When Naming a Business in the Philippines, Think Funny and Punny

'Mang Donald's' and 'Petal Attraction' to Name Just a Couple Examples

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Roger Pe Roger Pe
Many moons ago, I wrote for the Philippines' largest circulating broadsheet an article called "Signs of the Times," about the rib-tickling business signs you may pleasantly discover in the country while getting stuck in traffic, traveling around its 7,100 beautiful islands or just simply getting stranded in a rambunctious wet market. I had mentioned in that article that, in times of an economic crunch, Filipino businessmen with a dash of creativity and some copywriting flair in their bones will spin anything just to get their market's attention. To my horror, that article was recycled, re-spun and even reincarnated in some web pages with my long list of names still almost intact.

I mentioned that a local Elizabeth had a shop called "Elizabeth Tailoring" and a guy named James had blatantly emblazoned the same business in his house by the roadside. Anita had a bakery, Doris' restaurant was open day and night, and Felix had "The Cut," a barber shop. There was a "Caintacky Fried Chicken" in nearby town of Cainta, and "Cleopata" served the crunchiest, most delicious pig knuckles on earth.

I listed "Alice's Laundryland" and "Cinna Von" as places to do laundry and "Babalik Karinderia" as an eatery where people always go back for good, hot brothy beef shank soup. "Funeraria Mabuhay" (literally translated as Long Live Funeral Parlor), "Mang Donald's," "Petal Attraction," "Tapsi Turvy" (Filipino fried rice and dried beef canteen) were some of the names I put in that long list. Even my cousin's video rental shop, "Fernando Pe's Video" (namesake of Filipino movie icon Fernando Poe), wasn't spared. Well then, good thing I didn't mention that my nephew Edgar Allan Pe owned "The Raven," a bar in the city.

Surprise, surprise, there were winners in the new list, and my favorites were: "Eat My Balls," a pushcart fish ball vendor near a university campus; and "The Last Supper," a restaurant near, of all places, a church.

Riding on the crest of a celebrity's popularity, spoofing a brand or an icon, tweaking someone's name to get some measures of awareness and recall. That's the catch.

To amend that list, here's more: The movie "Sex in the City" should be shown in the town of Sexmoan (yes, there's a place with that name in the Philippines); "God knows Judas not pay" (literally, God knows who does not pay), a ubiquitous sign in most Philippine jeepneys to remind passengers not to jump off the vehicle without paying their fares; "Wanted: Wetress" (on a cafe signboard); "Haircules" (a barber shop); "Delilah's Deli"; "Johnny's, Pride Chicken of Marikina"; "Lard Size" (a weight-management salon); "Big Mak"; "Don't be ugly all your life" (a sign at a beauty parlor); "Sibling Library" (a gay videoke annex); "Winternet Cafe" (fully air-conditioned internet shop); and "Condom Unit Available" (a condominium sign).

Indeed, doing business in the Philippines is fun, like this sign we found south of Manila: "A business with no sign is a sign of no business."
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