(look closely, you'll see at least one tarp. click here if you want to see the photo in original size)

                I live in a society where prestige and flamboyance comes first before merit and humility. It’s not the typical Filipino sense of pride. It is more than that. So much more than that.



                If you happened to accomplish even something as trivial as passing, take note, passing, a college entrance test, you’ll have your name printed on a 1 x 5m cloth hung some place where at least half of the Maranao society can see it, proclaiming how proud your school/parents/cousins/uncles/aunts are of you. That’s just a minor case. If you passed the teaching/criminology/agricultural engineering/forestry board exams, expect a level up. You won’t get a cheap cloth streamer, you’ll get at least a 3 x 5 feet glossy tarpaulin, at least 3 of them. There’s more, if you passed the more prestigious board exams (e.g. accountancy, civil/electrical/mechanical/electronics and communications engineering, nursing), you’ll get a bigger tarp and more in number. The pinnacle of this is when you have passed the bar or the med board, prepare to be haunted by your grad pic blown-up in a tarpaulin that is the size almost like that of a billboard placed everywhere, on the streets, atop the buildings, on every crossroad, shamelessly photoshopped that people may wonder if you really are genetically blessed, been using St. Dalfour for a decade, or just came from a Belo overhaul. You will be haunted for months because the tarps will stay where they are until they fade or blown away by a storm.



                For an outsider, this seems like an excess. If exposure is food, then we may seem like gluttons. But for an insider like me numbed and desensitized by all these boastfulness and arrogance, I do LOVE this practice. I like the fact that family members won’t mind spending thousands of valuable peso to show how proud they are of their kin. I like the more-than-enough manner of saying “We are proud of you.” because that’s how it is meant to be said, with grandeur and romance to sweep anyone off his feet and feel that the years spent in school and months of slaving one‘s butt in the review center is worth it because in the end, it is very much appreciated. I like that seeing these accomplishments hung everywhere inspires a lot of people to strive hard so that one day, they too will have their names, and faces, of course, plastered somewhere like a toothpaste ad. It may sound shallow. But come to think of it, sometimes something shallow can drive us. Something as shallow as to have something to show off. Something your family and friends can show off.




                The Maranao community I realize is a society of PATALBUGAN. The question now is: papatalbog ka ba?