“more fun in the philippines”

The department of tourism has recently announced a new campaign to attract tourists to the Philippines. The tagline: More Fun in the Philippines. The tagline might be lost on people who have never been to the Philippines or who do not know many Filipinos. The spirit of  joy in the Philippines is unmatched anywhere else in the world. A blanket claim, we know, and since we have not spent extensive amounts of time in every part of the world, it is also completely unfounded. But we stand by it! We have compiled just a sampling of why we agree with the Department of Tourism that it really is “more fun in the philippines”

  1. In-flight trivia and entertainment. On our flight from Singapore to the Philippines we knew we were making a cultural shift as soon as we stepped onto the plane. The in-flight entertainment is LIVE, and includes a trivia game with, yes you got it, real prizes! To top it off, everyone (despite age and class) is really really into the trivia game, working hard for the free Cebu-Pacific airlines tote. The trivia or in-flight LIVE entertainment is varied and sometimes includes karoake (yes, using the flight attendants announcement microphone). Whats more, this dance is incorporated into their safety demonstration! Buckle your seatbelts and turn up the beat, filipinos plan to get down if the plane goes down. And in response to a few criticisms, they added an all male crew dance.
  2. And the dancing doesn’t stop there…At the NCCC mall here, the staff stops what they are doing 4 times a day to perform a choreographed dance. And we mean everyone. This mall is 4 stories high. Watch and experience one of our daily encounters!
  3. You may remember a few years ago when a Filipino video went viral featuring Filipino prisoners dancing to “thriller” in one of the largest Cebu prisons. For a refresher, we highly recommend you watch: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KadX7lqgxpA&feature=fvsr and for a more recent production from the prisons of the Philippines, you can see the radio gaga dance: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lAVVVMcTShQ&feature=fvsr as well as jai ho: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uTMUZ39UHgo&feature=related
  4. UNO? I mean, who likes the game uno, right? Unless you are still young and just learning it might be one of the most boring games on the face of the planet, next to go fish. But somehow, filipinos magically transform the game of UNO into an exhilarating and laugh-till-your-stomach-hurts card game.
  5. Videoke. It’s the national pastime in the Philippines, but it’s not about singing well, its just about joining in together and singing your guts out. Bad singing can be heard on every street corner, but somehow coupled with laughter and chatter it becomes a wonderful reminder of the palpable joy that surrounds us daily.
  6. Filipinos LAUGH at everything. They love to laugh. When there is crisis, they laugh. When there is celebration, they laugh. When there is loss, they still manage to laugh. When something is funny, they laugh. When something is kind-of-sort-of-could-have-been-funny-on-another-planet, they laugh (usually followed by shrieks and more laughing).
  7. Filipinos love LOVE. Cheesy, cheesy, cheesy love stories, love quotes, romantic comedies. February 1st marked, for most filipinos, the month of LOVE. Our facebook accounts have been loaded with so many love quotes, not to mention valentines-themed posters that adorn every street corner, we didn’t realize this much cheese could exist in one city. Of course, the philippines makes national news about this time every year because they hold the guiness world record for the most people kissing at the same time. Indeed, Lovapalooza has become an annual tradition. And the sap quotes know no boundary: Men, women, old, young, can be heard shrieking with joy and sharing a giggle in the name of love. Pass the cheese, please.
  8. Icebreakers. You haven’t experienced icebreakers until you have experienced Filipino icebreakers. Every training requires several breaks with very energetically delivered icebreakers (songs, dances, etc) without distinction of age, social class or “professionalism” the best are trainings with older pastors who joyfully participate in all of the icebreakers. Another “training” phenomenon in the Philippines are different “claps” or “pak-pak” (round of applause you clap in a circle, the “rainbow” clap, the “fireworks” clap and the “rodeo” clap are among the top “pak-paks” used here).
  9. Of course, for us landlocked beings, its more fun in the Philippines because of our proximity to pristine islands: scuba diving, tropical fruits, fresh fish, moist cake on every street corner, its really hard to beat. Not to mention the frequency with which filipinos eat. They love snacking! So peanuts, caramelized bananas, taho, ice cream, and all kinds of wonderful snacks abound in every corner of the city! We eat breakfast followed by merienda followed by lunch followed by merienda followed by dinner followed by merienda… And for filipinos, its not a meal unless you have rice, so “snacks or meriendas” here include full plates of spaghetti, tuna sandwiches, and the list goes on…
  10. People Power. Perhaps the most powerful example of Filipino joy is the People Power movement. The People Power Revolution (or EDSA revolution) of 1986 nonviolently overthrew one of the worst dicators in Filipino history. Nonviolent activism doesn’t encompass the movement’s approach. Filipinos literally toppled the dictatorship with flowers, dancing, music and gifts. Photos abound of filipinos showering the military soldiers with cigarettes and flowers. It was a movement fueled, not by anger or despair, but by hope and joy and remains an incredible symbol of the power that continues to reside within the people of this country. Exuberant. Joyful. Infectious. Laughter.
How is it possible to have an entire country full of over-the-top extraverts who have a natural proclivity towards joy & happiness? Where does this abundance of {sustained} joy come from? Is it something in the food (stinky-dried fish does not strike us as particularly joy-inducing). Is it in the air (not unless you find joy in exhaust fumes and burning leaves & trash). Regardless of the mysterious source of incredibly infectious joy remains a mystery, it is hard to deny that it truly is “more fun in the Philippines.”
We’d love to hear your own examples of why its more fun in the Philippines (or WITH filipinos)!
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