Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Beep! Beep!

My brother, who lives in Tokyo with his Japanese wife, drives to work every day. At work, he drives around a lot too.

Then when he was here just a couple of months ago, he found himself being driven around by the driver, or by my dad or me. Although he wanted to drive around by himself, my mom and my sister-in-law would protest loudly.

One night, though, we had dinner at Serye Cafe Filipino at Quezon City Circle. As we approached the car, he got the keys and said he'd drive. It was a short drive home, so we all let him. And once behind the wheel and out on the Elliptical Road, he beeped at the hay naku drivers. "Ahh, ang tagal tagal ko nang gustong bumusina!" he said, a grin on his face.

Filipino drivers--well most of them--love to honk their horns. At the traffic stop, they nudge you with a loud honk as soon as the light turns green. Just this afternoon, as I was driving on the middle lane on the northbound EDSA-Cubao underpass, this red SUV behind me kept on honking. He wanted to overtake, but all the lanes were not open. Did I let him pass? Nope. Well I couldn't even if I wanted to.

When I was in my teens and learning how to drive one summer at Socialite's Driving School near Sto. Domingo Church in Quezon City, my instructor told me to honk the horn every time I would overtake. I followed that to the letter until a guy friend told me years later not to do it; it's not required.

And I found out since then that you don't need to honk your horn at every instance possible. Unless you want to annoy everyone.

But to a lot of Filipino drivers, honking seems to be a requirement. Bus and jeepney drivers honk at would-be passengers from across the street. Taxi drivers honk at traffic intersections. Even the garbage truck driver honks a minimum of 20 times on our street alone.

Maybe it's just part of the Filipino culture. The honk, come to think of it, is like saying, "Hoy!"

BOOK OF THE WEEK: I'm currently reading Slow Food: Philippine Culinary Traditions edited by Erlinda Enriquez Panlilio and Felice Prudente Sta. Maria. It's a nostalgic collection of essays on the food we all grew up with -- slow cooked sinigang, pochero, and binagoongan, among others. Mouthwatering, this book is good for the body and soul. Wonderfully illustrated by Manuel Baldemor and published by Anvil.

VERSE OF THE WEEK: When words are many, sin is not absent, but he who holds his tongue is wise. Proverbs 10:19

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