While rummaging through my old files, I came across the article below published in the Philippine Daily Inquirer on August 12, 2009. The said article, for all intents and purposes, does not fare well as an argument for the framers of our Constitution who set to develop a national language — with Tagalog as the basis — which lexicon is to be enriched by our “other languages”. I have a hunch that those who opposed this general idea ostensibly to pacify the non-Tagalogs could have been aware of some of the points mentioned below by author Ambeth Ocampo but which, with little doubt, were easily overshadowed by the then political power, President Manuel L. Quezon:
‘El coño de Tondo’
My favorite Manila airport is Terminal 2, better known as the Centennial Terminal, because it is easier to navigate than the others. Best of all, some of its furniture and design details seem to have been acquired from ADP or Aeroports de Paris. One always bumps into long-lost friends here or makes new ones while waiting in line. Yesterday I saw Jose “Pepe” Alcantara, formerly of the Philippine Stock Exchange, putting on his shoes after passing through the metal detector. Each time I see him I can imagine how he endeared himself to his future in-laws by a spectacular linguistic gaffe. Being Ilocano he wanted to impress his girlfriend’s Batangas family by way of Tagalog greetings. He went up to his future father-in-law, then celebrating his birthday, and exclaimed, “Maligayang bati!” By placing the accent on the wrong syllable, the well-meaning “happy birthday” turned into “happy masturbation.” That broke the ice and got him accepted into the family.
William Sabalburo e-mailed from Hawaii to correct some misspelled Iloco words in a previous column. Tamarind is “salamagi” and its plural form is “salsalamagi,” pronounced sal-sal-la-ma-gi with the double “l” emphasized, turning an innocent Iloco word for sampaloc into a vulgar Tagalog word for masturbation. When one crosses over from one region to another, many funny situations crop up, like having a long haircut in Iloco is “nabayag a papukis” that to Tagalogs are anatomical terms best left unsaid.
Kapampangan is one of the Philippine languages spoken fluently by the President who knows that when it crosses over to Tagalog it results in amusing situations. For example, when you take the North Luzon viaduct from the Bulacan side where an egg translates into “itlog,” you will be surprised to be told at the Pampanga end that the same egg has become “ebun”—thus from egg to bird in one short trip. When Kapampangans refer to a time “later tonight” as “potang bengi,” Tagalogs laugh because they imagine a “deaf prostitute” (pota na, bengi pa!). Then, the phrase Tagalogs often ask Kapampangans to translate is “I caught the ball under the bridge” (Asapo ke ing bola king lalam ning tete). The Kapampangan word for “bridge” is the Tagalog word for penis.
Voltaire Oyzon e-mailed a warning that if you go south to Waray country and are given spicy food, remember that “sili” that refers to chili pepper in Tagalog means penis in Waray. Fe K. Gloria said that nobody in Cebu slurps their “sopas.” As a matter of fact, Cebuanos bite into their sopas because the word refers to bread or “tinapay.” There is also some confusion here because the word “langgam” that refers to “ant” in Tagalog translates into “bird” in Cebuano. Thus Tagalogs often search in vain for “flying ants,” to the delight of Cebuanos. While all these linguistic crossovers make us smile, we should take the trouble to reflect on these during August, the “Buwan ng Wika.”
How many Iloco surnames like Biag, Bayag, Penis, Pines and Pecpec have become extinct through change and revision. In my previous column I wrote about an Ilocana who went to court to change her surname “Pecpec” into “Perpec.” Remember Ilocos is a place where a “kapintasan,” the Tagalog word for flaw translates into an adjective for “most beautiful.” No wonder in old Spanish maps of the Philippines Ilocos was spelled with a “y” and became Ylocos that some people said was the contraction of “Ysla de locos” (island of the mad/insane).
Then we have the Spanish to Tagalog crossovers that I have written about before. When in Spain and you see that fluffy sweet cake called “Magdalenas” do not make the mistake of referring to them as “mamon,” which is a vulgar word for breasts. When in Spain you can use the word “pasyal” to mean taking a walk because that comes from the Spanish verb “pasear.” Do not use “maglamierda” because “la mierda” literally means excrement or to be more vulgar about it, shit. While Miriam Santiago is fuming over the television spots of government officials running for higher office in the coming elections, nobody, not even the normally eagle-eyed MTRCB, has noticed the bad word in the Manny Villar ad that seeks to clarify his origins. One line sung in rap says, “akala mo conyo, yun pala taga Tondo.” In Philippine usage “coño” is used to describe “mestizos” or people of Spanish descent who are wealthy, fair-skinned and high-nosed. Contrary to popular belief, Villar is not a coño from Forbes Park but an indio of humble beginnings from Tondo. It may surprise Villar and his copywriters that “coño” in Spanish is a vulgar word for vagina. Thus, Villar as the Coño from Tondo is not what it seems.
Finally, there is newly-minted Tondo-born National Artist for Fashion Jose Moreno, better known as “Pitoy Moreno.” Moreno never uses his nickname abroad because in Spanish “pito” or “pitoy” refers to a penis and “moreno” that Filipinos often think is a surname is an adjective for dark. While we are encouraged to speak the National Language this month, the “Buwan ng Wika,” we must see how other languages translate into Filipino and vice-versa.
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