If you travel through the Philippines, you will be able to make a lot of interesting cultural observations. Public transport, food, the way people talk to each other, parties, all of that will be similar but different from the place you come from. That’s the pleasure of travel, after all, to observe cultural differences. One thing which is different in each and every country I have been to is fashion … and only in the Philippines will you be able to see:
The Filipino Freebelly!
It is a men’s fashion style where a guy pulls up his t-shirt to just below his chest, and then stands there, proudly displaying his belly to all onlookers. Since there is a lot of public life going on in the ‘Pinas, the onlookers are always plenty. If the displayer of the Filipino Freebelly is a fit young guy, then the world might see a sightly six-pack. But if a middle-aged dude with a big beer gut does it, then what the onlookers see is, well, a big beer gut. This does not faze the freebelly-protagonist.
I have occasionally also started doing the Filipino Freebelly, even when back home in Europe, to the amusement of my friends & family there. Women generally don’t freebelly. Filipino women, even when from rather poor and simple backgrounds, are very concerned with their good looks. Every simple corner store in a provincial village will sell fancy shampoos and conditioners. Even with modest means will they try hard to dress well & look stylish and attractive.
One question certainly has to be answered when it comes to the Filipino Freebelly, and that question is: Whyyyy???
Firstly, it’s freakin’ hot here, all the freakin’ time. Exposing more skin cools you down.
Then, some of my friends in the countryside argue that in said countryside it is still a sign of wealth and status that you can afford so much food that you end up with a big gut. You want to show off that status symbol off.
But I think there is a third interpretation as well. The Filipino Freebelly is a sign of personal freedom. It’s a way of saying: This might not be the way some high-strung fashion-obsessed meterosexual men present themselves in Paris or New York, but I don’t care. I feel like sticking out my beer gut right now, and hence I do it. I don’t let silly rules dictate how I dress and act. The Filipino Freebelly is an act of freedom of speech; it’s self-expression out of the bounds of a media-fueled hysteria of having to look a certain hip way.
Long live the Filipino Freebelly!!
If you have good pictures of the Filipino Freebelly, post them on the Pacificklaus Facebook page!