6 ways I know I’m a Filipina at heart

Even though I’ve lived more than half of my life in England – I will always feel that invisible string that connects my heart to my home, Philippines. That’s why I’ll always be a Filipina at heart.

Moving to England at the young age of eight made it easier for me to adapt to my new environment. I already knew how to speak English before I migrated so making friends wasn’t an obstacle for me. 

Left: That picture was taken a few months before I moved to England, I was at year 2. Right: A group picture of my new class mates when I was in year 6.

There were other Filipino kids in my year, one turned out to be one of best friends until this day. We would speak in our own language on the playground and in class – there was something about the familiarity of it that made me feel safe and secure.

I may be a girl with a strong British accent who eats Caucasian cuisine and dress like a westerner; but here are the reasons why I’ll always be a Pinay.

There’s approximately 6,666 miles between London, UK and Manila, Philippines

1) Rice Is Life

Rice and life both have 4 letters. Coincidence? I think not.

When I’m at home, I’ll still have rice for breakfast, lunch and dinner. AND PROUD! I can’t say I’m very proud of my waistline though…

In life, if there’s one thing that I know for sure, that no one can question, the ultimate truth: Every Filipino kitchen homes a never-ending supply of white rice.

Which is made in our signature cooking equipment – THE RICE COOKER!

Knock on any Filipino’s home and I guarantee that you will find the following items above.

2) Expert at using my hands whilst eating! (It’s called kamayan

If you have never been to an authentic Filipino feast, then you need to experience it ASAP.

It’s a tradition where piles and piles of food are generously laid out on meters of banana tree leaves for everyone to dig in and share.

And to make it even more communal and fun – chuck the knives and forks away because in this meal you’re eating with your hands!

However, this is a specific technique with how to eat with your hands like a real Pinoy. One way we can tell if you’re a true Filipino or not is to get you to eat with your hands.

To a Filipino, the best way to enjoy food is with family, banana leaves and CUTLERY-FREE. [photo credit: Toronto Star]

3) Board games for family time? Nope, we KARAOKE

Bored on Sundays? No problem, we’ll karaoke the time away. 

Every Filipino household owns a karaoke machine that’s imported all the way back from the Philippines to make sure that we have Filipino songs are there to belt out. 

The machine comes out during birthday celebrations, Christmas, New Year, after church on Sundays… Pretty much any excuse we can get to have some fun on the karaoke, we’ll take it! 

Right: The kitchen TV we use for karaoke sessions. Left: Karaoke machine bought from the Philippines. The book has over 1000+ English and Tagalog songs.

4) I still use a pale and bucket when using the toilet… 

I’m not sure if any of you are aware that Filipinos don’t just use tissue roll for when we take care of business in the toilet.

When I first moved here, I was so surprised that they didn’t have a pale and bucket at every public toilet cubicle. 

I remember saying to myself:

“How do I clean myself with this extra soft but extra thin paper?”

We have our trusty companions the pale and bucket to keep our nether regions nice and clean! (I don’t want to go into too much detail but feel free to use Mr. Google for an in depth explanation.)

I still believe that the pale and bucket method is the best way to feel super clean, but admittedly, the toilet paper is a lot more convenient.

5) Respeto Sa Dios! (“Respecting the Almighty”)

I grew up in a house where religion took precedence over any other principles.

I have my Lolo (Grandad) to thank for that. In my opinion, he has shone a light on me by constantly ensuring my feet stays on the ground and I have the right balance with freedom and morality.

Without my Lolo, I wouldn’t be the person who I am now. 

Left: 1-year-old me and my Grandad back at our home in the Philippines. Right: My first holy communion.

6) A Filipino woman’s ‘Debut‘ 

When a Filipino woman turns 18, she must host a grand ball/party. This is called a ‘debut’, an event that celebrates a woman’s coming of age. It’s similar to what the Spanish call a ‘quinceanera‘.

The debutant must wear opulent gowns and have her own hand-picked entourage of 18 individuals.

I had a total of 4 dresses to change into. A different dress had to be worn for each ceremony of the event.

Basically, it’s a really big birthday party. It’s next to a woman’s wedding day in terms of the biggest days in her life.

Watch: My Debut

My debut took place at the Village Hotel, Maidstone on the October 28, 2012.


4 thoughts on “6 ways I know I’m a Filipina at heart

  1. Well done Claise for a beautiful clip. Loved the truthfulness in every line. You managed to make the Filipino Culture and Practice normal in a foreign land. I hope that our “kabataan” will also have the courage as you have in sharing who we really are and how beautiful people we are.
    By the way, you have just exhibited another Fiipino trait in this clip….TALENT!
    Keep it up, beautiful.


    1. Thank you so much po, Tita. That really means a lot – your comment fuels me to write more about Filipino culture. 🇵🇭

      I only have my family to thank for instilling our culture’s values in me and not letting my environment morph me into a person I am not.

      Thank you po for the feedback! I really appreciate it.

      God bless!


      Claisse. X


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