Saturday, March 22, 2008

Can You Nail The Differences Between The US And The Philippines?

Sunday is Easter, that annual holiday that is celebrated in the US by joyful festivities involving eggs and rabbits in order to accurately depict the crucifixion of Christ and his resurrection. But did you know that other countries have slightly different ways of celebrating Easter? They do. Take the Philippines, for example. Let's see if you can nail the subtle differences between Easter celebrations in the US and Easter celebrations in the Philippines. You're going to want to pay close attention because, as I just said, the differences are subtle.

Scenario One: In the US, thousands of people will flock to the lawns of the White House for the annual tradition of the Easter Egg Roll. It seems to involve little more than just that - lots of people, Easter eggs, and rolling around of said eggs or of said people. (One of the two. It's a little unclear in the brochure.) Now, in the Philippines, thousands of people will flock to San Fernando City to flay the skin off of their back and/or to crucify themselves. ("To flay" means "to strip off the skin". "To crucify" means "to nail to a cross, a la Jesus.") Not sure of the differences? Let's try another.

Scenario Two: In the US, thousands of people will participate in Easter picnics and Easter dinners that have been prepared by family and/or friends. In the Philippines, thousands of people have been warned by the health secretary to not buy food from the street vendors to a) save money and to b) avoid getting diseases such as diarrhea, hepatits A and typhoid. Still stuck? OK, one more and then I'll clue you in.

Scenario Three: In the US, people get a tetanus shot after they have accidentally stepped on a nail or some other sort of metal object. The tetanus shot is not something that is thought of as a necessary accessory to the observance of a religious holiday, either. Also, people in the US who make it known that they use whips AND use them on themselves, are solely responsible for the condition of their whip and any damage that they inflict upon themselves with said whip. They're not getting any pointers; they're on their own. (And people who do not use whips do not want to know anything about the people who do use whips.) In the Philippines, people get a tetanus shot before they purposely flay the skin off of their backs or purposely drive nails through their hands or feet to re-enact the crucifixion. They are also reminded by the government to check the condition of the whip that they will be using for lashing their backs, as a dirty whip can lead to a variety of different infections. Let's review.
nailed feet

In Scenario One, the main difference between the tradition in the US and the tradition in the Philippines is that, in the US there are not thousands of people nailing themselves to a cross to re-enact the crucifixion of Christ. Nor are there thousands of people in the US who are flaying (removing) the skin off of their backs with whips because they believe it is good for the soul. No, that is what they do in the Philippines on Easter. No, from what I can tell, they're more of a "hands-on" celebratory crowd than we are. Most in the US prefer to read about stuff that involves flagellation and limb nailing. We don't really feel the need for such re-enactments. Or such pain. That's probably why we're all going to hell.

In Scenario Two, the main difference between the food consumed in the US and the food consumed in the Philippines is that in the US, we are rarely warned not to buy food from vendors to avoid getting diarrhea, hepatits A and/or typhoid. Nor are we warned to not buy food from vendors to save money. (Saving money is a very low priority in this country. It actually ranks below getting typhoid.) Now, lead? That's a totally different story. We're a very lead-y nation these days (Thanks, China!) and we are rarely warned about the lead in our products before we buy them. No, we're usually informed that it would not be a good idea to buy such things after we've bought them. So, the Philippines are way ahead of us in terms of PR. They're right on top of that 'getting the word out' thing. It's either "get the word out" or "get diarrhea". I, personally, am glad they went with "the word".

In Scenario Three, the main difference between the timing of getting a tetanus shot is that in the US, we are rarely getting a tetanus shot as a preventative measure ahead of time. We are even more rarely getting a tetanus shot because we have plans to whip out our Palosade Nail Gun and affix ourselves to a makeshift cross after consuming a lovely, typhoid and diarrhea-free brunch of glazed ham and green beans while surrounded by loved ones. Also, in the US, we really prefer not to know who is using whips and what they are using them for. Thus, the government certainly isn't going to issue any sort of health & safety warnings about proper and improper whip usage and how to spot the difference between the two.

In the Philippines, they DO nail themselves to crosses to re-enact the crucifixion and they DO get a tetanus shot before said nailings. And the government has even gone as far as to help out these soon-to-be-crucified-but-still-not-Christ individuals by making sure that all of the nails that will be used have been autoclaved for cleanliness. (I'm assuming that, were the autoclave a more prominent appliance in the US, there would be far more cross nailings during holidays such as this.) The government in the Philippines will also remind all self-flagellators that a dirty whip can have some serious health consequences. (Do they have a mascot for that campign?) They do so because, as the Health Secretary of the Philippines said, "it's hard to discourage flagellants from whipping their own flesh, so the best penitents can do is ensure that their whips are well-maintained." Right you are, sir. Right you are.

Different lands. Different cultures. Different ways of celebrating religious holidays. Some from limb nailing regions, some not. But even with all of the differences, there is one thing that we have in common with the Philippines in our ways of celebrating Easter. Coca-Cola. That's correct. In the US, Coca-Cola is the official sponsor of NASCAR, American Idol and several other public events. In the Philippines, Coca-Cola is the official sponsor of this Nail-y Crucifixion Festival. And I can understand that completely. Think about it. It's Easter. It's hot. You're nailed to a cross. And you're a little parched. What do you say?

"Jesus, I'm thirsty! How about a Coke?"

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