Love Ko ‘To

“Kayo po?” the woman standing behind the counter asked.

Baggy and I looked at the lady in surprise. We were at McDonalds near Hiroo Station in Tokyo. It came as a complete surprise, because right up to that moment the lady was talking to us in perfect Nihonggo. Then she overheard us talking to Aya in Tagalog, which prompted her to switch to Tagalog as well. I looked at her name tag, which was written in Kanji characters. That sort of confused me about her real identity, until I realized that she must be a Pinay married to a Japanese. Anyway, at that time Aya was taking a long time deciding on which toy to go with her Happy Set meal. The counter lady, trying to be helpful, brought out two of the toys so that Aya could choose for herself. “O, ayan, pumili ka.” she said. We’ve done this ritual several times before – that of Aya taking forever to decide on which toy to choose, and the Japanese guy/girl at the counter eyeing us with impatience. But in this case, no, this Pinay just beamed and smiled at us without any signs of urgency. Take your time, her eyes pleaded. Ah, the perks of being served by a fellow Pinoy. :)

Whenever we go to Europe, expect us to be wasted the first few days because of the jet lag. We’d hit the sack as early as 5 pm, skipping dinner in the process, then wake up at midnight or in the wee hours of the morning ravenously hungry. At first, we tried bringing instant cup noodles with us, but unlike in Japan, electric pots filled with hot water weren’t always available at our hotel rooms. So our solution was for Baggy to scout the area for some McDo store early in the afternoon and buy some goodies to go. And in the early morning we’d be munching on burgers and (cold) fries. I swear, when you’re so hungry you can eat a bear, cold burgers and fries would seem like the most delicious things on earth. But I digress.

What’s the connection, you ask? Well, to our amusement, it seemed as if in every McDo store we went to, there was always a Pinoy/Pinay working at the counter. While I may often be mistaken for a Chinese, there’s no mistaking Baggy for a Pinoy. So he always gets identified by fellow Pinoys at McDo. In Vienna, for instance, even before he could utter a word, the guy at the counter asked him, “Sir ano po ang order nila?” That made Baggy look up – for how often would you be asked in Tagalog, in Vienna of all places? Do they even talk to you in Tagalog when you order at McDo in the Philippines? As far as I could remember, they always talked to you in English, right? Anyway. When we were in Florence, Baggy was again served by a fellow Pinoy working at McDo. When he got back to the hotel, he was grinning from ear to ear as he handed me the McDo paper bag. Even before I heard his story I knew already that it was about meeting another Pinoy. Ang galing nila. Syempre, working at the counter and talking to the customers require them to be quite adept at the local language. We Pinoys are so versatile!

I’m pretty sure that in the US, the chances of meeting a Pinoy at McDo is also quite high. I heard that my cousins, when they first arrived there, got their first jobs at McDo. When I was in LA, there was a Pinoy (or was it Pinay?) at the counter. And even if he (or she?) talked in impeccable English complete with Hollywood twang, there was no mistaking about his country of origin. Heck, only true-blooded Pinoys could perfect that Hollywood twang!

The next time you see the word “Love Ko ‘To” in your McDo paper bag or cup, think not only of the Filipino consumers worldwide, but also of the many Filipinos who tirelessly toil in this fastfood chain. I bet some of those Pinoy dreams were jumpstarted from humble beginnings, like working at McDo.

Disclaimer: This is not a paid post for that food chain. :) Just so you know. And yup, I did watch “Super Size Me” and was guilty for a day. Old habits die hard.

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44 Responses to Love Ko ‘To

  1. dimaks says:

    Just like when an Indonesian guy spoke to me in his language and of course, I did not understand him.

    I think, it is always good to meet fellow countrymen in a foreign land.

  2. Christianne says:

    Your husband is quite the McDo connoisseur, haha. Sa bagay, I’ve only been to 3 countries outside of the Philippines – the US, Hong Kong, and Sweden – and one of the first places I looked for in each city was McDonald’s. Whatever they say about junk food and corporate giants taking over the world, when you’re in a foreign country, something that smells and tastes familiar is heaven-sent because sampling the local cuisine gets tiring after a while.

    Unfortunately I’ve never encountered Pinoys working the McDo counters abroad. Baka magnet lang talaga for fellow Pinoys ang mister mo πŸ˜€

    As far as I can remember McDo staff in Pinas usually deliver their opening spiels in English but I talk to them in Tagalog so they reply in Tagalog.

  3. rhodora says:

    Hahaha! Ang galing naman! I can just imagine how ‘gulat’ you were upon hearing the counter lady speak in Tagalog.

    My daughter used to collect McDo toys too, when she was younger. But she wanted all, so we ate at McDo almost everyday, just for the toys… Hmmm… :)

    Buti na lang Aya is Tagalog speaking. But I’m sure, when she goes to school, matututo na ng Nihongo yan!

  4. Zherwin says:

    how’s the world gonna be without pinoys? para nga tayong citizens of the world kasi bawat sulok ng mundo makakakita kang kapwa pinoy.

  5. bw says:

    Every kid I know here in canada seemed to have their first real job in McDo, esp in summer :) It’s great when a company hires kids and give them the first experience on how it is to break your back to earn hard dollars :)

    BTW in Vienna, the first Pinoy I ever saw was a sweeper at McDo. There were two o fthem working at the store :)

  6. Gypsy says:

    Galing ng post na ito ah! It’s always comforting to know that you can (and will) bump into a Kababayan somewhere in this world. :)

  7. kathy says:

    Haha, ako naman palagi kinakausap ng mga Chinese, akala nila kalahi ko sila.

    Yup, nakakatuwa talaga na maka-encounter ng kababayan sa ibang bansa. I don’t know how else to explain it – there’s just this connection you feel with your fellowmen, it makes you feel warm and happy. :)

  8. kathy says:

    True, true. Not only that the local cuisine gets tiring – sometimes you just don’t want to experiment anymore with food because you’re already too hungry! Fortunately, there always seems to be a McDo anywhere in the world. KFC is another favorite. :)

    Magnet for Pinoys, haha – this is quite appropriate, actually, considering that there are so many instances when Pinoys would just approach my husband (asking for directions, or coins for the telephone). Most of the time I am just ignored. πŸ˜›

    Oo nga, in Pinas when you talk to the McDo staffs in Tagalog, they also reply in Tagalog. I almost forgot.

  9. kathy says:

    That Happy Meal Set is such a magnet (to borrow Christiane’s term) for kids. Even if we were not planning on eating at McDo’s for the day, Aya would insist on going there just to buy the meal set with toys. Just like your daughter, she has quite a collection of toys already! :)

    BTW bilingual din si Aya, she can speak both Tagalog and Nihonggo fluently. :)

  10. kathy says:

    Pinoys are taking over the world, hahah. :) Seriously, talagang kalat tayo sa mundo, lagi kang may makikitang Pinoy, turista man o taga-roon.

  11. kathy says:

    At 16, my younger sister worked at Jollibee, and boy, did she learn how hard working there can be. But she learned to be independent early on and seemed very happy to earn her own money.

    So you noticed the Pinoys in Vienna too! Ang dami nga talaga nila, not just in McDo. Incidentally, the gift shop where we bought souvenirs was manned by a Pinay (and we got some discounts haha), and in one restaurant we went to we were given some flyers by another Pinay (syempre nakita si Baggy, alam agad Pinoy siya hehe).

  12. kathy says:

    Hey Gypsy di ba McDo addict ka? :) So when you go outside, if you couldn’t find a Pinoy on the streets, just go to a McDo store. Mataas ang probability na makakakita ka ron ng kababayan. Either kumakain o nagseserve. :)

  13. snglguy says:

    Go to HK and shop in one of the many small stores that dot the city and chances are, you’ll find Pinay salesladies there. We were able to get big discounts whenever we shopped in those places… :-)

  14. kathy says:

    Wow, talaga?!! I’ll keep that in mind in case I drop by HK…actually I’ve never been there myself. πŸ˜‰

  15. Abaniko says:

    I agree. It feels good to hear your own language spoken by a fellow Pinoy in another country. But it’s more amazing to hear a native in a foreign land, say, Africa, speak Tagalog. Hehe. I notice more and more establishments hire people who speak the language of their primary customer base. Hotels for instance. Hilton in Cebu has a Korean and a Japanese at the front desk. I heard they are much more expensive than local employees.

  16. sexy mom says:

    i wonder what happened to my lengthy comment…

  17. vic says:

    In here, Canada and Northeast USA, Filipinos are present in any service businesses in every capacities. And most often you can’t tell along us Asians, I often get mistaken for Chinese, and some Chinese will just speak in Chinese to me without even asking first. Malaysians and Indonesians look like us Pinoys and many pinoys look like any other, so be very careful of what you might say thinking they are not.

  18. Belle says:

    True, true, pinoys are jack of all trades, and are scattered all over the world…except where I live, where only a handful of filipinos are present. I stick like a sore thumb.

    I often get mistaken for Hawaiian, Amer. Indian, hispanic, Chinese by foreigners but filipinos exactly know what and who I am.

  19. verns says:

    awwww…kakatouch naman ang entry na to Kathy.

    Yesterday we were talking with some prospect buyers who have contacts in the states about Pinoy’s ingenuity. One of our ka-meeting said that Filipinos abroad are so fast in learning the accent or the twang…I blurted “oo nga..parang unyango ang mga pinoy” hahahaha

    Totoo naman eh. Magaling tayo. We can easily adjust or adapt. Lagay mo ang Pinoy sa States and give him a week or two. Surely kuha nya na kaagad ang accent hehe

    Masyado lang talaga tayong matalino na ang nangyayari eh napupunta na sa masama ang angking galing. Minsan matatawa ka na lang pag narinig mo na ang mga hackers ng AT&T ay mga pinoy.

  20. kathy says:

    Know what, we’ve actually met some Japanese who spoke Tagalog fluently. There are also Japanese students, major in Philippine Studies in Osaka Gaidai, who can speak Cebuano. O di ba. I bet they could easily be hired by the hotels in Cebu, hehe. :)

  21. kathy says:

    Yikes sexy mom…I tried searching for it in our database but I couldn’t find your comment anywhere. So sorry…

  22. kathy says:

    Haha, you said it. We Southeast Asians really look alike. Not only Chinese but also Thais mistake me as being one of their own. Actually before I open my mouth I try to ascertain the other person’s nationality (Filipino or not) lest I say something in Tagalog and they turned out to be kababayan. But you know, sometimes I also like to play this game – not reveal that I’m Filipino – and listen to other Pinoys (who assume I’m not a kababayan) talk freely because they think that I couldn’t understand a word that they’re saying. It could be quite interesting – it’s like eavesdropping hehe. Anyway, I have yet to surprise anyone by saying – Oy, naintindihan ko yun ha! :)

  23. kathy says:

    I agree! We Filipinos seem to have a knack for sniffing kababayans. As my husband has so often experienced. Yun nga lang, people take one look at me and immediately think that I’m Chinese, sometimes even Japanese. :)

    Konti lang pala ang mga Pinoy sa inyo?

  24. kathy says:

    Very true. Yung kapatid ko nga na nagtuturo ng English dito, lagi napagkakamalan na lumaki sa States dahil sa kanyang *American twang*. Pero ni hindi pa nga siya nakakapunta ron. I guess she just watched too many Hollywood movies while growing up. :)

    Pinoy hackers – pati ba naman to ay nagiging trademark na natin, hahah. We really should be careful not to tarnish our image in the international community.

  25. vic says:

    re verns, may be true to others, but as soon as open my mouth in any language or dialect even among groups of different nationalities, a fellow Pinoy could immediately tell I am an Ilongo.
    Pa-ano mo nalaman? Kahit english mo tuno Ilongo…

  26. Mon says:

    Yup, I remember McDo during my HS days, I flipped burgers for 3 summers so I can buy my first dirt bike. Then I progress to work at a department store for my first car. Those were the fun days.

    You are right, I think I was at the Netherlands when I saw a Pinoy working at McDo. He not only provided the best service, he even gave instructions how to get around De Hague. If not for him, I probably would have missed the Rembrandt House Museum, didn’t know it was there.

  27. herb says:

    heeeeeyyyy this has never heppaned to me. ive been around pero di ako napagkakamalan na pinoy even by pinoys *schniff*

    i did meet a counter-girl sa mcdo sa Mito! she was nice too! i wanted to work sa mcdo but maliit sweldo. english teacher na lang. heehee

  28. niceheart says:

    My very first job here in Winnipeg was also at McDo. I was assigned to the fries and the till (cash register). We were told to always smile at the customers and every time my supervisor sat down with me for my review, he’d say that he always saw me smiling. Good job daw. :)

    I was also mistaken to be a Vietnamese, on two occasions. One time nasa bus stop ako at nilapitan ako nung mama at kinausap ako nang Vietnamese. Hindi ko naman siya maintindihan. :) Another time naman nasa Vietnamese store ako ay kinakausap din ako nung ale nang Vietnamese. Hindi naman kako ako Vietnamese eh. :)

  29. kathy says:

    Haha! Well I guess we shouldn’t really generalize. :) My husband’s mother dialect is Cebuano, and from time to time his o’s become u’s and i’s becomes e’s. This unintentional substitutions have always been a source of unending jokes and teasing between us. πŸ˜›

    BTW Ilonggo din Tatay ko so I know exactly what you mean. :)

  30. annamanila says:

    Its really nice to connect with a fellow pinoy in a foreign country ano. Parang sarap gumamit ng sariling wika. Ako nga, kahit online sa internet scrabble club, i always feel a bit giddy when stumbling on a pinoy in that club of 20,000 members, a majority of whom are americans, english or canadians. Pag nakakakita ako ng pangalang bonggakaday or manlalaban or dagohoy — click ko agad.

  31. kathy says:

    Ang galing mo naman, early on you already learned how to work for the things you wanted. I had always wanted to do that myself, but never had the chance.

    Yes, Pinoys in foreign countries seem to be friendly and helpful, aren’t they? Lalo na kung alam nila na turista ka. They won’t hesitate to give you some advice on the juiciest spots in town. What a nice coincidence that you also found a fellow Pinoy at McDo! :)

  32. kathy says:

    Hey herb, pareho lang tayo pala. If it were not for Baggy and Aya, I’d been ignored myself. :)

    Swerte talaga tayo ano, we have the option of teaching English – higher pa ang sweldo!

  33. kathy says:

    Wow first job mo pala yun niceheart, siguro maraming Pinoy sa Winnipeg ang natuwa nong ikaw ang nasa counter! :)

    Kunsabagay, kamukha natin yung mga fellow Southeast Asian neighbors natin. But I wonder ba’t Vietnamese ang nagkamali sa yo? Kung makikita kita in person iisipin ko agad Pinay ka eh, hehe. πŸ˜‰

  34. julie says:

    Ang cute! You meeting Pinoys and getting A1 service. That’s one of the trademarks of Filipinos di ba, being diligent and cheerful workers, esp when they are working abroad. It is good to know that your Aya can speak Filipino too. One of our family friends who recently came back to Manila to retire commented that I look more like a Lebanese than a Filipina. And when they see my youngest, they say she looks like an Iraqi. :)

  35. kathy says:

    You said it! When I first discovered how to chat online, mga Pinoy chatrooms agad yung pinuntahan ko. Interacting with kababayans in the wired world helps to ease the loneliness and homesickness! :) Exciting din if you bump into a fellow Pinoy on the street or mall, or a place like McDo in a foreign land. :)

  36. kathy says:

    Ang irony nga nito, bakit yung ibang Pinoy pag nasa Pinas minsan sinusungitan ka pa, pero pag nasa labas ng bansa, service to the max? Makes you wonder, huh? πŸ˜›

    Yes, my husband and I made it a point to teach our daughter how to speak Filipino. We don’t want to alienate her from her mother country’s national language.

    I’m curious to know exactly how you look! Middle East beauty ka siguro. :)

  37. pining says:

    Hi Kathy :-)

    same here…but not in Mcdonald’s though.. in supermarkets, in hospitals especially!
    When I gave birth to my 2 kids, I was fortunate enough to be seen by Filipino nurses and midwife so I felt like, well, I’m in a Philippine hospital. Delightful! Too bad they don’t get enough dosh for what they’re worth for though…they work really hard, can’t even sit down and eat sometimes :-(

  38. kathy says:

    Wow inggit naman ako sa yo! Ganon karami ang mga Pinoy sa UK? That’s simply amazing! :) As for me, I chose an English-speaking Japanese OB-GYNE doctor, but the nurses and midwives in his clinic only spoke Japanese…so the language barrier was still present. It would have been wonderful to be seen by fellow Filipinos like what you had.

    How I wish Filipino nurses would finally be allowed to work here in Japan. But the way the negotiations are going, we would have to wait a while longer!

  39. That is so wonderful to run into a kababayan aroad unexpectedly. In NYC, most Pinoys or Pinays who work at these fast food eateries are mostly of senior citizen age who work there part time.

  40. smarie says:

    hi kathy. my first time to travel outside the philippines, we made a stop-over in dubai.

    i was in line in the duty free counter when an arab foreigner cut in front of me and said he only had one item to purchase. the cashier immediately told off the man and told him to go to the end of the line.

    i was surprised when the cashier suddenly said in tagalog “kabayan, wag kang papayag magpasingit. abusado mga yan.” I was in awe =D so that was my first (great)experience of meeting a fellow pinoy outside the country.

  41. kathy says:

    I’ve yet to encounter a senior citizen Pinoy working at the fastfood chain. I think it’s great that they are allowed to work there inspite of their age – I wonder if this is also practiced in the Philippines? Parang wala akong alam ata.

  42. kathy says:

    Wow, that story made me smile! :) Thanks for sharing. I heard marami ka ngang maeencounter na mga Pinoy sa Dubai – may it be in the hotels, restaurants or bars.

    Thanks for dropping by! :)

  43. betty lopez says:

    I guess Pinoys are becoming citizens of the world. Here in Singapore everywhere u go u meet Pinoys. The only sad thing is that we are everywhere not because of choice but because of need(to earn more). I hope someday our kids will go back to Pinas to contribute to the countrys development.

  44. kathy says:

    The Filipino diaspora has become such as widespread phenomenon, hasn’t it? In some cases, sometimes it is not just the need to earn more, but the need to advance one’s career or ensure a better future for one’s family. Whatever the reasons are, we could only hope that those who leave would still find ways to give back to the country.

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