February 6, 2023

I don’t do Valentine’s, so I’d rather write about the Year of the Ox, the Chinese New Year, which is one of the biggest holidays in China and elsewhere in the world where they make their presence felt.
Like any race or creed, the Spring Festival has been toned down by the pandemic: No grand parades, reunions, or big gatherings. People will miss the excitement of the roaring drums, firecrackers, the dragon and lion dances, and even tikoy. Like you and I though, we are one in praying with them for a brighter future ahead.
In the more than 30 years of friendship with Chi Jian Li, I have been to China for the same number of times or even more and have seen it all, including grand celebrations welcoming the New Year – booze, plenty of food, and joyous celebrations.
The culture and the practices have seemingly been ingrained in me and sometimes I wonder if I was reincarnated from my previous life of being a chek-wa, the slang for Chinese. Supposedly derogatory, but I don’t think so. Reminds me of Erap who arrived in his hotel to book and the receptionist asked, “Check-in?”
Erap replied, “Noy-pi.”
What could be worse is what children shout out to their playmates, “Intsik beho tulo laway.”
In Trancoville, we used to have our own Chinatown where manang Tita and her brother, batchmate Ralph Leung, stayed. They were treated with respect and affection.
Earlier on, another Chinese BFF, Pemoel “Boy” Ng, son of Ng Pee, founder of Bell Church, and brother to “bishop” Elias Ng, is the source of my limited Mandarin like sakwa or crazy, wan-su-tan-aw or utak lamok (Liit na nga ng lamok, paano pa kaya ‘yung utak nya?). I was, of course, taught how to count “Ee, èr, sān, suh, wǔ, liù, qī, bā, jiǔ.”
Then there was the cursing or swearing like bèn dàn or when you desire to call someone a moron, an idiot or a polite “not-so-smart.” Wǒ kào, which refers to your rear, behind, butt and swears “holy s!” And since we are celebrating the Year of the Ox, niúbì, literally translated to “cow vagina,” akin to PI in Tagalog, which the Supreme Court ruled as a mere expression and not actionable by itself as grave oral defamation.
In 2019, I was given a Chinese name by David’s business associates – “Wen ya la” – Avila 什么意思, I presume in Mandarin, and if ever you received my business card, the name is written in Chinese characters at the back portion. The first character or syllable is my family name and the second is the first name.
Most Chinese don’t have an “r”, hence the conversion to “l”, example “illevocable” which means “not able to be changed, reversed, or recovered, final.” Then again, only in the Pilipins can the “illevocable” be conditioned by the acceptance of the emperor and not taken face value.Drama drama lang ‘pag may time. Tao lang po!
The Chinese, at least those I have dealt with, are a funny lot and have a keen sense of humor when they are not counting their yu-ans or dollars.
Thus, in Shanghai, a taxi passenger tapped the shoulder of the driver to ask him a question. The driver screamed, lost control of the car, nearly hit a bus, went up the sidewalk and stopped inches away from a shopping window.
For a few minutes, there was silence inside the taxi. Then the driver told the passenger (as translated by David), “Huwag mo na ulitin ‘yun a. Tinakot mo ako ng husto!” The passenger replied, “Bakit naman? Hindi ko akalain na matatakot ka ng husto.” The driver answered “Sorry a, hindi mo kasalan. Ngayon ay unang araw ko sa pag-drive ng taxi, dati kasi ako driver ng punenarya.”
The Chinaman goes to the eye doctor. After the exam the doctor said, “I know why you’re having trouble.” The Chinaman says, “Why?” The doctor said, “You have a cataract.” Chinaman says, “No, I have a Lincoln Continental.” And the classic question of a CNN reporter to Mao-tse-tung: “When was your last election?” which was promptly answered by the chairman: “Just befol blekfast.”
Nobody said we should not have fun so even with the Covid-19, let me join them in saying, “Xīn Nián Kuài Lè”! Happy New Year and Gōng Xǐ Fā Cái. Best wishes, wishing you prosperity and wealth.
Gong xi. Hsieh hsieh! Sigh.

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