Apart from entertaining, the lunch we had that day could reasonably be described in Tagalog as mahal, or pricey. The same word, coincidentally or not, is also a term of endearment, ‘love’.
Funny but true, love can be pricey at times.
It wasn’t long after we arrived that a group of vacationing Pinoys
were seated next to us – a bit animated, and, surprisingly, a bit jologs
. It was Joël Robuchon
after all. Once I’d heard the first Tagalog word come out from their group, I instantly wondered whether or not to say hi. After all, they would eventually hear us speaking as well, and we may be construed as snobs for not acknowledging them. I even felt a sense of urgency as the person I was elbow-to-elbow with was clearly an ‘old’ friend of Dorothy.
I waited for the perfect time but, sadly, it didn’t come soon enough. I’d heard them talk about the many places they’d been on their trip, what they’d bought while shopping, how much they’d spent so far, and heard some gossip about a particular Philippine socialite who was famously caught carrying a fake designer bag…
As I was eating my steak, still anticipating a proper time to say hello, the gay guy (GG) next to me daintily rings someone up in Manila…
GG: Mahaaal? Hello, mahal! (Looove? Hello, love!)
I almost spat my chewed steak out.
GG: Mahal, marami akong pasalubong for youuuu! Hintayin mo ako, ha! (Love, I bought a lot of stuff for youuuu! Wait for me, okay!)
Much as I wanted I couldn’t help not listen in. I tried to imagine what the other guy looked like, and wondered why he needed to wait. Was he somehow in a hurry? So many visions of the movie Macho Dancer came to mind.
Later on, the group conversation went from how busy they were going to be with their ‘projects’ when they got back to Manila, and how the spaghetti they ordered was the most they’d ever paid for just spaghetti.
It was near the end of the meal, by the time coffee came, that we finally revealed ourselves. After I apologized for creating a mess with a sugar-sachet gone awry, gay guy asked where I was from. After their group found out we were all Filipinos, their conversation became audibly more sedate.
GG: Oh, you’re Filipino!
Girl: Ah, you’re Filipino pala…
It was only a minute or two before we stood up to leave and wished them well on their trip, at which point I waited till we were a block away to let out a long, hearty laugh.
If there ever was a takeaway from that lunch it’s that the Philippines must surely be doing well, so much so that more than a few Filipino tourists could lunch at a two-Michelin star restaurant at the same time.
And it was indeed a memorable lunch, not so much for the beautiful food (with sincere apologies to the chef), but more for the unexpected live entertainment by way of jologs-town.