The other day, the Philippine Senate disproved all theories that it is an august chamber. Name-calling, mud-slinging, off-color idiotic remarks and absolute lack of contrition for apalling behavior should be grounds for removal. At least at most dining tables, the erring participant at the meal would be banished for the duration, no such luck with our elected officials. In fact, some time ago, we had a so-called President caught cheating in the elections. We didn't banish her.
In Maryknoll High School, our cooking classes were tied up with lessons on manners -- and not just table manners, mind you. We were taught the Emily Post dicta, no less. However, it puzzled us girls, how far they could be from the reality on the ground -- or, at the tables.
For example, we were taught that on the occasion when two acquaintances of different genders meet, it is the obligation of the woman to approach the gentleman as it would have been extremely inappropriately forward of the male to presume to do otherwise. It would have horrified our gentle teachers if they knew that a girl approaching a boy on any occasion would have been considered "loose" behavior for us high school denizens.
The rule of course, did not extend to telephone conversations. A boy must always ring up the girl. At least thats what lola said. And calling up a boy on the phone, was, in high school, scandalous behavior.
Food etiquette on the other hand is intensely cultural and the rules surrounding them far, far more confusing than gender politics. For instance, for those who do not like dirtying their hands during a meal, they will find to their horror that their practise of using paper napkins to hold sandwhiches, pizza or fried chicken, is incorrect. These are "finger foods" and hence, must be eaten with the fingers. Paper napkins are for wiping, your mouth, fingers, minor spills, blood... it is not supposed to touch food. No need to emphasize the point then, to a friend who rendered me aghast over her squeamishness handling a......... brownie. Hmph.
But the traditional manner of eating with one's hands is the Pinoy way. Personally, I'm terrible at it, because I suffer from occasional bouts of terminal clumsiness. But eating traditions can be fascinating, Take noises and spitting, for instance.