“I eat more pussy than Alf” and Other Funny Phrases on T-Shirts in the Philippines

About a month ago, while strolling through SM mall, my American husband and I saw an old woman, probably way into her 60’s, sporting a t-shirt with these words in large letters: “I EAT MORE PUSSY THAN ALF.”

It was a real head turner for us.  We laughed instantaneously after we read it. Shortly thereafter, we were scratching our heads:  Why would a grandmother wear a shirt with obscene wordings?  We think the reason is because she didn’t know what the words implied.  And luckily for grandma, most Filipinos don’t know either. (If you don’t know what it’s about, the phrase is in reference to the 80’s show with the title character “Alf” who was an alien who liked to eat cats, and a play on the word “pussy”.)

I’ve notice that there’s a proliferation of  t-shirts with similar phrases.  My daughter’s nanny has one that says “Gold Digger”, though I hardly believe that she’s the type.  My assistant has one with a colorful blown-up Lichtenstein like drawing of a Popsicle.  It would have been fine (it might even be taken from a real Lichtenstein painting), if only the Popsicle wasn’t placed in front of her chest, and didn’t have the words “Suck Me!” beneath it.  Maybe I should have her wear it at the office.  Might draw in more male customers. Both of them bought their shirts from ukay-ukay,  stores selling imported vintage clothing, which have become a ubiquitous establishment in recent years in the Philippines.

I’m sure you’ve seen one of these t-shirts, worn by a Filipino who isn’t familiar with English idioms and slang, and most probably pre-owned by an American who knew exactly what the message meant.

Food Serving Sizes in the Philippines: 1 Serving for Filipinos is 1/2 for Americans

My American husband and I like watching “Headlines” segment on Monday night episodes of the Tonight Show with Jay Leno.  On one episode, someone sent Leno a Chinese restaurant menu.  On one of the combo items, it indicated,

No. of Servings:  Asian: 4.  American: 2.

It’s funny, but there is some truth to that.  In the US, food portions are large, such that when Filipinos travel or move to the US for the first time, they are shocked at what they would consider humungous portions, and tend to order more than they could consume. Conversely, in the Philippines, food servings at restaurants are smaller, sometimes even half, the size in the US. An American might have to place two orders of a certain entree to fill him up.

With pizzas, for example, a “family” size here in the Philippines is “regular” size in the US.  “Regular” here is “small” or “solo” in America.  And “personal” size here is non-existent in the states.  When I ask a waiter how big the portions are on a certain dish, he would say, “For one to two people” if I’m with my husband.  But if I’m with other Filipinos, say my mom or dad, the waiter would say, “Three to four”, for the same dish.

The first time my husband ordered a “small” Frosty at Wendy’s, we knew it was going to be smaller than the small size in the US.  But we didn’t expect it was going to be this small:

Wendy's "Small" Frosty

It was the tiniest Frosty I had ever seen, the size of a shot glass, and as tall as a dollar bill. It was not enough for my husband, but he didn’t feel like falling in line again to order a bigger size.  We learned our lesson.  After that, we asked to be shown how big cups are every time we go to a new fast food.

Of Beggars, Panhandlers and Con Artists in the Philippines

It’s around 12:10 pm at my work in Quezon City, Philippines.  Almost everyone was out getting their lunch.  I myself was about to dig into my lunch when a woman came into my office.   The moment I saw her, I knew exactly what she wanted from me.

She walked with a limp.  The fingers on her right hand were all curled up and twisted into each other.  Her shoulders and face were crooked, like she had a stroke or palsy.  She approached me, and in a slurred speech, she asked if I can spare some change.

If I had a customer, I would have given this beggar either a one or five peso coin just so she won’t bother us.  But this time, it was just me.  So, I gave her my usual monologue: “Sorry.  The owner is not here.  I’m just the secretary.  I barely earn enough and I have two kids in school.”  It’s actually believable, because I don’t wear jewelry (except for tiny fake studs to keep my ear piercing from closing up). And though I’m the owner of the company, I often wear the company uniform – a cotton collared shirt with a small logo at front left.  She left.

I had a feeling that she was not what she appeared to be.  Her clothes were somewhat dirty, but they were well-pressed.  My instincts were correct.  A few minutes later, I caught a glimpse of her at the corner gas station.  She was walking straight and tall!  No trace of the disability she had a few minutes ago. It was like a scene out of the comedy movie “Trading Places”, where Eddie Murphy’s character,  a blind and crippled beggar / con artist, regained his sight and was able to walk when he was about to be busted by cops for panhandling.  “It’s a miracle!”

This was not the first time I’ve seen a “miracle”.  There were four before this one.  It was annoying to have been almost a victim of a con artist, but I have to admit it made my day.  Sometimes, the best thing to do is to sit back, put humor into things, think of Eddie Murphy on “Trading Places”, laugh at life.  I might never again experience this anywhere else.

P.S. Just as I was about to publish this post, another person approached my desk.  He had a rosary around his neck.  He claimed he was a faith healer, and he could help cure my dry skin.  I said to him, “No, thank you.  I don’t need it.”  To which he replied, “Why? Don’t you believe in me?”  Gotta love the Philippines.