(Note: Those who have read the ‘Baling’ post, skip this entry. Nothing new here)

THIS IS ANOTHER ARTICLE that talks about our Korean friends, in fact, the fourth that had to do with the topic. But before I proceed, let me tell you that writing about Koreans is not something I really want to do as a columnist. Precisely the reason I missed the past four Tuesdays straight is that I did a lot of serious thinking about what direction to take as a writer.

And I realized that what I really want to write about is World Peace, Food Shortage, Tibet, how to save the Black Rhino and the Giant Panda, and other issues of global significance, like the Balanghoy Festival.

But I’m a victim of circumstance. In the newsroom, police stories about Koreans always find their way to my desk for editing. And on very rare occasions that I hang out in bars, the next table is always occupied by Koreans. That’s too much of a coincidence.

And recently this. I was asked by a Korean tourist to edit a personal book she was writing to chronicle her stay in Cebu. At first I thought it was a setup arranged by Koreans annoyed by the unnecessary exposure I was giving them here and in my blog. They would subject me to a kind of torture only they are capable of doing: make me do the V-sign. But I was wrong. Koreans are a very friendly people whose only fault is that they can’t tell verbs from birds.

And I realized it’s us, Filipinos, who should be blamed if sometimes we find it difficult to communicate with our visitors.

Following is a transcript of a conversation I had with my Korean friend who got angry after I arrived late for a meeting. I’m including it here because it illustrates that nations don’t have to speak one language in order to understand each other and attain, well here it is – World Peace.

J: Lurinthoo, what happen? I come far just see you here Ayala. And you? And you? Late to come!
Me: I’m so sorry, J (for Jaimee). It’s traffic in Mambaling.
J: Baling? You say home in text. Now Baling?
Me: Mambaling, J. It’s where I live. It’s far from here, and I don’t have a car.
J: Aaargghh, Lurinthooo. Three already. Me here two. You hour late, Lurinthoo! Me no car also, but taxi.

(And this went on for about 15 minutes. Me talking about the traffic, J giving me a puzzled look every time I mentioned Mambaling.)

Me: I’m sorry, J. It will not happen again.
J: Better not happen again. Now work.
Me: OK, good. Now, I brought with me the printouts. There are some names of persons and places that were not very clear to me. Can you check your notes?
J: Not very clear? This not complete? You mean? (Waving the papers at me). You the editor, and this not complete?
Me: Yes, J. We talked about this already. I edit your raw, but it doesn’t mean I know all those persons and places you mentioned.
J: You editor, Lurinthoo, you Cebuano. You know place.
Me: No, J. It doesn’t follow. I’m Cebuano but I don’t memorize the names of all the barangays and barangay officials in Cebu. It’s impossible. It was you who joined the trip and you took down notes. Just check your notes, please.
J: OK, OK. I get notes.
Me: Naa raman diay na. Haskang dugaya.
J: What Lurinthoo?
Me: Nothing. I said traffic in Mambaling was really bad.
J: Lurinthoo, we work already. No more Baling. OK? OK? No more Baling.
Me: OK, J. No more Baling. Me, you, work now.
K: Good, Lurinthoo, good.
Me: Pero grabeha na gyud sa traffic sa Mambaling oi.
J: Lurinthooooo!!!!