Sunday, May 8, 2011

Mother's Day Call

Sunday, May 8, 2011
Las Vegas, NV

Some random notes from our Mother’s Day call with Elder Waggoner:
Pronunciation guide
The municipality of Tangalan is pronounced Tahn-Gahl’-un.
The language, Aklanon, is pronounced Ah-Klonn’-un.
The next town out, Ibajay, is pronounced Ee’-buh-hy.
You may be curious why we would spend such precious time discussing proper pronunciation, although that is not terribly unusual for Waggoners.  For each of the above words, it went something like this:
Dad asked a question using one of the above words.
Elder Waggoner asked “What?”
Dad repeated the questions and explained what he meant.
After Elder Waggoner recognized what Dad was saying, and quit laughing, we were told the correct pronunciation.  A couple of times, it took a while for the laughter to subside.
New Chef in the Family
It sounds like Elder Waggoner has become a popular chef.  Because they are in a more rural area, and have less access to restaurants and members that cook, Elder Waggoner and his companion cook most of their food.  After learning to cook rice and a few toppings the traditional ways, Elder Waggoner began experimenting.  Now, whenever other missionaries pass through, he cooks for them, and he has become a bit of a celebrity chef among the missionaries.  He has a collection of spices that Mom sent him, and this has added to his culinary options.
Fan Etiquette
It is of course hot and humid year round in the Philippines.  Most people sleep with a fan blowing on them, and use a fan during the day whenever it is an option.  It is considered very rude to stand between a person and their fan.  (Maybe like blocking a person’s view of the television in the U.S.?)  He added that if the electricity goes off in the middle of the night, you know it right away because you suddenly wake up feeling very hot.
Multi-use Fabric
Obliged to spend the night in Numancia (New- mahn’-see-uh, one of the few towns Dad was pronouncing correctly) Elder Waggoner found himself sleeping on a cold floor with no bedding.  He said “I took off my white shirt and used it as a pillow.  The next morning, I ironed my pillow and wore it home.”
After four plus months in Tangalan, Elder Waggoner is now well enough acquainted with prices, tradition, and customs to understand how things are done.  As a result, he can now discern when he is being ripped off versus what is fair and reasonable.  Although he sounded quite content to pay prices on that are on the high side of the fair range, he has a singularly negative reaction to people who seem to be taking advantage of the rich/naïve American.  (See Jan 17 post for story of broken plastic washing machine for instance.)  One example of this is the Jeepney or Trike fares, where speaking the language well has made it difficult for the driver to ignore him when he asks for his change.
The Language
Most of the Island – and Mission – speaks either Ilongo, or a dialect that is fairly similar.  However, in most homes where Elder Waggoner works, the locals speak a very different language, Aklanon.  We got to hear some samples of the languages.  Ilongo sounded reasonably similar to Tagalog, the way Portuguese is similar to Spanish, or Swedish is to German.  However, Aklanon sounded other worldly, and is very different from anything Mom or Dad have ever heard.
In the other areas in Aklan, the missionaries are able to get by with Tagalog.  Tagalog is spoken in the most populated areas of the Philippines, and is the language the Iloilo-bound missionaries learn in the MTC.  However, owing to the rural nature of Elder Waggoner’s area, many people speak only Aklanon, so any missionary serving in his are is obliged to learn and teach in that obscure and unwritten language.  

His expertise seems to be growing.  A more senior missionary, who was visiting from another part of Aklan, challenged Elder Waggoner’s use of a particular word.  Elder Waggoner wanted to just let it slide, but the challenge became persistent enough that he was irked, and they went out into the street and asked several people.  All of the passers-by agreed with Elder Waggoner.
Popular Adjectives
Since Elder Waggoner is white, none of the locals expect him to be able to understand Aklanon, so they are indiscreet in talking about him as he walks past.  He said the two most frequent words he overhears are “Mormon” and “skinny.”  He paused, and added “You know, for a Filipino to be describing someone else as skinny, that takes some doing.”
Rice Babies
In that vein, Elder Waggoner mentioned that he is having some of his clothing tailored because loose clothing gets caught on things when he hikes through his area.  He mentioned that while his shirts and legs are very loose, his waist doesn’t seem much smaller.  Annie joined in to describe how a carbohydrate diet tends to maintain weight around the waist.  Elder Waggoner rejoined, “Yeah, we always talk about that, how eating this diet makes it look like you’re having a rice baby.  Elder _____ is in his third trimester!”
Miss Us?
Asked about homesickness, Elder Waggoner said “Huh?”  He went on to elaborate that he loves what he is doing, and he is often amazed that “It is already P-day again.”  He said that he thinks part of the reason he isn’t homesick is that his family loves what he is doing.

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