Photo by Tats Limoso

“Mamista Kami”: A Maldita’s Guide to Polite Fiesta Etiquette for Guests

By glory moralidad

Oh, hi! I hear you’re celebrating a fiesta?

Whether you’re doing so as a host or a guest, I’m sure you don’t want this happening to you:

It’s true that fiestas are times for connection and nostalgia, or for sharing time together with friends and families to strengthen relationships. But have you experienced random people asking to come inside your home because they would remind you that it’s a fiesta and they have every right to be there? Refuse them, and they’ll find ways to insult your name in every way. Oh, how we pity them for delivering such poor threats.

Dealing with unwanted house guests is an annual problem for us, particularly in Jaro where I live in. But not all guests are annoying. Some visitors might just be friends or family whom you’ve never seen for a long time. However, for those times where you just want to set some house rules for your guests, I try to remember this line from ‘At Least I’m Not As Sad (As I Used To Be)’, a song by fun, for purposes like these: “That’s my life, nothing is sacred. I don’t keep friends. I keep acquainted. I’m not a prophet. But I’m here to profit!”

Let’s get to it.

First, know the types of guests you would expect to encounter during a fiesta.

You can divide them into two categories, and according to how they present their “invitations”:

The good (or, at least, tolerable) ones

“Uy, iho, iha! Nakapuli lang gid ako subong.”

Relatives who work outside the country and return for a break in the Philippines might find the fiesta the perfect time to visit their families. Some relatives may even come alone and mingle with your parents or some close relatives only. So, the food ration should seem manageable – which is a good thing.

In some cases, relatives with friends who are also from out of town seem to have a pattern of not staying long in a household during a fiesta. They would say “hello” and probably eat a little before taking their friends to more houses or to see more attractions.

Some close friends of yours who work outside of Iloilo might also be on vacation and would take the fiesta as a time to catch up with you. It depends on who they are and how much they mean to you that determines whether they’re welcome inside your house or not.

“I have brought food.”

Firstly – thank you. The food ration for the fiesta is only enough for the number of people you’ve invited and the companions that your guests will bring along. Now, that person might have something else in mind, though. He or she might have brought extra food, but what are his or her intentions of being there? Should you let them in?

Some people who brought food for the fiesta may have indeed come with proper considerations for you and your family. However, others think it’s a way for them to stay long inside your house and do whatever they want because they’re house guests. If the latter’s the case, then there’s no going around it: they are just bastos.

In situations like these, it’s good to remember this legal phrase: caveat emptor.

The “annoying” people

“Mamiyesta kami dira sa inyo, ha?”

Uuhhh… friends kita haw?

One time, 50 nuns came into a neighbor’s home and took most of the food before going to the next one. And then they’ll announce how they’re poor and hungry on the next flag ceremony while we all know how they’re carrying Bulgari bags and spritzing Victoria’s Secret fragrances. Your Facebook accounts also show where you eat around and outside the city.

Can you tell from your screen that my forehead is already throbbing?

“‘Pre! Makadto kita sa piyesta ni < insert name of unfortunate victim host >.”

Daw imo lang balay kag.

And then there are “friends” who would also bring their other friends in your house. And the next thing you know, cash, figurines and cutlery go missing. You ask yourself, “How did they even get in the house?” Someone must’ve let them in without knowing that you don’t know these people.

“‘Nang, manok da abi. Piyesta bala subong.”

Some residents who just happened to wander in your neighborhood would berate you if you don’t give them a slice of your meat. Never let your guard down even if they shove the Lord’s Prayer on your throats. If you stand your ground, they’ll just apologize and leave. But good gracious, they just sullied religion with their folding hands.

And for the last time, wala kami manok. Seriously.

Note: We understand that a fiesta is also the time where our less-fortunate community members could ask for food because they have little to none left in their homes. While it’s up to you whether you want to give some to them, do bear in mind that you’re probably going to be the first person they’re going to ask the next time an occasion rolls around.

Now that we got that out of the way…

Here are simple tips to get rid of unwanted visitors.

You’re not discourteous if these house guests who invite themselves over press you against your will. Now, you might be a godly person, but how do you get someone to leave without being rude?

Here’s a piece of advice: never let polite, social behavior get to you when someone is trespassing in your house, and especially those without your consent.

  1. Keep the gates closed. If possible, hang some wooden boards to prevent prying eyes to look at your house.
  2. If an unwanted visitor catches your attention, don’t even smile. Limit your words to “Yes” and “No.” Just stop being a polite host.
  3. Or, you know, just tell them to leave. Why all the unnecessary fluff?
  4. You can also honestly tell them that the fiesta is limited to your family or a small group. You have to let them know that the rations are only meant for some people because you can’t afford more.
  5. If you can’t say anything nice, then just smile and wave them politely towards the door.
  6. Turn off all the WiFi. Don’t let them have access to your internet. Chances are, they’ll leave your house faster.
  7. If they tell you of their intent to come to your house days before the fiesta, simply say that you’re not going to hold one. Or you and your family are planning to go to someone else’s handa. Yes, I’m basically asking you to lie.
  8. Have someone guard your gate. Let him or her know who’s coming or not. Or better yet, let that person double-check with you first before allowing “unacknowledged” guests in.
  9. Tell them directly that you’re not a refrigerator or a 24/7 convenience store.
  10. Ask them to clean their own mess.

Seems rude? Maybe. But if they break into your house impolitely, the only way to drive them off is to be firm in having them leave your doorstep, pronto.

And to the people who are not invited – please, just accept the reality that most people preparing fiestas have a hard enough time cleaning the house and cooking the dishes. Just… don’t take it personally. It’s easier that way.

Glory Moralidad founded Bata Ako Ph, which aims to bring back the lost art of storytelling to children. She has also been nominated and awarded for her work on various children's books.