Stories of building back better after Yolanda, told by ADB Consultants & Partners

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

My New Epithet: "Bisayang Hapon"

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I have a new name, handle, tag, label! The fun folks over at Barangay Tugbong, Kananga, Leyte just started describing me as "Bisayang Hapon". And, I think I like it! I might even add this to my CV!

Just how did this happen?

Ah eh, on arrival at their elementary school to attend the ground-breaking ceremonies for their new school building under our Grant 9175 Sub-component A.2, teachers greeted us in English saying "good afternoon, welcome to Barangay Tugbong, thank you for all your help" as they placed leis around our necks. We Filipinos naturally respond in the same language people use to converse with us, right? So, unknowingly, we were all talking in English - and the kids, their parents and others were all hearing these.

A little later, a barangay official came to me saying "sir, please have a seat" as he pointed to the chairs up front. Knowing that this is a Bisaya (Cebuano)-speaking town, and having heard many of them talk so to each other, I casually replied with "aw, unya ra 'nong ig-abot ni mayor"(aw later sir, when the mayor arrives). His eyes grew 'bewilderedly' wide as he spoke back to me saying "aw Bisaya diay ka Sir Miyagi?" I tried to reply with "dili Miyagi 'nong, Mengote", but it did not get through to him as he already bantered with the other folks around saying I was Japanese but fluent in Bisaya! I just thought 'no-sweat, I'll be later introduced as Mengote anyway when its my turn to speak up front'.

When I was called, all kids were grinning, barangay officials were smiling, seemingly excited to hear the first word when I opened my mouth. No one seemed interested in the head teacher's introduction when he stated my name as Dindo Mengote. And when I greeted them with "maayong hapon", some kind of a guffaw permeated throughout the building! As I spoke, I heard a kid say "bisaya lagi", to which another responded with "nga hapon?", to which one mother said "shhh, oo, paminaw mo"! The adult sealed it for the kids. Therefore I was "bisayang hapon" to them.

Even a bit later, as we walked to the ground breaking ceremony area, 2 kids teasingly 'accosted' me with one asking "sir, bisaya ba gyud ka?", to which I replied with "oo dong oi, bisayang dako". But the other one, unconvinced, retorted with "wheh, nganong daghan man lagi ka kwarta ikahatag pagpaayo sa amuang iskul? so hapon ka!". I was ready to explain ADB/JFPR even to these tykes, but the Mayor caught up beside me and started conversing! Argh! I suppose it remained with the kids that I was "bisayang hapon"!

Well, I like it anyway, so let it be, "sou desu 'ne!" hehehe!

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