Yesterday, we went to a restaurant here in Zürich whose chef is Filipino. He comes to our table to chat every once in a while throughout the meal. I remarked that I miss lechon and kare-kare and so I asked him why he doesn't prepare Filipino dishes since it is totally unknown in Switzerland (and the world actually). Since he is starting to get known here in Zürich it would be a perfect opportunity to introduce Switzerland to adobo (also a little originality won't hurt). He replied "You're in Switzerland now tita! You have to embrace European food!" It was like he was reprimanding me for still having Filipino tastes. I got a bit irritated. Throughout the meal I was thinking that this is the reason why I don't have Filipino friends here in Zürich. I am irritated with a lot of Filipinos because of their very strong colonial mentality.
The fact is, I have embraced European culture without losing and being ashamed of my own . I am able to appreciate cheese, foie gras and wine without losing the taste for bagoong and daing. I learned in the 5 years that I had been away from the Philippines that our culture is as good as any other and sometimes even better. Actually, after appreciating the simplicity and elegance of Scandinavian design I grew to appreciate the simplicity and elegance of Filipino design. After lavishing in the richness of French cuisine, I discovered that Filipino cuisine is definitely as rich, if not even richer. We don't have to damn our own culture to be considered "cultured". I don't think we become more class if we look down on our own culture. By belittling our Filipino-ness we only betray our ignorance.
I feel that a lot of Filipinos abroad are so biased about everything that is Filipino that it irritates me. I hate to hear "We don't have this in the Philippines...", "In the Philippines this doesn't taste as sweet...", "In the Philippines this is less good...". It is so pathetic really.
Why do we always need to throw away who we are? In the Philippines, we exchange our typical Filipino architecture to build houses looking like Swiss chalets. As a result we have towns with mongrel architecture. We exchange our native furniture for Ikea and other Ikea-like laminated wood furniture that gets broken even before we use it. We need Brad Pitt to purchase our rattan furniture for us to reconsider that our native furniture is of good taste. Why can't we see that we can be proud of who we are and what we have?
I will always be proud of being Filipino and I will always promote the Philippines and our culture. I hope that someday more Filipinos will do the same.