What Is the Conflict of the Story “We Filipinos Are Mild Drinkers”?

In the short story “We Filipinos are Mild Drinkers,” a peasant farmer struggles to provide hospitality sufficient to an American soldier’s standards. Because the American soldier is in the Philippines with his troop to keep the Filipinos safe from the Japanese during World War II, the farmer wants to return the favor.

Even though the American soldier, called “Joe,” has whiskey in his possession, he wants the farmer’s alcohol. The farmer proclaims he is a mild drinker and does not drink whiskey. He offers Joe a drink tapped from a coconut tree called lambanog. Joe insists he can drink anything, even medical rubbing alcohol and shave lotion.

For himself, the farmer mixes his lambanog with Joe’s whiskey and offers Joe the same. Joe refuses and drinks straight lambanog. Joe hallucinates and imagines the farmer is a Japanese soldier and the farmer’s mother is a geisha girl. Joe passes out and is returned to the barracks by the farmer.

The irony of the story is if Joe had not sought hospitality from the farmer and simply drank his own whiskey, then he would not have passed out from lambanog. While the farmer says he is a mild drinker, not only can he handle the strong lambanog, but he also drank Joe’s whiskey and remained sober.