"Trini" Alice in Filipino Wonderland


The Honourable Dr. Eric Williams  invited the Filipino community to Trinidad in 1964. This was just after his trip to the Far East. He may have realized that for such a skilled nation of 7,102 islands and over 103 million people it may have been competitive for the Filipinos to find work in their own job market. He may have also realized that this community which speaks English, Spanish and dialect Tagalog of Catholic and Muslim religions may have been similar to his multicultural state of Trinidad and Tobago.  In addition, a lightning bolt idea probably struck him when he may have realized the resourcefulness and dual benefit to these citizens and to his Trinidad if he offered them employment by inviting these skilled professionals to fill the labour shortages in his country. Later they would arrive from the island of Cebu and the capital city of the Philippines, Manila to fill skill gaps as medical personnel, doctors, nurses, pharmacists and to assist with the restructuring of the then TELCO Trinidad telephone state services which were deplorable and affecting everyone including Dr. Eric Williams. Today, the estimated Filipino population in Trinidad is approximately over 1,000 persons. They are found in several skilled areas of engineering, medicine, construction, art, culture, business and culinary arts.

2014-12-06 19.59.12 2014-12-06 19.59.17 I have been fortunate to have been invited to their “potlucks” on several occasions (Birthdays and New Years Eve) to experience first hand Filipino culture.  This is a house party with lots of Filipino food ( the Filipinos attending bring a dish or more to the table), karaoke singing and family (this does not necessarily mean blood relation but friends from the Filipino community in Trinidad). Filipino food is usually steamed or stir fried. Their diet is quite healthy and they consume less oil. Although, there is almost always the roasting of a pig over an open fire! This pig is stuffed with herbs and covered in coconut oil and roasted for flavor, texture and fat reduction! It is neither too salty or too sweet or too spicy but flavorful for the palate. Even if you are not family you are treated as though you are part of their household. There is plenty laughing and though they speak Tagalog their English is quite good and the “Trini” dialect as well! They are excellent hosts as they always make sure their guests are comfortable and happy. Their hospitality emanates like a pulsating aura of love and positive, clean, happy energy throughout their home from the minute they greet you throughout your stay even until you leave and get in your car ready to leave. One can reminisce that they went to the Philippines and returned to Trinidad as this culture immersion captivates individuals each time almost like magical realism to a “Trini” Alice in a “Filipino” Wonderland fairytale!

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It is this very essence of culture immersion, adaptability and diversification that reflects how one nation, a twin island state can exist in peace with many others under one sun and one sky. Trinidad is blessed by this beautiful gem of multiculturalism. Even though we are many cultures the respect and appreciation for each other shout volumes of amplified unity and harmony as one body of a Trinbagonian identity.

So Live and Let Live,

Love and Be Loved,

Experience Culture & Respect Each Other

Represent Your Nation

Trinidad and Tobago

The True Caribbean

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Let’s Go Trinidad and Tobago