This story happened about 25 years ago. My father worked in Royadh, Saudi Arabia, and eventually took us, his whole family, to stay there with him. We were fairly new in the country, and the whole family – consisting of my parents, my two younger pre-school brothers, and myself, studying gradeschool, were shopping at Batha Commercial Center. Before we entered a store where my dad was interested to buy an item, he told us not to speak, worrying that if the seller knew that we were not locals, we would be given a higher prize.

Later on, my father was talking to the seller in Arabic, probably bargaining for a lower prize, when all of a sudden, one of my brothers talked, in Tagalog of course. We were about to react when the seller suddenly screamed “Kabayan!”. We were all shocked. The seller even added “Hay, sus. All this time we were speaking in Arabic, when we could easily just talk in Tagalog!”

I believe we got an even better bargain after that.



Photo of Batha c/o Inye Villaverde of Riyadh, Saudi Arabia