A stroll to the market and back
Ahh, the province life. So simple and yet somehow so enjoyable.
All I did was walk to the market and back, a couple of miles in each direction.
When I was halfway through the barangay a man called me by name. I was a bit shocked, walked over to him and we chatted. I could not place which of the many friendly Filipino faces I have met on this island over the years was his face, or how many years ago we had met, until he mentioned the name of a hotel I know. Well, I built their website, so that is where we met. Wow. That must have been eight or nine years ago!
I reached the market, bought some food and some groceries and that was relatively uneventul, asides from the usual friendliness and interest in my entire life history. The market was almost empty of course, because nobody goes to market after midday except for mad dogs and Englishman. I qualify on both counts. Most of the vendors had gone home and the others were asleep. I got my six eggs and bread for the dogs, so all's well. I left.
Then...load! I needed load for my phone. At the end of the market was a small electronics and cellphone repair shop, that is actually an Internet cafe of sorts, full of noisy children, wearing only shorts and presumably playing computer games. I do not know how old they were, but they seemed short enough that they were taller sitting down.
Behind the counter was a girl who was moving around like crazy doing everything at once, whilst a boy sat with his back to the counter, scraping eggs and sausage and a fistful of rice off a plate into his mouth. On the floor, behind the boy and the girl and the counter, was a comfortable-looking mattress with two very young children, babies, laying there, playing quite happily with their own fingers and stuffing whatever digits they could into their mouths. It seemed to me that the young boy had put a couple of babies into his girl and then they set up a business to pay for their kids. I asked him, "Bata ka pa ha? Ilan taon ka?" [You're still a baby? How old are you?]
"Twenty-eight, po." I told him what I thought. It's a good business, good for them for working hard. He pointed at the girl and smiled. So it's her energy, maybe, but good for them.
On the way home some school kids ran to the front gate of a nearby school and started waving and calling.
"Hello, hello!" I mimicked them. A lady from a nearby eatery recognised me, "hello Sandy," she called. When I say eatery, I really mean a sheet of tarpaulin and four sticks that comprised a tent, with a table beneath and a grill and some charcoal and some charred meat and of course, don't forget, gallons of sugary poison supplied by Coca-cola and Pepsi. I looked at her, cocked my head back and raised my eye brows, the lazy way to say hi - a greeting that when used in a wrong country gives a totally different message. The kids were standing, staring at me, their hands half-way between a wave and relaxation.
I waved again and called out "bye-bye, bye-bye!" This time it was they who copied me. I kept walking, until a solitary voice called out from among the klan of kiddlings...
"Am...Amer....are you...are you an Amereeekan?"
"hindi, i am British"
"From England. Do you know England?"
"Alam mo na! England." [now you know]
"Tagalog ka?" [are you Tagalog?]
I assured them not really, and that I don't speak the local dialect, Illonggo, and then waved good bye again and walked on. They waved, all smiling, then ran back, presumably, to their class rooms.
Further ahead of me on the dusty road was a mad woman. She was dressed in black clothes, well, more like black drapes that was probably intended to be placed either over more clothes or at least a younger, sexier body. Hers were more draped around her to keep the vast amount of excessive rice in her, and for not much else. The women I walked past were talking about her, "ayyy, sexy sya na!" in the sarcastic, mocking voice of a people who only know how to be mean in a nice way. The woman was parading herself through some other respectable women who were laughing along with her as she went.
My goodness, who is this lady? I suspected it was a former farm worker, gone mad, but I could not be sure.
I continued to walk alongside a lady who was heading in the same direction, right up until her turning. We discussed the mad woman, daily life in the province, all young women and relationships in general. Of course, i responded to the question of "do you have children?" with my usual response, "no, I just practise."
And then I continued home to feed the dogs their lunch and log in to my website to see a nice message from a "customer" who wrote, "can you help me please, but only if it is not you who helps me?" I replied, "Unfortunately, the other staff refuse to deal with you and it seems you do not want my help," which is factually correct, but seemed to irk him.
"Typical!" he wrote. It must be a sad, sorry state when it is typical for a person to be told that they are so undesirable that nobody wants to deal with them. Oh well. I had a good morning nonetheless.