'Vek-vek mo!'

In 1896, my great granduncle Pantaleon Valmonte, the hero, was killed by a Spanish firing squad for his involvement in the First Cry of Nueva Ecija.

In 2008, his great name was murdered four times... by Chowking crew members.

I like eating out at Chowking, if only because it offers a more balanced diet than the mostly greasy fare at other fast food chains. It actually serves veggies!

At Chowking at Waltermart in Gapan City, the female crew member at the counter, after taking my orders, asked for my name to be printed on the official point-of-sale receipt. I said "Valmonte." When I looked at the receipt, it said "Palmonte'. No big deal, I thought, and just dismissed the whole thing.

The following Sunday, I went to the same Chowking outlet for lunch, and was entertained by the same crew member, who, after taking my order, again asked for my name. I carefully enunciated "Val-mon-te" and got a receipt that said "Palmonte". Must have a hearing problem, I thought, and didn't say a thing.

The third time I went to Chowking, there was a long line of customers, but thank God, a crew was going around, taking orders in advance. It's HER.  After ticking off my orders on a form, she asked for my name. Very slowly and deliberately, I said "VAL-mon-te", stressing the first syllable.  She handed me the form, and there it was -- "Palmonte".

That's it!  As she was already taking the order of the guy behind me, I turned around and in an irritated tone asked why she would write the spoken sound "V" as "P". She apologized and corrected the name on my order form. The corrected entry said "Balmonte". I noticed she had buck teeth and concluded that she must think that all other people pronounce "V", "B" and "P" all the same way, just like her.

A couple of weeks later, I went to Chowking at NE Pacific in Cabanatuan. The female crew member, after taking down my orders, asked for my name.  Not wanting a repeat of the Chowking Waltermart incidents and mustering all my skills as a broadcaster and a speech professor, I said " VAL-mon-te".  She handed me the receipt and there it was -- "Palmon".

I swear! The next time a Chowking crew member again messes up with the surname of my great granduncle-the-hero,  I'm going to stoop down to her level, literally and figuratively, look her in the eyes and hiss -- "Vekvek mo!"

[May 31, 2008]