Last weekend, my brother and I were standing around at a birthday party for a one year old kid (a son of a family friend). My brother (let’s call him Mil Mascara) looked around and said, “Wow. This is just like any Filipino party.”
I said, “You know, if I ever make a list of ‘Clues That You Are At A Filipino Party,’ I totally expect that list to be copy-and-pasted on an email, and some day I will find it forwarded to my mailbox … given the Filipino love of forwarding corny jokes.”
And so that’s how this blog post came about. It’s going to be my most ethno-centric blog post, perhaps making sense to the few Filipinos who will read this. But then again, I bet that this is really no different from family get togethers in other cultures. Perhaps someone with Norwegian relatives will nod and agree with everything here. Who knows! Culture clashes are weird that way.
CLUES THAT YOU ARE AT A FILIPINO PARTY
- No one ever comes on time. In fact, if you actually come on time, you’re too early. No one really shows up until one or two hours later.
- If you wrap a paper towel around any of the food, it becomes transluscent. This is because Filipino food is made of pure oil.
- If food is served (e.g., every Filipino party), there needs to be at least one rice cooker. If there is no rice cooker, expect someone to go out and get a rice cooker themselves.
- If some stranger shows up at the party that you don’t recognize yet looks Filipino, everyone assumes that he or she is a relative.
- The party is always held in a church back room. Or a church basement. Or an extra room in the house. It really doesn’t matter. What does matter is the room never has any actual windows … or at least doesn’t seem to let in natural light.
- If you are thirty or over, conversation will always be about what high-paying jobs your kids have. And if your kid does not have a high paying job, it’s about what high paying job their spouse has. That’s because, among Filipinos, “conversation” is really a thinly-disguised game of clannish oneupmanship.
- If you are under thirty, expect a long five to six hours of absolute lethargy.
- There will always be tiny children running around the room, or crying. That is because Filipinos do not believe in baby-sitters.
- Everything smells like baby powder. See above clue.
- If it is a kid’s party, expect to see at least one of these things: hot dog on a stick, pancit (noodle dish), or a pinata.
- Women will retreat into a gossip circle, while men will talk about basketball. In rare cases, men will talk about boxer Manny Pacquiao.
- Any jokes involving silly misunderstandings due to Filipino accents is welcome. Saying “beep” when all you wanted was “beef”? Or “snowflower” when what you wanted was a “snow plower”? Hilarious! Extra points if you can turn it into something about Ilocanos.
- Everyone will be pretty much sitting down on chairs, the floor, or standing with a plate of food in front of them … unless karaoke is involved.
- There is always a piano. If you know how to play the piano, expect to be endlessly goaded by older relatives into showing off your skills throughout the entire party. If you capitulate, don’t worry — everyone who egged you on loses interest after the first 30 seconds (probably to prattle on about their rich kids or something).
- Due to the sheer amount of food served, no one leaves unless they take three or four plates of left-overs.
- The paper plates containing the left-overs will turn transluscent.