Monday, August 20, 2007

Manic Monday #23: Deal

Visit Manic Monday maestro Morgen at It's a Blog Eat Blog World for other bloggers' takes on this week's Manic Monday word: DEAL.


Haggling is a way of life for many consumers and retailers here in the Philippines. I guess the only places where haggling isn't done are in the big malls and convenience stores, though I've heard one can get away with it sometimes. Whatever it is you're buying in the street bazaars and wet markets, from fresh fish, meat and vegetables to sunglasses to clothing to electronic appliances, if you want to pay as little as possible get the most of your money and get a good deal, then you should be prepared to do some serious bargaining. You're a wuss if you don't even try.

Ladies and gentlemen, you're reading the blog of a wuss.

For the life of me I just can't seem to do it that well. Any attempt I make at haggling is just so pathetic, and the salespeople know that the woman in front of them is not a haggler in any sense of the word so I end up paying the product's stated price.

I didn't inherit my mother's talent in this department. I remember when I was a kid and we'd go somewhere to buy something. My brothers would go with my dad for a snack, leaving me and my sister to accompany our Mother in her bargain-hunting spree.

Act I
Scene: Late 1970s. Stall displaying some lovely local home decor craft: batik cloth lampshades, piña placemats, hand-painted capiz trays. Mother's nostriles flare like a bloodhound's as she zooms in on a set of placemats.

Mother: Ano'ng last price nito? (What's the last price for this?)

[Apparently the sign that says 200 pesos isn't really the final price. Oh, the things a little girl doesn't know!]

Salesgirl: Last price na po 'yan ma'am (That's the last price, ma'am.)

Mother: [left eyebrow rising to the stratosphere] The stall a few doors down sells theirs for 175 pesos, and their set has eight placemats. Eight! Yours has just six! Six!!!!! [voice rising ever so slightly in indignation near the end.]

My mom has this knack for looking like an offended duchess when the situation calls for it. She does it through subtle body language, like tilting her head just so or closing her fan with a snap or pursing her lips in a certain way or raising her shoulders for a millisecond. It's an awesome sight.

Salesgirl extols the merits of their placemats, Mother gives her rebuttals and mentions the price she thinks the set is worth. My gaze swings back and forth. I'm lost in admiration and awe. Would that wars were won this way! My mother then gives a barely perceptible sniff and tells me and my sister that we're going. We start to walk out.

Salesgirl: [calling after us] Sige na nga po, ma'am. Buena mano ko po kayo. (Okay, ma'am. You're my first sale today.)

She wraps the damned placemats and gives them to my mother. Both parties are happy, though both give the impression they're pissed.


Scene: Sometime in the early 2000's. Tiyangge (flea market). Lizza is walking around until something catches her eye. What's this? A miniature flashlight that doubles (quadruples?) as a bookmark, barometer, and chainsaw! [This product exists, I swear! Or something like it anyway.] She can barely contain her excitement, never mind that she doesn't need one of these thingamajigs.

Lizza: Last price, please? [determinedly ignoring the life-size sign proclaiming it's priced at 200 pesos. That's about US$4, for you non-peso-savvy people out there.]

Salesgirl: That's the last price.

Lizza: That's a bit expensive for something so small. [weak attempt at deprecation]

Salesgirl: No, it's cheap for something that can do so many things! [and proceeds to give a demonstration of all the things that the flashlight-bookmark-barometer-chainsaw can do. Awesome!]

Lizza: Ooooohhh, aaaaahhhh!

Salesgirl: [gives the clincher] This comes straight from Bangkok! And we're nearly out of stock!!! We won't get any new ones for at least three weeks!!!!!

Lizza: [all but shoves her P200 bill down the salesgirl's throat; so panicked is she at the thought of not being one of the suckers privileged few to own a flashlight-bookmark-barometer-chainsaw in the here and now]

Salesgirl: [pocketing Lizza's beer money and handing her her new acquisition, then waves her hand languidly at another display stand in her stall] Take a look at this new product. It's from China!!! Just rub a small amount every night, and your nipples will turn pink in no time!!!!

Lizza: [smiles sweetly, but thinks, "I'm not a fair-skinned Filipina. I'm the brown kind! I'd look freaking ridiculous with pink nipples!"]

P.S. (That product does exist, I pinkie [haha] swear. Next time I go to that market, I'll take a picture to show you doubting Thomases. A picture of the product [from China!!!], okay? Not my nipples. Let's make that clear.)


Scott from Oregon said...

I heard that the notion of 72 virgins in Islam is the result of haggling. I mean, why seventy two?

"You give me two hundred virgins!"


"One hundred!"



"Seventy Five!"


"It's a deal!"

Makes about as much sense as anything, I suppose...

houseband00 said...

You're right, Liz. Brown and pink don't match.

Well, not if you're a bonbon. =)

As for the skype thing: check your fb inbox. =)

ian said...

I'm a horrible haggler too.


Daddy Papersurfer said...

The terrible Goddess haggles over everything [including my rights - I have very few now].
I'm like you - actually I try to pay more if possible, just to buck the trend.
Ever thought of having one of each colour. Or perhaps even blue.

Daddy Papersurfer said...

I forgot to say - a very giggle worthy post - quite cheered me up on a dull day in England!

kyels said...

That's the worst skill that I have --- haggling.


iz said...

Hahaha! That's funny. But you shoulda bought the pink nipple cream just for kicks!

H said...

SO then my money is pretty much as expensive [or not] as yours is! And bargaining is SUCH the Indian thing.

I'm beginning to think that I shouldn't need a visa for Philippines.

Pink. Pink. Pink. I'm going all demented now, with ecstacy. though remeind me it's a bad idea, I'm brown brown brown too.

H said...

And. I TOTALLY dig your ma.

Glamourpuss said...

So... Pink nipples are considered superior to, er, other colours? Now I've heard everything.


nursemyra said...

ooh I love your mum and her fan action.

Lizza, I saw that nipple pinkening cream for sale in vietnam too. I was going to buy some as I always found that scene in pennies from heaven where the girl lipsticked her nipples dark red to be very erotic.

then I realised the cream was intended to LIGHTEN nipples. I prefer the beacon look myself.

you, daddyp?

Matt-Man said...

It works...My nipples have never been more pink. Cheers Lizza.

Odat said...

LOL Good one lizza

Travis said...

I'm not very good at haggling either.

Happy MM!

Saif Ali said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Saif Ali said...

I love this post in a I-can-SOOOO-relate-to-this way ... and now that we're talking in hyphens ... Im totally out of the Terrible-Hagglers-Whos-Mothers-Are-Excellent-Hagglers

Hagglera said...

Haggling is in my genes. A bit rusty now I s'pose after 6 yrs of non-haggling activity in haggle-free zone England.

And I have met my match in BB in that department. His haggling methods are downright tyrannical.

We once left a shop in Egypt empty handed after having spent a considerable 3 quarters of an hour being lathered up by the egyptians, pouring us mint tea like there's no tomorrow - just because he was still convinced they weren't being generous enough with the discount - and spent the rest of the holidays dodging the same egyptian traders throwing us malevolent looks and cussing at us in arabic. muktamukta mustafa! - perhaps translates to "may allah strike you and your tight yorkshire husband down with lightning!"

kahit isang incense stick, hindi talaga bumili.

PS. umamin ka, hindi mo binili yung nipple san-ing/lyna?

Turnbaby said...


I guess you could say I "haggle" for a living.

Oh My on the pink nipple cream--aren't nipples yummy enough on their own? ;-p

Bond said...

Sometimes I succeed...sometimes I fail....

Pink, brown, it does not matter to me...I loves them all

CS said...

Very funny. I'd be more like you than your mother. I hate haggling. But why would anyone want to change the color of their nipples - aren't they automatically made to coordinate with the rest of you?

Nice said...

i'm a haggler by nature. haha. i love to shop in flea markets, and bully salesladies who aren't so kind in giving lower prices at products i want. if they don't want to give me discounts, goodbye! and there they are, running after me to say they give up. wahahaha! life is indeed a survival of the fittest.

Diesel said...

I would not do in such a culture. Unless I had a lot of money. Then I would be known as the gullible rich dude.

Mimi Lenox said...

I love finding bargains but would not haggle. Well....unless the salesguy happened to be cute. Then all bets are off.

it's the little things... said...

Now I know why we are friends - I'm terrible at it also.
They see me coming, I'm afraid!

Dan said...

You're not a wuss. You're just very sweet. And that's good. Of course sweet people die broke. But they have lots of visitors at their funerals! :)

Hugs Lizza!

Chimera said...

was just too hilarious...
esp. the last sentence :)