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Sharing, A Sense Of Being A Filipino

Anywhere-in the Philippines, if your neighbor borrows your soup tureen or serving platter, it will never return empty. You can be sure it will have some of what they cooked for you. It is said in the provinces that the ownership of a talyasi, a deep, thick, army-sized wok used for cooking in the yard, assures you of a steady supply of viands. The few talyasi in town are forever out on loan for some fiesta or other big celebration. Of course the borrower never sends the wok back without a package of goodies for its owner.

In rural areas, everything is communal. The missing ingredients of a vegetable dish come from other backyards. You can plan meals around Susing's squash leaves, Oyong's green papayas and the string beans in Naty's patch. Of course the chili of the whole neighborhood comes from your own bush. If someone in the barrio has a visitor, neighbors slip in one by one until the whole neighborhood is sitting on the stairs waiting to hear what he has to say. Since most likely each neighbor would bring food, drink or even a guitar, before long a gathering of three or four becomes a block party. Many small towns have no hotels, but there is always an extra pillow and sleeping mat to share with a guest or benighted traveler.

To Filipinos, being inhospitable is a social crime of high order. No visitor leaves a Filipino home unfed. Unless dirt poor, hosts are unfazed by an extra six or ten classmates tagging along uninvited to Noni's birthday party. Before leaving, moreover, guests are given parting gifts of leftover fare so that those left at home can share.

The pal usong of Nueva Ecija province is free reciprocal group service given in rice planting, harvesting, bundling stalks; pulling up onion, garlic, peanut and harvesting of other crops. Palusong services also include the pounding of new grain in the mortar on moonlight nights, which is a social activity as well; repairing an old fence; building or repairing a house or bodily transferring one to another site. Its characteristic is the readiness and enthusiasm with which manual work is offered wherever needed No payment is expected, but whoever accepts this benefit imposes upon himself the obligation at some future tine to return the service in the same or other form to someone in the community who needs it.

To Filipinos, the sense of sharing is also a way of maximizing every resource to the fullest. Rivers, trees, wells, farm animals, irrigation systems, fishing boats and TV sets are shared. That is why it is so difficult to explain to provincial migrants to the city why squatting, which to them is making good use idle land, is illegal.

Filipinos never forget to share good fortune either. A native sweets manufacturer someone helped when he was still struggling will not forget to send a gift basket every Christmas, for years on end, over and above the call of gratitude. That is why a homecoming Filipino is easy to spot in an airport-he is so overloaded: lotions, soaps and chocolates in an ovenightbag, t-shirts, make-up, fancy jewelry and fruits in another. A pasalubong or homecoming present, for everyone is a Filipino institution. Those who have done well abroad spread their largesse by building a chapel for the hometown or an apartment for the parents.

In Pampanga province, the first time a baby turns over,the parents share the good news by cooking a delicious porridge and sending bowls of it to the neighbors. In the Cordillera mountains, a hunter who has caught a deer or wild pig is obliged to give a slice of it to everyone he encounters on the trail home.

And why not? In a third world country the folk are each others' lending bank, health and accident insurance, social welfare and death benefit. That is why some government officials are charged with nepotism. How difficult for a man to turn his back on his townsfolk who helped him finish law school, supported his ambitions and worked to get him elected to office.

Sharing is such a part of the Filipino psyche that it permeates the language. The word for brother or sister is kaputol or kapatid, a piece of your umbilical cord; a souse is kabiyak ng puso, half of your heart; a close friend is kabagang, a part of your molars.

Filipinos even share their body literally. It is natural for a nursing mother to suckle the baby of a neighbor who has become ill temporarily or completely. Many Filipino myths state that one of the first human beings created (there were often not just two) had to be sacrificed for others to live. From the different parts of the dead body sprang the plants and animals from the navel, the cotton tree; from the toes, yams; from the fingers, fishes; from the crotch, animals which could be ridden; and so on.

The western overlay in the nation's urban centers has somehow set the Philippine value of sharing awry. Must you expect your neighbor to invite you to his party just because you invited him to yours? Should the CEO give you a promotion just because you are his godchild?

Urbanized Filipinos now know they have to qualify: share only with those who know how to share in the same spirit. The new commandments are: do not share your liver and the marrow of your bones with an impersonal efficiency-oriented organization that exacts only the gainful use of your left brain. upset the machinery.) With them, be independent, professional and practical. Pay Dutch and don't cover the sandwich in your neighbor's bag.

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