I once heard a backpacker complain about the overwhelming Catholicism of the Philippines, since it wasn’t “exciting or cool” like those Hindu, Muslim, or Shinto destinations. Silliness. The strength of religion here is on a comparative level of foreignness, and I love it. Any culture where the locals give away beer and blessings is worth closer examination.
This country is so Catholic, for example, that….
- The bus drivers – before taking your life in their hands and hurtling it down unpaved back roads at 115 mph – make the sign of the cross, and offer the weight of their gas pedal up to Mary.
- Get too close to the back of a jeepney, and you won’t just see a “How’s My Driving?” sticker, you’ll be told “Pray the Holy Rosary Daily.”
- White lace veils are still appropriate church attire.
- Local homes don’t welcome you in with printed doormats; they have Jesus, arms spread wide, flying out from an image of clouds and begging for a hug.
- Christmas starts in September.
- Crosses are more common than mosquitoes.
- The safety video on a ferry, (if you’re lucky enough to ride a ferry with a safety video – or visible life jackets), is followed by a soothing request for God to watch over your voyage.
- In most bars, a statue of the baby Christ keeps a steady eye on the mixing of cheap Tanduay Rhum and Coke.
- Manny Pacquio, (arguably the most famous Filipino of modern times besides Bruno Mars), recently fought in a boxing match, before which he asked – on international television – for God to keep his opponents safe from physical harm.
- Their Easter celebrations put my egg baskets to shame.
Disclaimer: As a Roman Cathlic, I write these not in jest, but with light-hearted appreciation for the quirks of my own religion.