Category Archives: filipino

Being Filipino

Saturday night's barbecue with Sol Laforteza was _the_ best evening I've had in Canada so far, and I owe so very much to Dr. Oposa for introducing me to their wonderful family.

It was amazing how quickly they took me in and made me feel welcome. Upon hearing that I'd graduated from Ateneo, no fewer than three Atenistas started chatting with me about our alma mater. Then there were questions about high school, grade school (turns out a number of them had also been associated with St. Scholastica's College), the diabolo I brought... And of course, the brownies were a big hit.

What really made me melt, though, was how they repeatedly referred to the Philippines as home. Even those who had moved as far back as 1988 still had very active connections with the Philippines, still thought of retiring (or at least skipping the Canadian winter) in the Philippines to teach. With all of our tsk-tsk-tsking over the political messes the country gets itself into, there was still that underlying pride in our country.

And oh, how Filipino we were last night. From discussions of traditional delicacies to musings on the lyrical properties of deep Filipino, it was an evening celebrating our culture. Top it all off with truly horrendous puns (like the name of an actual salon: Scissors Palace), another Filipino specialty, and you've got a night to remember.

I had a lot of fun teaching Gretchen how to do the diabolo, and by the end of the night both she and Leslie could get it spinning pretty quickly. Tito Gil made very passable and amusing attempts. He's a natural comic and performer, positively twinkling with energy and joy. I'd like to be like that when I grow old! It'll take me years to gain the kind of ease and confidence he had, though... Amazing, really.

What a fantastic group of people! I'm really, really glad I had an opportunity to meet them, and I hope to get to know them better over the next couple of years.

そのコンピュータはかなり時代遅れだったので役に立たなかった。 The computer was so outdated that it was good for nothing.

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How to wear a malong

Someone came upon my webpages while looking for ways to wear a malong, one of the traditional Filipino costumes. It's really simple - just a tube of cloth - but incredibly versatile. Although a number of creative ways to use a malong are featured in a traditional dance called (unsurprisingly) the malong-malong, I haven't been able to find a good Web reference that gives step-by-step instructions on how to wear a malong. I may just build a malong site this summer, after sewing that pretty blue/green batik cloth into a spring/summer malong.

Here are a number of ways to wear a malong as a full-length skirt. The easiest way to wear a malong around your waist would be to flatten the tube and wrap it around your waist, tucking it in at the end. My malong is ankle-length when worn like that, which probably goes to show that I'm exactly the typical Filipino's height.

Alternatively, you can step into the tube and fold the malong inwards until it's the height you want. Then:

  • draw it to one side and wrap that one around tightly, tucking in the other end with or without pleating. To pleat, you wrap part of it tightly and then fold the excess back and forth with a little bit of overlap (like making a paper fan, except with less overlap), then tucking this bulky part into the tight inner part.


  • stand in the middle and use your elbows to keep the front side of the malong close to your waist while you tie the excess ends into a knot (or a double knot), or


  • draw it forward and backward, then use your elbows to keep the inside part of the malong close to your body as you fold the excess ends to one side and tie a knot

Or you can make something up. =)

I tend to like pleating over a tight wrap because pleating gives you some freedom of movement. If I knot the malong, I prefer to knot it at the side so that it has more of a shape, although middle-knotted malongs go nicely with certain tops.

I should post pictures sometime - maybe three weeks from now, when things quiet down a bit (end of term cramming)...

I've also figured out how to wear it as a dress that reminds people of India or togas. It's interestingly cultural and gets a lot of comments (although I'm not sure how many of those are being politically sensitive) although it's probably not kosher (safety pins?!). For that one, you step into the tube and pin it under one arm, then take the excess and drape it over the opposite shoulder, pinning it to the front side and adding a large brooch.

I also experimented with using garters to hold up a tube dress (wrap the tube around you, fold it in front, fold a little bit back, tuck the excess under that fold, fold the top part in a bit to secure, then clip on the garters like dress straps). White garters with metal fasteners looked incongruous. Black or beaded garters with black fasteners might do the trick.

And yes, I know, I should just post pictures so that you know what I'm talking about, but I'm technically not supposed to be up this late documenting part of my cultural heritage... =)

Besides, isn't it just _so_ cool that malongs are one of the acceptable skirt-like garments that guys can wear? ;)

More malong tips would be very much appreciated. If my blue/green malong goes well, I'll probably shift more of my wardrobe to malongs. (I can't sew a balintawak or a Maria Clara!) People can chalk it up to my being charmingly quirky/nationalistic/exotic/weird...

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Batik and ethnic clothes

Wearing a batik malong

I love wearing ethnic clothes. Traditional outfits are hip enough to pass off as casual but dignified enough to go formal, possible with a little creative re-pinning. I love wearing batik-dyed or embroidered malongs, the simple tubular skirts that can be turned into dresses and sashes and sleeping bags depending on need. I love wearing my butterfly-sleeved terno and wish I had one that looked less formal. The gold-threaded cream blouse makes it too dressy, but I wear it anyway!

Of all the costumes I wear—from hacked computer T-shirts to flowing skirts to jeans and a tee—I like the traditional ones the most.

Thanks, Mom, for sending me two more malongs and a few black tops! Thanks to Pavel and Emily for bringing them from the Philippines! I want more outfits...

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More malong pics

My mom sent two more malongs through Von Totanes. Slowly building a malong collection and coming up with different ways to wear it. When I go home, I should learn the kappa kappa malong dance... ;)

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Documentary on Filipino teachers

Via School Librarian in Action (eruannie): Tals Diaz will make a documentary on Filipino teachers going to the US to work and teach. More info

I watched a documentary about the difficulties domestic helpers face when they reunite with their families after years apart. "When Strangers Meet" - it's available at the Canadian Film Board.

I want to watch a documentary on techie migration, too. I'd love to help make that happen.

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