Free range SPAM

SPAM, free to range Robinson’s Supermarket

Mention recently of Puregold Supermarkets and their caged SPAM in Lock up your SPAM came to mind when we were shopping in Robinson’s supermarket. There, in aisle 3 (or 11 depending on the end you count from) was their canned meat section, which includes SPAM, which is not locked up. Free-range SPAM! Customers are free to rope and catch a can of their choice and persuade it into the shopping trolley or basket.

Robinson’s free-range SPAM, rather than Puregold’s caged SPAM, must make for happy SPAM, free to roam the supermarket at night and that must mean it is more healthy for you than the caged SPAM!

 

Mind you, Robinson’s don’t totally trust their customers completely, as similar to Puregold and every other supermarket in Angeles City, if you have a large bag big enough to hold a herd of SPAM hidden from sight, then you need to check that bag in before shopping. In Makati City, we could enter with bags and shop with them in the trolley! Draw your own conclusions from that.

I think a SPAM and egg sandwich is in order now! 😉

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Lock up your SPAM

Lock up yer SPAM

One of the adjustments to living in the Philippines is with Puregold supermarkets. It’s not that Puregold are so vastly different from other Supermarkets here, or indeed, elsewhere in the world. What is different is their lack of respect for their customers and their fear of loss.

That is so high that the canned meats are locked up.

Yes mothers, lock up your SPAM*, the circus is coming to town … better lock you daughters up too, just in case. I could understand if it was expensive electronics gear or wines or whiskeys but SPAM? Go figure

Even worse is when you ask for assistance, the young pimply staff member comes over and asks what you want. Conversation goes along the lines of:

“A can of SPAM thanks mate”
“Just a moment sir — how many cans?”
“One”
“One minute sir”

The aforementioned pimply young staff member then proceeds to write out a docket for it. You go to the cashier with all your other provisions, hand her the docket, she rings up the price of the SPAM, you pay for the groceries and the SPAM. She sends a minion to collect your $3 can of SPAM and return it to your loving care so you can insert it in your bags of groceries!

There are some strange customs here.


* To be fair, apparently the meat in the white cans is Delimondo corned beef which is allegedly awesome stuff.

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Life in the Philippines – Ingat!

Leave the office to go home or from having dinner with local friends and you will almost always hear “ingat” or “ingat ikaw”. It is pronounced, as near as I can hear, as “ing-at”. Often your friends and colleagues will translate that to English, knowing how terrible your Tagalog is. In English you will hear “take care”.

“Ingat” literally means take care or be cautious and is the usual farewell between folks here. So, when a Filipino is leaving the office, give them a friendly “ingat”!

Life in the Philippines – Ano!

“Ano”! The universal Tagalog word, often heard in Taglish sentences as well, sentences such as, “You are so ano!” This means, “you are so ‘what is the word I am looking for?'” So ano could mean “cute”, “terrible”, “lovely”, “horrible” etc. Sometimes it could mean all of the preceding.

So, it is not unusual to hear someone say, “See how you are? You’re so ano!”

Life in the Philippines – and we wonder about the traffic

When is a one way street not one way?

Why on a Sunday of course.

These signs are seen all over Makati City. Mind you, I can’t help but think, if the one way streets work so well keeping the traffic moving, why would you bother to go back to two ways on a Sunday?

And worse, two weeks ago this one way street went one way the other way!

Life in the Philippines – Aray!

Ouch!

No, really, “ouch”. In the Philippines, stub your toe or be pinched by someone and you would say “aray”. Close as I can make it, you would pronounce it like “a-rye”.

So, be bumped by someone and say “aray”, then hear them respond with “ay sorry” 🙂

Life in the Philippines – O-o!

That’s got you confused I bet!

Uh-oh in English is an interjection for “oops, something just happened” and is generally a negative. It is used to indicate a sudden awareness of a problem or error and the resulting worry. Examples could be “uh-oh I did it again” signifying I have repeated a previous error. “Uh-oh, you’ll be in trouble when mum gets home”, something I heard a lot as a child. “Oh-oh” is the American version of “Uh-oh”.

Both variations of uh-oh sound almost exactly like the Tagalog, “o-o”. In Tagalog, however, “o-o” means “yes”. The polite form of it may be changed to “o-po”, “Yes sir/ma’am,” but o-o is heard a lot. It can be used like the English “uh-huh” as well so “o-o” repeated through a conversation from one person generally means “yep, got it”.

So now, when I break something in the Philippines, I bite my tongue and avoid saying “uh-oh”. Now I am more likely to say “oh crap” as there is no mistaking the intent of that!

Life in the Philippines – “I Sorry” Ay Sorry, joke lang!

Well, the ‘ber months are here so it is full-on Christmas. More on that later. Today I wanted to cover one commonly used English expression and one Taglish* expression generally used by all Filipinos, no matter their native tongue.

I Sorry” “Ay Sorry” — firstly, my team has corrected my poor Taglish. The correct expression is “ay sorry” rather than “I sorry”. Of course to an English speakers ears, the difference in sound between “ay” and “I” is, well, almost none. Anyway, this is said whenever someone bumps you, knocks, you drops something in front of you or generally does anything that would elicit an apology from native English speakers from the UK, Australia, New Zealand or similar. The expression is simply “I sorry”. No “I am”, “I’m”, or other form of the pronoun, just a simple “I”. The expression is simply “ay sorry”, literally “oh, sorry”. OK RJ, Kaii and the others … have I got that correct now? 🙂

“Joke lang” — When hearing the expression “joke lang” I am reminded of an old friend since passed, Bob Preller. Bob was born in Rhodesia and lived there through the civil war that resulted in the current Zimbabwe. He later travelled, married a lovely Norwegian lady and lived in Norway for the rest of his life. He was the most positive person I ever knew but he was also gifted with an acute sense of humour and the ability to make any story, no matter how unbelievable, sound believable. This got him scolded a few times by his Norwegian friends who could not tell he was joking. They explained to him,

Når du forteller en vits, må du smile slik at vi vet at det er en vits

Which translated to:

When you tell a joke you must smile so that we know it is a joke

It is similar here. At the immediate conclusion of a joke or when teasing someone playfully, you are expected to say, “joke lang”, which I guess literally means, “and it is a joke” or perhaps better, “just kidding”.


* Taglish – is the combination of Tagalog and English, both in name and in substance. It is the name given to the phenomenon where the two languages are combined into one sentence in everyday speech. It is also common to see in writing too. The earliest use of the term “Taglish” seems to date back to about 1973. There are other forms of this portmanteau, such as “Engalog” and “Tanglish” but “Taglish” appears to be the common form used these days.

Life in the Philippines – 15 Days to Christmas!

Well, it is in the Philippines. Today is 16 August and as such, 15 days away from the start of the Festive Season here. In the Philippines the festive season is known as the ‘ber months (September, October, November, December). This will be when the Christmas decorations go up in the stores and malls, and the playing of Christmas Carols commences in those malls – for the next four months!

It is normally around mid-October that the repeated Christmas Carols feel more like a Chinese Water Torture but then I relex and reaise that there are only 10 more weeks of Carol Singing to go!

Merry Christmas!

Life in the Philippines – Pasalubong

Whenever I return from a trip to Australia or Singapore, my staff ask me for their Pasalubong. Pasalubong is a Tagalog word that seems to mean, “here is something I have for you for when you welcome me back”. It is a Filipino tradition where travellers bring gifts from their destination to folks back home – for family, friends, office mates and so on. The Pasalubong can be any gift or souvenir brought for family or friends after being away for a period of time.

Pasalubong is normally something local from the region, or country visited. Yes, it does not just apply to those that have been overseas. So, for example, should I visit the province of Bicol, then I would look to bring back pili nuts. Head to Pampanga and chicharron (see left) would be a suitable Pasalubong. Visit Australia, and I could bring back vegemite (which has the double advantage of being the expected Pasalubong and at the same time, after tasting it, curing the locals of asking me for Pasalubong in the future). Vegemite is an acquired taste after all, fit only for real men and women! 😉

Pasalubong is culturally important to Filipinos and is a way for the traveller to share some of the experience of their trip with family and friends – sort of like the souvenirs brought back by western cultures (like the Elgin marbles for example).

The other nice part about Pasalubong is that it is not wrapped, but given as is. A nice custom and one I seem to recall in other parts of Asia as well.