16 June 2009


O, Muffler Tree!

I like how auto shops display tambuchos on iron stands, coming up like pine trees or fishbones.

The Spanish word tambucho was originally used in a maritime context to mean bulwark, then some part of a kayak. Somehow, it is what we use down here to refer to mufflers, those magical, sound-cancelling apparatus for cars and motorcycles.

The piece has its place in Philippine comedy and popular figure-of-speech-formation. I come from a childhood when clunky automobiles ruled the street. Not uncommon were broken (or missing) mufflers that made cars sound comically noisy.

I've heard snoring people being likened to bus and jeep tambuchos, which are the worse in more ways than one-- "smoking like a tambucho" is our local version of the expression "smoking like a chimney". Doesn't say much about our emissions regulations.

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