Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Dining In An Afghan House

Dining. For Afghans, dining is an experience. Dining is a form of interaction that bonds people together. Here are some tips if you are invited to eat in an Afghan house:

If you are invited to go to an Afghan house, make sure to remove your shoes and leave it at the door. When eating, do not be shocked if you sit on the floor or in cushions. It is normal for Afghans to eat while they are squatting on the floor. Your food will be served on plastic tablecloths that are spread on the floor. The owner of the house usually tells you where you will sit. If you can sit with two legs crossed, then do so. If you cannot then sit as comfortably as you can but never sit with your legs stretched and your feet facing the people. Food is served in communal and everyone will share out of what is served. If house owners do not serve spoon and fork, then it is already understood that you should eat with your bare hands. Also, you should not eat with your left hand. When you are full and done eating, leave a small portion of food in your plate, otherwise food will be served to you continually.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Mixing Between Afghan Men And Women

Like most cultures, the gesture of handshaking is the most common form of greeting for Afghans. However, women and men do not shake their hands. They only speak directly to one another. Another form of respect is the putting of their hands over their hearts and nodding slightly to the person they're talking. Afghans usually have lengthy conversations. In a meeting, people involved ask each other about family, health, education or business.

Between Genders. Mixing between genders is a sensitive thing for Afghans. Free mixing between genders is only happening within families. In the workplace, men and women could be colleagues but are still particular in maintaining each other's honor and pride. Men cannot directly talk to women in the streets as this will mean dishonor to women. Women should not look straight to men's eyes. Women should keep their eyes lowered when walking in the streets to maintain their dignity. Women should also dress appropriately to avoid uninvited attention. They should make sure that pants worn are loose fitting so that women's thighs shouldn't be visible.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Afghan Families Are Sacred

Afghanistan is a big country. It's population has reached to thirty million by July 2005. The country's population is not limited to Afghans only. It has opened to tourists and guests all over the world. As a result of this, there is a wide variety of races and tribes that are living in the country.

For people in Afghanistan, the family is the most important unit. Men and women are particular with social responsibility as they are enclosed to practice the traditional setup. Women take care of the household responsibilities. Men, on the other hand, are breadwinners. Families still practice arranged marriages based on status, connection, tribe, wealth and social displacement. Families live in kala. Kala is a walled compound where families live. Even after marriage, sons are required to live with his wife in a particular room under the same roof. For Afghans, families are sacred thus should be given utmost premium by everyone – even foreigners.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Afghans Way of Living

Afghanistan is located Southern Asia, north and west of Pakistan, and east of Iran. Kabul is the capital city of Afghanistan. Afghanistan has arid to semi-arid climate, cold winters and hot summers.

The official languages of Afghanistan aer Pashtu and Dari. An estimated thirty-five per cent of the Afghan speaks Pashtu while half of the whole population speaks Dari. Aside from these two, languages such as Uzbek, Turkmen, Baluchi, Nuristani and Pashai are also spoken. Bilingualism is also common in Afghanistan.

The belief system that is practiced by more than half of Afghanis is Islam. This is reflected in the personal, social, political, legal and economic lives of the believers of the religion. For Afghan Muslims, it is their obligation to pray at least five times a day. Friday is their holy day. During this day, shops are closed to dedicate time for worship. Instead of the conventional Saturday and Sunday weekend, Afghans have it on Thursdays and Fridays.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Thai Etiquette

Interesting Thai etiquette should be taken into account before you decide to visit the place. This may not be important to you, but all these are perceived by Thais as their forms of respect and pride. So since Thailand is not your territory, better brace yourself.

Thais treat a man's head as the highest part of the body. If you accidentally touch someone's head, you are required to ask for immediate apology. Kissing in public areas like the streets or sidewalks is an act of rudeness. Even if Thais have liberal understanding on sexuality, they maintain a strong sense of decorum. Thais have high regards to their kings. Thus, any show of disrespect to their kings is a major faux pas. Anything that displays the king's image should be treated sacred. These include their currency, magazine covers, postage stamps and newspapers. You should not toss these to the ground nor treat them harshly. Licking the back of postage stamps is a no no. Money dropped by accident should immediately be picked up for brushing. Most importantly, these items should never be trod upon as it is like you are putting your foot above the head of the monarch.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Education And Economic Status Of Thailand

Education in Thailand has been given its highest premium by its government. It has achieved its greatest progress throughout the years since 2001. Thailand's government has always been proud of the turnout computer literacy rates among pupils and students all throughout the country. Moreover, there has already been a widespread use of the English language in schools and universities.

Thailand, after enjoying its recognition as the world's highest economic growth rate from 1985 to 1996, has been considered a newly industrialized country. Thailand's economy continues to boost because of strong exports. The country's exports has reached to an increasing value of over $105 billion worth of products and services annually. Exports vary, but are not limited to, rice, agricultural products, rubber, jewelry, textiles and footwear, automobiles, computers and electrical appliances.

Language Games Of Thais

Thais are courteous people. This is what my friend has been telling me because he has basically traveled to Thailand from time to time. I have proven true when I went there last week for a visit. Not only they are warm in welcoming you, they are also very polite and tact in treating you. These are both expressed in their verbal and non-verbal languages.

Thais are very particular with their social identity as deemed by age or wealth. They initiate a gesture called wai. This is done by gracefully bringing together the hands to the chest or beneath the nose to show great respect and submission. Thais call their older siblings as pii. Thai words are added to the end of every sentence especially when talking to strangers, elders, or colleagues. Kha is added to sentences when you're talking to a female. You add the word khrup when talking to a male.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Thais Are Proud People

Thais are very proud people. Like any other Asian country, Thais have a rich history, well-established hierarchical structure of status. Thais are said to be one the races in the world who enjoy high level of literacy. Thailand has put its premium to improving its educational system. The country has a well-organized structure of school system of pre-school, primary, secondary, and tertiary education. Both the public and private sectors promote quality education enabling them to contribute greatly to the country's overall development. The government even supports free education providing it until Grade 12.

Because the country has never been colonized, they shout it out loud to the world that their educational system is not based on European models. It improvises its own model that is both essential and beneficial to Thai students. The country has updated curricula that are reliable and coherent. These enable the students to learn to adjust rapidly and appropriately to the signs and times.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Malays In The Corporate World

If you go to Malaysia for purely business, you should at least be equipped with the corporate etiquette of the country. Here are some things I've learned second-hand from a business associate.

During business affairs, you should ready your business cards as people involve in the meeting usually exchange cards among each other. Because of the their pride as a nation, Westerners should never be late in social and business functions. Give a call if you will be late. Stay relaxed when on your first meeting the Malay gets late or your business affair does not start on time. Remember that you are in Malaysia and no matter what the business and social stratification here, they are still your boss, geographically speaking. In meetings, you should also know that Malays love to engage in lengthy discussions before getting down to business. Decisions are therefore made slowly and patience is required. Malays are not frank people. That is why you must listen attentively to them. You must know how to read between the lines so that proper and immediate judgment be made.

Monday, October 8, 2007

Malays' Body Gestures

Malaysians are warm and friendly people. They are affectionate too but they don't show it in public. If you prepare yourself to go to Malaysia for travel, it is important to be aided first with the Malay culture.

When it comes to body language, you should avoid touching anyone of the opposite sex most especially the top of the head as this is sid to be the home of the soul. They are also particular with the use of either left or right hand. If you eat, touch people, and pass things, you should use your right hand and never your left. Moving objects and picking up things with your feet are insulting to Malays. “Excuse me” is also translated into giving a slight bow when arriving or leaving, entering or passing other people. Be careful when you give a smile or grin in Malaysia. This may mean various interpretations for them. This could mean anger, shock, surprise, happiness, embarrassment or amazement. Furthermore, hands placed inside the pockets signify anger to Malays.

Saturday, October 6, 2007

Malay Is A Proud Race

Malaysians, like any other races, are proud of their country, their past, their economic success. As everyone knows, there has always been a rivalry between the Malays and the Chinese in Malaysia. There are policies of the land that the Chinese feel that they are second-class citizens. Unsurprisingly, Malays support this claim because for them it is the only way to overcome traditional dominance. Malays live in rural areas while the Chinese rule in the business environment in the urban areas.

Shaking of hands in Malaysia is necessary for business meetings and social events. This is done before and after the meeting takes place. If you greet a woman or an older person, nodding or rendering a slight bow is a must. If engaged in this scenario, you have to introduce people who have higher ranks or older people first, women before men. Guests and tourists should greet Malay men with a nod and a smile. For the Malay men, this compensates the warm accomodation they give to all visitors.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Malaysia Is The Little Asia

Malaysia is said to be the little Asia. They say if you go to Malaysia, it's as if you have traveled the whole of Asia because of its multiculturalism. True enough, when I went there for a visit last year, I am fully contented with my travel, learning bits about Malaysia and the whole of Asia as well.

My first spot was the Petronas Towers. With its great engineering and architecture, the Petronas Towers are declared among the tallest buildings of the world. Upon seeing the towers alone, it made me feel like I was devoured by the whole of Earth! Whoa!

My next stop was the Golden Triangle. It is known to be the main shopping district of Kuala Lumpur. I went there in the evening and realized that even during the last stretch of the night, people come and go in the area. People were celebrating, merrymaking. The Golden Triangle is the place to find yourself.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

To Know Malaysia Is To Love Malaysia

They say, “to know Malaysia is to love Malaysia.” Indians, Malays, Chinese and many other ethnic groups live together in this country. Multiculturalism has made Malaysia a home to hundreds of grand festivals and cultural celebrations. Despite the influence of other cultures, Malaysia has still made its name to the world.

Malay is the national language in Malaysia. However, because there are various cultures and races residing in the country, English has been widely used among people. Malaysia is known for its love for culture and arts. The country has a booming film industry producing a minimum of fifteen films and three hundred dramas each year. Other cultural activities of the country include music, dance, theater, and handicrafts. European influences can be observed in courts. Museums and galleries are very popular in the country impressing their visitors with their beautiful collection of paintings and sculptures. The country also is multi-religious but Islam is the most dominant religion.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Getting-To-Know Singapore

Singapore is a diverse country of people among different races. Singapore is a modern city known for its cultural diversity. Their race can be traced back with their past immigrants that include a mixture of Chinese, Indian, European influences and Malay. Though this is the truth, they still remain to think of themselves as Singaporeans as a whole, regardless of their culture or race. Each still possesses its own unique character.

The streets of Chinatown are still visible. Little India along Serangoon Road still displays its distinct features. The Muslim characteristics are still distinct in the Arab Street. Around the city, there are signs of British colonial influence as seen in Neo-Classical buildings.

Food is readily available in Singapore. There are various cuisines to choose from. There are Chinese, Malay, Indian, Western, Indonesian, Italian, Spanish Peranakan, French, Fusion and Thai.

Each racial group has distinctive religion. There are great festivals of special significance all year round.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Singaporeans And How They Value Their Belief Systems

Singaporeans celebrate the major festivities that are associated with their respective religions. These religions are direct reflection of the diversity of racse living there. The Chinese follow Buddhism, Shenism, Taoism, Christianity and Catholicism. There are those who classify themselves as free-thinkers because they do not belong to any religion. Malays are Muslims. Indians are Hindus.

Religion is important in Singapore. Religions of people often cross racial boundaries and there are some who mix particular ways among religions. They tend to combine a little of the mysteries and beliefs with the signs and times of today. The Singaporean's value for religion is manifested in religious buildings that are seen everywhere be it old temples, exotic mosques and modern churches. Here in these places of worship, you can see believers from various races and ethnicities. A deeper understanding of their religions and their places of worship play a vital part in the appreciation of their art.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Singlish, ah.

The evolution of language has and will never stop. This has been proven throughout centuries when languages evolve. There are some languages that are considered dead but there are those too that are considered new and evolving.

Just like Singlish. Singlish is a dialect (maybe slang) that means Singapore English. (Note that this isn't the official language of the country. The four official languages of the country are Malay, Mandarin, Tamil and English. English is the most common language used as this unutes the different ethnic groups.) Singlish is a combination of English and those other languages spoken in the country like Malay and Hokkien. Singlish speakers are not necessarily aware of which language they are from. Singlish speakers usually end their sentence with a distinctive exclamation like ah, lah, ley and what.

I'm not at home lah. That's why ah.
Don't like that lah.
It is very troublesome ley.
No parking lots here, what.

Do you get it, what?

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Singapore Is Worth-A-Stay

As the world is in clamor because of overpopulation, there is one country, in fact, that continues its challenge to its citizens to boost population. That is it is quite easy to secure permanent residency in Singapore. Permanent residency is for non-Singaporeans who want to study, work and live in the country.

But why in Singapore? Because it is in Singapore where jobs are open to foreigners, the compensation is high, the cost of living is tolerable and the place is worth-a-live-and-love. Singapore is a developed country where people interact harmoniously among different races who reside there for good. The pattern of the country is rooted from the inherent cultural diversity of the place. The people here are mixtures of Chinese, Malay, Indian and European influences. This means that there is no worry in interacting with them because they basically understand each other's races, each other culture.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

The After Life

Since the ancestors of Taiwan were, in fact, Chinese, the three belief systems of China have been carried over to Taiwanese. The three religious traditions of China that have been practiced in Taiwan are Confucianism, Buddhism and Taoism. These three are known as the “three teachings”. Each of these three religions have practitioners or priests. They are responsible for taking note of the religious calendar and let their fellow believers be informed of the religious events and prescribed rituals.

Taiwanese believe in reincarnation. They also believe in the Buddhist heaven and hell. They believe that before a person is reincarnated, he or she will go to either heaven or hell when they die. If the person lives a good life on Earth, he or she will be rewarded with a good life in heaven. If he or she lives a bad life on Earth, he or she will go to hell. A person's fate during reincarnation is determined by his or her past life. If he or she wants to have a better life after life, he or she must perform good deeds. They also believe that other people can save you from hell if special offerings and prayers are given to you.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Favor Bank

In Taiwan, social places are common for them. Tea houses, coffee shops and restaurants are spots where people cultivate and nurture relationships. The aim of these encounters is mainly to relax. For them, talking to family and friends and spending this interaction in these places is a form to bond, connect and open in a genuine way. These people really value friendship. You can therefore expect that when times you need a support group, these friends will back you up automatically. Asking and granting favors are common things for friends in Taiwan.

However, despite their friendliness and openness, they pay close attention to one's authority and status in the society. One's respect is defined by education, occupation, age, and gender. And though it may be hard for people to interact to varying status, they still can establish a relationship of mutual benefit. Remember that favors are common to them? Yes, they might need one another in the future. At least, they've already invested in the favor bank.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Taiwanese Are Pleasing

Taiwanese are known for their pleasing characters. They are friendly and courteous people. These people believe in the saying that no man is an island and that social responsibility follows when social relationships are established. They believe that one cannot live and do anything without the help and cooperation of others. They acknowledge any form of aid that is extended to them by their family and friends.

Taiwanese are also accommodating. During initial interaction even to strangers, Taiwanese usually offer cigarettes, smalls presents or business cards to overcome shyness and that an easy flow of conversation will take place. Also, don't be shocked if these Taiwanese will talk to you very eagerly even during your first interaction. They give informal introduction to initiate a talk with you. However, even with this kind of attitude, trust for them is not easily given to people. For them, it is a virtue to be earned and not just to be given directly to people.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Let's Go To The Treasure Island!

One small place that is interesting to visit is the country in Southeast Asia, Taiwan. This beautiful gift of nature is also known as Treasure Island because it has beautiful scenery and landscapes. Although the island is small-for-a-country type, it is still famous to tourists because of its theme parks, beaches, grand mountains and cultural offerings. The people from this country are very accommodating, friendly to visitors, the weather is consistent to fair and fine, tourist facilities are excellent, and the modes of transportation are convenient even to first-time travelers.

Yang Min Shan National Park is a must for those who want to relax and reflect. It has hot springs, exquisite flora and wildlife. It also has relaxing spas. People from Taipei will highly recommend the mineral springs of which their place is known of. From the metro, it will only take for 45 minutes if you ride in a bus while 70 minutes if you prefer train. Guests can go hiking or have a picnic in this park.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Pit Senyor!

Cebu was my next stop of my culture hopping. When I went there together with my close friends, we were able to witness the grandest celebration of the province: the Sinulog Festival. We went there January last year and we were able to witness the street dancing, the colorful parade of costumes of the participants and a whole lot more.

But of course, we did not go there just for fun. While we were in the place for a week, I was able to interview native people and asked them questions that are related to their place and to their celebration. According to the native that I had talked with, the Sinulog Festival is celebrated to honor the Santo Niño, or the child Jesus, who used to be the patron saint of the entire province of Cebu. It is basically a dance ritual that remembers the Filipino people's pagan past and their acknowledgment as Christians. All of them were in joyful jubilation. All of them were chanting Pit Senyor! Pit Senyor!

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Enlarged Kisses

Last year, when I visited the Philippines, the first thing I had in mind was to visit the world famous Chocolate Hills! Chocolate Hills, tagged to be the eighth wonder of the world, is composed of 1268 hills. Unbelievable, but true. That's why when I was already in the place, I thought to myself, I could already die, I've already seen God's perfect work of art. It was astounding as these hills really looked like chocolates. Good thing I visited there during the summer season of that tropical country.

During summer time, the thousand hills in Bohol turn brown so that when you are in the aerial view, you'll see enlarged Hershey's Kisses all over the island. But do you know why these hills turn brown every summer? It is because these hills don't grow trees. Only hays. And during the summer time, because it is literally hot all over the Philippines, the hays of these hills die. And when they die, the brownness of the hays and the soil contribute to the “chocolatey” color of these hills.

So that's a matter of fact.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Bohol Is Where Amicable People Live

Last year, as part of a school requirement, I went to the Philippines to learn their culture. Upon further research, I was able to find out that there are more than twenty races and ethnicities in the said country! What a number! Then I thought to myself of giving a try and experience to maybe two to three cultures. So I researched. Based on my investigation, I was convinced to travel in Bohol to learn about their culture deeper.

Bohol is a province in the Philippines. It is historical in nature because a Spanish legend during the time of Magellan came and visited the place. Boholanos, or the people in Bohol, were said to be friendly. All throughout generations, this tag among Boholanos has been adopted. Now, they gratefully commemorate this through the Sandugo Festival of Bohol that is celebrated every July each year. In this celebration, the governor of Bohol usually acts Miguel Lopez de Legazpi (a Spaniard explorer) while the mayor of the city in Bohol plays Datu Sikatuna (chieftain in Bohol). On the historical date of March 16, 1565, a blood compact between these two leaders took place. This symbolizes the friendship of the Philippines and Spain as a whole.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Small Yet Big Enough!

I have always dreamed of going to the Philippines, a very small country, yet a very diverse culture. As learned, this Southeast Asian country is composed of more than seven thousand islands. There is actually no exact number of these islands as the number varies from time to time; so that when the country is on its high tide, the number of islands become 7107. But during its low tide, the number becomes lesser.

The country has plenty of islands making it very interesting for travel. Though one country, these islands greatly represent varying cultures unique from each other. For example, in the northmen part of the country, the people there speak differently with that of the southern part. Not only in language they differ, they also differ in the belief systems, in the ways of life even in the language used. As a result, people from the northern part claim that they are more advanced than the South. Same conviction is true with that of the southern groups, they also claim that they are more advanced when compared to the North.


Sunday, September 9, 2007

Turks Are Happy People

Festivals in Turkey are often celebrated during the third quarter of each year. If one observes closely to the Turk feasts, you will discover that the Turks are grateful people and that they love huge celebrations. These celebrations are often manifestations of thanksgiving for the abundant blessings they receive yearly.

In June, two popular festivals take place. First is the Strawberry Festival. People rejoice because of the abundant harvest of strawberries. This is a merriment in Bartin. Second is the International Wine Festival in the country's biggest wine producer, Urgup. In this celebration, people drink wine, sky's the limit. Wine companies host this celebration.

In July, Apricot Festival is celebrated in Malatya to celebrate the harvesting of the crop.

In August, everyone gets a happy and full stomach because of the Chef's Festival. Turkey chefs amaze the tastebuds of every local and foreign visitors with their specialties.

In September, Watermelon Festival in Diyarbakir is the higlight of the month. Contests are open to visitors and prices are at stake to the max.

Friday, September 7, 2007

Turkey Is A Holy Place

As Turkey is a Muslim country, several feasts are celebrated each year to commemorate traditions and beliefs.

Seker Bayrami, commonly known as the Sugar Festival, is a 3-day celebration marking the end of Ramadan. This is the time for joy and merrymaking where everyone goes out and socialize. They also exchange gifts and other Turkish delights and sweets. This usually happens every February.

The most important religious holiday is the Kurban Bayrami. This reminds its people of the near sacrifice of Isaac by his father Abraham. Instead of the child, God allowed lamb to be sacrificed. All throughout the country, those people who can afford it will sacrifice an animal to commemorate this event. They reserve a portion of the meet to the needy. This is usually done during April.

Another holiday in April is the Mesir Macunu or the Power Gum Festival. This is in memory of the curative power of an elixir that restored the health of the mother of the Ottoman Sultan Suleyman. This drink mixture has 41 spices. That is why the number 41 is significant to the Turks. In Turkey, the successful completion of events is usually marked by saying a special phrase 41 times.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Portugal Bulls vs Spain Bulls

Portugal has this celebration called the Red Waistcoat Festival which occurs every July. This name is derived from the red waistcoats of the campinos or bull herders. In this celebration, they bulls are let loose in the streets and start on their way to the ring. I find this amazing because people from this country sort of risk their lives in order to express jubilation.

The same happening occur in Spain. Spaniards call it San Fermin. This is a celebration renowned for its weeklong nonstop wine, merrymaking, carnivals, bravado and most especially the letting out of the bulls and letting them run in the streets.

But what's the difference between these two countries in terms of dealing with bulls? In Portugal, they wrestle the bulls so they have bulls left for the next years. In Spain, on the other hand, they kill the bulls else the bulls will kill them!

Monday, September 3, 2007

Where The East Meets The West

Turkey is a country where the east meets the west. So if you go and visit this place, you will get to observe and experience both the eat and west cultures. It probably explains why people here present a very diverse understanding of art and culture.

Like any other Muslim country, religious practices in Turkey should be respected, most particularly during the holy month, the month of Ramadan. During this time, eating, drinking and smoking during daytime should be discreet as it is forbidden by their culture. You should dress modestly when you visit the Muslim places like mosques and shrines.

In Turkey, taking photographs near the military or official institutions is a no-no. If you intend to take pictures, always ask permission from the people-in-charge.

Another way of life in Turkey is tipping. It is customary that you give service charge between 10 to 15 per cent. This unwritten rule is usually common in hotels and restaurants, taxi fares and in spas.

Saturday, September 1, 2007

What Makes A Fig?

Olá amigos en amigas!

In Brazil, there is a unique gesture that they do everytime they expression their appreciation to a particular person: Brazilians pinch their earlobes in front of the person they admire by using their thumbs and forefingers.

Also, people in Brazil make a fig to invoke good luck. Now how do you do this one? Simple. Just place your thumb between your index and middle fingers while making a fist.

Now consider this scenario: a guy approach you and asks you a question. Too bad, you don't know the answer. What are you going to do? Brazilians flick their fingertips underneath their chins. This is a common understanding to Brazilians as they know that the one doing this gesture does not know the answer to the question. So now we understand why in cartoon shows, the characters are doing this? Obviously, they got this from the Brazilian culture.


Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Brazilian Ethics

Olá amigos en amigas! Today, we will explore the Brazilian race once more!

Let us be reminded that Brazilians are very emotional. They are very much attached with their families and friends. Before these Brazilians make conversations to people, it is necessary for them to give a kiss on their cheeks or a handshake.

These people are also very into coffee. They serve them really strong. These strong coffees are being served usually during business transactions. Speaking of business dealings, they are very particular with time so that when one makes appointments with them, one should make it at least two weeks in advance. One should never attempt to make impromptu appointments at work or in government offices. During meetings, take note that they are always on time. Gift giving is also significant in Brazil. The host will be the one who gives gift to his or her visitor, though.

These coffees are now served mostly during business transactions. When it comes to business dealings on the other hand, Brazilians are very particular with time so that when you make appointments with them, make it at least two weeks in advance. Never try to make impromptu calls at business or government offices. During meetings, Brazilians start on time (a very reflecting part for the Filipinos). Gift giving in doing business meetings is also usual in Brazil so that the host will have to give a present to her colleagues or if not he must buy lunch or dinner instead during or after the transaction.

An interesting fact about its people is that they have this unique gesture that they do every time they express appreciation to someone; that is, Brazilians pinch their earlobes in front of the person they admire using their thumbs and forefingers.

Another thing, to invoke good luck, make a “fig”; that is, place your thumb between your index and middle fingers while making a fist.

If somebody asks you a question and you do not know what the answer is, just flick your fingertips underneath your chin. It indicates that you do not know the answer to the question. Imagine it and try doing it. Its fun and amazing realizing that we only see this in cartoons shows.

With the mentioned information above, what can we say about these people? How do they differ from us? Do we have “strange” qualities too that are exceptional in our culture? What are these? Or do we, like most of us, forget our customs and traditions our ancestors passed on to us?


Monday, August 27, 2007

To Experience Is To Understand

One of the things I like most is learning, exploring and experiencing the different cultures among different races and ethnicities. I have always want to relate with different people. I want to examine their ways of living. I want to know their belief systems, their food ways, their lifestyle. I want to learn the different sets of culture. I want to know more about intercultural communication.

I started my interest in learning intercultural communication when my college professor shared to us her personal experience on this. She exclaimed, not only intercultural communication is an interesting hobby to her, you also will become informative with your experience. You can also be a cultural mediator among different cultures. You become one when you start understanding and experiencing other cultures. You will be able to prevent certain conflicts that may arise along the way.
By studying other cultures and experiencing them, one can be able to overcome intercultural conflicts brought in the surface because of cultural differences. Understanding other cultures is a very important thing to avoiding these conflicts because of varying beliefs and principles.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Fiestas and Traditions In Spain

One of the famous festivals in Spain is Bullfighting or locally known as Corrida. Any fiesta of the year all throughout Spain, the celebration wouldn't be complete without bullfights. But if you want to see the most spectacular event, one can witness this during the “Running of Bulls” during the Sanfermines in Pamplona.

Another folkloristic tradition in Spain is the Flamenco. This is the musical tradition in the south of Spain, particularly in Andalusia. In this occasion, one will be able to witness and listen to the first rate dancing and music playing among its townspeople.

An outstanding religious origin is the Semana Santa (Easter Week). This happens every April of the year. Processions and pilgrimages occur to commemorate the death and resurrection of Christ. In this solemn occasion, everyone is expected to repent of their sins and recollect as a Christian. Similar to this is the El Rocio, a traditional pilgrimage in the province of Huelva commemorated every May.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Tomato Fight in Spain

Every clique – be it a cult, tribe, country or race – has its own customs and traditions that are created out of habit, necessity or even by serendipity. Just like that of the Tomatina Festival celebrated every August in the Valencia region of Spain.

Every year around 40, 000 people all over Spain celebrate the Tomato Festival wherein they throw more than 240, 000 pounds of tomatoes at each other. The festival is celebrated on the last Wednesday of August and is a town-wide tomato fight. The tradition, they say, began in 1945 when a fight was created between two young members of the carnival crowd. The said fight took place near a vegetable stall in the town square and everyone started picking and throwing tomatoes at each other. One year later, on the same occasion, the same people met at the square bringing their own tomatoes with them. The fight was being stopped by the police. In the following years, this practice was banned by the government but because it has already gained its popularity, it has been given its official recognition in 1959.

People are now excited to to celebrate the Tomatina Festival come August 2009. This will mark its 50 years of celebration.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Learning The ABCs of Brazil

If given a chance to meet people from other culture, I would love to meet the Brazilians and interact with them. It would always be my source of fulfillment if upon meeting them I would be able to apply to them the things that I have learned about a particulare culture – in this case, the Brazilian.

Take for example their meeting etiquette. When Brazilian men greet, they shake hands while maintaining eye contact while women kiss each other on their cheeks. Also, backslapping and hugging are common greetings among Brazilian pals. Lastly, if a woman intends to shake hands and make friend to a man, she should approach the man first and extend her hand to the man to signify politeness.

Another is the gift giving etiquette. If you are invited to a Brazilian's house, you should bring the flowers or a small gift to the host. Orchids are actually considered a very nice gift but never the purple ones. Something purple or black are mourning colors to them. Sane is true with handkerchiefs as they are also associated with funerals. In general, Brazilians open the gifts as soon as they receive it.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Hail! Brazil!

The one thing I like about the Brazilian culture is its national unity brought by language. Although Brazil is a mixture of different ethnicities and races and that Brazil is a large country in area and its population, it still has preserved to unite the country as a whole by the Portuguese language that has been propagated. Unlike some large (and even small) countries, majority of the Brazilians speak their national language. Note that dialects in Brazil have not been utilized very well among its people making the achieve the national unity that every nation is aspiring.

Another thing that I admire about them is their value for family. For them, the family is the basic foundation of the social forms and basis of stability of the society. Though their nucleus families tend to be large, they still treasure their ties up to their extended families. A family member draws a social network and help in times of need from the family.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Bob Marley and His Reggae

Reggae music is just around the corner – literally and figuratively. Reggae has always been the groove for those who want to relax and unwind, those who party until morning, those who just bum around. In the East coast, where the summer season is already up and coming, reggae mania has been very apparent in music that people listen to, in the clothes people choose to wear, with their hair, the character that they try to depict. Same is true in the West. Reggae has also got a fair story of popularity and idolism.

Robert Nesta Marley, more commonly known as Bob Marley, popularized this music genre. It first developed in Jamaica, the motherland of Bob Marley, in the late 1960s. Bob Marley used reggae to send his message to his fellow countrymen and to the world of the issues that they were facing that must be addressed. These issues include justice and equality, sexuality, poverty, society and politics. This call was and has always been the prayer of Bob Marley and every Rasta around the globe.

The term reggae more properly means a “particular music style that originated following on the development of ska and rocksteady.”

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Rastas Wear Red, Green and Gold

There is this one trend that caught my attention lately. It is very dramatic how I see random people wearing the colors red, green and gold (or yellow). Though they seem to be in vogue, these colors actually manifest a deeper, more profound account – a recapitulation of the ideals that the early men used to believe and has now continued from one generation to the next, this time though, much more popular that it has become the talk of the town, the icon of fashion among contemporaries . It has evolved into a culture itself.

This culture is rastafarianism. The name is rooted from Jah Ras Tafari, an emperor in Jamaica who influenced his people in the truest sense. Up until this time, the Rastafarians or Rastas (people who believe in rastafarianism) advocate the colors: red, green and gold. Red symbolizes blood that has been shed by the martyrs in the history of the Rastas; Green, for nature, beauty and vegetation of the promised land; gold, for wealth of the homeland.

It is good to be updated with the latest trends of the town but it will always be much better to be equipped with the wisdom expected of you to have especially if you claim that you are a fan of such trends.