April 29, 2014

Conversations with Cabbies: Gastronomy

On the first day of 2014 I made my way to the Philippines from South Korea. As I exited the Manila's Ninoy Aquino International Airport I was met with a long snaking lineup at the taxi counter. Not many taxis were around as it was a public holiday. I eventually made my way to the front of the line and caught a cab. The driver immediately engaged me in conversation, a form of verbal interchange I had become unfamiliar with after living in Korea.

Upon inquiry, I told him that I was going to meet up with some friends in the Philippines and travel around. “Did you come here to meet a lady friend. Lots of foreign man come to Philippines because they like our ladies”. I replied in the negative, as my travel buddies were two Dutch men. He let out a loud juicy fart and apologized “Sorry! Gastronomy”.

We also discussed my travel plans, our educational background, career paths, job prospects, and the notorious behaviour of Korean men in the nation. Kopinos (코피노) are the byproduct of illicit liaisons between Korean guys and the Filipinas who these men have either paid or misguided. There are now over ten thousand of these fatherless children scattered across the Philippines. A coalition of mothers has even made their way to Korea to demand child support money from the fathers, who either do not know or do not want to know about their spawn.

The taxi driver also told me he had an ex-Canadian girlfriend who he had met when she had accompanied his sister (who works as a nurse in Canada) on a trip back to the Philippines. They had a long distance relationship for a few months until she dumped him unilaterally. “Why are Canadian girls so mean?” he asked me. I struggled to give an adequate answer, mumbling “I don't know. Are they mean?” and “I’m not sure it’s a trait particular to Canadian girls”. "They are moody like a smoothie!" he exclaimed as we passed a 7-11 convenience store.

The name of my hostel in Manila was Our Awesome Hostel, located in a poor neighbourhood outside the gates of modernity. The cabbie parked outside the entrance, took one look, and immediately declared "This is definitely not awesome".