Sunday, July 23, 2017

The Language Culture Connection

"Whenever you teach a language, you also teach a complex system of cultural customs, values, and ways of thinking, feeling, and acting"

H. Douglas Brown, Teaching by Principles:  An Interactive Approach to Language Pedagogy, 2nd ed., Addison-Wesley Longman, Inc., 2001

On my way to Vigan in a Partas bus, the Ilocano driver was in a company of fellow Ilocano conductors in front. Throughout the 9-hour trip, they were engaged in a conversation in their native language, Ilokano. Seated in front, I could follow the context of their conversation having been exposed to the language in my stay in Region 2. There were a number of points I could not understand because of my shallow vocabulary of the language.


I have a particular bias for the active use of a dialect or language in a day to day conversation as I believe its use is key to the preservation of culture and a unique heritage.

In Vigan at Plaza Salcedo, I was pleased to hear Ilocano spoken proudly by most; at the fast food chain, at the plaza, in the church in a conversation with a tricycle driver, with a market vendor.

Against the preserved structures of Vigan’s cobbled streets, buildings, churches and public centers, I better understood why Vigan preserved its character and maintained its authenticity. It may have been driven by the proud use of the language which is tied in to its rich century old culture  passed on from generation to generation.

Thus in my conversation with the restaurant staff, the supermarket vendor, tricycle driver, I attempt to speak though in an awkward manner Ilocano. “Diak nalaing iti Ilocano.” They understood my thoughts. I was corrected. My vocabulary increased and syntax improved.

More than the facility of using the language for communication, he and I knew we are connected sharing a common culture in a shared region, island, country, continent.


“Wen manong, agkakabsat ta!” At that instant, I was at home in Ilocos Sur.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Solved by a Hotline Agent

I booked a flight over Cebu Pacific’s online facilities last 12 July and failed to pass the stringent credit card verification protocol.

Booking now requires posting a verification code which I did not correctly provide as the 3 digit numbers in my card were not that legible.

Fortunately, there is a voice hotline that provides assistance to troubled users. Without waiting for long which is common to customer service hotlines in the Philippines, Tyrone patiently assisted me with my transaction shifting from a self-service credit card entry to a manual posting. He offered to book, check credit entry and confirm my flight details.

Through his guidance, I was able to book a seat flying early morning the next day.

He missed out though on one item which can be partly attributed to me. One of my email address letters may have been interchanged failing to send my ticket details. But I got the code verbally which allowed my successful self-service check in at the NAIA Terminal 3 next day.

The Filipino consumer is not totally helpless. Thanks to the increasing consciousness to treating the customers as king. That particular instance, Tyrone and Cebu Pac surely delighted me.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Nepa Q Mart

Why would one shop at a public market in Quezon City which has a wet and dry market that does not offer the convenience of a hypermart modern shoppers are comfortable with?

It is bounded by informal settlers at the East side (K-H connecting to Cambridge in a bridge) and at the South side (portion of Ermin Garcia st. at Barangay Pinagkaisahan.)

Limited street parking is hotly competed by large delivery trucks, private vehicles, trikes with delivery side cars every minute particularly early in the morning.

The narrow and uneven pedestrian walkway at the complex is shared with vendors, delivery aides pushing all sorts of carts, shoppers of all ages across all income group and mendicants restricting mobility.

Payment is of course cash. There are no carts on loan to the shoppers. One has to bring his own.
There is something about this National Economic Protectionism Association (NEPA) Q Mart that attracts thousands of shoppers every day not only from Quezon City but from other nearby Metro Manila cities as well.

It is a complete market. Fruits from Mindanao, Bicol and the provinces of Quezon, Bulacan, Pangasinan are dropped in commercial quantities from the transporting vehicles loaded at source at different times of the day. The best and the freshest of suha, avocado, guyabano, mango, bananas all varieties (saba, lacatan, latundan), papaya, indian mango, naranghita, pineapple, watermelon are always available for the picking to the discriminating fruit lover. When in season, jeepneys loaded with naranghita from Vizcaya and Quezon park at Ermin Garcia st. selling them in 5 kilo packs at P10.0 per kilo.

Nepa Q also has a wide section of vegetables sourced from North and South Luzon. When media reports on vegetable prices, Nepa Q has already been the barometer of the lowest price in Metro Manila.

Quezon City – Tumaas ng P10 hanggang P30 ang presyo ng manok at isda sa nepa Q-Mart sa Quezon City.
Mula sa dating P140 kada kilo, nasa P150 na ngayon ang presyo ng bawat kilo ng manok.
Ang bangus naman na medium size ay P120 na ang kilo at P150 naman ang malalaki, na mas mataas kumpara sa P100 to P120 lamang dati ang kada kilo.
P60 hanggang P70 ang bawat kilo ng sibuyas, ang bawang ay P120 hanggang P150 ang bawat kilo at ang kamatis ay P40 ang bawat kilo.
Sa presyo naman ng gulay, ang patatas ay mabibili ng P60 bawat kilo, ang petchay P70, ang reployo naman ay P60 habang ang luya ay mabibili sa halagang P60 kada kilo.

https://rmn.ph/presyo-ng-manok-at-isda-sa-nepa-q-mart-sa-quezon-city-tumaas/

Undoubtedly, the prices are among the lowest in Metro Manila but one must have an established suki connection to ensure a good buy.

Nepa Q is popular for fresh water fish like bangus from Dagupan, hipon, tilapia, dalag, hito. Variety of fish is available but early in the morning including sea water fish. There is a small stall towards the middle which sells alimasag from Bicol at P420 per kilo. All day, there is a supply of tuna, salmon and bangus. Towards the EDSA side, a large portion of the complex is devoted to fresh meats and poultry. At the back of Ermin Garcia street, live goats are kept. For the kambing, tuna and salmon, Nepa Q is drinkers’ preferred market.

There are still other unexplored sections still to be discovered. Recently, I spotted where to source balut, pulang itlog, crushed ice, charcoal, puto, kutsinta. To complete the shopping, Super 8 opened a branch at the back of the complex open from 5:30 AM to 9:00 PM accepting storage for fresh market purchased bags and credit cards.

For all the inconvenience, Nepa Q to me offers a good value for money. It takes getting used to appreciate what it has. The true test is when diners appreciate what is served at the table.

More than what the market features, I shop because I want to patronize the produce of the tillers of the soil and the lords of the sea. I have a soft spot for farmers, fisherman and those close to the soil and bodies of water. Marginalized, but what they produce is what makes us alive.

Saturday, July 01, 2017

Separate Islands. One Link

Traveling to Mindoro, Romblon, Masbate, Marinduque, Palawan via Roro, 2Go, Fastcat, Oceanjet, Montenegro, Cebu Pacific, Philippine Airlines, Jam, 5 Star reminded me of the Ivatan story.

Islands maybe separated but are linked.
The accessibility from the landlocked mainland though has not greatly altered the resident's unique culture. Theirs are still well preserved.


When visitors from Luzon step foot in Mi(ndoro), Ma(rinduque), Ro(mblon), Pa(lawan), they are warmly welcomed making the guests feel so at home.


When asked if they have prospects of going to the city, they said they would rather live a simpler life. If ever they go, they'd be raring to return back to their island soonest.

Masbate City, the capital of the province of Masbate is a 4th class component city.  Odiongan is a first-class, partially urban municipality in the province of Romblon, Philippines. It is a major port, commercial center and the largest municipality of Romblon in terms of population and income. Calapan is the capital of the province of Oriental Mindoro, Philippines. It is the gateway to the Oriental Mindoro province and the center of commerce, industry, transport, communication, religious activities and education in the entire province of Oriental Mindoro. Boac is the capital of Marinduque. Marinduque is an island province in the Philippines located in Southwestern Tagalog Region. Palawan is the largest province in the country. It capital Puerto Princesa City is the city is the second largest geographically city in the Philippines.


Romblon, birthplace to writers Jose Dalisay and NVM

On board Cebu Pacific to Masbate City, I read in Smile, Cebu Pac’s in flight magazine June 2017 edition an article of Jose Dalisay, a prolific literary author and a columnist at Philippine Star. In his article “Some enchanted island” he wrote about his shared birth province with fellow writer NVM, a Filipino novelist, short story writer, essayist and poet and a Philippine National Artist for Literature. I quote how the island’s fertile ground seeded their literary imagination. 

“NVM and I were separated by almost 40 years and by the Tablas Strait – he was born in the capital town, and I in Alcantara, on the bigger island of Tablas. (Romblon’s three main islands are Romblon, Tablas and Sibuyan.) He moved with his family to Mindoro as a boy, and I moved with mine to Manila, but we both shared a sense of Romblon as the home of our enchantment, of our literary imagination. Indeed Romblon is that kind of island in the mind and spirit that we all wish could return to, and the accident of my birth there, once seen as an oddity or an impairment to one’ social mobility, is now something I cherish as a privilege, as NVM did and build a life’s literary labors on.”


The article encouraged me to write a short travelogue on the islands I visited posted in this blog.