving the people options for games, analyses, reruns, special features 24 hours a day for every day of the week for each sport, nay, each league in its own dedicated cable channel.
9.B Do Not Wear Opposing Sports Team Merchandise in the City You’re In
In that same breath as Number 8, here’s something that will keep you from getting mobbed.
Exampli gratia, when someone in LA, wears an LA team shirt, jacket or hat, most especially when that team is currently in the playoffs, you can expect a cheer, a high five and a giant Cheshire Cat grin from select people. Wear an Anaheim or San Francisco team and you can expect an audible “Boo!” Or “Go back to Losertown” from die-hard fans.
10) Bring Your Own Tabo
These people wipe. They do not wash. I repeat. They do not wash! They insist on recycling and living a green life with low to zero carbon footprint but they rarely reconsider that they are wiping their butts with trees. They don’t use toilet paper to just pat their butt dry. They use copious amounts of toilet paper to wipe their butts repeatedly until the toilet paper comes back streak-free. I’ve seen some use an entire roll in 2-3 uses.
Tabo-weilders know better, am I right, Pinoys?