They’re Quite Far Away From The Bells Of Bow

, , , , , | Right | April 29, 2020

I am a British-born Filipino. I am visiting family in the rural part of the Philippines for the first time. They are quite poor but run a fruit stand in their local marketplace, which they are very proud of. Not wanting to be dead-weight, and wanting to improve my Bisaya — local dialect — I spend time manning the market stall.

I spot some tourists one day, which is uncommon enough in this area, and I recognise the twang of the American accent. I decide to have a little fun.

Tourist: “How much for the bananas?”

I suddenly explode into my most stereotypical East-London cockney rhyming slang. Imagine Dick Van Dyke from “Mary Poppins” coming out of a Filipino face.

Me: “Gawdon Bennett, if it ain’t some lovely Yanks! Forget the Gertie Gitanas, my love, come and ‘ave a butchers at my Ungle Reg!”

The tourist just looks at me blankly, and I can’t help but smile. I return to my normal accent: neutral British.

Me: “Sorry, just having a laugh. The bananas are a hundred pesos for a bunch.”

The tourist is still just staring at me, as if I had two heads. Going on a hunch, I break down into a probably-offensive stereotype of the Filipino accent, like swapping Ps and Fs, the whole works.

Me: “Yes, ma’am. Saging por one-hundred.”

Tourist: “Oh, a hundred, cool! You should stick to English; I couldn’t understand your Filipino before.”

And that was when I learned never to joke with customers ever again.

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