Friday, July 21, 2006


A friend, who I know from my one year teaching English in Japan, suggested in an email that after almost 3 years in the Philippines I’d be fluent in the local language. Here is my reply (slightly edited for blog-reading pleasure):

Ha - fluent in Filipino - that's a joke. I've been here almost 3 years and I still know more Japanese than I do any of the local languages. It's because most people here (those who are educated, at least) speak great English (it's actually an official language here, courtesy of being a US colony for 50-odd years in the first half of the 20th century - I have to confess I had no idea before I came). E.g., university lectures, exams etc are in English.

Without the need for the local language (which I had in Japan, where almost nobody in Otoyo could speak English - or they could but they didn’t), I just don’t have the motivation to really learn it. So instead I know a few stupid phrases that make people laugh at parties (e.g., "My armpits are smelly").

It’s all true, people – I’m a lazy shit. But I can also say things like:

  • YOUR armpits are smelly
  • You’re disgusting!
  • I’m a bit drunk
  • I’m good looking/ugly/tall/fat
  • Cooler! More delicious! (trust me, it's funny in the right context)
  • Fabulous! (in ladyboy lingo)
  • I’m hungry! (in ladyboy lingo)

AND I know the word for the sort of creased area where your upper thighs blend in to your groin region (singit) – if only English had a word for that.

Mabaho kilikili ko... (seriously)


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