The Philippines is undoubtedly a beautiful country. Many of our islands, seascapes and landscapes are often touted to be the best in the world. However, no matter how attractive and alluring our country is, it is still not enough to stop most Filipinos from leaving and embracing the foreign life overseas. However, in a quite surprising twist of fate, a well-travelled Canadian got awestruck with the splendor of the Philippines that he kept on coming back for more, until there came a point when he realized that this is where he truly belongs.
Meet Kyle Jennermann, most commonly known as “Kulas”. His wonderful journey around the Philippines has always been found in the newsfeeds of everyone, especially those who are delighted with this guy’s immense fascination with the Filipino culture. But one wonders, how is it like for a “Puti” or Caucasian man like him to embrace a culture and lifestyle, so different from the way of life that he grew up with in Canada?
Let’s find out as Kulas answers some of the most interesting questions thrown at him about his Journey on Becoming Filipino as “iHAP” to the life of Kulas, the man who is “Puti Outside, but Pinoy Inside!”
What sets the Philippines apart from other country?
Kulas: The amount of diversity that can be found so close together. Imagine, there are around 100 languages/dialects. Various tribal communities. The food variations change almost from town to town. There are 81 Provinces all with their own uniqueness. Volcanoes, rivers, oceans, mountains, sand dunes... the environment is so diverse... yet you can fly across the country in less then two hours.
When was your "Eureka moment" or the time you realized that you want to live in the Philippines and become Filipino?
Kulas: I am not trying to change and "Become Filipino". It wouldn't be right for me to say that or do that because realistically I will never understand what it is truly like to "Be Filipino". But, I am trying to take all the beautiful things I am learning from this culture and have them "become part of my life" and share them with the world around me. I am proud to be Canadian, but I am definitely proud to have the Philippines become such a big part of my life. My Eureka moment after my 4th trip in 2013, when I left the country and realized no matter where I went or what I was doing... I couldn't stop thinking about the Philippines. Regardless if I was working a job I loved, travelling somewhere beautiful or back in Canada with my family and friends who I love... all I could think about was the Philippines.
What's the first Filipino word/custom/ habit that you've learned/adopted?
Kulas: Using respectful words: Such as "Kuya" "Manong" "Tita"... those were the first habits and customs I picked up... and really love.
What's the best thing you have learned about being Filipino?
Kulas: That it is okay to smile and share happiness regardless what you may be experiencing. That it is okay to be happy and apply simple happiness to your life, even in incredibly difficult situations. Sharing Happiness, Inspires Happiness.
What can the world learn from the Philippines that they can use in their daily lives?
Kulas: The world can learn about appreciation of simple beautiful things, and how they can really lead to happiness. That yes... it is okay to want more and enjoy nice things... but that shouldn't take your focus away from appreciation of beautiful simple things in life... Family, Food, Friendship, Music... etc. That true happiness and appreciation for life can always be found in the simplest of things and moments.
What's your favorite Filipino Food/destination?
Kulas: Kinilaw is amazing! I used to be so afraid of raw fish... NOW I LOVE IT! I make an amazing kinilaw with malasugi or tuna, coconut milk, chicharon and sili!! MASARAP!.... I could never pick a destination because it depends on what you are looking for... the Philippines is so diverse! I loved the mountains and rivers hugging the beautiful coastline in Antique. I am always blown away at the beauty of the waterfalls in Iligan City, Mindanao and of course love my home Island of Mindanao :)
Tell us about your Philippine hometown and why you called it home?
Kulas: I found my home in Cagayan de Oro because this community inspires my life. No matter what negatives come my way, I am always reminded to focus on and take pride in simple positive beautiful things. I draw that inspiration from Cagayan de Oro, and the beautiful people that live here. This community gives me the strength to sift through any negatives that come my way and try to focus on the positives.
I will always be grateful for that.
Name 3 great things that can only be found in the Philippines?
Kulas: I wouldn't say "only in the Philippines" but three amazing things:
The amount of unique fruits!! (durian, mangosteen, atis (sugar apple), dragon fruit, etc...)
Amazing Filipino style transport! (skylab, Kariton, Wooden Scooters... etc.)
Same words, that mean different things! (libog, langam, basa).
In your own experience, why should we be proud to be Filipino and to come from the Philippines?
Kulas: I can never say why someone should be proud... but I can definitely say that if you come to the Philippines with a positive outgoing attitude, willingness to learn, and with the right intentions... there is so much happiness to find and that can grow in your life. Filipinos... understand it is okay to be happy.
What should people expect from your upcoming show?
Kulas: They should expect the same Kulas. Happy, Inspired, and full of adventure and excitement! They should expect a travel/adventure show that will showcase beautiful things here in the Philippines. But the show is going to be unique in that it will also feature inspiring local Filipinos and even foreigners as "case studies". In the past I have only ever been able to "write about inspiring moments and people"... this show will bring what used to only be my writing.... to life! Apir!
How different is Kulas of the Philippines from Kyle of Canada and how becoming a Filipino made you a better person?
Kulas: Kulas and Kyle are the same. There is only one difference... Kulas has no fear of life anymore. Filipinos taught me that no matter what.. you can always power on, and power on with an attitude that "yes no matter what... I can be happy and share that". So I have no fear now... I guess also, Kulas has even more happiness, and truly appreciates it in his life. I was happy before, but now I really understand just how valuable it is to share that happiness with the world around you... One day at a time.
Lastly, What is your message to the Filipinos who have left the Philippines and have decided to migrate overseas? Why should they come back or at least reconnect back to their motherland?
Kulas: I look at it this way...
EverytimeI go back to Canada... I take simple positive things I have learned in the Philippines and share those "unaggressively" with my family friends and people in Canada, in hopes of giving back a little inspiration and happiness.
What a beautiful opportunity Filipinos around the world have to share positives from where they have been in a positive way here in the Philippines
THERE ARE OFW'S EVERYWHERE!
Thats so much diverse beauty and positive learning from so many different countries to bring back and share with the Philippines in positive ways and then... so much opportunity to personally gain more beautiful Filipino experiences to bring back overseas as well, it is all a win win.