WALANG GURI: Gem Suguitan

Buena Mano

Feb 23, 2023, 12:17 AM
Gem Suguitan

Gem Suguitan


Try going to the market in the early morning when the stores are just opening or when the store keepers are just setting up their goods, and you are certain to be told, “Buena mano, suki,” or Buena mano lang po.” It is the statement often used to make the first sale, believed to bring handsome profit for the rest of the day.

Buena mano literally means good hand from Spanish words buena, good; and mano, hand.

According to historian Ambeth Ocampo, the use of this phrase started during the time when calesa drivers or cocheros took good care of the horse by feeding them well and keeping the carriage clean. These men managed to teach horses to follow traffic rules and not do a counterflow.Hence, passengers were in good cochero hands.

Now that there are but a few calesas, and they can only be found in Intramuros, Laoag, Vigan, and few other historical places, the meaning of buena mano has also changed in time.

Consuelo J. Paz of the University of the Philippines has a paper entitled, “Compounding Old and New Words in Filipino” which states that Spanish compound word like the colloquial term "buena mano" (after you) has undergone semantic change in the Philippines. It has been used to mean the first buyer or customer.

Fast forward to the present, there is more to that phrase now than just Paz’s meaning. Buena mano has become a good luck charm that is believed to bring good sale from the first transaction until the closing hour of the day. It is believed that if the first sale is good, the rest of the day will be. If the first sale is bad, something must be done to counter it like praying that the next sale or encounter of the day will be better. Any negative happening within the day is usually blamed from a not-so-good or bad first transaction during the opening of the store for that particular day. For good vibes, the first customer that come upon the store’s morning opening should make a good buy.

In some communities where people know each other, there are instances where the seller would request somebody known to be a luck buena mano to make the first purchase so that the goods will be sold out sooner (Buena mano, ubos!). The money from the first transaction is usually being patted on the items for sale in the belief that by doing so, good luck will come.

When a customer has to change an item for whatever reason, it is not a good practice to change it very early. From the seller’s point of view, doing so will bring negative vibe when a considerable amount of sale is not yet met.

In times like these, the customer is asked to go back later in the day. A buena mano has to be made, foremost. Still other store owners do not buy anything in the morning unless they have made the first sale already.

Buena mano is not one-sided. Consumers get to pick the best when buying vegetables that came from the farm on market days. Buena mano time is also perfect to do haggling even on dry goods. The seller usually gives the first buyer a good discount believing that the first sale has to be made so that more transactions will follow.

In the process, the customer gets the discount while the seller gets the first sale.

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