Filipinos working abroad are accustomed to mastering a country’s official language, ensuring that they can feel one with the locals. So when an overseas Filipino worker in Saudi Arabia met a local customer speaking in straight Filipino, to say he was delighted is an understatement.
Filipino Glen Colinares posted videos of his exchange with the Saudi on Facebook, which has garnered 3,000 likes and over 40,000 shares as of writing.
More than a “Kamusta naman kayo (how are you)?” the customer named Abdul dictated his order in Filipino as Colinares served him.
When offered a selection of coffee, Abdul declined: “Ayaw ko ng kape para mamaya matutulog na ako agad (I don’t want coffee so that I can sleep right away later).”
The impressed Filipino said, “We really really appreciate it, Sir. You’re very fluent when you speak in Tagalog.”
“Salamat. Siguro lang mas magaling ka sa akin. Siguro lang, ewan ko lang (Thank you. Maybe you’re better than I am. Maybe, I can’t say),” said the man in jest.
“Mas magaling ka (you’re better) Sir,” said the waiter in good humor.
Abdul described his Filipino-speaking ability: “Trying hard. Parang anak-mayaman pero buhay-mahirap (Like a rich kid but living like someone poor).”
“Anak-pawis tayo eh (We’re blue-collar workers),” he told Colinares and gave him a fist bump.
During their conversation, Abdul shared that he had visited Manila and Bicol. When Colinares said he was born and raised in the latter region, the customer communicated in some Bicolano as well. He added that he had traveled to Bicol places including Albay province and Naga city and Pili, both in Camarines Sur, and was familiar with the perfect-coned Mayon volcano.
He described Bicolanos as “mabait (kind)” and “malambing (affectionate).”
“Masarap ang pagkain doon (the food’s good there), Bicol Express,” he said, referring to the Bicolano-favorite peppery dish.
Even when he was complimented on his looks, he replied in Filipino. “Salamat kahit bola (Thank you, even if you’re just flattering me).”
And though it’s been a while since he has been to the Philippines, he revealed how he maintains his fluency. “Palagi ‘pag nakikita ko ang mga kababayan, nagsasalita kami para ‘di ko makalimutan ang Tagalog (When I see Filipinos, I speak with them so I don’t forget the Tagalog language).”
Colinares thanked him profusely for learning how to speak Filipino. “Saludo ako sa ‘yo (I salute you),” he told him.
“I salute all the kababayan, all the Filipinos,” replied Abdul. /ra