Let the international student voice be heard

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The Philippines is a country consisting of more than 7,000 islands, many with their own dialect and culture. Balanie Merto, a senior majoring in accounting, shares with us her native culture and the beauty of her country.

What about the Philippines attracts people there?

BM: “The Philippines [are] known for [their] beautiful and white beaches. We have a lot of world-class beach resorts that just take your breath away. If you go from one region to another, you’ll see and feel the difference. Each region is known for its exotic food, different language and customs and various tourist spots. In other words, each region is proud of what they have and they consider themselves unique from the rest of the country. That means that visiting the Philippines offers a rich experience because of the diversity of the culture.”

What customs do you have in the Philippines that are different from those in America?

BM: “Filipinos are known to be very family-oriented. It’s pretty common for homes to have the grandparents, children and great-grandkids all living together. Most of the time, parents would give a piece of land to their children, just to motivate the child to live close to them. One of the biggest events in a family is a wedding. We usually hold a two-day celebration for a wedding and it’s common to have at least 500 visitors to feed and entertain. It is literally a feast because we usually have litson — roasted pigs to feed the people. Families usually raise pigs, chickens and cows before the big event to make sure that there is enough food to feed the people. Also we don’t call older people by their first names; we usually say uncle or auntie to show respect. And sharing is also a big part of our culture.”

What kinds of traditional songs are in the Philippines ?

BM: “I think that we are one of the cultures that easily adapt to other cultures because of the influences that we’ve had from various countries. These influences reflect very well on our music. Our music today is Americanized. My favorite artist is Regine Velazquez. I would love Americans to listen to South Boarder, Free Style and Charice Pempengco.”

What kind of food do you have in the Philippines?

BM: “Our food is also a wide range of different tastes because of the influence of different countries that colonized us. Rice is our basic food, but we eat lots of fish, fresh fruits and vegetables and meat. We don’t usually eat out. Women spend a lot of their time preparing and cooking the food for the whole family, It’s common to have our own gardens. Eating out is a real treat, because it doesn’t happen often.”

What about your country do you miss the most after staying in the US for 5 years?

BM: “I miss going to open markets to buy fresh fruits and vegetables. I miss the fact that sometimes I can just get fruits and vegetables for free from my neighbors.”

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