It's a typical practice of many Chinese to eat out in a Chinese restaurant whenever there's a special occassion, to the point that it's like a ritual. And what I hate about rituals is that you do the same thing over and over again.
Last night was my grandmother's birthday. And as expected, we were out eating Chinese food (without my grandmother).
I hate Chinese food, because I've been eating the same thing for the past twenty one years. It starts out with the noodles, somewhere in between is the shark's fin soup (save the sharks!), near the end of the banquet is the crab and the fish, and there's the usual desert of fruits and pastries.
While some might enjoy it, I've lost the taste for several years ago. I mean ever since I was a kid, this was the typical meal served whenever there's an occassion (and when I mean occassion, add in all your immediate family's birthdays, the birthday of your grandparents, the birthday of your aunts and uncles, Christmas, New Year, Chinese New Year, etc.). Twenty one years down the line, all that's left is waiting for the two and a half hours to pass so that I can get home and get some "work" done.
Oh, did I mention I dislike most of my relatives (at least the ones here) except for a few aunts? I have an uncle who voted for Erap not because he thought that it was the right vote (in the sense that the country would be better off) but because it was advantageous for him (so he can call in favors, etc.), among other things. And I have a cousin who's as big as I am thin and does nothing but complain about food and makes a lot of smart-ass comments (when not asked for it... all the time!). So company doesn't really give me incentive to these "family" dinners.
Courtesy of my Pol. Sci. Teacher
My Pol. Sci. teacher, Dr. Matthew Santamaria, describes himself as being absurd and profound at the same time. To me, it's like the Ambeth Ocampo of political science, without the nervousness of anticipating the daily quiz (with questions no one can anticipate).
Anyway, one of his theories on the lack of Philippine pride is the formalizing of rituals. For example, the Japanese have their tea ceremony, which is a long and systematic process, and in the end makes the Japanese proud (we have this, we're civilized!).
He already submitted a proposal for making the consumption of halo-halo a ritual:
The first step is in pouring the ingredients, layer by layer, until you reach the top (the ice cream and ice!). Then you taste it (it will obviously be sweet).
Here, we see that Filipinos have order, as can be seen in the careful preparation of each layer.
The second step is in mixing it all in, the top going to the bottom and the bottom going to the top. We taste it again (just as sweet for different reasons).
This is where we reveal our Filipino heritage. Whereas there was once order, we jumble it all up into this chaotic fusion of a drink we call the halo-halo, which confounds many foreigners (who'll probably eat it layer by layer).
Another insight courtesy of my teacher above, why is it we don't have a product? I mean there's Japanese paper, French toast, etc., but there doesn't seem to be Philippine something.
At best we have Manila Envelope, which is used as an adjective because of the color. Filipinos = brown (a throwback to the colonial days). And now I suddenly see the kind of logic in naming those cheap, big paper we use in presentations (at least used to use considering people now have their laptops, projectors, and Powerpoint presentations) as Manila paper.
Only People Can Help Themselves
There are two kinds of people I dislike: people who don't want to hear the truth, and people who crumple into inactivity at the face of problems. Unfortunately my friend has fallen into these two categories.
I'll start with the former since it's quicker to explain. Whenever I see him to offer him advice (of course this is me, so advice comes in the form of an arrogant and direct way), he doesn't even let me finish my sentences and suddenly says shut up (several times) and covers his ears. And then later when he gets home, he'll call another friend to whine about his problems.
Obviously, a person can't be helped if he doesn't want to accept the reality of his situation. That's why in centers where they treat addicts, one of the first steps its patients undergo is acknowledging they have a problem.
Of course mentioned friend is aware he has problems. He just doesn't take actions to solve it.
I mean for one thing, he complains about failing his classes in school. Which isn't surprising since he nearly maximized his cuts in the two subjects that he failed (why he did this, it was to join the comradeship of a friend... which I'll explain later). And while said friend has above average intelligence (at least when it comes to theoretical applications like a Math problem on a test paper), he's not that smart to pass the subject without paying attention. And he knows it.
Of course this has an effect on his other problems, which isn't really an effect more than it is a dialectic.
Friend's parents are disappointed at him for his low grades. Friend also feels insecure at his cuter and smarter sibling (who exerts less effort as him, which probably annoys him). Friend even feels insecure from his other friends, claiming that they all have special talents and he has nothing (which is actually a failure on his part to recognize his advantages... I mean we keep on telling him he has stunning good looks [even girls with twice his IQ have fallen for him] and he has wealth [which he denies, despite the presence of a car, a PS2, a mobile phone, a video camcorder, a discman, and a snowboard]). The worst part is that he dwells on this, as if we don't have problems of our own. But the main difference is that we cope or make ways to reconcile the dilemma.
My friend's solution to everything is to play video games. Now video games in itself aren't bad. They are, after all, a distraction. But my friend treats video games like cocaine. He uses it to forget his problems and spends his money fueling this addiction. Once everything's done, he's where he left off, and he does nothing but whine and sulk.
We do try to help him, encouraging him to attend class, get some work done, etc. But we usually have to nag him to get stuff done, and it's draining on our part. Honestly, why should we remind someone of the things he should do? It's like reminding someone to eat dinner and to take a bath. He lets his depression get the better of him and it effects his life everywhere else. The only time he's jolly is when he's engaged in his hobbies, which as I said before is his drug.
Aforementioned friend is also clingy to guy friends of his (he's secretly gay, hehehe). He hugs them, wrestles them to the ground (to the point of injury), calls them up all the time to talk for several hours, drives them home, treats them out all the time, etc. It's come to the point that while he is himself whenever he's with them, he's also "lost" himself with them. And him being in denial and the fact that he doesn't take steps to solve his problems (aside from whining) doesn't really help anyone.