A very funny article written by a Filipina living in the UK has been circulating by e-mail. It came anonymously, but I’ve since discovered that the author’s name is Carla Montemayor and her article was originally published in News Break. I hope she won’t mind me including some of the passages that particularly tickled me.
For starters, there's the verbose politesse. The British will not just say "thanks," they will invariably say, "Thank you very much indeed," or "Thank you ever so much." Ever so much na, indeed pa. How does one reply adequately to that? "You are profoundly welcome from the deepest recesses of my heart"? Sometimes I feel like bowing.
Then there are the dramatic exclamations. Things are never just "okay" or "nice" or even "great"; they are "splendid," "fantastic," and "brilliant." It's overwhelming and somewhat suspicious for someone whose own language is restrained in the deployment of superlatives. Maganda (beautiful), magaling (good), and ang galing-galing (really good) are about all we can bring ourselves to describe anything we're impressed with, although we do make up for it with emphatic gestures and lively vocal tones.
The British, when pronouncing something as being "superb," will make the most frugal of lip movements and the slightest of eyebrow lifts. Requests are bound to be long-winded. "You don't suppose you could turn the light on, do you, that is if you don't mind and if it's not too much trouble, of course?" I'm tempted to reply with a similar treatise, but I just say, yes, I suppose the Filipino CAN!
I've seen menus featuring "spotted dick," but I'm too embarrassed to order it. I searched for BISCUITS, ignoring large packages of DIGESTIVES, which I thought were for septuagenarians who had to put all solid food through a blender.
And because this is the north of England, I've been invited to TEA in the evening in which no tea was served it was actually DINNER. Then I was asked to DINNER, which turned out to be LUNCH. So now when they ask what I'm having for "tea," I say "rice." And when someone invites me to "dinner," I no longer plan to wear a shiny dress.
I have also ceased to recoil upon hearing the various endearments with which total strangers address me: "luv" (fairly common), "flower," , "angel," and get this "duck." Why the name of a domestic fowl is considered a fond nickname, I have no idea. If someone called me "bibe" (duck) back home, I would surely be livid and yell back, "Itik" (skinny Philippine fowl)!