Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Why I Think I'm Still in the Philippines #5

One thing I miss: the palengke.

9. I've told you about how here they speak French with an accent, the way my father's people speak Tagalog with a punto. What I forgot to say is that in the Camargue it's not just a matter of calling bread "le peng," and hand, "le meng." Listen to the old folk talking, and you'll hear them agree not with a "Beh, oui." It's a "Beh-eh-eh, oui." It's also not "Et, oui," but "Et-eh-eh, oui." They want to interrupt you by beginning a sentence with"But...", they don't just say "Mais..." They prolong the argument, going "Mais-eh-eh-eh..." Oh my god, it just hit me: They really do have their own version of the Batangueno's "ala-eh"!

10. One of my sister's best friends grew up in Novaliches, in one of those communities where everybody knows everything about anybody, and they think nothing of stretching their heads out the window to ask a neighbor, "Oy, anong ulam niyo?" ("What are you having for dinner?") Here, though it's not as crowded, the tsismis (gossip) is still well accomplished. My mother-in-law would put down the telephone, and pass on that villager no. 1 is sick and that villager no. 2 was nasty to villager no. 3 at the association meeting. My husband would come home from a client, and say that he'd met villager no. 4 on the street, who'd whispered that villager no. 5's business was not doing so good because the guy is into inhaling prohibited white powder. Two different times, I put the two through the acid test and asked, "What are they cooking for dinner?" Pierre, to my utter relief, failed. Jeanette was up to the challenge. After a moment's puzzled pause, she answered, "Villager no. 3 is trying a new vegetable recipe."

11. Did your yaya ever tell you of the woman in her province who gave birth to the kambal na hito (twin catfish), or maybe you read in the tabloid of the maiden and her illegitimate son, the bangus (milkfish)? Well, I'd just been let in on a family secret. A long time ago, one of Pierre's uncles came home from a fishing trip and hid to surprise his pregnant wife. As she was coming up the stairs, he came running out of some cabinets, shouting "Boo!" and waving in her face a multi-kilo giant of a fish. The poor woman fainted. Months later, when she was in premature labor, out came swimming out of her a baby boy, who managed to live only a few hours. It wasn't really fit for life on land, they said. The infant had a body that elongated and finished into a cone, with the eyes and ears malformed. Up to now they only whisper about it: Pierre's cousin was born with the head of a fish.

[CLICK HERE! Why I Think I'm Still in the Philippines #1, #2, #3, #4.]

2 comments:

apol said...
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ANALYSE said...

hehe, i love that accent, ya know.