It seems a never ending topic here on LiP, in my articles at least, that I write about learning the language, and also about acculturation. But, it is a big part of my life, and I believe that it is good information for anybody who decides that they want to move here. Today, I’d like to tell a little bit about my language learning routine, and particularly about one part of it.
Every Wednesday afternoon I have my weekly Bisaya class. My teacher, Bebe Metillo, comes to my house to give me my lesson. It usually runs between 1 1/2 to 2 hours. More towards 1 1/2 hours, but by the time Bebe goes home it’s more like 2 hours, because Bebe will hang around to talk with Feyma and the rest of the family for a while.
One of Bebe’s other students is named Lucky. Lucky is a German, a young man in his 20’s. Lucky and I have developed a nice friendship, and we enjoy getting together for different things. One thing that we started doing a few months ago is that every Thursday afternoon, we go to the Public Market (the Merkado or Palengke, also called the “wet market”). We go there and go shopping. Primarily, we are not really looking to buy anything, but we are more doing it as an opportunity to speak Bisaya with the people there. We go to various vendors and talk with them, haggle over prices, joke around with them, and develop friendships with many of them. We usually end up buying various things just as part of our interaction with various vendors there. I often like to purchase fish to eat for dinner that night, vegetables for our meal, etc.
In recent weeks, Lucky and I have been joined by another of Bebe’s students, Kurt. Kurt is also an American, and has been studying with Bebe for a while. Of the three of us, I have been studying the language the longest and probably am a little more advanced than the others. Lucky, though, lives with some Filipino people, so although he has been studying a shorter time than I have, he is pretty advanced and comfortable with using the language. Kurt’s study has been a little less formal, concentrating on just learning conversational skills, rather than a structured course of grammar and such. We all enjoy the opportunity, though, to go out to a place like the Merkado and talk with the local folks.
This past week, I would say, was our best outing yet. We were a little more adventurous, and we did more things at the market. Both Lucky and Kurt, in the past, have been a little shy in talking with the people at the market. This last visit, though, I could really see Lucky especially coming out of his shell. As a matter of fact, I really kind of backed off from talking too much, and kind of let him take the lead more, because it was clear that he was not only comfortable in doing so, but quite happy about it too.
One thing that we all try to do on these Thursday outings is that we try to do things “the Filipino way” as much as possible when we go out. We don’t drive to the market, we always ride a tricycle there. We try to only speak Bisaya there, and we try to do things that a normal Filipino person would do. It’s good for language practice, and it’s cultural practice too.
This past week, during our shopping trip, we found a place where there was a somewhat long line of Filipinos. Lucky checked it out and he found that Nescafe was having a promotion. If we stood in line, we could get a free sample of Netcafe Cold Coffee drinks! Wow, what an opportunity. So, we hopped in line and waited. During our wait in line, we talked with so many others in line, found out about them and told them about us too. Once we got to the front of the line, we each got a small sample drink, we drank it and enjoyed it. Next, there was a nice young lady working for Nescafe waiting for us with clipboard in hand. She was there to take a survey and find out what we thought of the product! Wow, this was a nice opportunity to interact, in kind of an “official” capacity, if you know what I mean.
Lady: Sir, lami ang kape? (was the coffee delicious?)
Me: Oo, lami kaayo! (Yes, very delicious)
Lady: Unsay imong komentarya sa kape? (What is your comment about the coffee?)
Me: Lami ug bugnaw daw. (It’s delicious and cold) (I didn’t know what else to say!)
Lady: Sige, sir. Kinsa imong pangalan? (OK, sir. What is your name?) (as she wrote all this on her papers).
Me: Si Bob Martin, ko. (I am Bob Martin)
We continued. I had to give her my address, phone number and such, then we parted company. It was all good fun, though, and I enjoyed it. It truly was a Filipino thing to do, because Filipinos love to get free stuff. I didn’t care too much about the freebie, but rather the experience itself.
Thursdays are always a fun day for me! Hope you can join us sometime!
A couple of other things, LiP related.
Firstly, I would like to announce that we have a new writer here on LiP. Her name is Michelle McDowell. Michelle is a Filipina, but lives in the USA now. Michelle has told me that she hopes to relate stories about her childhood in the Philippines, the way she lived, and the things that she experienced here. Michelle has become a regular commenter here on LiP, and I am excited to hear what she has to say. I’d like to welcome Michelle aboard, and I hope that the readers will find her interesting.
Thanks for joining us, Michelle. It is my pleasure to welcome you to LiP. I am sure that you can provide a previously unheard angle on Living in the Philippines for our readers! I look forward to hearing everything you have to share.
Secondly, I would like to announce that LiP, and another site of mine, Mindanao Magazine are now available for subscription through the Amazon Kindle. If you own a Kindle, you can order LiP and Mindanao Magazine through Amazon for delivery to your Kindle!