While taking snapshots of the side entrance of Minor Basilica of San Lorenzo Ruiz (Binondo Church), this boy approached me.
He: Ate, picture-an mo ako!
Me: Ha? O, sige.
Me: Okay, napicture-an na kita.
He: Ate, pahingi ng pera. (I thought he was going to thank me. Though I’m used to it, I got surprised that moment since there are no beggars in Abu Dhabi. Primarily because street begging is punishable here.)
Me: Anong gagawin mo sa pera?
He: Bibili ako ng pagkain. Nagugutom na ako eh.
Me: Sinong kasama mo?
He: Ako lang
Me: Bibigyan kita ng hopia (Since I’ve just been to Eng Bee Tin)
He: Pera na lang
Me: Okay. (Handed him one peso. That’s the only money/coin I had in my (jeans) pocket. I didn’t want to open my bag for some obvious reasons. He should have agreed to take the hopia.)
He: Ayoko nito. Gusto ko 5 pesos.
Me: (Looked for and found a 5-peso coin in my bag and gave to him)
Then, he ran away.
(Taken on 28th of January last year while in-flight)
Few days ago I surprised myself that I almost did not remember that I’m now past the 365th day of being an OFW. Living within the breeze of the Gulf didn’t hurt. What I thought of ‘okay-let’s-see-if-it’s-oh-kay-there’, is actually more than okay. It’s perfectly fine that soon at least five more colleagues from my previous office would be arriving here. The more, the happier.
It would be my turn to orient them
(a) why there are no security guards at the banks and other establishments, that it would eventually lead to getting irritated when you’re back home and there’s series of inspection whenever you chance to enter a building in the Philippines; it’s a sad fact that it’s relatively safer here;
(b) that a five-minute stop is heavy traffic;
(c) not to get horrified when some of their non-Filipino colleagues would ask, ‘hey, why do you bathe everyday?’ and/or ‘why do you always brush you teeth after lunch?’;
(d) where to get nilupak, halayang ube, crispy pata, goldilocks polvoron, etc. when craving/homesickness attacks;
(e) not to get so amused when the bags, wallet, mobile phones and other belongings you unintentionally left are returned to you/are still recoverable;
(f) why there are prayer rooms everywhere;
(g) that women are given so much respect, in general, while at work we are once in a blue moon told like, ‘this is the first time I’ve seen a female auditor’, or during a business meeting women need to prove (a lot more) when one says, ‘it’s a man’s world, you know’, and worse when a golden age fellow exclaims, ‘aren’t women supposed to stay home?’;
(h) and many others – these to include the sometimes awkward yet funny casual conversations with the other nationalities. My most recent encounter went like this:
Canadian Colleague: My long-time nanny is a Filipina.
Me: Was she good?
Him: Yes. And hmm… hey, I want to ask you something.
Me: What about?
Him: What does Put Ang Nay-Nay Mo mean?
Me: (Almost laughed at the accent). Who told you that?
Him: My nanny. She tells me that whenever I’m being nasty.
Me: You wouldn’t want to know.
Him: Tell me, please.
Me: (Translated Put Ang Nay-Nay Mo word per word)
Him: (Got it). Oh, that was cute!
Separate sort of chat with two of my good friends very recently.
Conversation # 1
Sya: Kumusta ang weekend?
Ako: Okay naman, inabot ako nang 6am sa pagbabasa.
Ako: Di ko namalayan na umaga na pala. Nakita ko may sikat na nang araw kaya natulog na ko.
Sya: Ano ba yang binabasa mo?