Filipinos Love to Party
Even though I am ‘technically’ a Filipino I’ve always looked at Filipino gatherings with outside curiosity. I grew up in Canada surrounded by ‘wasp’ friends and western ideals and never thought of myself as anything different. With our ‘neighborhood gang’ my siblings and I played road hockey (even though I was a girl I was a ‘killer’ goalie), built forts out of junk wood, got into fights for no good reasons and egged houses on Halloween. As far as I was concerned I was simply Canadian.
What I remember that was different was that my parents loved to have parties with their Filipino friends. On these frequent occasions, the kids would be shuttled to the basement where the girls would drink from ‘tea sets’ and the boys played with their ‘boy’ toys. I remember vividly the sounds of thumping music and laughter coming from above. “Knock three times on the ceiling if you want me” is a verse of a song that is forever burned in my memory. I always felt happy during these times.
It wasn’t until I was in University that I made my first true Filipino friend. It was the end of the school year and a brutal time for students to find summer jobs. I ended up at a liquidation company with a quirky group of other students who also couldn’t find any other work. One of them was this quiet Filipino guy. He hadn’t been in Canada for very long. We would ride the subway home and have some good conversations. He seemed to have a genuine curiosity about my non-Filipino lifestyle. I would invite him along on my bar crawls and urban adventures. Soon he also joined me in my outdoor pursuits. Slowly our friendship unfolded. Over the years he integrated into my world and thrived.
Then he introduced me into his world. It was a boisterous one filled with food, family, friends and good times. It was just like my memories of my young parents all over again. There were the same characters like: the jokester, who always told stories of his cultural misadventures that made everyone laugh; the women who were always in the kitchen and made sure the table was full of food; and the kids who were always underfoot and included in the festivities.
One day he invited me to his annual group camp gathering. With my brother and his girlfriend in tow we made our way north of the city to a small Provincial Park. I was looking forward to nature and peace. Well, we arrived and it was no ordinary camping. It was a ‘party’ in the park. We were welcomed with beer in a communal area rigged with a large tarp, incandescent lights and a ghetto blaster. A pig was slowly roasting on a home-made mechanical rotisserie. Soon the picnic tables filled with a mixed bounty (filipino food, fresh fruits, KFC) to be shared and enjoyed by all. This is camping? No, this is how Filipinos have a good time wherever they may be.
My friend has his own family now who keep him occupied. I don’t get to see him much these days but he is still one of my best friends. I often think back to the experiences we shared and I thank him for reintroducing me back to my own culture.