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mercado-thumb(“NEW YOLK” reads the   signboard for a Los Banos egg distributor’s shop, a former UN colleague emailed from Laguna. “Reminded me of your earlier feature on  Pinoy names like Noynoy.   Didn’t you do a feature on signboards tacked on eateries, jeepneys and pharmacies? Could you retrieve please.”  Here it is. – JLM)

“God knows Hudas Not Pay.” That’s not a misspelled political statement on Imelda Marcos. It’s a street theologian’s version of Divine omniscience scrawled on a jeepney’s tailboard. In Zamboanga, a jeep placard says: “San Juan to San Carlos and vice versa”.

On a bus careening down EDSA, another grammatically fractured sign counsels scared passengers. “Full String To Stup Driver.”

Did these painters ever master “three Rs” before quitting school? Of every 100 kids who enroll in elementary school, 36 drop before Grade 6, the education department wails. Even more disturbing, 17 out of hundred kids don’t even enroll.


“Tapsi-Turbi,” for example, serves you tapa, sinangag, at itlog – fried rice and eggs served sunny side up. And local pride apparently leads signboard artists to flag locations. A panciteria on Boni Avenue is named “Pansit ng Taga Malabon.” And “Side” is a side street restaurant, tucked beside the glistening five-star Mandarin Oriental in Makati.

“Government spends less on education than our Asian neighbors,” says the 2010 study: Winning the Numbers, Losing the War.  “Such failure means another generation of poorly-educated Filipinos,

Are those who paint shop signboards better educated? Or were the shop-owners college grads?  At century’s end, 12 percent of the labor force had college degrees. And 33 percent finished high school.) Look at some of their handiwork.

“The Fried of Marikina” offers fried chicken in—where else? In the city that former Mayor Fernando Bayani converted from a cesspool into a topnotch of the Asian Institute of Management’s coveted awards for outstanding cities.

Even signboards for Chinatown stalks flag their hopia (sweet cakes). Mr. Ho runs “Holland Hopia.” Next door is: “Poland Hopia.” That’s owned by Mr. Po.

Food has become more international with globalization.


Driving through Cainta, in Rizal, you can make a pit stop at “Caintucky Friend Chicken.” Want a burger when in Naga? That’s the city that produced Magsaysay Award winner and the late DILG secretary Jesse Robredo. Then drop by at “Mang Donald’s.” It doesn’t have a golden arch though.


“Leon King Video Rental,” in Las Piñas, claims to have the latest flicks. And so has “Fernando Pe’s Box Office Hits” in Palawan. But “Maid To Order” is a domestic helper’s placement agency.

“Candies Be Love?” reads a confectionary store shingle. “Let’s Goat Together” is the come-on extended by a kambingan-cum-beer garden. At the Quad in Makati, a lumpia outlet sports the sign: “Wrap And Roll.” And “Bread Pitt” is a bakery.

Pinoys love to eat, often late into the night. Thus, “Doris Day And Night” is a 24-hour eatery. For those who want a second serving there’s always “Babalik Karinderias.”


Eating out, though, is a treat only few Filipinos can afford – Gloria Macapagal Arroyo and her Le Cirque cronies exempted. Almost 38 percent here scrimp below the poverty line. And 24 out of every 100 of the population are malnourished.

Other signs, nonetheless, spotlight the specialty of the house.


A Greenbelt fast food shop – “Maruya Currey” – offers turon and maruya. “Mikki Mao” is a noodle house. At “Goto Heaven,” tripe is served in steaming congee or hot porridge. When customers bite into “Celopata’s” deep-fried pig knuckles, they stuck off cholesterol anxiety. Crispy pata is served.

Fish catches in Southeast Asia have plummeted, the UN cautions. And 34 percent of coral reefs are severely damaged. But seafood restaurants proudly boast of entrees like: “Isda Best” and “Hipon Coming Back.”

They also offer “Pusit To The Limit.” But that’s not for diners who, like Noel Coward, think squid has “the taste of ho India rubber.”

Some however, prefer pork chops and T-bone steaks. For these carnivores, the place to head for is “Meating Place.” Prices here are competitive with those in “Meatropolis.”

After doing the groceries, ladies have choices. First, they can slip into “Cinna Von” – a play on the word “sabon” or soap. This is your friendly Laundromat.   Or they can purchase medicines at nearby “Memory Drug.” Next door is “Sudden Beauty Shop.

Completing chores, ladies can proceed to: “The Way We Wear” (a boutique) or “Curl Up And Dye” (a beauty salon).

Men drop in at “Goldilocks.” No, this is not the pastry chain but a barbershop. After a trim and shave, “Goldilocks” is literally a stone’s throw away. They take orders for sand and gravel.

There’s more. But that can wait for another column, say on Pinoy-English love letters? (By Juan L. Mercado)

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