No matter which country we are from, we all have our own conspiracy theories and stereotypes about countries that we´ve never been before. It must be heard from a news, an online article or hearsay. This is how I figured not to believe everything I read on the internet and that experience is still the best teacher. It´s where travelling comes in — you get to prove that not everything you read is true and that learning first hand is the best way to believe.
You have your own versions in your country about what you believe about Brazil, so now, I´m going to tell you mine.
When I landed Sao Paulo, I received a lot of messages asking about how Brazil is. For many of us, South America seems to be very difficult to reach because it´s a long way from home. “Maraming gwapo?” (“Are there a lot of cute guys?”) was the most popular question. Followed by “Please send me Brazilian coffee!”
I have been here for a week already (wow, how time flies!) and I have proved a few different things that my family and friends ask that seemed to made sense when I asked around and experienced it myself. I, myself believe in these stereotypes but when I get to know better, my views changed.
And this, is what we all thought about Brazil back home…
1. Brazilian Coffee (Slimming) is from Brazil.
In college, my friends and I were really obsessed with being really skinny and thin as a paper. Before fitness became the new fashion, brazilian coffee was the trend. A few people from my close group of friends tried it and it really revealed a magical turnout. Our flabs and belly fats were all gone in just 28 days by just drinking it first thing in the morning. Proven that it works, some even branched out and decided to sell these and make money out of it. The coffee can be easily purchased in Binondo (a Chinese community in the Philippines) for a very cheap price. So cheap that you can double the price when you sell it to your friends. The usual seller tagline is “This is from Brazil”, hence the name brazilian coffee. I think it´s a part of a marketing plan to say that your product originated from ´somewhere´ to increase your selling point. (Like Argan Oil to Morocco)
When I asked my friend where I can buy this, she told me a lot of places and farms in the north that plant different kinds of coffee. I got a bit lost thinking, “Farm?!! Really???” Then I realized I forgot to tell her the keyword. She told me a lot about the history and quality of coffee in Brazil until I blurted the magic word: “slimming.” Her eyes were about to pop when I explained that we have a slimming coffee back home called “brazilian coffee.” She was amazed and told me that it doesn´t exist in Brazil. I then sent a message to our social media group and we all came to one conclusion, “Made in China.”
|As a matter of fact, one of the Havainas Store in Sao Paulo is located at the most expensive shopping street, Rua Oscar Friere|
2. Havaianas are cheap.
For Brazilians, it´s cheap because they live here. People from home also asked me to buy them Havaianas because they believe it´s very cheap. By cheap, we meant Divisoria cheap. Something that you can buy in bulk, ship it and sell it for an expensive price. Well relatively, it´s cheaper than the ones you can buy in the malls in Manila but only by Php200. I don´t think it will be worth it to buy it here and ship it there for a 200-peso difference, right?
|[Photo: thepaulineanatomy] This is the only photo of them together on Google.|
3. Everyone looks like the Matsunagas (Daniel and Vanessa)
Daniel and Vanessa Matsunaga (siblings) are popular local celebrities in the Philippines who are half Brazilian and half Japanese. Some picture Brazilian women in a different way: sun-kissed skin, big behind and long curly hair — the opposite of Vanessa. Staying here for a week didn´t give me any of those descriptions. Everyday I walk downtown, I would watch people and try to think of one good physical description that will fit them and I ended up with nothing.
I was in a Couchsurfing meeting last night and that was the best opportunity to determine a Brazilian´s physical attribute. Until, one of the girls that I met there said that there is no particular Brazilian look. I proved that to be true. I encountered Asians and talked to them in English not knowing that they don´t speak this language because they are from here. Brazil is kind of a mix of everyone in the world and seems to be another melting pot. Someone even talked to me in Portuguese because he thought I was Brazilian! Yes, I can pass for a Brazilian local look. A few boys looked Italian, Spanish and French. I hope to find someone who is 100% Brazilian during my stay here. Even Livia (the one I am living with now) is originally from Italy! Her great grandfather moved here some years ago and the Carlini family grew bigger in Brazil. P.S. She doesn´t speak Italian.
|Photo: Serra dos Órgãos, Brazil|
4. The weather is like the Philippines.
A big NO. At least for Sao Paulo. When I arrived Guarulhos International Airport, I was terribly freezing. First, I came from Africa and stayed there for the summer season. Most of the days are extremely hot specially Marrakech. I was looking forward to a Philippine-like weather when I landed but I didn´t get it. It was extremely cold. When Livia picked me up at the airport, I asked why it´s very cold and she said, “it´s winter season.” Great! My poor wardrobe collection will not be able to keep up for a few months. The interesting fact is that the climate in Brazil is the reverse of USA and Europe. Spring happens in September to December; Summer is from December – March; Autumn falls from March to June and Winter in June to September.
5. The cost of living is cheap.
Again, another big NO. One brazillian reas is equivalent to 2.2259 US dollars. The currency doesn´t really matter because some currencies are over the top but the cost of living is cheap. In Brazil, most of everything is expensive for what it is. A lot of people are very happy to cross the border to the USA and do some shopping because it´s much cheaper there. In the Philippines, cheap means cheap. There´s no other explanation for it but cheap. As much as possible, I spend minimal and only on things that I really need (like food) so I have yet to explore the price tags of the different industries.
On the other hand, the Brazilians also know a few stereotypes about the Philippines. One of my friend´s colleagues said that maybe I will eat Patchi (Livia´s dog) because the Filipinos eat dogs on a daily basis. I find it really funny because I have not met people back home who ate dogs! Dogs are pets, not food (at least for me). When Livia´s parents arrived for the weekend, they asked a lot of things and one of the most highlighting factor is that Filipinos eat fish a lot. Why is it always about eating??? HAHAHA. Well, not really. I believe that the city eats a lot of meat than fish.
I corrected them in these two important eating impressions and I think it´s better than meeting people asking, “Where is Philippines?” They don´t have a clue where it is located but now, they know it exists.
How about you? What are the things that your country know about Brazil the wrong way? Do we have the same? Share your thoughts!