Every Sunday morning we get up early and go to Agdao Public Market. There as at a lot of open parking areas there is a “parking attendant.” At Agdao there is a man that will show you where to park, will watch so you do not bump the curb and helps you when you back out. For this, when we leave we give him 15 pesos (.30 USD).
Today I had to wait for a spot, so Elena got out and started her shopping. After about 10 minutes a car pulled out and after I parked I started looking for Elena. We have a routine so I just had to follow her path. I first went to the pork stall when Elena usually buys. The manager Myrna saw me, smiled and pointed that Elena had moved on. I next went to the stall we buy our chicken. Again as I was noticed I got smiles and good mornings, we asked each other how we were and then they pointed in the direction Elena went. Then to the root vegetable section where again I was greeted with loud “Hello Sir, how are you today.” They then pointed to Elena’s path but then joked and called out “Sir, your wife is here.” When I returned wondering how I missed her they pointed to a girl at the stall across the way, which they always joke with about me. Finally I found Elena at the vegetable stand Elena get the rest. With her was our little friend BeBe.
Bebe is a 12 year girl that will find us to help us carry our bags. She is a cute girl with a sweet smile. During the week she goes to school, but Sundays goes to the market to make a little money to help out her family. Then a few others we know came over to share the burden. Today we had Bebe, JoyJoy, Roxanne and a little boy that I did not get his name. We were like a parade as we moved around the market to finish our shopping and would talk and joke with me while we waited for Elena to purchase something. Then off to the car to load the trunk. Bebe knows to put the fish and meats on the plastic and orders the other kids where to put their bags. For this Elena gives them each 10 pesos. Bebe carried so much, Elena gave her 20 pesos and the increased smile was so sweet.
Why this long story? I have learned to enjoy going to the market, and enjoy the recognition from the vendors as I feel the friendship. There have been times as we arrive to an area one of the stall workers would be eating and they always offer a plate of rice and whatever item they are having for breakfast. Also if I take my camera out, the vendors and their customers will move together, smile and ask their photo taken. I know some will say they are not “friends” but to me, someone who is nice I will use that word. Maybe they are contacts or acquaintances but I use friend.
Some Foreigners complain about how they are treated by Filipinos. They complain how in many places foreigners are charged a higher price than locals, looked at like a stranger or even insulted. I have experienced some of these problems too, but I try not to dwell on them.
We need to realize there are many cultural differences, life differences and most of all, language differences. But if we walk around angry or better then the locals, we keep these feelings. For me, I enjoy meeting and greeting people in all walks of life. With this, in the mall or out somewhere, these people will see me and come over to say hello.
I hope someday to learn Bisaya and to have better conversations and get to know everyone better, but for now I enjoy the friendship they offer.