What Countries Still Have an Emperor Today? Japan…and the Philippines!

I live in a city that used to have emperors and I am married to a woman who comes from a country that, like Japan, still has an Emperador.

The Philippines is actually a country that has two heads of state: one is ang Presidente while the other is ang Emperador.

The Emperador is more powerful than ang Presidente because ang Presidente is nakaupo sa palasyo or sitting in the palace while ang Emperador is nakatayo sa mesa or standing on the table, therefore the Emperador is higher than the president!

China is a big country and the Philippines pales in comparison but the Philippines has something that those big powers lack: ang Emperador!

(former) president of the Philippines
Emperador of the Philippines (“Emperador” Brandy) standing on the table

Talaga bang Bahala-na si Bathala?

Una sa lahat nais kong sabihin na ang blog ko ay hindi upang ipakipag-usap ang tungkol kay Bathala.

Ang totoong pokus ko dito ay kung paano magkaroon ng isang matagumpay na relasyon sa pagitan ng isang Foreigner at isang Pilipina.

Ngunit interesado ako sa kung papaano nangangatuwiran ang mga Pilipino dahil Pilipina ang asawa ko at nabubuhay ako araw-araw kasama ng Pinoy mentality, kaya gusto ko rin i-share ang aking personal na pananaw tungkol sa kasabihang Bahala-na si Bathala.

Una sa lahat kailangang liwanagin kung sino ang Bathala na tinutukoy sa pananalitang ito dahil, kung, halimbawa, ang Bathalang iyon ay ang Krystianong Bathala ang alam ko ay na maraming ibinibigay na babala ang Bathalang iyon.

Ngayon, kung sa kabila ng mga babala ni Bathala ay binabale-wala ng tao ang babala ni Bathala, nagiging medyo maling akala na bahala si Bathala sa masamang resulta na idinudulot ng pagwawalang-bahala ng tao sa mga babala ni Bathala.

Isang halimbawa lang: ang alam ko ay na si Bathala ay nagbibigay ng babala tungkol sa labis ng pag-iinom ng alak. Syempre naman hindi ko sinasabi na binabale-wala ng mga Pilipino iyon dahil alam ko mabuti na hindi naman marami ang iniinom ng mga Pilipino kundi kaunti-container lang…..at inuulit ko lang…..

Pero kung sakali ang ilan sa kabila ng babala ni Bathala tungkol sa labis ng konsumo ng alak ay binabale-wala nila ang ganitong babala makatuwiran bang asahan nila na bahala-na si Bathala?

Kaya ang punto ko ay na kung talagang bahala-na si Bathala sa bawat situwasyon wala sanang ibinibigay na babala si Bathala ‘di ba?

Kaunting personal reflection bilang pampatunaw……

Ang isang babala ni Bathala

“Nanay Tatay Gusto ko….isang “Tagay””

Two of the Filipino songs that I used to listen to at the start of my journey with the Tagalog language are “Leron Leron” and the one that goes “nanay, tatay gusto kong tinapay. Ate, kuya gusto kong kape….lahat ng gusto mo ay gagawin ko”

It seems like the lyrics of “nanay, tatay gusto kong tinapay…” need to be slightly modified, based at least on what I am reading in this article

Drinking is hazardous to youth’s health

The article says, in part:

The cases of alcoholic drinking among the youngsters [between the age of 13 to 21 years old] have reached an alarming level compared to the recent past,”

This is indeed very alarming. “Philippine law sets the minimum legal drinking age at 18 but underage drinking is widespread,” wrote Joyce P. Valbuena in a report for Health Action Information Network (HAIN). “Most young people get alcohol from home with or without their parents’ permission. They know how to obtain alcohol—they are able to get it from friends or they can discreetly buy for themselves.”

What is even more alarming is the fact that more and more youngsters are now drinking than in the recent past. In a survey conducted by the University of the Philippines, 60 percent of Filipino youths today are drinking alcoholic beverages.

Even at a young age, Filipino teenagers are already drinking. A study conducted by the East-West Center (EWC) in Hawaii showed 11 percent of boys began to drink by age 15. Only 4 percentof the girls commenced to drink at that age

So it seems like many young people in the Philippines are no longer singing “nanay, tatay gusto kong tinapay” but rather “nanay, tatay gusto kong isang tagay” (“shot”) and even the final part of “Leron Leron” imbes na “isang pinggang pansit ang aking kalaban” ay nagiging “isang baso ng gin ang aking kalaban”…..

Gaano Karaming Alak ang Masyadong Marami?

Sinasabi ng ilan na walang problema kung ang isang tao ay umiinom ng isang baso ng alak o isang lata ng beer lang.

Totoo ba ito?

Bweno, depende sa:

Kung gaano kalaki ang baso ng alak

Kung ano ang “grado” ng isang lata ng beer

Mas matapang yata ito kaysa sa Red Horse

May pagkakataon na kahit ang isang baso o ang isang lata lang ay nagiging pampatunaw (…ng atay)….


How Filipinos can Quit Heavy Drinking and Other Addictions

Millions of people from all over the world have addictions but in this blog I am focusing on Filipinos because my wife is Filipina.

In the Philippines there is a huge drinking problem and in this post I want to share ideas that have helped me to conquer some addictions that could perhaps help someone who is fighting the urge to drink a lot or some other dependency like overeating or junk food.

I was overweight for most of my life.

I had been trying for many years to break free from this habit by trying to restrain myself but my drive to change would always fizzle out.

It was not until 2015 that I managed to break through and change this unwanted behavior for good.

I realized that self restraint doesn’t work and the obvious reason is that, if you have to restrain yourself, this means that you like engaging in that habit, so fighting it is a struggle and requires constant willpower over a long period of time.

What really works is letting the habit go on its own accord.

One powerful idea, that I learned from Tony Robbins, is shifting what you link pain and pleasure too. If, for example, you have a problem with overeating it is probably because you link more pleasure to eating a lot of greasy food than to the long-term pleasure of having health and vitality.

So the only way to let go of that habit without striving is by conditioning your mind to consistently dwell on the great pleasure of having massive energy, vitality and inner drive. After a while your desire to have energy and vitality will be stronger than the desire to eat, drink etc.

By applying this idea my long-standing overeating habit disappeared on its own accord with the least amount of effort.

There is yet another interesting approach that I heard recently and I heard it from a guy who runs the http://www.actualized.org website: it is the idea that awareness alone is curative.

What this idea is about is, in essence, this:

Whenever you engage in an unhealthy behavior, whatever you deem it to be, and you are fully conscious while engaging in it you cannot continue it. If you can’t seem to stop it is because you are doing it without awareness. If you did it with full awareness the behaviour could not be continued and would stop on your own accord.

Obviously awareness must constantly be maintained throughout the whole process of eating, drinking etc and not for just a few moments, this is the big catch.

Another interesting approach is what Dr. Wayne Dyer said: many people fool themselves and convince themselves that is is easier to smoke, drink or whatever the addiction may be. Actually if you smoke, drink etc there are a lot of things you need to do: you have to earn the money, go to the store, buy cigarettes, carry fire in your pocket, you must constantly be replacing them etc. In order not to smoke all you need to do is not smoke. It is that simple, so don’t fool yourself and convince yourself that it is easier to smoke, actually it is not.

He actually wrote a book entitled “Excuse Begone” where he outlined a step-by-step process to overcome the excuses that we use to explain away why we drink, smoke etc and came up with a paradigm shift that can help anyone who wants to eliminate any bad behavior by working on the mental roadblocks that we erect to justify why we engage in that behavior.

Whatever the approach, what I understood is that the only real way to part with a long-standing addiction is by rewiring your mindset, by making a mind-shift instead of fighting a habit that, deep down, you enjoy engaging in. Your willpower will soon erode and you will soon go back to the old habit.

How can “Alak” be both “Pampagana” and “Pampatulog”?

Filipinos say that alcohol or alak is pampainit, pampatunaw, pampagana and last but not least pampatulog.

There is little doubt that alak, especially hard drinks, is pampainit or “it warms you up”. Also, there is little doubt that it is pampatunaw (it has a melting effect): I’d say that it is pampatunaw ng atay (liver….)….

As for pampatulog and pampagana I am honestly a little confused:

If I need some pampatulog I may use something like this:

If I need some pampagana I’d use something like this:

This means that if I take pampatulog then I have no gana (energy or drive) and if I take pampagana then I cannot matulog (sleep).

How do Filipinos reconcile that? Only Filipinos know….

“Kaunti-container”: the “Average” Alcohol Consumption per Capita in the Philippines

The Tagalog expression for “much” or “a lot” in Tagalog is marami while the word for “a little” is kaunti.

“Just a little” is kaunti lang.

However, when it comes to wines & spirits, Filipinos use the expression kaunti-“containerwhich tells you everything about the “average” consumption of alcohol per capita in the country.

For Filipinos abroad, especially those who live in cold countries, the container is even larger as in cold climates that Pinoy are not familiar with, Filipinos need maraming “pampainit” (“heater”).

There are actually relatively cool parts of the Philippines where masarap mag-shot-shot dahil malamig ang klima (“it is nice to have a few shots because the climate is cold”).

In addition to Baguio City and the Cordillera, a popular malamig place near Manila is Tagaytay and, because the Tagalog word for “shot” in Tagalog is tagay, an ideal place for kaunti-container is Tagaytay where Filipinos can do some tagay-tagay sa Tagaytay.

In my articles I often mention the relationship of Filipinos with alak.

The reason is that, if you are a Western husband of a Filipina, whether you drink or not, alcohol will always chase you like a shadow that never leaves. You will find it at every Filipino party, sometimes even concealed in a bottle of juice (called juice na timplado or “mixed” juice) or hidden in the trunk of a car in the parking lot of the facility where the party is taking place.

The ancient Israelites were promised that they would be led by Moses to “a land flowing with milk and honey”.

Well, if you marry a Filipina you too will inherit the “promised land”, namely the Philippines, a land flowing with “gin and more gin”. Not marami though: kaunti-container lang!

The Two Levels of Kwentuan (or Chit-chatting): Mabuting Usapan and “Maboteng” Usapan

As I often mention in my posts, Filipinos are very social and like spending hours talking and gossiping.

Filipino women seem to be more inclined toward tsismis or gossip (not always malicious gossip, most of the time it is just a harmless sticking of their nose into other people’s affairs).

Men in the Philippines, on the other hand, only seem to know two kinds of conversation: the mabuting usapan (literally the “good conversation” meaning, I guess, a conversation centered around a topic) and the maBOTEng usapan, bote meaning “bottle” (of gin of course) which is a conversation that has no specific topic, rather it is just an opportunity for drinking.

I remember walking down the main street of my wife’s barangay and noticing that early in the morning men were seated either on the side of the road or in front of their homes and, because they knew I could speak Tagalog, they would say to me: “kwentuan tayo” (“let’s chat”) and, because I had already acquired some experience with the Filipino community here in Rome and I was already rather acquainted with the two possible types of conversation Filipino men engage in, I would ask: “ito ba ay isang mabuting usapan o isang maBOTEng usapan?” at which they chuckled and pulled out a bottle of Ginebra San Miguel to make it clear that 99% of the times the usapan is a maBOTEng one!

Red Horse: the “King” of Filipino Beers

The Bible says in Revelation that the apostle John “saw a red horse” in a vision.

Well, in the Philippines I saw plenty of “Red Horse”.

Red Horse is a Filipino beer brand. They have “San Miguel” beer, which is basically a normal lager beer, and they have “Red Horse” which is a strong one, as it is a 8% vol. beer.

I often hear, from some Filipino friends of mine, the expression beer bihira meaning more or less “we seldom have beer” and, I guess, what that means is that they prefer hard liquors to beer and if they do have beer they like it strong.

Red Horse is usually sold in a 0,5 liter bottle, which is the equivalent of drinking two pints of 4% vol. lager, but I’ve also seen a 1 liter one. It is not uncommon to see Filipinos who drink two, three or even four bottles of “Red Horse”.

Here in my city, because imported Red Horses is a bit expensive (4 euros for a 0.5 liter bottle) many Filipinos go for Atlas beer, a cheap Dutch (I think) super strong beer (12% vol.) that can be found in a popular local hard-discount chain.

Drinking strong or even extra strong beer gives many Filipino men a chance to dismiss their wives’ complaints with a reassuring “huwag kang mag-alala, tutal isang beer na lang ito” (“there is nothing to worry about, it is just a beer”).

If you marry a Filipina you will hardly share your life with a beer drinker, much less a drinker of hard stuff. As far as Filipino women are concerned beer is really bihira among them.

Nevertheless you will most certainly have regular dealings with “the boys” being her male relatives or friends and you will most likely have “visions” and “see a Red Horse” or, more realistically, plenty of it.

Who Rules the Philippines: the President or the “Emperador”?

The Philippines is a republic and it has a president. Yet, under certain aspects it is similar to ancient Rome.

Rome, the city I live in, used to be an empire and it used to have an emperor.

Well, although the Philippines is not an empire and it has a president, it also has an Emperador or emperor and the emperor is definitely higher than the president.

Why? Because the president seats in his office while the Emperador always stands on the table.

Now, it stands to reason that the one who stands is higher than the one who sits, therefore there is no doubt that ang Emperador ay mas mataas kaysa (higher than) sa Presidente and all the more so because mataas ang leeg or it has a long (bottle)neck.

Emperador is not a person or a title, rather it is a popular brand of brandy in the Philippines. The Spanish brand Fundador is also very popular.

Filipino men are, in many cases, heavy drinkers and one person can polish off at least half a bottle of hard liqueur in one evening.

That is why the Emperador has more influence on some Filipinos than the president himself.

Obviously Emperador is just one of the several options Filipinos have when it comes to drinking.

Gin is probably the most widespread along with rhum and strong Red Horse beer.

Women generally don’t drink in the Philippines (and I’ve written a post about how they actually often frown upon this habit) but, if you are married to a Filipina, her male relatives likely do and they do it in interesting ways:

  • During a party the boys sit around a table and snack on pulutan (food that kind of reduces the effects of alcohol, usually pieces of meat) while drinking.
  • Sometimes they don’t even isolate themselves from women and children, rather they just have their juice na timplado or na may halo (juice mixed with alcohol) not to stumble women and children.

The Tagalog expression for “a little bit” is kaunti-kaunti. The standard amount of alcohol they actually consume is actually kaunti-container.

Yes, the Philippines is a republic and not even a very powerful one. Some consider it a “mere footnote in history”.

Yet the Philippines, in addition to having a president, also has an “emperor”.