It’s been 5 years since I moved back here. Back to Manila, the Philippines. The place where I was born, where I grew up. Where most of my family and friends live. Where the economy is booming, where some parts of society are getting progressive, where the start up scene is getting surprisingly more and more energetic.

I still hate it. I really fucking hate it.

I don’t know why though. I can’t seem to place my finger on it. I’m unable to verbalize the lack of excitement I have about living here in what’s supposed to be one of the world’s Top 20 economies by 2050. I’m at a loss at how to explain the frustration of being able to both understand the language used in TV, but at the same time hating the fact that I can – simply because it reflects the fact that there’s really nothing edifying or uplifting about Filipino pop culture.

Filipino food is getting more mainstream. White people are suddenly interested in sisig, and adobo and all the other Pinoy comfort foods. And comfort foods they are, by definition: hot, stodgy, and filling. I like eating them. Unfortunately, they’re also reflective of a society that’s not really changed with the times. And by times, I’m talking about the 1700’s. There hasn’t been any real improvement in Filipino cooking methods since the Spaniards came in.

By all accounts we should have gained the best of all world cuisines (Mexican, Mediterranean, Malay-Chinese, just to name a few), but all we’re left with is chopped up pig face in onion, and chicken chunks boiled in soy and vinegar. Shouldn’t we be swimming in burritos, throwing cilantro and chilies on everything? What happened to satays and curries, stir-fries and hand pulled noodles?

I hate the fact that Filipino TV not only emphasizes laziness and lack of creativity in the kitchen (along with the values of whiter skin and straight hair), it also does it with so much disproportionate ad spending geared towards some of the most under educated, under exposed, and unsophisticated members of Filipino society.

I hate it.

I hate this society.

But I love it as well. As mentioned to a friend, it is possible to both hate and love something at the same time.

Maybe I can write a post about reasons to love the Philippines, but then again, I’ve also been told that I’m an incredibly negative person.

So yeah, bah.