Inside the Ladies’ Room

Restroom sign (credit: Davezilla) A ladies’ restroom is not just any ordinary room. It’s where you can become privy to all sorts of things — whether you like it or not.

The other day, I was inside a stall minding my own business when a woman started yelling at someone outside my door. When I didn’t hear a reply, I realized the woman was using a cellphone. “Nasa bahay ka pa? Anong oras ka pa makakapunta dito? Ang bobo-bobo mo talaga! Wala kang konsiderasyon! Pumunta ka na ngayon dito; kailangan ko pa pumuntang bangko. (You’re still at home? So what time are you going to get here? You’re such an idiot! You have no consideration for others! Get yourself here now; I still need to go to the bank.)”

She said goodbye, so I thought that would be the end of it. Ten seconds later, she was on the phone again with the same person; believe it or not, that conversation I overheard was repeated along the same lines three times!

I exited my stall, shot a quick glance at the woman (who was fuming mad and fiddling with her phone), and hurried away. I shouldn’t even have been listening, but all I could think about was, “What a nag!”

To my shame, what I regretted most at that moment was not having my sister to snicker with at the woman’s scandalous behavior. After all, it was a ladies’ room. Yes, the cliche is true: women go to the restroom en masse not only to freshen up, but also to exchange gossip.

A few years ago, I was at a birthday party at Chili’s Greenhills. The birthday boy had invited many female friends from an all-girls exclusive high school, but they were nowhere in sight for most of the evening.

I soon discovered where those girls had been holed up when I excused myself (due to too much Diet Coke — oops, too much information). The girls were sitting on the counter or preening in front of the mirror, gabbing the night away with nary a thought for the real party outside the restroom.

It’s not every day you get to listen in on a lovers’ quarrel or catch up on the lives of strangers, but inside the ladies’ room, you just can’t help overhearing people talk.

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I Got Tagged!

This is all Ganns‘ fault. Ü

Instructions:
Remove the blog in the top spot from the following list and bump everyone up one place. Then add your blog to the bottom slot, like so.

  1. Kiss My Mike
  2. Micerridwen
  3. Wifely Steps
  4. Superblessed
  5. In My Pocket

Next, select five people to tag:

  1. Arvin
  2. Kneeko
  3. Hazel
  4. Rob
  5. Jong

And now the questions…

  • What were you doing 10 years ago?
    I was about to enter my third year of high school and didn’t have the Internet yet.
  • What were you doing 1 year ago?
    I was listening to “This Is Your Life” by Switchfoot and playing hooky from thesis work.
  • Five snacks you enjoy:
    toasted whole wheat bread with butter and Splenda
    peanut butter on a spoon
    popcorn
    strawberries and cream
    open-faced grilled cheese sandwich
  • Five songs to which you know all the lyrics:
    My Happy Ending – Avril Lavigne
    God Put a Smile Upon Your Face – Coldplay
    To Be Free – Emiliana Torrini
    Dare You to Move – Switchfoot
    Let Me Show You the Way – Natasha Thomas
  • Five things you would do if you were a millionaire:
    Tithe, and donate a bit more for my church’s building fund
    Get a hardbound Lord of the Rings book set and complete my Agatha Christie collection
    Buy the complete fifth season of Alias on DVD
    Take my family on holiday to Hong Kong
    Shop!
    Save the rest for later. Ü
  • Five bad habits:
    Procrastinate.
    Eat too much.
    Talk too loud.
    Pick at my teeth in public.
    Take offense much too easily.
  • Five things you like doing:
    Reading!
    Baking.
    Exercising.
    Swimming.
    Writing.
  • Five things you would never wear again:
    Shoulder pads.
    My hair cut short and curled. (Don’t ask.)
    Big plastic eyeglasses.
    Dental braces.
    High-waisted pants.
  • Five favorite toys:
    Jem dolls
    LEGO!!!
    Computer
    my stuffed dog
    iPod shuffle

Your turn!

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Fugly Filipino English

My body was pretty much knocked out of whack with a virus that couldn’t decide whether it was going to be a cough, a cold, or a sore throat. In any case, having a semi-feverish state of mind made me start noticing the little things. Well, actually, just one thing in particular.

Keep Refrigeration After Open Because we’re in a global economy, boxes with text like “keep refrigeration after open” are a common sight in Philippine supermarkets. Oddly worded printed English like this has come to be known as “Engrish” and is often found on printed material from Asian countries. The wrong grammar and/or spelling usually occurs because of unfamiliarity with the syntax of the English language.

I’ve come to expect this kind of English from countries which don’t have a strong background in the English language. I also thought most educated Filipinos would have a good background in written English. I was wrong. Filipino English is fugly (frightfully ugly).

A free flipflop? Just one? People say that Filipinos writing in English tend to use more words than is necessary to get their point across. See the copy in this ad, for instance. Aside from the glaring error of offering just A flipflop (I get one free! My other foot goes barefoot?), it reads “a very comfortable footwear that’s just begging to be worn wherever you wanna go this summer!” Allow me to demonstrate the power of the strikethrough tag: “a very comfortable footwear that’s just begging to be worn wherever you wanna go this summer!” That’s just one way to go about editing this chunky dependent clause.

my grammatical eyes! Maybe it’s just me being anal about correct English, but I wouldn’t trust a bank with an ad that reads: “outstanding features that tops those of all others.” Let’s play Spot the Error, shall we? Give up? Subject-verb agreement: it’s either the features top all others, or the feature tops all others.

Whenever I read something ungrammatical, I pause and think “Is the meaning I’m getting from this the same meaning the writer meant to convey?” Back in college, I heard of professors who’d give up on reading essay exam answers when the grammar is atrocious, and they’d just flunk the poor student. Proper English grammar is important if you want to make your message clear for readers (or viewers, or listeners, depending on your medium). Otherwise, you’re just wasting their time.

It all began IN a beach I think I’ve grown out of touch with what’s being printed locally; there used to be a time when grammatical errors were a rarity in the newspapers and magazines I read. These days I can’t read through two sentences before I get hit with a whopper of an error. Sometimes I can’t even make it past the headline. I try to read on, but when there’s an error of this magnitude preceding the text, the rest of it usually gives me a headache.

I know I’m no saint in the matter; there are times when I use ungrammatical sentence construction in informal English, and I do have occasional unintentional lapses. At least I try to eliminate the fugly from what I write (I reserve the right to edit my posts for grammar and spelling errors).

Our Asian neighbors are scrambling to learn English, some even coming to the Philippines to be tutored by English-speaking Filipinos. (Yep, those Koreans aren’t tourists. You think they come to Manila for the smoggy weather?) Call centers are hiring those proficient in English (here’s an example of who they’re NOT hiring). International business is conducted in English (unless you’re French, Chinese, or Japanese). The language of scholarly reading and writing is primarily English in our universities (and Miriam Quiambao would have won Miss Universe if she had a better grasp of English! Oops, non sequitur…). No matter how pundits may decry using English as detrimental to nationalism, good English is simply damn useful.

The standard of education in English has deteriorated in the Philippines, and it’s now palpable in what we produce. This isn’t meant to put anybody down. I don’t think people who make grammatical mistakes are necessarily dumb. I don’t think that people who can’t speak or write English are dumb. It’s just that I think if you’re going to use English, use it well. What can I say? I’m a perfectionist.

ADVICES? By the way, if you couldn’t detect what was wrong with these pictures, I’d advise you to buy a book on English grammar. Please, it’s for my own safety — I don’t want to have to put my own eyes out. (The word “advice,” by the way, is used for single and plural. There is no such thing as “advices.”)

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The Perks of Bumhood

One of the disadvantages of being a bum is that everyone knows I’m not busy and can do chores, errands, and favors for them. It’s nearly impossible to say no, unless I have other plans for the day.

CoffeeBut ah, the joy of making other plans for the day! There is at least one perk to being a bum, particularly that my time is my own and I don’t have to clock in anywhere. Like today: I hung around my favorite coffee place, the Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf, slowly sipped my hot cafe vanilla, and watched harried people outside the glass windows scurrying to and from work. Or like last Friday, when I begged my mom to take me with her early in the morning and drop me off at Greenhills Shopping Center so I could snag some bargains before the crushing crowd got too thick.

There are endless possibilities of what I can do with my time, limited only by my lack of a self-earned income (*cough* allowance *cough*). To beat the summer heat, I can go kick back at a pool or kick my heels up at a mall. I can scour used-book stores for classics that are out-of-print in the Philippines, like my latest acquisition The Prisoner of Zenda by Anthony Hope. Or I could sit around on my bum all day (like a bum, get it?) and surf blogs or search the Internet for information on hobbies and current events, accomplishing the dual goals of wasting time and improving my mind. (Okay, so I’m being tongue-in-cheek about the last option because it’s actually what I do most of the time.)

Wow, I’m bored. I think I’ll go sunbathe in the back yard and read a thick book.