Smiling from Palawan

"Smiling masks from Palawan" retirednoway

Smiling masks from Palawan


This trio was a gift from one of my sukis–a preferred supplier (the singular is suki). I’m referring to a vendor whose store I regularly patronize. She’s one of my preferred vendors.

The term “suki” has a second meaning: it also refers to a preferred customer. At the market, you’ll overhear that when the vendors talk among themselves. “Suki ko rin siya,” one will say to another. She (or he) is also a preferred customer of mine.

Suki, therefore, refers to the type of relationship between two people. These two persons are engaged in commerce. One buys while the other sells. Some suki relationships–the more mature ones typically–have the two persons exchanging roles. The buyer becomes the occasional seller, and vice versa. Note, too, that suki is gender-less or gender-neutral. It can refer to either man or woman. It is also age-less, an interesting oddity in a language that is so conscious and place great importance on age and seniority. Suki can refer to either adult or child. I suppose teen can go either way, lol!

Smiling masks

These masks are made of a Philippine hardwood–ipil, I think, and sell for less than 100 pesos each (less than US $2.50). They were probably carved in the southern municipalities of Quezon or Rizal, in Palawan. Many handicrafts come from those two towns. Both municipalities are on Palawan’s west coast and, thus, face the South China Sea. (Or should I call it the West Philippine Sea?)

South China Sea or West Philippine Sea?

Six months ago, Malacañang Palace used the name West Philippine Sea instead of South China Sea.

The Aquino government has apparently made it settled doctrine to use “West Philippine Sea” to refer to the waters west of the country where the Philippines has overlapping territorial claims with five other nations, instead of the all-embracing tag of “South China Sea.”

Tellingly, Malacañang yesterday used “West Philippine Sea” for the first time in a statement reacting to China’s warning on Thursday, issued through Ambassador Liu Jianchao, to rival claimants to the disputed Spratleys island group to stop searching for oil in the contested region without permission from China.

“The Republic of the Philippines has stated its position on the various territorial issues in the West Philippine Sea. We are committed to dialog with other claimants,” presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda told a news briefing yesterday.

“We call on all parties to refrain from inflammatory statements that would make it more difficult to reach a mutually agreeable solution,” he said.

News article from June 11, 2011: ‘It’s West Philippine Sea’ — Gov’t, AFP use it now to refer to disputed Spratly areas

The dispute over the Spratleys is going to escalate. Unfortunately. Just wait and see, I’m telling you. Back in June, I speculated about that very possibility in this post.

If and when armed conflict breaks out, we Palaweños (residents of Palawan, singular is Palaweño) may find those smiling masks handy.


5 responses to “Smiling from Palawan

  1. Pingback: Smiling from Palawan | Retired? No way! | Palawan Philippines

  2. Malacañang Palace, for those who didn’t know: That landmark etched at the back of your 20-peso bill is no other than the Malacañang Palace or the presidential palace, the seat of the government and the official home of the Philippine president. Originally the summer house of the Spanish governor general, the Malacañang (Spanish for “there’s a nobleman”) is a 150-year-old, 18th century complex built in neocolonial style, resembling the White House of America. If you want to trace the history of the leadership that shaped the Filipinos, this place could be a good start. (Source:


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