THE SUNNY PHILOSOPHER | Funny stories, funny characters Or how the Filipino survives

Funny stories, funny characters
Or how the Filipino survives

THERE was a popular anecdote about a youth lying beneath a fruit-laden guava tree, his mouth watering but too lazy to pick the delicious fruit himself, so he opened his mouth waiting for the guava to fall. 

Who the youth was, people knew him well. The story of Juan Tamad, a simpleminded character in Filipino folk talks, is as old as your grandfather. In our town in Caramoan, he is known as Juan Osong, who is everybody’s friend. 

Most of his jokes have made fun of himself and the foibles of his friends. Call his jokes a harmless attempt to lighten his dark life. You know, he is very poor like Juan Tamad, his ancestor. 

Juan Tamad is long gone, existing only in the memories of old folks. But Juan Osong still lives in remote villages and the city’s back streets, making people laugh. Osong means a funny man. So you see, he lives up to his name. 

The destitute Filipino survives the harsh live because of his ability to laugh. He laughs a lot. No other individual has this gift. It is his way of keeping himself sane. 

The number of people committing suicides in this country is negligible because the Filipino has an outlet: laughter. He can laugh at his own misfortune. He is like the jilted lover who cries his pain in songs he writes. Or in several bottles of ginyebra. 

In Japan, suicides are reportedly common because the Japanese do not have the resiliency of the Filipino. The Filipino has the character of the pliant bamboo growing abundantly on the hillsides. 

Have you seen the bamboo in your backyard after a severe typhoon? It stands tall, unruffled by strong wind, while the sturdy trees nearby have been uprooted or their branches twisted, mangled or blown away. 

The Filipino has the character of the bamboo, bowing low when hard wind blows but standing again after nature’s wrath is over. And laughing at the disaster’s failure to defeat him. 

He loves anything funny. That is how he makes light of his life. Rib-tickling movies particularly appeal more to him because such movies makes him forget his foodless days. 

Vice Ganda’s movies have topped the income chart not only in the recent FAMAS because the movies tickle people’s ribs. The movie, Larawan, which earned several awards, was nowhere near the top. Moviegoers seemed uninterested in finely crafted serious films. 

That is no surprise. The dirt poor Filipino finds funny movies the anti-dote to his difficult life. If he were well-off, he would go for other kinds of movies. 

The rich which is only a minute fraction of the population are not tickled white by cheap movies. They are busy counting their money. The poor do. They love Juan Osong for what he brings into their lives.