Bend It Like the Bamboo

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Advice from a vegan restaurant in Bukit Bintang

I can’t believe the year is almost over. I’m pretty sure though a lot of people are saying the same thing. Where did the days go? Weren’t we just welcoming 2013? 
The year has been pretty packed, with a lot of things happening (some fun, some not so fun–like Typhoon Haiyan/Yolanda, the Bohol earthquake, the Napoles pork barrel scam, etc.) So much work is left to be done, and so much has yet to begin, but I guess it would be an understatement if I said this has been (and promises to be) a very busy time.

To be honest, I’ve yet to take a breather from the days leading to Christmas. I recently flew to Kuala Lumpur to represent Freelancer.com in StartUpMalaysia.org’s “D-Code Tech It-Up” event (where I spoke to an audience of budding entrepreneurs), and also in the “Unleashing Business Opportunities” seminar in Penang, organized by the Multimedia Development Corporation (MDeC). Despite the fact that I almost lost my wallet and passport (thankfully the guy who got them only stole my money and left my stuff in one of the airport toilets) and that the AirAsia flight back to Manila was, bar none, the worst flight I’ve ever experienced in my entire history of air travel, I actually enjoyed the quick trip where I got acquainted with some of the most amazing, passionate people. 

Speaking of my flight back, I now finally understand the horrors overseas Filipino workers face every time they go home for the holidays, thanks to AirAsia. Not only was it five hours delayed, they also had to transfer some of the luggage that got in the cabin to the cargo bin. I was wondering why they allowed the boxes and bags to get in the aircraft in the first place, and the only reason that I could come up with was incompetency.

That being said, it was amusing to observe passengers making light of the situation, poking fun at the terrible customer service for which we didn’t get any sincere apology (the spiel at the end of the flight didn’t count: it just felt way too rehearsed.) I guess when you’re used to ill treatment every year, the least you can do is survive the situation with a chuckle or two. On one hand, it relieves you of the stress; on the other, this attitude might also be the reason why these airlines–or perhaps, even the system of governance in the Philippines–does not improve at all. 

I was discussing with some of my friends last Sunday how having been colonized for 300-plus years may be the reason why Filipinos are such passive-aggressive people: diplomacy has ensured our survival as a people. To attack powerful people in public was a certain way to have yourself killed: the only way to get back at them was these little acts of civil disobedience, and rumor-mongering as well. (Is it any wonder then that Filipinos love the Internet/social media, where you can anonymously throw a bitch-fit and not worry that you would suffer the repercussions of your behavior? Unless of course your target is tech-savvy–but that’s a different story.) We’ve become used to concealing our ill feelings and rambling around to get our point across that it has become our cultural identity (which a lot of foreigners mistake as being gracious, nice, and hospitable.)

Still, even with all our misgivings and faults, it’s always fun to go home to the the Philippines, surrounded by people you love and care for (as cliché as that sounds.) We might not be perfect as a people, but heck, whatever trouble we come across, we’ll bend like the bamboo. So 2014, bring it on!

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