(â€œNEWÂ YOLKâ€ reads theÂ Â Â signboardÂ for aÂ Los BanosÂ egg distributorâ€™s shop,Â a former UN colleague emailedÂ from Laguna. â€œReminded me of yourÂ earlier feature onÂ Â Pinoy names like Noynoy. Â Â Didnâ€™t youÂ doÂ aÂ feature on signboards tacked on eateries, jeepneysÂ and pharmacies? Could youÂ retrieve please.â€Â Â Here it is. â€“ JLM)
â€œGod knows Hudas Not Pay.â€ Thatâ€™s not a misspelled political statement on Imelda Marcos. Itâ€™s a street theologianâ€™s version of Divine omniscience scrawled on a jeepneyâ€™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. â€œFull String To Stup Driver.â€
Did these painters ever master â€œthree Rsâ€ 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 donâ€™t even enroll.
â€œTapsi-Turbi,â€ for example, serves you tapa, sinangag, at itlog â€“ 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 â€œPansit ng Taga Malabon.â€ And â€œSideâ€ is a side street restaurant, tucked beside the glistening five-star Mandarin Oriental in Makati.
â€œGovernment spends less on education than our Asian neighbors,â€ says the 2010 study: Winning the Numbers, Losing the War.Â â€œSuch failure means another generation of poorly-educated Filipinos,
Are those who paint shop signboards better educated? Or were the shop-owners college grads?Â At centuryâ€™s end, 12 percent of the labor force had college degrees. And 33 percent finished high school.) Look at some of their handiwork.
â€œThe Fried of Marikinaâ€ offers fried chicken inâ€”where else? In the city that former Mayor Fernando Bayani converted from a cesspool into a topnotch of the Asian Institute of Managementâ€™s coveted awards for outstanding cities.
Even signboards for Chinatown stalks flag their hopia (sweet cakes). Mr. Ho runs â€œHolland Hopia.â€ Next door is: â€œPoland Hopia.â€ Thatâ€™s owned by Mr. Po.
Food has become more international with globalization.
Driving through Cainta, in Rizal, you can make a pit stop at â€œCaintucky Friend Chicken.â€ Want a burger when in Naga? Thatâ€™s the city that produced Magsaysay Award winner and the late DILG secretary Jesse Robredo. Then drop by at â€œMang Donaldâ€™s.â€ It doesnâ€™t have a golden arch though.
â€œLeon King Video Rental,â€ in Las PiÃ±as, claims to have the latest flicks. And so has â€œFernando Peâ€™s Box Office Hitsâ€ in Palawan. But â€œMaid To Orderâ€ is a domestic helperâ€™s placement agency.
â€œCandies Be Love?â€ reads a confectionary store shingle. â€œLetâ€™s Goat Togetherâ€ is the come-on extended by a kambingan-cum-beer garden. At the Quad in Makati, a lumpia outlet sports the sign: â€œWrap And Roll.â€ And â€œBread Pittâ€ is a bakery.
Pinoys love to eat, often late into the night. Thus, â€œDoris Day And Nightâ€ is a 24-hour eatery. For those who want a second serving thereâ€™s always â€œBabalik Karinderias.â€
Eating out, though, is a treat only few Filipinos can afford â€“ 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 â€“ â€œMaruya Curreyâ€ â€“ offers turon and maruya. â€œMikki Maoâ€ is a noodle house. At â€œGoto Heaven,â€ tripe is served in steaming congee or hot porridge. When customers bite into â€œCelopataâ€™sâ€ 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 reefsÂ are severely damaged. But seafood restaurants proudly boast of entrees like: â€œIsda Bestâ€ and â€œHipon Coming Back.â€
They also offer â€œPusit To The Limit.â€ But thatâ€™s not for diners who, like Noel Coward, think squid has â€œthe taste of ho India rubber.â€
Some however, prefer pork chops and T-bone steaks. For these carnivores, the place to head for is â€œMeating Place.â€ Prices here are competitive with those in â€œMeatropolis.â€
After doing the groceries, ladies have choices. First, they can slip into â€œCinna Vonâ€ â€“ a play on the word â€œsabonâ€ or soap. This is your friendly Laundromat.Â Â Or they can purchase medicines at nearby â€œMemory Drug.â€ Next door is “Sudden Beauty Shop.
Completing chores, ladies can proceed to: â€œThe Way We Wearâ€ (a boutique) or â€œCurl Up And Dyeâ€ (a beauty salon).
Men drop in at â€œGoldilocks.â€ No, this is not the pastry chain but a barbershop. After a trim and shave, â€œGoldilocksâ€ is literally a stoneâ€™s throw away. They take orders for sand and gravel.
Thereâ€™s more. ButÂ thatÂ can wait for anotherÂ column, say on Pinoy-EnglishÂ love letters? (By JuanÂ L.Â Mercado)