Archive for the ‘reminisce’ Category


The Letter Z

March 30, 2008

The British call it “zed”. Americans call it “zee”. Filipinos, on the other hand, despite American indoctrination do not seem to agree how to call it. Some of us call it “zee” like the Americans. Some, however, call it “zay” (rhymes with ray).
I first noticed this fact back on my Freshman year in UP. I was staying at Kalayaan, a dormitory exclusive for freshmen. Residents of that dorm hailed from various regions of the country. So I decided to do a little data gathering to find out how others called it. This is the result of that sampling session:

Region I “zee” = 1 “zay” = 6
Region II “zee” = 0 “zay” = 2
Region III “zee” = 1 “zay” = 4
Region IV “zee” = 4 “zay” = 2
Region V “zee” = 3 “zay” = 2
Region IX “zee” = 1 “zay” = 0
Region X “zee” = 2 “zay” = 0
Region XI “zee” = 2 “zay” = 0
Region XII “zee” = 4 “zay” = 0
CAR “zee” = 0 “zay” = 1
NCR “zee” = 6 “zay” = 0

So it seems that nobody from the southern regions called it “zay” hence, my surprise then at hearing the letter pronounced that way. Truth be told, I felt as if fingernails were scratching at a blackboard whenever I heard “zay” being mentioned. I adapted after a long while. I no longer felt grossed out by it, only a little bit distracted, but I still had a slightly controllable urge to correct its pronounciation.
About 7 years later, I was reminded of this fact again after hearing Lozada testify about the ZTE deal. He always said “zay-tee-eee” instead of “zee-tee-eee”. It came as no surprise when I found out that he hails from Region V. This prompted me to dig out the mini survey I did 7 years ago.

PS NCR people should not feel cocky about their “proper” pronunciation of the letter Z. I have a friend who is a true blue Manila boy who pronounces it as “zay”.

PPS **y, if you’re still reading my blog, I’m referring to you. =P. I never told you that it felt a little distracting to hear you calling that letter as “zay”. So consider this as my succumbing to the “slightly controllable urge to correct its pronunciation”. Of course, you don’t have to follow it… ;p.


The Smell of Aruma

February 11, 2008

Having nothing else to do, I was dragged along with high school schoolmates to Aruma. It was a different world, yet it was something I was not unfamiliar with.
Immaculate white covered everything that was not metal or glass. Bossa nova music streamed across the room. The smell of coffee wafted to our noses, and a few customers lazed about sipping from crystal glasses. It was a coffee shop in a city that seemed like it couldn’t yet afford a coffee shop of Starbucks proportions.
“I’d have the Macadamia froth,” a high school classmate who’s now a Math professor said.
“I’d have the Caramel frapuccino,” said a high school schoolmate who’s also my schoolmate in college, and who’s back in our city to finish her studies.
“I’d have the Caramel frapuccino,” I said.
The price was humongous for our city’s standards. In a place where a filling meal can be bought for P25, P120 for coffee is way overboard. Then there was this strange effect that posh places usually bestow: English came out freely in our conversations.* We were still speaking in Cebuano, yet something in the poshness of the place pulled out quite a lot of English words from our stock vocabulary.
“Do you have WIFI here?” my college schoolmate asked to the barrista.
“Yes,” she answered.
Our conversation then shifted to Starbucks’ WIFI offering and the coffee shops in Manila. We weren’t habitual coffee drinkers. In fact, I don’t even think anyone of us drank coffee except in coffee shops. For my part, I wouldn’t even go to a coffee shop unless if I have org meetings there. Coffee there, while delicious, is also very expensive; which is something our provincial minds must continually come to terms with.
Then we talked about posh places and the uber rich people we’ve met in Manila. People who don’t think it’s a big deal to order 3 cups of large Starbucks coffee and treat others with Doritos chips. People who go to restaurants which serve drinking water pitchers with uprooted plants submerged inside. People who are driven around by chauffeurs just so they can buy drive through meals.
Soon our conversation dwelt on malls, particularly the ones we haven’t visited yet. Trinoma is still a foreign place to us college schoolmates, while the Mall of Asia is commonplace to the Math professor and my college schoolmate.
“I love this place,” my college schoolmate said. “This reminds me of Manila.”
I almost coughed up my coffee as she said those words. The place did remind me of Manila, yet it was not the part of Manila that I will always treasure. I do not miss the glitz of Manila. Its glitz is forgettable at the least.
What I miss about Manila is the people I’ve been there with. Those friends who were with me as we saw its glitz. Those friends also who were there with me in the not so glitzy places there. Those friends whom I came to know in Manila are the ones who remind me of Manila.

* I usually make it a point to speak in Cebuano in my city, even though I am fluent in Filipino and English. I believe that people should speak my language when they are in my city. I do speak English or Filipino to those who really can’t understand Cebuano, but there were times when I got dumbfounded looks when I answered Cebuano to Tagalog speakers.


Viva Iligan Part 1

September 28, 2007

It’s fiesta time in the city but we Protestants wouldn’t have anything to do with it, that is except for binging food* prepared by Catholic hands and enjoying the carnival.
I may sound like I go pamista during the season, but I do not. My first and last eating of fiesta food was way back in time. I don’t even know if I had started school at that time. A neighbor invited our parents, but they instead sent us there. To this day, I don’t know whether they were invited or not. Suffice it to say, we went to our neighbor’s house and ate the food. No prayer to God or whatever saint was offered. We just and chatted and ate. It was ironic to not that all the guests were all Protestant.
Growing up Protestant shielded me from the events of fiesta time. Studying in Manila did not good for any cultural observation. People there don’t seem to be interested in fiestas. I only knew that fiesta time equals holiday season, and so instead of going to school we stayed home. Sometimes, we go to the carnival, but we haven’t been there recently. I don’t even have plans going there. It seems to have lost its thrill. The religious aspect of the fiesta was none of my concern until now.
The patron saint of our city is San Miguel. Catholics add Sr. before the San in formal conversation. He is the Archangel Michael, protector the people of Israel. The reason why he became a saint is beyond me. The reason why he became a patron saint in my city is clouded in legend.
One legend states that the Spanish priests** couldn’t decide what saint to dedicate my city*** to. So they sent for saint statues to be presented before them. One of them got a blindfold and declared that the patron saint of the city would be the statue that he’d first touch. So the priest grappled for a while until he touched one of the statues. He got so excited he kissed the statue and exclaimed, “This would be our saint. This is our saint.”**** He only realized that he was kissing the devil at San Miguel’s feet after he removed the blindfold. Then by literal extension, we got San Miguel as patron saint.
Real Saint
Having been elevated as patron saint, the people started to pray to him. They asked***** him to bring them food, harvest, rain, mercy, and above all protection. My city is situated a few miles away from the Maranao capital of Marawi. Marawi was a stronghold of Islamic presence that the Spanish never seemed to be able to subdue permanently. San Miguel seemed to have answered their prayers. While the Maranao raided and kidnapped people from as far away as Manila, my city stood firm against them in its entire history.
Another miracle attributed to San Miguel is the protection of my city from the Japanese during World War 2. The story goes that the Japanese bomber planes could not bomb my city because the ground apparently disappeared before them. All they could see was water, water everywhere. To which a Protestant minded neighbor replied, “Why would the Japanese bomb this city? They have their airstrip here. Who would want to bomb their own airstrip?”
So at best, a Protestant response to San Miguel is disbelief at one end and indifference at the other end. Of course, what goes between mainly, the usual Catholic-Protestant debates still hold. But it’s for another post. And since I cannot in good conscience declare a Viva****** to San Miguel this season, I would instead say Viva Iligan!

*Some won’t even dare eat such “food offered to idols”. My opinon? See 1 Cor. 1:1-8, but it’s still a conscience thing.
** Filipinos were not yet allowed in the priesthood at that time.
*** Actually, it was still a tiny fort/town at that time
**** Get a Spanish dictionary. I don’t know Spanish.
***** Catholic theology would say that it would be more appropriate to say that San Miguel interceded for God. Yet the testimonies of San Miguel’s devotees sound like San Miguel himself answers prayers.
****** Loosely translated “Long Live” as analogous to “Long live the King”, but since San Miguel is immortal it would be more appropriately translated as “Hail”.