When I read somewhere that I should know a Filipino when I saw one, I took it as a challenge to identify Filipinos in the midst of the crowds in international airports, at the open markets of Europe, or in the schools of North America, much like having an “I Spy” book with me all the time. And why I’m always right most of the time, without knowing their names or hearing them talk, I can’t (or won’t) tell. One day, however, there was no challenge at all to tell if a Kindergarten student is a Filipino or of Filipino ancestry.
Boy: Titser, what’s your nem?
Me: You can call me Miss J.
Boy: Miss G, are you prom the Pilippines?
Me: Oh, yes! How about you?
Boy: My moder and pader are prom the Pilippines, but I was born here.
Me: Oh, yeah? So, do you like Canada?
Boy: I tink it’s oke.
Now that was easy… Older students, however, don’t ask where I’m from; they can tell right away as they talk to me politely with the honorific Filipino words “po” and “opo”.
Me: Hi, guys. I’m your guest teacher today while your teacher is away.
Filipino Students: Hello po. Mano po. (They take my right hand to their forehead to ask for blessing – a Filipino tradition.)
Me: All right. Your teacher wants you to have these sheets to work on…
Filipino Students: Salamat po. (Translation: Thank you.)
Me: It’s been nice meeting you all. I hope to see you again.
Filipino Students: Paalam po. (Translation: Goodbye.)
Oh, boy, am I not proud to be Filipino?
Filipino student’s joke: Miss J, why is the priest mad at salt?
Filipino student: Because it’s “a-sin”. (“Asin” means salt.)
Me: What did the tourist say about a crowded bus in Manila?
Filipino Student: The bus is full.
Me: Nope. He said, “Busog na ang bus.” (“Busog” means full [referring to tummy] while “puno” means full [referring to space or containers]; hence, he should have said, “Puno na ang bus” to mean “The bus is full.”)