Masantos ya ngarem ed sikayo amen, plus mano po and beso-beso.
That was the upper limit of my facility in the Pangalatok dialect, as I was too lazy to successfully memorize any more from my endless honeymoon with esposa hermosa.
Thank you for taking care of my daughter, replied the woman whom I was to address Mama Flor for the rest of my natural life, in an accent that curiously recalled Joe Quirino, only the most popular Ilocano after the late Apo Ferdy, but that’s useless info for those of you too young to remember him.
I couldn’t speak the surprisingly complicated sub-language of Pangasinan, and she was a bit awkward (or chose to be) in my Tagalog, so we began our palaver in the most practical tongue available : English.
Your Papa Rusty and I wanted to see you since you got married anak, and it’s so nice to see you. What could you say to that? The numerous everyday phrases I did my best to memorize, despite the giggles and chuckles of my beautiful Pangasinense instructor, dissolved in nervous amnesia as soon as I encountered my in-laws of the first time.
Thank you very much for accepting me as your son-in-law I said, conveniently bypassing the fact that we would’ve married anyway, and pasensya na po kung di ako nag-aral ng Pangalatok I added, papering over my failure to not show up to make a formal appearance until two years after I married their daughter.
Ayos lang yun, nasa malayo ka naman. So we would be meeting halfway then. She would try to speak in Tagalog, while I would try to learn their dialect in the little time I was there.
Papa Resty had a slight smile, and he was making approving sounds, from where I sat. He had had two strokes and was in the midst of therapy, so any sentences coming from him was a bonus. After we talked about our six-hour trip, my mom’s devotion to Our Lady of Manaoag (their common ground, there wasn’t much we could talk about.
Guess what saved us? Two things. Esposa brought along the MagicSing, and each one of her family, from the patriarch down to the youngest grandkid, was a singer. I don’t mean singer as in someone who can carry a tune, but someone who can belt out Celine Dion, Maroon Five, Rey Valera, Crazy Frog, Red Hot Chili Peppers and every other conceivable song on the list.
Even Mama Flor came up with a soulful Paano popularized by Dulce, and after that nine straight performances from nine members of the Amazing Pangalatoks made Meet Your Absentee In-law Day a memorable one. I could do no less than my feeble versions of Bread and Side A, pleading a sore, dry throat caused by my travels. They actually believed me.
I mentioned a second thing that saved the day, and it was of course the famous Region II cooking. I would’ve been brain-dead not to mention to Mom that her daughter’s cooking saved me from going crazy in NZ, and Mom lost no time in telling me that all of her children, 4 sons and 3 daughters included, were excellent cooks. If you can believe it, four out of the five siblings present that day participated in the culinary exercises, and it was an impressive sight.
Superb pakbet. Unbitter ampalaya. Perfect sinigang na bangus. Creative nilasing na manok, and crispy tilapia. All under the watchful and benevolent eye of the Master Mommy Chef.
Next on our itinerary was Gerry’s Grill, at the newest SM mall in the province. I could tell our in-law bonding was going to end as smoothly as it started! 🙂
Thanks for reading !
- inhabiting a house that waits in slumber (ylbnoel.wordpress.com)