Is lip-pointing a learned or inherited trait? And by the way, it’s not exclusively Filipino…

Western style pointing

My grandson, Gabriel, at the beach, hot cocoa in one hand and the other hand pointing like most…

People living in areas where the index or the “pointer” finger is the norm when pointing may think that this communication method is a universal gesture….but it is not.

According to the paper The Protean Pointing Gesture, lip-pointing — instead of finger-pointing — in one form or another is a method used not just among Filipinos, but also widely used by those living in other parts of Southeast Asia, Australia, the Caribbean, Africa, and South America.

If you know Filipinos and Filipino-Americans who grew up in the Philippines, you will know what I mean by lip-pointing.  If you haven’t seen it, here is a great description from Lisa who blogs at mymovetothePhilippines.com:

Filipino lip pointing is actually more than just a simple puckering up. First there’s eye-to-eye contact, followed by variations of lip pursing, combined with a eyebrow, head and neck action, the execution of which all depends on the intention of the pointer.

Non-Filipinos who have observed this gesture find it confusing, and sometimes hilarious.  Foreigners should be wary of this practice.  A Filipina puckering her lips doesn’t necessarily mean she’s asking for a kiss.  She could just be pointing to something on your shoulder.  She might slap you in the face, if you misinterpret.

One of the most common reasons for lip pointing is to give quick directions, of which explaining verbally would take a longer time.

So, if you’re at a mall, and you ask a Filipino who’s carrying grocery bags up to his arms where the rest room is, he might purse his lips then extend his neck to the direction of the restroom in one smooth action.  Or he would purse his lips, lift his head up, and turn it to his left, which means: walk straight ahead, and make a left turn at the next corner. A head bobble before the head lift would mean pass two aisles down before making a left. If he over extends his neck, bends a bit, and stretches his lips outward, it means you’ve got a farther ways to walk.

According to the study, finger-pointing is one of the first gestures a human baby uses to communicate, even before they can speak.  And this is seen everywhere and across cultures.  So does this mean lip-pointing is something one learns?

Lip Pointing learned or natural webBut if it is also common for people from a particular region of the world to lip-point (e.g., Southeast Asia) then is it possible that lip-pointing is also an inherited trait?

If my U.S.-born grandsons (who are part Filipino) decide to move and live in a country where lip-pointing is common, will they easily convert to this method?

Unfortunately, the question of whether lip pointing is an inherited or a learned behavior is not answered in the study, so we will have to wait for further research.

But what do you think…learned or inherited? After all, it is not easy to teach someone how to lip-point.

Speaking of more research, can they can also find out why Filipinos and Thais sniff kiss?

Philippine narket web

Scene from market in the Philippines. Hands full? No need to drop those market bags right away since you can just let the vendor know you want by lip-pointing.

I do wonder if modern Filipinos point less with their lips, and like the rest of the so-called WEIRD (Western Educated Industrialized Rich Democratic) societies, switch exclusively to pointing with their index finger.  I hope not, as I find lip-pointing an endearing Filipino trait, and one I hope is kept by modern and future Filipinos.

For a funny take on Filipino lip-pointing, check out this YouTube video and Auntie Advice from the HappySlip Channel.

Unless with family, I rarely point with my lips now, compared to when I first immigrated to the U.S…so yes, I now point the WEIRD way.

If you are Filipino living outside the Philippines, do you still lip-point?

And another clip on YouTube featuring the Filipino-American comedian Jo-Koy talking about his 3 1/2 year old and his lip-pointing Filipina mother…

And oh wow, just in time for the 2014 Holiday Black Friday shopping, see this Wal-Mart ad targeting Asian Americans — specifically one in Tagalish featuring an actor who…yes indeed… points with his lips.

Spring forward again – it’s Daylight Saving Time (DST)

It’s that time again, when we observe Daylight Saving Time (DST) and move an hour of daylight from morning to evening, by turning our clocks forward an hour.

More daylight to enjoy sight-seeing (photo of picturesque Pacific Grove, California)

I posted an article about DST in November last year — click here to view “The Story of Daylight Saving Time”.

The site WebExhibits is a good place to learn more about DST and has this interesting spelling and grammar article:

The official spelling is Daylight Saving Time, not Daylight SavingS Time.

Saving is used here as a verbal adjective (a participle). It modifies time and tells us more about its nature; namely, that it is characterized by the activity of saving daylight. It is a saving daylight kind of time. Because of this, it would be more accurate to refer to DST as daylight-saving time. Similar examples would be a mind-expanding book or a man-eating tiger. Saving is used in the same way as saving a ball game, rather than as a savings account.

Nevertheless, many people feel the word savings (with an ‘s’) flows more mellifluously off the tongue. Daylight Savings Time is also in common usage, and can be found in dictionaries.

Adding to the confusion is that the phrase Daylight Saving Time is inaccurate, since no daylight is actually saved. Daylight Shifting Time would be better, and Daylight Time Shifting more accurate, but neither is politically desirable.

How many clocks do you have to change today?  Just smile and remember, DST is all about saving energy.

Picturesque Pacific Grove, California

“Playful” Filipino Names

This whole nickname thing is not unique to my family…it is a pretty much a tradition for many Filipinos.

At the end of this post is a link to an article from Kate McGeown of BBC News with the introduction “Bizarre and often unflattering names are as quintessentially Filipino as the country’s Catholic faith, friendly smiles…”

And just when my older sister thought I would not show her nickname here on my blog…ooops…here it is:  Wally, Wals, Wallie-Wallie, or the Walliest of course.

Which I thought was pretty harmless when this nickname evolved about 24 years ago.

That was until we introduced her to Robert, my younger sister’s then fiancée, now husband, who is British.

And so it went something like

Robert…meet my sister Wally.   At which point he choked a little before he politely shook her hand and said, “nice to meet you Wally”.  Turns out a Wally is not so flattering a name to call someone where he is from.

And Wally is kind, and the most loving sister anyone can ask for, and I hope still —a forgiving sister— when she sees this post.

Philippine President Benigno Aquino is also known as Noynoy

Here is the link to the article “Playful Filipino Names Hard to Get Used To”.

Ever the current President has a nickname, Noynoy.

I would love to hear about your family’s nickname or if you have met Filipinos with interesting names or nicknames.

McDonalds Targeted Advertising Part 2

And there it was again…McDonalds advertising in a Philippine newspaper using English and Tagalog  (Tagalish?) words.   No burgers this time — which was on my original post on this topic  (click here to read).

Well…it must be working since there were now two half page McDonald ads in the main section of this particular Filipino newspaper.

One ad is for an Asian salad: “Tikman ang harmony ng nature sa bawat bowl” (Taste the harmony of nature in each bowl)

McDonalds Tagalog and English Ad for Asian Salad

 

And the other for McNuggets.

 

McDonalds Tagalog and English Advertising - Chicken Nuggets

And so again, I am curious how the ad folks choose which words to use in English and which in Tagalog?  Do you think it is how the sentence sounds mixed up…or is it just more challenging to translate some words from Tagalog to English?

Here are the text details —

As far as translation for the McNuggets Ad at least…Filipinos do like their dipping sauces with certain foods (sawsawan) so it is not like there is not an equivalent word in Tagalog.

Strangely, I did like reading the following mixed words:

  • Ito ang big picture (here is the big picture)…and
  • Everybody say, “Saaaaarap” (Everybody say “Deeeeelicious”).

Though at the same time, I still wonder — and don’t know what to make of this mash-up of the two languages.  Is it to make Filipinos feel, well……included?  Attention Filipinos in America: McDonalds can speak (some of) your language!  And wants your fast-food dollars.

Well maybe the ad is working on me, or I am just getting hungry.    Or I like big pictures.  Or I really just like saying “Saaaaaarap!”

What do you think of these Tagalog and English ads?

Luggage with A Special Kind of Stinky

Being a nation comprised of thousands of islands and where the ocean is never really far away from anyone or anywhere, it is easy to see why Filipinos are fond of seafood.

Also consumed in large quantities are dried fish and related fermented fish products, as these do not need refrigeration, are a source of protein, and brings flavor to plain old rice and vegetables.

“Tuyo” – Dried Fish for Sale at the Market

The word “tuyo” which means “dry” in Tagalog, is the same word for dried fish.

I do like using patis (Philippine fish sauce) in my cooking, as noted on my earlier post.  However, I am not as crazy about dried fish, though I know many bring back their favorite dried fish, squid or specialty fermented seafood after coming back from their visits to the Philippines.

Years ago, my Mom decided she had to bring several jars of a local Visayan “delicacy” called ginamos back to the California, and tucked several jars in her luggage.

Ginamos is a salted, fermented product made from tiny fish like silver fish, anchovies or sometimes bigger fish like sardines, as well as shrimp (the pinkish version on the photo below).  Sold in glass jars or in open buckets at the market, the sight of it is not exactly appetizing as most are cloudy to muddy gray in color.

Ginamos – Bagoong at Market. Photo Courtesy of Tsubibo

It does not get better once you open up the container, when the smell of fermented, decaying fish wafts out.  I swear the stinkier the variety,  the more my Mom lights up at how good it will be with her fresh steamed rice.  Many Filipinos also like to eat ginamos with bananas and sweet potatoes.

When walking through local markets where ginamos is sold, I have to hold my breath —and walk as fast as I can—for fear I may pass out from the smell…and I grew up familiar with this unique aroma.  So I can only imagine how those —whose olfactory senses are “new” to the odor would react to the smell because….it truly is a special kind of stinky.

So for this trip back,  Mom must have thought the ginamos batch was worth taking to the U.S., and brought back not just one, but several jars of it.  Unfortunately, Mom was not mindful of how to properly pack ginamos for a 7,000+ mile journey.

At the San Francisco International Airport’s baggage claim, I waited next to Mom and other tired passengers for her luggage.  At the same time, I noticed the area emitted a familiar fishy smell (familiar that is, to many Filipinos), and noticed too, others wrinkling their noses.

As you can guess, indeed, one of my Mom’s treasured jars of ginamos had shattered.  I was worried she would never get the odor off her clothes, and thought, oh well that luggage bag is history!  And then I thought..uh oh…..the poor folks who may have to smell that special stinky —maybe for weeks— around the luggage carousel.

For Mom though, she was more upset that she had lost a jar of her ginamos, especially after traveling so far.  After all, you can replace clothes and luggage, but you cannot buy that special gnamos just anywhere in San Francisco!

Enjoy your ginamos and bananas! Photo Courtesy of Karlhans.

Related: Lola Jane’s Filipino food posts:

Hot Iron for your Undies?

Photo of New Iron by vichie81, www.freedigitalphotos.net

My friend Rachel recently returned from visiting her family in England.  She told me that her mother still sets time aside for ironing, including pillow cases, sheets and even underwear.

While there, Rachel told her mother —  to her mother’s surprise — that she no longer irons.

Rachel is a busy wife and mom to 3 boys— one is still a baby.

The topic of ironing reminded me of when I was stationed in Germany and of our loving babysitter, Oma (Grandma) Adelaide Lonien.

Baby Dominique in one of her german outfits, probably ironed by her Oma Adelaide

Any clothing that baby Dominique soiled while at Oma’s house got washed and IRONED.  Mind you, these clothes were for a BABY, whose wardrobe consisted mostly of SLEEPERS, and well…who SLEPT a whole lot.

Don’t get me wrong, I so appreciated getting the clean pile of uber-soft, perfectly folded, smoothly ironed baby sleepers when I picked up Dominique.

At the same time though, the thought of baby sleepers being ironed always made me laugh because I found it so unnecessary.

I suppose that it is a gesture of love and pride from certain people —- you want your family to look good right?

So perhaps the same thing with the ironing habits of my friend Rachel’s mom…but the ironing underwear part?    Well, OK, if you were modeling for Victoria’s Secret, you would not want wrinkly undies.  Not a good look on the runway.

I used to iron more than I do now…my favorite clothing to wear are linens and cottons, so it is a requirement really.  Lately though, my favorite linen shirts have been missing in action, in a basket piled with items to iron.  Lola is just too busy — after all, in addition to other tasks, I have a blog to maintain now!

My younger sister —who hardly irons anymore and is also in favor of wrinkle free clothing– recently uttered a saying in tagalog I have not heard in ages. Hahabulin ka nang plantsa! One says this when a person –usually a close friend or a much-loved relative— is wearing something so obviously in need of ironing.

It translates to something like:  The iron is going to chase you! I don’t think I have heard an English version of this (let me know if you have), so I wonder if Filipinos are just more wrinkle-phobic.

Old iron – photo courtesy of Leonardo Roque

And talk about old school ironing…when we were little in the Philippines and living in the province with our Nanay Lucing, ironing was a major and hazardous undertaking.  Here is a photo of an iron from that looks just like the one we had.

As you can see, there is no electric plug. And it is called an iron…because its made of IRON.  In order to use this contraption, you must first make a fire to have charcoal.  You then load the iron with glowing hot charcoal and lock the lever on top shut.

Old Iron on Banana Leaves, photo courtesy of www.Leoque.com

One must plan this out as you would iron first the items that were thick and can take the “high heat” setting — actually make that the “hot as hell” setting.  And be super careful lest you scorch –no, actually BRAND yourself (forever)  if you accidentally let any part of the iron touch your skin.

I was too little to help in this chore thankfully, so my older sister and cousin had this responsibility. There was always a pile of fresh, cool banana leaves as a place to set the iron. Then too, there was the starch…oh my goodness.  Nice to have that stiff cardboard look!

The part of collecting the banana leaves —well, the smaller girls were allowed to do.  And we hung around to watch if anyone got burned, and to smell the banana leaves.  Scorched banana leaves always did smell so good to us, because banana leaves are used in Filipino desserts.

With all the new wash and wear, and “wrinkle-free” type textiles in these modern times and our busy lives, who really irons anymore?  Is this a generational thing and do you still iron — and what do you iron?

Lola Jane

Related Germany post:

McDonald’s Advertising in Tagalish (Tagalog + English)

I picked up a Philippine Newspaper (U.S. published) and saw this full-page ad from McDonald’s.   The ad features a hamburger, then 4 lines of text containing Filipino (Tagalog) and English words….Tagalish?

It is safe to say that almost all Filipinos speak English.  It is taught in school and is part of the language spoken in government, the media, the arts, etc.

Having been a colony of the United States after the Spanish-American War, American English is permanently embedded in the culture and language.

What is interesting to me in this ad is combining the two languages…is this done in other markets?

I understand ads in a specific language to target the demographic, but a combination in English?

When you see an ad for McDonalds, say in Spanish, do they just use Spanish text, or a sort of Spanglish like in this ad?

Perhaps this is how the Filipino language is now morphing or  spoken in the U.S.— this sort of Tagalish, or how the next generation is speaking Tagalog.

Is the ad saying LOOK, WE SPEAK YOUR LANGUAGE (well actually, it is saying, we speak some of it and sort of).   After all, they do spend loads of money researching this stuff prior to doing ad campaigns right?

Here is the rest of the ad.  Curious on how they decided which words to use in English (buns, pure beef patties, everlasting joy).  Let me know what you think…

(Click here for a new post on this topic)

Langam: Ant or Bird?

The Philippines is an archipelago nation of over 7,000 islands.  All those islands produced many unique languages and dialects.  And at times, a word, spelled exactly the same way, can have completely different meanings.

There are hundreds of dialects spoken in the Philippines.  Tagalog and English are the official languages, though Cebuano is spoken by more Filipinos.

One day at our mother’s house, my sister and I were chatting with her friend, Leo.  I noticed some ants crawling on the floor, and said “hmmmm…langam.”

My sister looked down at the floor and we tried to follow the source of their march into the house.  Leo, however, had his neck tilted back and was looking out the window and up towards the ceiling.

We all laughed when we realized what happened.   Leo was looking for a bird he thought had flown into the house through the window.

Langam in the Tagalog language is an ANT, the kind that likes sugar and lives in a colony.  The langam that Leo was looking for was the feathery flying type, because in Cebuano a langam is a BIRD.  The meaning for the same word cannot be more different.

This langam

Ant on Leaf (source www.freedigitalphotos.net Image: hinnamsaisuy)

or do you mean this langam?

I always enjoyed running into these words.  My dialect world though, is limited to Tagalog and Cebuano.

Let me know if you know of other Filipino words / dialects with different meanings or of English / Tagalog or other languages as well.  I would love to learn about more!

–Lola Jane

And if you like this post and want to see other Philippine related post from LolaKo.com, click here to view category, or click on links to popular posts, below.