Say What?

March 19, 2012 at 6:30 am 16 comments

I guess it’s pretty normal for a new immigrant to be the butt of jokes from countrymen who came before him. It’s akin to roasting to put it midly. One has to be a good sport to survive the onslaught of stories which tend to exaggerate his accent, mannerism, and style of dress. I know. I know. I’ve been there.

One such story is about a fellow like him who came from a distant province in the Philippines. Although its origin is lost in the mist of time, I’ve heard it so many times at Filipino parties told by oldtimers in their native dialect. I’ll try to translate it into English for whatever it’s worth. I suggest that you read it aloud. If it doesn’t make you laugh, you can at least laugh at my failure in translation.

You must be familiar with the phrase, you say tomato, I say tomahto.

Well, our newcomer soon found out, that because of his accent, he had problems being understood.

His first order of business was to call his family to tell them that he had arrived safely.

He picked up the phone and dialed the long-distance operator.

“Hello,” he said. “I’d like to make a long-distance call to the Philippines.”

“May I know whom I’m speaking with?” asked the lady operator.

“Yes, it’s Abalos,” he answered. “Abalos is my name.”

“Can you spell it for me, please?”

“Sure, it’s:

‘A’ as in eeefull [Apple]
‘B’ as in bibiroot [Babe Ruth candy bar]
‘A’ as in eefull [Apple] again
‘L’ as in elefant [Elephant]
‘O’ as in ospital [Hospital]
‘S’ as in eskimo [Eskimo]

The operator thought the customer was either joking or drunk. She looked at her watch and wondered what she had done to deserve this punishment just before her shift ended.

Sensing he was going nowhere, he hang up before he made a complete fool of himself. He was able to make the call later with the help of his uncle.

A week after his arrival, he decided to start looking for a job. He asked his uncle to give him some advice on how to get around the city.

One of them was to go to a snack bar when he got hungry and needed something to eat.

“What should I order?” he asked.

“Just say you want coffee and doughnut,” his uncle replied. He also told him to keep repeating it in his presence until he learned to pronounce it correctly.

Everything went fine for awhile until the time he got tired of coffee and doughnut.

“Uncle, is there something else I can get aside from coffee and doughnut?”

“Well, how about hamburger for a change?”

“Sounds good. Thanks, uncle.”

The following day, he went to order hamburger. Unfortunately, he forgot to practice saying it right.

“What would you like to have?” the tall stocky guy behind the counter asked.

“Hamborjer.” he said with pride.


“Umm, hamborjer.”

“Say what?” the guy asked again staring down at him impatiently.

“Er…, I mean, coffee and doughnut.”

Now, tell me, is it worth a Hahaha, Hohoho, Hihihi, or Hehehe?

Entry filed under: Blogroll, daily prompt. Tags: , , , , , .

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16 Comments Add your own

  • 1. abby  |  March 19, 2012 at 12:36 pm


    • 2. plaridel  |  March 19, 2012 at 10:05 pm


      lol! does it mean i made the grade?

  • 3. Mars  |  March 20, 2012 at 5:38 pm


    And “L” as in elephant??? FTW!

    • 4. plaridel  |  March 20, 2012 at 9:04 pm


      how about ‘E’ for eskimo? 🙂

      one thing that this story highlights is the regionalistic nature of filipinos. whenever it’s told, the joke is always on someone from another region.

  • 5. Pepot  |  March 21, 2012 at 12:20 pm

    Is he related to Comelec Chairman Benjamin Abalos? LOL.

    • 6. plaridel  |  March 21, 2012 at 2:41 pm


      possibly, but unlikely. 🙂 for the benefit of some of our readers, mr. abalos, a former high ranking philippine government officials, had been parodied for mispronouncing “burger” as “burjer” on tv. as a face-saving move, perhaps, he opened a restaurant and called it “ben’s burjer.”

      incidentally, the former chairman is currently indited for corruption committed during the previous administration of gloria macapagal-arroyo.

  • 7. AC (@eysilicious)  |  March 21, 2012 at 7:26 pm

    i just watched my friends’ comedy gig here in SG 2 nights ago. there were 3 filipino comedians and 2 caucasians (wife are pinays) so they kept talking about accents and stereotypes. you might want to watch this, he was one of the performers in the comedy show but this vid is 3years old so i guess he’s a lot better imitating other nation’s accents now. i’ll look for his newer vid anyway.

    though i am learning to speak singlish, i am still pinoy sounding. in fact, they often tell me “you look chinese but you speak pilipin” so i guess pinoy accent really is noticeable.

    • 8. plaridel  |  March 22, 2012 at 10:11 pm


      he’s funny. he must have a good ear to be able to mimic the accents of other people.

      anyway, i think having an accent is part of who we are, so we might as well embrace it. most important thing is that we’re understood when we speak. gestures can help in an emergency. 🙂

  • 9. AC (@eysilicious)  |  March 23, 2012 at 8:01 pm

    ben’s burjer used to be my favorite snack when i was still working in mandaluyong. heheh

    • 10. plaridel  |  March 24, 2012 at 2:51 pm


      i heard that it’s made from mr. abalos’s own recipe and that it’s really good. in this instance, he has redeemed himself for mispronouncing this favorite fast food fare.

      he must be a darn good cook. still he needs to go to jail for all the shenanigans he committed under the previous administration including “cooking” the 2004 presidential elections in favor of gloria macapagal-arroyo.

  • 11. yuhublogger  |  February 18, 2017 at 9:38 am

    Hahaha, Hohoho, Hihihi and Hehehe. This was such a fun read!! The poor guy had to settle with coffee and doughnut again.

    • 12. plaridel  |  February 18, 2017 at 2:35 pm


      if anything, he’s over that phase now. 🙂

      • 13. yuhublogger  |  February 18, 2017 at 5:12 pm

        That’s good, but less funny!

        • 14. plaridel  |  February 19, 2017 at 6:19 pm


          i know what you mean. that’s what happens when you’ve finally made it.

          • 15. yuhublogger  |  February 19, 2017 at 8:44 pm

            Yeah! You’re right. A lovely read.

            • 16. plaridel  |  February 20, 2017 at 10:23 am


              thanks again. 🙂


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