My First Humorous Speech: Maria Clara

My looks, behaviour and belief and priorities are really not that of Maria Clara. Here is my humorous speech about the “Maria Clara” stereotype!

I never thought I could ever pull of a humorous speech so when it was announced over our Cebu South Toastmasters Club meeting, I saw it as a good challenge!

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Here is my piece that I wrote for the humorous competition this year:

The last time I was here ON STAGE, I was certain I would win THE SPEECH CONTEST but then I got beaten by Taipan’s polar bear OVER THERE! Well guess what! I am not here to win the best speaker but I AM HERE TO WIN Miss Universe AND YES, I AM STILL CERTAIN THAT I WILL BRING HOME THE CROWN! I am actually on stage in Las Vegas, and Steve Harvey just read my question. “What is the essence of a Filipina?” Yes, I only have a minute to compose myself and come up with a winning answer because Miss Colombia is right there wishing my doom!

Anyways, what is indeed the essence of a Filipina? Hmmm… Oh I see my mom right in the crowd. She is holding a sign that says the answer is Maria Clara.

Come on mom it is already 2017. Why on Earth will I answer that? Would Pia Wurtzbach even agree to this? Yes, I do remember Maria Clara mom, she is known in Rizal’s novel to be shy, demure, modest, religious, obedient and subservient but is the essence of being Filipina fitting to the stereotype of Maria Clara?

Does the stereotype of Maria Clara even apply to me? I know I have three traits that are clearly Anti-Maria Clara, which might disqualify me as a true Filipina.

First, looks. Would you think I look Filipina? My height? No! On the way here, I was on the jeepney and two boys sitting across me were giggling, so I ask them “Why you laugh ha?”. You know what they said? So the guy told me I looked like a tranny, ladyboy, bayot. He said I was taller than average 4’11 Filipina and even the average guy so I probably really am a guy. Anyways, I also thought my skin colour was enough to make me Filipina. I went to SM the other day because you know, “They have it all for you!” I just wanted to buy sanitary pads because the bloody days are coming, when the sales lady approached me she said, “Hi Maam, this product is good for you maam.” She was speaking in fluent English which I enjoyed but she went on talking for 15 minutes, trying to sell me papaya soap! I know my mother would say, “No to papaya soap, yes to papaya (pause) be mestiza like Maria Clara”. Nope definitely not! She also spoke to me in English thinking I was a foreigner. I have already been mistaken for Indonesian, Thai, and Japanese good thing it still Asian

Secondly, behaviour and beliefs. My mom will clearly attest! With conviction she will say, “Paula is the black sheep of the family.” Alright, I know what you are thinking, not my skin colour how dare you!

Back in college, I did not really want to be a nurse so I found ways to escape classes I signed up for dance palabas, track and field and basketball team! A day before Intramurals, I lost consciousness while running by the activity hall in front of a crowd and woke up with blood all over, my skirt had a high slit, my sleeves were ripped showing my unshaved underarms and my professor went to check. She asked if I am okay and I told her, “See what drugs can do?” Luckily it was before Duterte otherwise that joke would’ve gotten me shot. Since then my mother would confuse my large appetite for drug addiction. She would ask me always, why is your allowance gone? Are you doing drugs? Definitely Maria Clara was never accused of such and I hope you guys do not “tokhang” me by the way.

When it comes to belief, I am an agnostic, during high school, my mom went on stage for the first time bringing me a bouquet of flowers on stage as our class valedictorian just looked at me in envy. It was my mom’s proud moment. She thought finally she is turning to be Maria Clara, devout and pious. Why did she think that? Because I won the bible quiz and I received a medal from our parish priest. As she was putting on the medal, I was laughing in my mind because she did not know that I joined to escape classes again! How did I beat the other contestants? My cheat mate no my seat mate gave me a tip. He told me the golden rule for multiple choice! When in doubt choose C and so I did and won. Maybe you should try it, perhaps you will C.

Lastly, priorities. At 30, I am not married. In China, they would call me leftover or what we call the Filipino piece just like that last piece of Chickenjoy nobody wants to take not like Maria Clara she was in demand. Sometimes I feel bad and try to find matches in Tinder but my aunt’s words are making me hopeful. She said I should be happy to be single and morena because I can attract more foreign men and you know what they say… With foreign men comes better currency… Think personal ATM, enough dollar and euros for pasalubong for the entire clan! See getting married is not my priority unlike Maria Clara who was okay with being a second class citizen, I want to be a Queen B! I want to run my own business and perhaps rule the world.

My looks, behaviour and belief and priorities are really not that of Maria Clara but more of Gabriela, strong, opinionated, motivated and of course fierce. Despite not fitting in the Maria Clara, I do love my country this is why I stay despite being a registered nurse so I can defend it against every Facebook troll!

Clearly we should stop questioning people’s nationality just because they do not fit the typical stereotype.

We should not define being Filipina based on the height of our nose, our karaoke skills or our ability to eat 10 cups of rice more than what we should look at is love for culture and fellowmen.

I am definitely no Maria Clara, I am a modern Filipina, your Gabriela. How about you? Are you living the stereotype? Break out of it, I will still see you as a Filipino, or Filipina rather.

Anyways back to the question and answer. Thank you for that wonderful question Steve! I believe that the essence of a Filipina is being confidently beautiful with or without papaya!

Back to you contest chair…

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Trying my best to be “Maria Clara Like” after the Division C competition.

Making people laugh is definitely difficult I found out the minute I delivered my first ever humorous speech. Not only do you have to come up with jokes that the audience can relate to all your actions, vocal variety and pauses matter. I was lucky enough to win our Club contest and made it even farther than I ever did when I first competed. This time, I made it as an Area 23 representative and the competition was far from easy.

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For the second time, I competed with guys who already placed in the international arena. There were 5 of us for our division and unfortunately, I did not even make it to top 3 but it was a good experience. I learned that I needed more experience in finding the right mix of material to relate to a bigger audience beyond the millennials.

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Wayback Wednesday: Thoughts Four Years After Typhoon Haiyan Hit Philippines

I remember the sleepless nights volunteering after Typhoon Haiyan hit. It reminded me when I was 4 y.o. and a strong flashflood destroyed my city killing thousands of people. When will the world leaders learn?

I remember being in Subic training for Miss Scuba International when I heard about the news after it hit Tacloban, I signed up to volunteer and brought all my clothes to Red Cross HQ in Mandaluyong and went on helping out repacking goods.

Days after I saw there were already a good number of volunteers and decided to do more by signing up to be a volunteer marshal at Villamor Airbase where they were doing the evacuation.

Day in and day out we would welcome survivors and try our best to not remind them of the ordeal. There were times we went up against DSWD protocol because we knew that it was for the good of the survivors. We stayed up late and would forego sleep just to be there when they land.

It was a crazy experience. I am no different to such disaster. I was also a survivor of one of the most devastating floods to hit Philipines before Haiyan and I knew how it was to be a victim. Since my ordeal as a 4 year old kid survivor, I have become a staunch advocate for the environment and a vocal protestor about practices that hasten climate change.

I hope the world leaders are reminded of how we are destroying our own existence through unsustainable practices and I hope that the COP 21 Agreement do not remain just in paper .

Many more will suffer if we do not learn from our mistake.

http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/typhoon-haiyan-anniversary-40-powerful-photos-storm-that-devastated-philippines-1473294

Weekend Wandering: The Unspoiled Beauty of Southern Leyte

Visayas is home to a lot of beautiful destinations however, we often hear about Cebu and Western Visayas. Get to know more about Southern Leyte! A less popular diver’s paradise and a offbeat traveler’s dream.

The problem with the Philippines is that we have too many islands. There are so many options that you cannot possibly visit them all in a month! However, when people ask me for suggestions, I rarely suggest the popular ones. Why? Because other islands are also deserving of appreciation and have the same if not better things to offer. I am guilty of exploring my own province and nearby destinations quite late. One of the places I have grown fond of visiting is Southern Leyte. Why? The province offers a rustic and unspoiled beauty that is conveniently near to Cebu.

Now who do I recommend Southern Leyte to?

Beautiful Reefs of Napantao

First, to anyone who wants to dive in a pristine spot without the tourists, Sogod Bay is one of the few places where I have seen little trash while diving and they still have a good reef cover.

Whaleshark at Pintuyan

Second, to people who want to swim with the whale sharks in an ethical way, Pintuyan offers whale shark watching with the proper interaction guidelines. Will be writing more about this in a separate post.

Sunset over Liloan Bridge

Third, to travelers who want to avoid the touristy place and thrive on offbeat adventure. If you want a place all to yourself without breaking the bank and not travelling too far from Cebu City where you can see nice sunrises and sunsets while driving through quite roads and covered with numerous stars then definitely this place is for you!

Green fields of Southern Leyte

For an introvert like me, Southern Leyte is one of my favorite places to visit, though I still have tons of islands to explore. Its tranquil and raw nature excites the explorer and romantic in me.

WHAT TO DO:

Dive – Sogod Bay is quite popular to a lot of dive photographers as it is a good spot to find pygmy seahorses, whale sharks, nudibranches, mandarin fishes and other interesting marine creatures. You can do muck dive, night dive, drift dive and even blackwater dive. I would have to say doing a night dive in Sogod Bay is quite a visual experience as it is highly diverse, you see tons of creatures lurking at night. Also one of the spots to not miss is Napantao! This site looks like something out of a fairy tale because the reef forest is so magical.

Diving Selfie

Trek and Spelunking – You can trek to find Cagnituan Falls or the three falls in Taglinaw, explore Cambaro Cave and Lagoon or to hangout with wild monkeys in Hindang Caves Park.

Sogod Bay

Swim & Snorkel – You do not need to go far to find interesting creatures just by the shore you can find sea turtles swimming around. Padre Burgos is a less crowded version of Apo Reef. On my first trip where I stayed at Sogod Bay Scuba Resort, just a 100 meter swim away and I already saw the house turtle. At Pintuyan, you can snorkel with the whalesharks for hours without the crazy circus in Oslob!

Ready to Dive

Island Hop – Southern Leyte have several islands nearby worth visiting such as Limasawa, Cuatros Islas and Canigao Island where you can find dolphins playing along as you head to the islands. These islands also boast of beautiful white sand beaches and pristine waters.

Southern Leyte Road

Ride a Motorbike and Zipline- Take a scenic ride around Southern Leyte, they have different landscapes that are sure to please your eyes. You can even drive to Agas-Agas Bridge, the highest bridge in the Philippines and try out the zipline known as Zipline Leyte! It was easy for me to lose track of time as I relished the unobstructed landscapes where it be rice fields or beautiful sunsets over Liloan Bridge.

Surf – Unknown to many, Southern Leyte also have a number of surf spots.  There are at least 18 surf spots around the province, most of them in the Pacific towns of Hinundayan, Hinunangan and Silago. If you want to have a chill surf sans the crowd of Siargao then this is your spot.

Volunteer – If you heart is in marine conservation, you can join several NGO’s located in Southern Leyte such as Scaphro Philippines which creates artificial reefs out of bamboos, Coral Cay where Filipinos and foreigners can volunteer and maintain the Napantao Reef and LAMAVE , an NGO active in the protection of whale sharks and other large marine vertebrates they help train the local fishermen in Pintuyan in making their whaleshark interaction low-impact and eco-friendly.

Here are just some of the things I have listed above that you can do featured as in a local travel show:

HOW TO GET THERE:

Liloan Bridge

To get to Southern Leyte, you can now either fly or take a boat to Ormoc or just directly book a fast craft or an overnight boat to either Maasin or Hilongos. You can choose to take Weesam, Roble or Gabisan. Roble is the cheapest option while Weesam is the fastest. Fares ranges from P 133 to P 650.

Here is the schedule though it is always advisable to double-check with the shipping companies as it tends to change every now and then.

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ACCOMMODATION:

The area where you can find a good number of accommodations is in Padre Burgos as it is where the white sand beaches and dive spots are. Last time I went there, I stayed at Leyte Dive Resort and Adventure Tours. The good thing about this place is that they have limited huts which means you do not have to deal with crazy boisterous crowds and you can rent a motorbike for P250 which is a must do if you want to go around Southern Leyte as transportation is not as often unlike other tourist spots.

If you are heading to Pintuyan, you can stay at La Guerta Lodge  they have aircon rooms good for two for P 600.

Leyte Dive Resort and Adventure Tours
Leyte Dive Resort and Adventure Tours

All of the possibilities that Southern Leyte have to offer should be enough to convince you to include in your bucketlist for your next travel destination in the Visayas. These are the same reasons are why I include this region as part of my top 3 destinations whether for adventure or chill this region has it all!