OK, you’re taking a bus across Negros and the bus stops at a small roadside place for lunch. You have to go to the bathroom NOW, so you run through the thatched hut-restaurant into a courtyard full of chickens. Off to the right, you see the sign “CR” in front of a small shack. You waste one second laughing at “comfort room” the Filipino euphemism for toilet, then you race towards the tiny structure with two doors. The doors are labelled “lalaki” and “babae,” which one do you enter?
If you think like me, you chose poorly. Ooops. Not that Filipinas don’t enjoy an awkward situation followed by a good laugh. Somehow, “babae” sounded like it should me male and “lalaki” female.
New languages are part of the fun when you travel, but here in the Philippines, it is so easy to get by in English that we have learned virtually no Tagalog. I guess we have been a bit lazy. But English is so commonly spoken that it is easy to forget Tagalog, Cebuano, Ilocano, Bicol, Hiligaynon, Kapampangan, Kinaray-a, Maguindanao, Marano, Pangainan, Tausug, Waray-Waray, and 100+ other languages even exist.