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Transforming a Frenchman Into A Batangueño

JJ Dupuis, half-French and half-Filipino, found himself studying in heartland Batangas.

There is a certain novelty to having half-Pinoys in the football team. Yaz – half Pinoy, half-Jordanian – and Cyrus – half Pinoy, half Indian-Parsi – are already well assimilated. That is, but for their darkish Caucasian appearance, they are every bit as Batangueño as the pure-breds in the team.

Yaz’s punto, for instance, is decidedly barriotic! If you saw him for the first time, your first instinct would be to speak to him in English. If you heard him first before seeing him, you would jump to the conclusion that the person speaking was from some obscure bukir in the outer fringes of the province.

You know; the sort you reach by climbing over 3 burols, balancing yourself on thin pilapils and then crossing a freshwater ilat where freshwater igat lay their eggs.

Yazan Aburashideh, half-Filipino and half-Jordanian and speaks Tagalog with an accent that will shame somebody who lives in the bukir.

Cyrus Vatcha, half-Filipino and half-Indian Parsi, speaks Tagalog like a native.

But this is not about Yaz. It’s about our latest recruit, the half-French JJ. That’s short for Jean Jacques. If that is not French, I do not know what is…

Although born in France, he has actually lived in the country much longer than either Yaz or Cyrus. Except that he was schooled at the European International School in Metro Manila, and has been living in Lipa for less than a year.

He is fluent in French, English and Tagalog… but the problem is that he is still coming to terms with the version used in the great nation of the Batangueños.

“What is dine?” he asked the other day. Uhrm… Albeit unwittingly, his education had begun…

“Umibô ka,” I said at the end of yesterday’s coaching session. The Frenchman was all eyebrows; and I have been away from Manila long enough not to realize that a Manileño probably did not use that word, in the same way that they do not say tilâ na when the rain stops.

At the end of today’s first versus second team scrimmage, I was referring to Yaz’s tampalasang bungangâ when a raised hand from the Frenchman stopped my lecture.

I thought he was going to ask something related to football. Instead, he wanted to know what tampalasan means. Talk about not knowing when to ask a bad question! The timing was too funny for me to give him a right uppercut.

Ah well… I must remember to tell him about Allen, my Austrian-born former player, who as a kid in Vienna learned from his Batangueño grandparents how to pour his morning coffee into his freshly fried rice!

Allen Padua, Austrian-born to Batangueño parents.

Although this will not complete his alternative education in the idiosyncrasies of the Batangueño, and assuming he does not throw up first, at least his transformation into a denizen of this nation of the Ala Eh will have gone forward a long, long way…

[Footnote: JJ only stayed one season with us and left for France in the summer of 2009. He has lived in Paris since. Yaz has graduated from the school with a Bachelor’s degree in Communications Engineering. He is currently in Jordan and still plays football with a local club. Cyrus graduated in 2010 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Communication. He has taken additional units in education and continues to join scrimmage with fellow team alumni. The current college football team is made up completely of locals.

This story was first published on Facebook on 9 July 2008.]

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