Sometimes it's hard to relate to deeper Filipino culture while maintaining the Chinese culture.
Here at home we speak fluent Fookien, sometimes I speak to my lil darling Brownie in Mandarin and the dog understands me @_@ Watching too much Chinese channels make Brownie smarter- I'm afraid even smarter than me! Nah.... I don't think that would happen... Would it?
I'm quite inspired to write this blog article because I read Shanghainese Dumpling's article on the topic of Chinese language and how she trains her lil pork bun to speak in Chinese even if they live in Australia because that's their root.
At times, we often speak a fusion of Filipino-Fookien which is very very natural to most Filipino Chinese. This is our version of Taglish or Filipino-English.
Fookien and Mandarin are relatively easy Chinese language for me because there are a lot of similarities and it's somehow in my nature knowing the translation from Fookien to Mandarin and vice versa.
However, my real hurdle is learning Cantonese. My father speaks fluent Cantonese because he grew up with the language in their household. I do have relatives who stayed in Hong Kong and they didn't follow the family's migration to the Philippines a long time ago (even before I was born) but I don't have any contact with them; my older cousin communicates with them but it's easier since they also learned Cantonese.
Why oh why didn't they train our generation to speak Cantonese? It's seems like it's our dying Chioa family tradition. There were funny instances before when my late grandmother would ask me in Cantonese but I can't seem to understand her, I thought she was stuttering but it turned out she's talking to me in Cantonese thinking I know how to speak the language, whew! Those moments where funny, I really thought she was stuttering but I just didn't understand her. Thank goodness for papa who translated the conversation for me.
Whenever we watch Cantonese films at home we have papa to translate it for us if there are no subtitles, however I also try to watch it on my own and figure out the story- after all, you will know a good movie if it can tell the story without the aid of script or conversation.
I can't describe Cantonese- it's like a fusion of Fookien, Mandarin and another language I do not know. Sometimes I find myself surprised that I understand what others are saying, sometimes I scratch my head figuring out what others are talking about.
So, here's the compilation of the little Cantonese terms I know.
Bak- hundred, example: yat bak is 100
Go- point, divider indicating the next few numbers you're going to say is in cents, example: yaah man go tsat man is $20.70
Man-$ example: sap man is $10, yaah man or yi sap man is $20
Leung- it also means 2, in Mandarin the direct translation is 'Liang'
Kei Chin ah/Kei To Chin ah?- how much?
But in my experience don't use this if you're not prepared for the answer/ your're not familiar with the numbers
Siu tse- miss, the direct Mandarin translation is Xiao Tsie
Um Koi- excuse me
To Tse- thank you
Yau Lok- stop the car (this is handy if you're in a cab coz most Hong Kong cab drivers can't understand English and Mandarin)
Tik Si- taxi
Tin wah- telephone
King Tsat- police
Soi- water- I just say 'Siu tse, soi' if I'm thirsty and I need to buy water from a food stall- I have to survive
Yam soi- drink water
Pi Tsao- beer
Tsi Kang- spoon
Tsi Kang Mai Tsa- spoon and fork
Lei sek um sek?- Are you going to eat or not? (I forgot where I got this, perhaps in my dear Ku Tsiong's home where I used to eat lots of his good food even when I'm having stomach aches)
Cha Siu- asado, aah... My favorite juicy asado from Hong Kong
Siu Ngo- roasted goose, this is a lot better than roasted duck
Soi ko- dumplings; I'm not sure with this one though
Ho sek- delicious
Um hai- no
Ngo um sik kong ying man- I can't speak in English
Mei kwok yan- American
Fei Li Pan yan- Filipino
Fei Li Pan-Philippines
Lieng Loy- pretty girl
Lieng Tsai- handsome boy
Soi Tsai- bad boy (I think I picked it up from papa whenever he's referring to my brothers haha)
Fei tsai- fat boy
Go pin- over there
Nei kong mat yeh wah?- what did you say?
Everytime I'm in Hong Kong, some locals think I can't understand them so they usually say bad things in front of me; that's very very rude. I'm used to hearing HongKongese making fun of me and my family so this is my best bet.
- One time my cousin asked for fork but the lady in Mcdo told him 'Ai yah! What are you gonna use for fork?!'
- On the train my baby brother sat on the bench and an adult man was cursing him for sitting down because he wanted to take the seat, shame on him, how rude and immature! I was saying King Tsat! King Tsat! And the rude adult man stopped cursing my baby brother.
- I asked for 2 extra chopsticks in Hong Kong International Airport- I think it was the Vietnam dumpling place but I forgot the exact food stall name. The attendant was laughing while telling her fellow attendant why I'm asking for spare chopsticks if we ordered just three meals? She gave me a pair of chopsticks. Well, if I could just explain to her we're just eating some snack before we board the plane and we're not after for a full meal; if she would be nicer perhaps tourists might eat at their place more often. Working in an international airport entails culture tolerance.
Be wary, a lot of non-Cantonese tourists are often made fun of without their knowledge but I'm not saying all Hong Kongese are rude, a lot are also nice and accommodating, I've met a lot of nice Hongkongese and I enjoyed and learned a lot from them. Just be wary, sometimes a few locals might be cursing you already and you don't know it.
I have yet to ask father for some words of wisdom he could teach me so locals won't bully me anymore. Ha!