July 13, 2008

Lunch, ma'm?

Two weeks after the frame of the walls went up (see yesterday's Bare bones), the main room of our new office is starting to shape up—of course, it's now not just one room but several small rooms and one largish work area. I wanted to take a photo of the work in progress, and when I went in the room just before leaving yesterday, I had totally forgotten that it was noon and that the workers had settled down to have their lunch—on the floor, eating with their fingers from plastic bags. I politely asked them if I could take a picture anyway and they consented but averted their faces. Notice how they removed their slippers and put a sheet of paper on the newly-laid vinyl tiles to avoid staining them. And despite their meager fare, these men epitomize Filipino hospitality—the first thing I heard when I entered the room was, "Ma'm, kain po tayo" (Ma'm, let's eat). Of course, this same Filipino hospitality demands that the other person, if you notice that the food is not enough to share, politely decline by saying a plausible excuse like, "Thank you, but my husband is waiting for me at home." (However, if there's lots of food, you have to have some—even if you're full to bursting—or you'll end up insulting the person.)

Alingal Hall construction workers' lunch

4 comments:

David -- www.CostaRicaDailyPhoto.com said...

What an interesting custom. It requires you to estimate the amount of food that others will eat in order to decide whether to accept an offer to join a meal. I guess if you decline and there was enough food, the reason that the people who are eating might be insulted is that it would appear that you think they eat like pigs and will finish all of the food, without having enough for you to join them.

Hilda, thank you for the kind comments you have left on my Daily Photo site for Costa Rica. I am glad that you like it.

Harry Makertia said...

*lol*, it's just SIMILAR with Indonesian custom! Of course, sometimes I play and answer, "Yes thank you, which one's mine?". I love to see how they're panic! :)

Ming the Merciless said...

When I was a kid and we had renovations done at the house, my mom would always serve coffee and cookies to the workers.

We saw what they had for lunch and realized that we were very lucky and priviledged to have what we have.

Vlado&Toni said...

yes, it is indeed a nice custom.

i've met a former expat in the philippines here and he told me about this pinoy habit of always welcoming him to eat with them.