Saturday, May 06, 2006

Galiban Ting!

Twenty some years ago, my family traveled back to the Philippines for my Nanang Paula's funeral. I was ten years old, and we stayed for a month.

There are lots of stories from this trip, I probably am not going to tell them all. But one of the funny ones is about the words galiban ting.

Anyway, so we were in the Philippines, and I was ten, so nobody ever told me what was going on. We would spend days and days, doing nothing. My cousins and I were so bored. SO BORED. For days. We'd lounge around, go for walks, read everything in the house, jump rope... Scratch our mosquito bites. I would complain and whine; I didn't know what was going on, and no one would tell me. My cousins didn't whine as much; they are in general less whiney, but I also think they were better informed than I was.

Anyway, other people would blow into the house, and I would ask, "Where did you go! What did you do!" anxious to hear anything about the world outside of Lunas St. Of course, whenever I'd ask "Where did you go? What did you do?" the answer was carefully crafted so that I would get no information. "Pasyal" was usually the answer, which is the Filipino way of saying "Out. I went, you know, out.

Just as often, the answer was "bank" or "market" or "galiban ting," whatever that was. And then my cowsins and I would go back and stack the majohg tiles (we didn't know how to play) or make up dirty lyrics to pop songs, usually involving the word tai.

I was going thoroughly insane, and I really wanted to leave the house, but I knew I didn't want to go to boring places like bank, or market, or galiban ting, and honestly, if there was anyplace in Manila to go, I'm sure my dad would have driven us there, drove right past it, and then right back home. It's important to whine.

Finally, some auntie (or was it D?) blew into the house, and somebody said, oh, where have you been? and she answered "you know, pasyal, galiban ting."

And so I asked, what's that?

Pasyal? she answered, It's just the Filipino way of saying I went out.

Yah, I know that, but what about galiban ting?

What!!! Galiban ting! That's English! Chuh! Galiban ting!

That's not any English word I know...

Suddenly my cowsin exploded into laugher... Galiban ting! Everyone is laughing.

I don't understand, what's galiban ting?

That's English! You don't know how to speak English? Galiban ting!

G-A-L-A-V-A-N-T-I-N-G. Galiban Ting!

Then we all laughed, and later got bored.

After writing this post, I can't believe we didn't get into more trouble. We were SO BORED. Eventually we did start some mischief; cowsin J and I started climbing the walls, and I fell and cut open my arm. I got to see the inside of the emergency room of Chinese General. Frankly, that was more interesting than being stuck in that house.

I'm surprised I didn't develop Munchausen's.


ding said...

that's classic and i didn't get it until i said it out loud.

sometimes i wish i was more filipina. sigh.

Micaela said...

I remember when I learned what "galibanting" was. I had always thought of it as one word, and I knew it went "going around", but it took someone (probabably you!) explicitly saying, "gaalaaVVVaanting" before I it really went through my brain.
"Galavanting" doesn't really exist to me without the Filipino accent. heh.

So this brings up another question. If mom got so upset about Boy George saying "It's a MIRIKAL" instead of "MirAkal" ("No wonder you english speakers can't spell!" she said") then why do ALL filipinos say "galIbanting" instead of "GalAban ting."