There would be very few Kanos who don’t partake of the occasional cold beverage when visiting or residing in the Philippines.
My personal favourites are the San Mig Light and San Mig Super Dry and I confess I like some of the flavoured beers. I can drink any of the bands on offer, including the potent Red Horse, the rather decent for the price Gold Eagle and even the black as sin Cerveza Negra. Of course, in most provinces you are lucky if you can get the Pale Pilsen and Red Horse, the other varieties are usually not available.
There is another brewery, Asia Brewery, the makers of Beer Na Beer and Colt 45 and also Asahi under license. Cheaper than San Miguel, I find it very similar and while I can enjoy an icy cold Colt 45, the Beer na Beer is pretty much like the Pale Pilsen; it needs to be icy cold to be really good. But that’s just me and my taste, your taste may differ. What won’t differ is hat you need to be able to communicate with your suki at the local sarisari store to buy it. I know, you can always get the asawa to organize the beer delivery, even get crates of the stuff dropped off direct from the local wholesaler but, you never know when she might be in ‘da probince’ visiting mama and you have to fend for yourself.
First of all, don’t panic. Practise these simple phrases and all will be fine.
“Kumusta ka po. Gusta ko beer, palihug.” You kicked off with a polite greeting, then said you wanted beer, please. All you need do now is tell them the brand and how many.
“One box, San Miguel” should do it. While technically it is a crate, just say box, ok lagi? Hold up one finger to make sure they know it is just one crate you want. If you want more, add the correct number of fingers and so forth. We’re buying beer, it is vital to life, but it is not rocket science.
“Pilar?” (How much?) Pay the woman, then say “Salamat, sige na” and walk off, letting your brother in law or trike driver carry the crate, I mean box, of beer.
Ok, it may have been easier to just send the brother in law or a ‘stambye’ (Dong on ‘stand by’ hanging out on the street corner waiting to be useful) but you need to be able to do this. It is a necessary skill you must master, if only so that while you may never do it again, you know you can if you have to.
I always found it satisfying and even pleasurable; this tete-a-tete, this back and forth repartee between seller and buyer in a foreign language on some dusty, exotic street corner. OK, I’m working this a bit hard, but you get the drift. You can build on your skills too. Perhaps you smoke? Just say “Gusta ko Marlboro, palihug” or whatever the brand is. If you are buying singles, hold up that finger again and say “one stick”. If you want some chips or pork crackling to chew while you drink the beer, ask for “palutan?” and the seller will offer a range of munchies to choose from. It really is that simple, and fun!
Perry Gamsby, D.Lit., MA(Writing), Dip. Bus, Dip. Mktg is a writer and lecturer who lives with his Cebuana wife and five Aus-Fil daughters in Western Sydney. The author of a series of best-selling ‘self-help’ books for expats and those married to Filipinas, he is also a Master of Filipino Martial Arts and a former World Stickfighting Champion who has lived, worked and vacationed in the Philippines since 1988. Perry and his family return to the Philippines on a yearly basis. You can read more of his writing on Philippines topics at www.streetwisephilippines.biz