[ Note from Noel : So many more important things we could talk about, like Pedring and the tsunami-like visit to our shores, or the Festival of Carnivale performance of FILINARTIZTS in Wellington CBD, but instead we hope not to bore you to death with another of our late-night tales. Belated happy birthdays to Mr Martin Go (19th Sept), Ms Feli Tan-Co (28th)and Mr Jimmy Sy (30th) Woo-hoo! ]
JUST BEFORE OUR FALLING-OUT, the last four words outstanding that I saw on SuperBisor‘s search box were Pinay, Cupid, Datesearch (please don’t ask if there’s such a word) and the synonym-conscious love, I pretended not to be amused, and you can imagine how difficult this might be, as SB is a super-serious person, and I beheld his handheld by the most serendipitous of accidents : I happened to pass by his table when he thought I was nowhere near.
So it didn’t take a Ms Universe finalist-cum-board topnotcher to surmise that SB was on the hunt for a Pinay significant other, never mind that tens of thousands of other virile Caucasian males were in the same wolfpack (awooooo…), I wanted to wish him good luck, but remember I wasn’t supposed to know his honorable intentions, so I just smiled knowingly (to myself) and hoped he didn’t fall in love too hard and too soon.
Fatefully, I got it wrong on both counts, but before that, I said earlier that we had a falling-out diba, albeit a minor one. Last time I tried to remember, it had to do with one too many Asian jokes, I actually asked for a new shift partner, and of course this didn’t sit well with him. After some time apart, I realized most of the time he didn’t really mean it, and if he really was on the hunt, then the joke was on him right? And so without even knowing it, we kissed and made up.
And so in the meantime, would you believe it? He had met (online naturally) the love of his life, gone home to our very own Philippine Islands and visited the girl and her family. And so right in my own backyard was an honorary Pinoy who was moving heaven and earth to get his Pinay love here. And so out poured the torrent of words and phrases about his quest for love, but mostly out-of-this-world questions about our land and our way of life.
Some of them are funny, others are downright outrageous, and I’ve selected only a few of them below. They are united by a singular theme : a search for meaning in our unique Pinoy world. By the way, he tries not to ask me for the whole shift, but when the night grows deep and there’s nothing to do when log-out draws near, he can’t help himself :
Question # 1 : Noel, how do people justify homecooking when eating out is so tasty and so cheap ? The rhetorical nature of his question struck me, as I rightly assumed that he wasn’t really looking for an answer, merely a discussion, but I attempted to respond anyway. Seems that he, together with his Mahal, had been eating at Gerry’s Grill almost every day his final week back home, and he estimated that the awesome meals he had been served, if done so with equivalent quality and quantity in NZ, would be priced around five times (no exaj) what he paid.
This was how I answered him : Boss, remember that the great food you had was created by Pinoy Moms (and Dads) at home, and the recipes we enjoy all over the country can be found in every Filipino home. Moreover, despite the reasonable prices you’ve seen, wages are quite humble in the average Pinoy household, so we can’t eat out with our pay.
Question # 2 : Why do Pinoys text so much, and why are there so many numbers in our words? Its hard to divorce the Pinoy’s environment from the virtual world of texting, where every Filipino is an avatar of messages flying around millions of other mini-missives sent by tens of millions of other avatars. I didn’t need to explain this to him, as he noted that the humble vendor, office girl, university student and everybody else was immersed half the time in a crouched texting posture. I told him that SMS texting is a practical, cheap and instant, though admittedly generic form of social intercourse without which daily Pinoy life would be unthinkable. And the numbers? I explained that like English, some number words (represented by digits) are homonyms or parts of homonyms like 8 for it, 2 for to and 4 for for. Numbers also refer to the number of syllables repeated, which is how Tagalog verbs are often conjugated. Bottom line, I told him, is that every character is important in every SMS message for the load (or phone credit) conscious Pinoy.
Question # 3 : How do Pinoys survive the smog and pollution in Metro Manila, for all its attractions ? He had to ask this as I often commented on how clean Wellington air was to me, and to many other Asians born and bred in megacities like Hongkong, Taipei, Singapore and Bangkok. The three weeks he spent in Manila, he hardly saw blue skies (not that he spent that much time outside the hotel 😉 ), the carbon monoxide and soot content was a bit too much for his taste, and while the weather was ten degrees friendlier than NZ’s early spring, he wondered why not more was being done to keep the air clean.
How do you answer that? I had to tell him that living in the city meant you had to tolerate certain realities in return for higher wages, amenities you take for granted, and access to services like transportation and health care. In the long run it wasn’t healthy, but (as I winked to him) that’s why Pinoys keep searching for a better life overseas, and hope against hope that realities change back home.
Question # 4 : Why do Pinoy men sometimes do their private business (Number One, as it is sometimes euphemistically called) in public, in full view of pedestrians and children? Obviously, this was discomfiting as much to him as it was to me. In NZ, one would easily be placed under arrest by a constable who happened to pass by, as much for indecent exposure as for littering. Overlooking both a major Makati thoroughfare and the busiest artery in Metro Manila (equivalent to the liveliest intersection in Wellington, probably) his hotel window was once witness to a man painting a building wall in full view of schoolchildren crossing the street at 9 in the morning.
Again, what could I say? It’s very hard to remove or reform certain bad habits that clutter our backyard of odd Pinoy ways, and this, relieving ourselves, is certainly one of them. The bad habit is a remnant of the days when there was a talahib or group of bushes in every block of houses, and nobody bothered if we wanted to “fertilize” the plants. He could not relate to this explanation, until I admitted to him that most of the guilty parties were also drinkers who after one too many beers had to unload. Any healthy Kiwi who loves any of the 50-plus NZ beers could understand that, and he did.
And I didn’t need to ask him if this changed his view any of Pinays and his Pinay girlfriend, as he is already organizing her maiden voyage abroad, and straight into his arms.
I would say lucky girl, if I didn’t think SB was so outrageously lucky himself. 🙂
Thanks for reading !
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