Every day is a discovery of little things that make a Filipino almost an Indonesian and vice versa or the opposite. Just last week I stumbled upon a sweet serendipitous find – both races love bananas and both have a sweet rendition of fried banana wrapped in spring roll wrapper. In the Philippines, Filipinos love to have the turon – I prefer it sans the sliver of jackfruit inside – that is coated in caramelized brown sugar for dessert or snack. The Indonesian version called pisang goreng is still sweet although it’s not wrapped in caramelized brown sugar. Instead, the inside of the spring roll wrapper is drizzled with chocolate sauce and in which they roll up the banana in. Great for an afternoon bite with a mug of steaming green tea.
But when it comes to white clothes, Filipinos are slightly more persnickety about keeping the whiteness of their attire. They’re not going to just sit on any surface – they’re going to check if it’s powdered with dust or not. Indonesian students, I realized, have no qualms about changing the color of their white clothes. It’s the same phenomenon when it comes to the sun. Don’t get me wrong – I love the sun. In fact, a friend of mine who is posted in Ireland has christened me sunflower while she has candidly taken on the moniker of mushroom. However, I am not about to stay out of the sun without some form of protection like a hat or umbrella. But, again, my Indonesian students and colleagues have no reservations about turning into burnt ducks. They’d play futsal or basketball even at high noon!
Another interesting discovery has something to do with sunglasses. While wearing sunglasses is routine with Filipinos, it’s not the case with Indonesians. A student of mine, in fact, had to ask me why I wore sunglasses during flag ceremony although the sun was clearly blinding that day. Apparently, shades are not that common and somehow carry an unflattering connotation for men who wear them. They are taken to be gays. I wonder what the Indonesians would think about Filipino men who use headbands, fan themselves and use facial blotting paper to rid the forehead and nose of excess oil. Or Singaporean men who go for facials and have their backs waxed in spas.
Next week is a new week and I’ll soon find out more quirks and idiosyncrasies of these almost twin-like races.