Last week, the US Embassy in Manila launched a new video mini-series on YouTube, called Kwentuhan Tayo, Pinoy-Style! (roughly means let’s tell stories or something like that). The introduction video features six American diplomats speaking about their lives in the Philippines in Filipino. This is reportedly the first Filipino-language video series to be offered by the Embassy.
The embassy presser quotes Public Affairs Officer Robin Diallo:
“Speaking the local language allows our diplomats to communicate with Filipinos at a much deeper level […] While most Filipinos do speak English, the U.S. Embassy understands the importance of making the effort to learn a Filipino language.”
We should note that Ethnologue lists 175 individual languages in the Philippines, 171 of which are living languages while 4 no longer have any known speakers. According to the country’s 2010 census, it has a total population of over 92 million of which some 22 million or 24% are Filipino speakers. More than three quarters or 76% of the country speaks a language other than Filipino.
The embassy press release says that the first video offers a glimpse into some of the upcoming episodes in the mini-series, which will explore the lives of these American diplomats living in Manila:
- Dustin, who spends his weekends volunteering with local communities in Pasay
- Chris, whose grandfather was an American clergyman who came to the Philippines in the 1920s
- David, who loves to try new Filipino foods in his Malate neighborhood
- Kevin, a consular officer who was himself an immigrant to the United States
- Steve, who has traveled extensively in the Philippines
- Dina, a staff aide to the U.S. Ambassador who learned Filipino from her grandmother as a young child.
The most courageous of this crew is probably David, shown above eating balut (in the haute cuisine category cooked adobo style? with cutlery). He joins the likes of Anthony Bourdain in a culinary adventure known as eating balut with a spoon or hot vit lon in Vietnam and shown here in Bourdain’s show Cook’s Tour.
“There is a delicacy infamous in Filipino culture that can put a crippling chill in the spine of grown men almost as quickly as talk of aswang. That delicacy is the notorious balut. Balut is a popular Filipino street snack and is essentially a duck egg with a fetus inside, typically between seventeen to twenty days in gestation. In the Philippines balut is so popular that it is equivalent to what the hot dog is in the U.S. There are balut vendors who push around carts full of fetal treats and bark their wares in a sing-song chant of “baluuuut, baluuuut!” Balut is also a popular aphrodisiac for men. But even with the good vibes and positive spin surrounding balut, the stigma attached to eating it overshadows all the warm and fuzzy aspects of this very Deep End Dining dish.”
Fetal treats, indeed! If that’s not enough to make you cringe, we need to inform you that balut is numero uno in Cracked.com’s 6 Most Terrifying Foods in the World. The ever optimistic website claims that if marketed properly, these eggs could be a “damn good motivator.” Their rationale? “When you’ve looked death in the face at breakfast time, what the hell else can the day throw at you?” Which actually makes sense when you come to think of it, right? No, not the part about having it for breakfast.
Anyway, to paraphrase Cracked.com’s especially made motivation poster, we’d suggest the following line for David’s EER, because why not, it’s April when most EERs are due and he’s too cute eating balut:
“He is an officer who lives without fear and has demonstrated his commitment to the embassy team. During this rating cycle, he has eaten two goddamned duck fetus called balut for an online episode and maintained his diplomatic demeanor without making a mess or skipping a beat.”
Oh — and please add “he should be promoted at the first opportunity.” Um…. because EERs always say that.
We do hope this glimpse does not mean that David will be stuck doing webisodes sampling Philippine culinary fare. Why? We’re afraid they might ask him to eat dinuguan next, which according to Wikipedia is “a Filipino savory stew of meat and/or offal (typically lungs, kidneys, intestines, ears, heart and snout) simmered in a rich, spicy dark gravy of pig blood, garlic, chili (most often siling mahaba), and vinegar.”
Except for the garlic, that sounds like vampire food. But write and let us know if you try it, please?
- Filipino Activists Deface Entrance of US Embassy (abcnews.go.com)
- U.S., Filipino troops start drills near disputed sea (staradvertiser.com)
- PH defense chief sees no need for US help vs China (globalnation.inquirer.net)
- Police caught napping while vandals attack US Embassy (globalnation.inquirer.net)
- Philippine President: No War With China Over Shoal (abcnews.go.com)
- Philippines president won’t risk war over disputed islands (ctv.ca)