One of the very first things I noticed when I visited the Philippines was that during almost every social gathering, large or small, about half way through the party, the “boys” (men in general, not just the young ones) separate from the rest of the group and have a little “kwentuan” (chit-chat) over some “alak” (alcoholic beverages) and “pulutan” (food they snack on probably to reduce the effects of alcohol).
The “inuman” ritual is basically binge drinking. Way too many Filipino men drink hard stuff like gin, brandy, whiskey and strong beer.
Alcohol serves many purposes, according to Filipino males: it is “pampainit” (it warms you up, which is understandable if they live in a cold Western country but why have “pampainit” in the tropical heat of the Philippines?), “pampatulog” (it facilitates falling asleep), “pampagana” (it gives you a boost of energy, the exact opposite of “pampatulog”….strange, isn’t it?) and “pampatunaw” (it helps you digest your food).
They have their own brands of locally produced “tubig ng buhay” (“water of life” as some Filipinos whom I know like to call it) such as Cuatro Cantos, Ginebra San Miguel, Tanduay, Emperador and Red Horse Beer (a very strong beer, 8% vol.).
Heavy drinking creates so much dependency that some Filipino males like to joke that “in the Philippines there are two heads of state: ang Presidente (the president) at ang “Emperador” (and the emperor, “Emperador” is a Filipino brand of hard liqueur) the latter being more prominent because “ang Presidente ay nakaupo sa palacio samantala ang “Emperador” ay “nakatayo sa mesa” (the president is “seated” in his palace while the “Emperador” is always “standing”….on the table) so the “Emperador” is “mas mataas” (higher than the president)”.
This is just a joke but, in actuality, alcohol has far greater power over Filipinos than politicians.
Do you need to join “the boys” in their “inuman” to please your Filipino wife and to look like a true “macho” in her eyes?
Most Filipino women whom I know seem to frown upon this habit rather than seeing it as desirable, and all the more so Filipinas who marry a Westerner. If you stay away from “inuman” it is highly likely that your Filipino wife will actually be very proud of having a sophisticated Western male as her spouse rather than one who is part of the herd of the heavy drinkers.
This is at least my experience. Whenever I try to build some rapport with Filipinos by sampling some “tubig ng buhay” my wife immediately stares at me making it clear that she does not like that form of “rapport building” at all.
I would also add that you’d better avoid drinking altogether (even if you like drinking in general) in the presence of Filipinos because “kaunti-kaunti” (“just a little”) easily and quickly turns into “kaunti-CONTAINER”!