Friday, October 25, 2013


(Here is the English translation by Dr. Edna Manlapaz y Zapanta of the prose "I Miss Phathupats" of Juan Crisostomo Sotto)

Go back to the original text.
Go to Tagalog translation.


by Juan Crisostomo Sotto
translated in English by Dr. Edna Manlapaz

Miss Yeyeng was a young woman who painted a heavy coat of rouge on her face. They say that her parents were born in a corner of Pampanga, in one of the smallest towns of the province. Because of this, Miss Yeyeng was a Filipina from head to foot, a Kapampangan to the very tip of her hair.

Her family, being poor, earned its living by peddling food; and Miss Yeyeng was frequently seen selling guinatan or bichu-bichu, which she carried in baskets on top of her head and peddled around gambling places. Up to this time, nothing had changed in the life of this miss.

The revolution ended. The American military government opened schools and assigned some soldiers to teach there. It happened that Yeyeng – she was still Yeyeng at the time, without the title “Miss” – had a customer among these soldiers or teacher-soldiers. This customer urged her to study in the school where he was teaching, so that they would understand each other; as of then, the soldier would speak in English and Yeyeng in Kapampangan, so Yeyeng tried hard to learn the new language.

After just a few months, Miss Yeyeng already spoke English; after exactly eight months, on the recommendation of the teacher-soldier, Yeyeng was sent to another town to be a teacher there.

Once she became a teacher, the people there naturally looked up to her because they saw that she knew more English that they did.

That was so how the time passed: Miss Yeyeng hardly ever spoke Kapampangan anymore because, according to her, she had already forgotten how. She also claimed that Kapampangan was hard to pronounce and twisted her tongue, which was why she could no longer speak straight Kapampangan.

When they heard of this, the mischievous people who knew her immediately began to poke fun at her behind her back. They even went so far as to change her name, calling her by the clangorous and mocking name of “Miss Phathupats,” a reference to her wide hips, which she tried hard to constrict by means of a tight corset she wore, with the result that she resembled a patupat, or tightly bound suman.
From that time, the name caught on and people consequently forgot her nice-sounding nickname of Yeyeng. She came to be known as Miss Phathupats.

Not long after, there appeared Ing Emangabiran, a Kapampangan newspaper published in Bacolor. During a fiesta in town X, where Miss Phathupats happened to be, she saw some people reading it. When she came nearer, however, and saw that the newspaper was in Kapampangan, she pouted, shook her head in obvious disapproval and said:

“Mi no entiende Kapampangan.”

Mi no entiende ese Castellano, Miss,” answered a mischievous fellow. He mimicked her tone of voice.

Those who were around smiled; but because they were well-bred, they concealed their amusement from the pretty Miss. Even though she knew they were laughing at her, she continued:

“Frankly, I find much difficulty speaking in Pampangan, and even more so in reading it.”

In the little speech she proceeded to give, she sounded like a fish vendor’s wife, speaking a smattering of English, Spanish and Tagalog, all of which she mixed up in some sort of gibberish. The listeners could not contain themselves any longer and burst out laughing.

Miss Phathupats was angered; she faced those who were laughing and asked:

“¿Por qué reír?"

“Por el champurao, Miss,” answered the same fellow.

Those who were listening laughed all the more loudly and Miss Phathupats’ temperature began to rise.

One of those standing by said:

“Do not wonder that the Miss does not know Kapampangan: first, because she has long associated with the American soldiers, and secondly, she is no longer Kapampangan. The proof of this is that her name is Miss Phathupats.”

At that, all hell broke loose. The explosion was so powerful that Miss Phathupats’ cauldron burst and from her mouth overflowed the fiery lava of Vesuvius, or in other words, a torrent of all the dirty words in Kapampangan came rushing out of her fuming mouth.

“Shameless people! Robbers! Swindlers! Sons of –!” all said in Kapampangan.

“Aha! So she is a Kapampangan, after all,” said the listeners.

“Yes, didn’t you know?” asked one of those who knew her. “She is the daughter of old Gading the Braggart from my barrio.”

The spectators laughed out loud. At that, Miss Phathupats broke into tears and as she wiped away the tears streaming down her face, she also unwittingly removed the thick coat of makeup on it. Her face then showed its true color, a color darker than the duhat fruit. When the spectators saw this, they laughed all the more and said:

“Aha! So she is dark-complexioned!”

“Yes, she is an American Negro!”

There was shouting, clapping of hands, and laughter. Miss Phathupats could not take any more. She stumbled out and said:

“Mi no vuelve en esta casa.”

“Adiós, Miss-who-doesn’t-know-Kapampangan.”

“Adiós, Miss Alice Roosevelt!”

“Adiós, Miss Phathupats!”

That is how they all ganged up on her. And poor Yeyeng left muttering to herself, with her tail between her legs.

How many Miss Phathupats are there these days, who no longer know Kapampangan or who are ashamed of Kapampangan just because they can speak pidgin English?

Suman – rice cake wrapped in banana leaves
Champurao – rice gruel flavored with chocolate;

in this context, used to refer an awkward mixture

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