Many Vizayans take umbrage when I make fun of their pronunciation, but I try to preempt the potential damage (like being delinked and flamed) by saying I’m Pangalatok (though, in reality, I’m also half-German, half-shepherd) and that my tribe’s diction is a lot worse. I’d like to point out that joking at the expense of our 'Bisaya' friends is neither racist nor supremacist. Of course not. It’s just that the joke is plain funny. For how else would you react if you piously enter a chapel and are greeted by a group of people with this version of the rosary?:
“Hell, Miri, fall of Greece…”
I sure was floored by that one I literally picked up my jaw from the floor and found it moving still.
For another example, how would you react to this modern classic of a Manny Pacquiao joke which reached me in the form of forwarded email and SMS?:
“Ice cream ba talaga yung in-endorse in Pacquiao sa TV ad nya na Nestle Ice Cream?
Akala ko kasi, softdrink. Kasi, sabi nya, ‘Oh mga bata, Mirinda na!’”
I am reminded of these jokes because I am reminded of my jolly Cebuano officemate who’s now and then a butt of joke in the old office because of the way he mispronounced (or is that mis-enunciated) words: with the confidence of a top TV emcee.
Let’s call him Jeck. Here are our most memorable episodes with Jeck, who's our IT guy from Cebu:
In the MRT, within the earshot of so many:
Friendly officemate 1: Jeck, ang bango mo naman. Ano’ng perfume mo?
Friendly officemate 1: Huh, ano’ng Got-che, meron ba nun?
Jeck: Hindi mo ba alam yung Got-che?
Friendly officemate 1 thought bubble: (Ah, p*nyeta, siguro Gucci yun.)
During the Christmas daily exchange-gift game:
Friendly officemate 2: Ang nabunot mo ay si…Jeck!
Jeck reacts (upon receiving his gift, a Sesame Street toy from Gift Gate): Wow, and galing nito ah! Coke-kee Manster. Thank you ha!
(He received a Cookie Monster toy.)
Then there’s this daily punishment of hearing him address our archives girl Daisy this way:
“Desy, paki-print nga ito. Hoy, Des, ano ba, sinabi na’ng pa-print ‘to, eh.”
Make no mistake. Everybody loved Jeck, and I think the reason is because he never got offended, or at least he never showed it, and he never suggested any plans to improve. He gave us and our dreary office life so much fun.
You could say we treated him as a Coke-kee Manster mascot, and I can’t blame you. In the last company I worked for, the corporate culture was to be mean or you’d be dead being overly sensitive. We were trained to be offensive jerks, unofficially of course. That’s the reality of the jungle we worked in. We’re politically incorrect. We were annoying pests. We laughed at people’s weaknesses and imperfections, including our own. Nobody would survive being onion-skinned.
I’m not very proud of it, but sometimes I’d catch myself laughing at the victims of this cubicle culture. Often, though, I’d feel guilty, so I’d try hard not to laugh because I was painfully aware that the target subject could be laughing on the outside but hurting deep within.
I guess that culture may have made us tough even as it tried to humble us or perhaps lower down our respective self-esteem. But since we didn’t seem to care much, I guess, to a certain extent, we emerged as better persons for it - or maybe not. It’s because, I realize now, we didn’t need that much affirmation; we were all proud and egotistic and selfish. Spoiled brats! What we needed was a constant reminder of our proper place in the whole scheme of things. What we needed was a major bashing.
Looking back, very few people gave in to the temptation to be offended. The last one that got really offended I remember to have resigned without saying goodbye, but that’s just one casualty. For a corporate zoo like ours, that's a very good score.
One of those that would make it up to the very end (the company no longer exists, at least on paper) was Jeck. And for his sheer tenacity, shamelessness, pride, and unrepentance, he was duly awarded with a new name: Jick.
Yes, we, or they, were that insensitive. The peak of the uncharitable act he got was when somebody snooped on him while he was making a phone call and ratted on it soon after - yes, within his earshot. Our evil officemate said Jeck was talking to his two-year old son – in straight English, which of course sounded bad. And a few minutes later, our field reporter reported, Jeck was heard taking up a serious matter with his wife: their plan to put up a speak-English training center!
You can just imagine the number of feast days we had whenever Jeck was around (he was present everyday). Then again, everybody else was named after his or her own feast day. Fair enough. Just don’t ask mine.
What I love most about this guy, though, is this: It seemed he was unsure how to pronounce my name, so he settled with calling me "Gwapings." Take note of the ‘s.’ Yes, he truly believed I looked great even when the vast majority insisted I didn’t.
As far as I’m concerned, Jick is the most wonderful person this world has ever produced so far. Not even my own mother and father were humble enough to acknowledge that truth even when it’s staring them in the face.
Thursday, August 16, 2007
Posted by R.O. at 5:25 PM