Life So Mundane in Batangas
Showing posts with label Culture. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Culture. Show all posts

02 August 2016

50 Forgotten Tagalog Bugtongs (Riddles)

Image credit:

It used to be, when I was young, that we used to amuse ourselves by asking each other riddles or mga bugtong, as these were called in Tagalog. These riddles were witty and sometimes downright irreverent; and, of course, these had to be phrased so that they had rhymes. Most of the riddles were traditional; i.e. we heard them from others and it was a simple matter of repeating them and still drawing laughs, depending on how you told them. There were those, however, who were inventive and could create their own.


01 July 2016

Answers to Forgotten Tagalog Riddles

1. kabag (a small bat)
2. kalabaw (carabao)
3. baboy (pig)
4. sungay (horn)
5. campana (church bell)
6. nganga (betel)
7. banca (a Filipino boat)
8. tenga (ears)
9. mata (eyes)
10. bulag na isang mata (one blind eye)
11. mata at kilay (eyes and eyebrows)
12. mukha (bayabas)
13. mga daliri (the fingers on one hand)
14. buhok (hair)
15. mga binte (the forelegs)
16. bibig (the mouth)
17. lura (spit)
18. kandila (candle)
19. ilaw (light)
20. taong may bulutong (a person afflicted with smallpox)
21. hikaw (earrings)
22. sambalilo (a Filipino woven hat)
23. bakya (wooden slippers)
24. bibingka (a Filipino rice cake)
25. mais (corn)
26. niyog (coconut)
27. kasoy (cashew)
28. langka (jackfruit)
29. mabalo (a red fruit)
30. piña (pineapple)
31. lucban
32. sungkaan (a Filipino game)
33. buwan (the moon)
34. mga bituin (the stars)
35. araw (the sun)
36. sahig (the floor)
37. pagaatip (nipa thatching)
38. karayom (needle)
39. gunting (scissors)
40. alimango (crab)
41. kuto (louse)
42. suso (snail)
43. dalaga (a maiden)
44. banig (a sleeping mat)
45. tubig (water)
46. hugas bigas (the water used to wash rice)
47. bata (a child)
48. kumpisalan (the confessional)
49. kawayan (bamboo)
50. saging (banana)

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08 June 2016

Kinky Pre-Hispanic Sexual Devices Filipinos Used According to Antonio Pigafetta

Pre-Hispanic Filipinos. By Boxer Codex -,

And on the lighter side after researching tons upon tons of historical documents (okay this part is an exaggeration)…

Those among you who did not snore through Philippine History lessons may remember Antonio Pigafetta as the chronicler who accompanied Ferdinand Magellan on an exploratory voyage half a world away from Spain to the Far East to find the lands of spices.


20 May 2016

Did the Tagalog People Originate from Batangas? (And Other Notes About the Origins of the Tagalogs)

Image credit: by Sulbud at English Wikipedia [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Percy Hill, in an article published by the Philippine Magazine in 1937, seemed to think so. “The shores of the lake [Taal], its towns and river settlements, are in all probability the ancestral birthplace of the Tagalogs, who, according to tradition, were named taga-ilogs (people from the river) from their primitive nayon (village) on the Pansipit…1


15 May 2016

20 Forgotten Filipino Superstitions from an Obscure Lipa City Historical Document

The superstitions enumerated in this article are from an obscure document entitled “Historical and Cultural Life of the City of Lipa” which I downloaded from the National Library of the Philippines’ Digital Archives.1 The document is incomplete and the date is missing, but given the papers’ yellowed state when scanned and the use of a typewriter to create it, my guess is that it must have been created at the latest in the fifties, but most possibly even earlier.


22 November 2015

Funeral Companies and the Economics of Dying

These days, funeral companies offer much more than the usual services.

There are two types of death scenarios that every family has to deal with; and this is one of those things that nobody ever gets an exemption from. First is sudden death such as from an accident or a violent crime. In this scenario, shock and acceptance are the immediate family’s main challenges, particularly if the deceased is young and otherwise has no reason to move onto the other side.


26 August 2015

Filipinos and the Sir, Ma’am Culture when Dealing with Westerners

Image credit:  San Jose Mercury News.

Sunday night, and over pizza, burgers and beer a group of us was enjoying after football socials at this local joint. As rather tends to be after an afternoon’s workout, talk was mostly mundane; but the intellectual levels shot up a notch after the topic swung to that of working with westerners, particularly the whites.


06 May 2014

Why is the Sorbetes Called Dirty Ice Cream?

In my second Facebook account, I was asked by a Fil-American friend a simple question that I frankly and remarkably had no credible answer for: “Why is Filipino street-peddled ice cream called dirty ice cream?”

The friend crossed over to the other side of the Pacific about half a century ago; and thus the question, trite as it may sound, was perfectly legitimate.

Back in the day, we just said ‘sorbetes.’

If I am being honest, I did not really know the answer; and I still don’t. But after a quick scratch of the back of my head with a hooked pointer finger, I hastily invented a plausible enough sounding theorem.


06 August 2013

Oh So You Speak Tagalog!

You gotta hand it to the creative thinkers of ABS-CBN, in particular those responsible for the noontime show ‘It’s Showtime!’ Last Monday, the show introduced this new segment called ‘Halo-Halo,’ which features Filipino mix-breeds who compete against each other in terms of talent.

The segment is arguably conceptually colonial; but at the same time it recognises and showcases our colourful heritage as well as the diversity of our peoples. There is probably no other nation in the Far East where so many of the native population have some amount or the other of white Caucasian blood flowing through their veins.

The great majority of these mix-breeds, understandably, are of part-Spanish or -American descent; and they are mere testaments to our storied colonial past.


20 May 2013

Vice-Ganda’s Hilarious Nancy Binay About-Face

That has got to be the most hilarious post-election reaction yet, so sleekly done by none other but Vice-Ganda. This was on last Tuesday’s edition of the noontime show ‘It’s Showtime.’ Results of the previous day’s local and senatorial elections were by no means conclusive yet; but the early trend showed everyone’s favourite senator-elect Nancy Binay – joke – among the frontrunners.

And as everyone knows, Vice-Ganda made a very public statement about a week or so before the polls that was potentially damaging to Binay’s campaign efforts. Something that Binay gracefully and sportingly shrugged off, confident that she was for whatever reason of her chances.

So on to the day after and Binay’s strong early performance, which must have been a shock to Vice as it was to most everyone else who did not give Binay a chance. Those who went to social media to campaign in some way or the other against Binay were at most probably annoyed to see her doing so well in the early results.


16 May 2013

Jigsaw Puzzles and Guinness World Records (A Pictorial Blog)

Some things just leave you speechless. For instance, 1,028 jigsaw puzzles. No, we’re not even talking about your idiot-friendly off-the-shelf jigsaws which even the intellectually challenged can complete while chewing butong pakwan.

How about a jigsaw with 32,000 pieces which when completed can adorn an entire wall as a work of art? Or 4D jigsaws of famous cities and their landmarks? Frankly, I didn’t even know they made those.

Well, you can see all of these at the Puzzle Mansion, something of a theme-park-cum-resort-cum-museum owned by Georgina Gil-Lacuna, who was recently awarded a Guinness World Record Certificate for having completed the most number of jigsaw puzzles in the entire world.


19 April 2013

A Loose Concept of Time

There are just people who, shall we say, have a loose concept of time. One of my sisters, as things are, just happens to be one of those. In the old days, it was not uncommon for her to arrive an hour late for a get-together. And these were on her better days...

My other sister used to get so upset with her whenever she was kept waiting. I, on the other hand, had gotten so used to the tardiness that any arrangements I made with this sister I simply regarded the same way Einstein looked at time – with relativity.

In fact, I call my sister Ms. Reliability with the most scathing sarcasm. But because she is my sister, I am able to do so in a humourous way that despite the sarcasm, we are both able to laugh at it.


05 March 2013

As Mundane a Thing as a Bath

Allen, a former player of mine, is back home from Vienna to marry his fiancée; and we got together yesterday for early dinner. Now, having Allen around, one is certain to hear an earful about not only life in the Austrian capital but also about living in Europe in general.

Allen is a mere 30 years of age but has a wise old head sitting on his shoulders. He has already purchased his own flat in Vienna and rents out one of the rooms for added income. This helps to pay the mortgage.

One of his boarders, he told me, used to be this young Frenchwoman who would complain to him that he not only showered too frequently but also that he took an eternity whenever he did so.


15 February 2013

These Foul-Mouthed Batangueños

I was just in this mall shop looking for an audio connector when one of the salespersons tripped and nearly stumbled on something on the floor. As she struggled to balance herself, out went the expletive which she screamed for all inside the small shop to hear.

[email protected]!!!”

Of course there were smirks all around the place. Including me.

Such an expletive would have not been out of place in some obscure little bukir; but in a mall shop?


20 January 2013

Philippines World Heritage Sites

World Heritage is a program of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). The organization officially names sites around the world as heritage sites, or legacies from the past that can be passed on to the future generations of mankind. World Heritage sites may either be cultural or natural.

In the Philippines, there are presently a total of eight world heritage sites, six of which are cultural while the remaining two are natural. This post enumerates these sites and includes excerpts from their descriptions as contained in the official UNESCO World Heritage site.


1. Baroque Churches of the Philippines:

San Agustin Church, Intramuros

Miagao Church, Iloilo

Paoay Church, Ilocos Norte

Sta. Maria Church, Ilocos Sur

Excerpt from the UNESCO World Heritage site:

“The Baroque Churches of the Philippines is a serial inscription consisting of four Roman Catholic churches constructed between the 16thand the18th centuries in the Spanish period of the Philippines. They are located in separate areas of the Philippine archipelago, two at the northern island of Luzon, one at the heart of Intramuros, Manila, and the other in the central Visayas island of Iloilo.

“This group of churches established a style of building and design that was adapted to the physical conditions in the Philippines and had an important influence on later church architecture in the region. The four churches are outstanding examples of the Philippine interpretation of the Baroque style, and represent the fusion of European church design and construction with local materials and decorative motifs to form a new church-building tradition.”

2. Historic Town of Vigan

Excerpt from the UNESCO World Heritage site:

“Vigan is an exceptionally intact and well-preserved example of a European trading town in East and South-East Asia. The architecture is truly reflective of its roots in both materials and design, in its fusion of Asian building design and construction with European colonial architecture and planning.

“The town is located in the delta of the Abra River, off the coastal plain of the China Sea, close to the north-east tip of the island of Luzon. The present-day municipality divided into nine urban districts and thirty rural villages. Almost half the total area is still in use for agriculture. The Historic Core Zone is defined on two sides by the Govantes and Mestizo rivers.”

3. Rice Terraces of the Cordilleras

Excerpt from the UNESCO World Heritage site:

“The Rice Terraces of the Philippine Cordilleras is an outstanding example of an evolved, living cultural landscape that can be traced as far back as two millennia ago in the pre-colonial Philippines. The terraces are located in the remote areas of the Philippine Cordillera mountain range on the northern island of Luzon, Philippine archipelago. While the historic terraces cover an extensive area, the inscribed property consists of five clusters of the most intact and impressive terraces, located in four municipalities. They are all the product of the Ifugao ethnic group, a minority community that has occupied these mountains for thousands of years.”


1. Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park

Excerpt from the UNESCO World Heritage site:

“Puerto-Princesa Subterranean River National Park encompasses one of the world’s most impressive cave systems, featuring spectacular limestone karst landscapes, pristine natural beauty, and intact old-growth forests and distinctive wildlife. It is located in the south-western part of the Philippine Archipelago on the mid western coast of Palawan, approximately 76 km northwest of Puerto Princesa and 360 km southwest of Manila.”

2. Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park

Excerpt from the UNESCO World Heritage site:

“Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park lies in a unique position in the centre of the Sulu Sea, and includes the Tubbataha and Jessie Beazley Reefs. It protects an area of almost 100,000 hectares of high quality marine habitats containing three atolls and a large area of deep sea. The property is home to a great diversity of marine life. Whales, dolphins, sharks, turtles and Napoleon wrasse are amongst the key species found here. The reef ecosystems support over 350 species of coral and almost 500 species of fish. The reserve also protects one of the few remaining colonies of breeding seabirds in the region.”

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06 January 2013

The Loneliness of Being in a Foreign Land something that I wouldn’t know anything about. If I were a bird, I would be either the Philippine sparrow – which does not migrate – or the homing pigeon – because I always need to find my way back home.

If I think of travel at all, it is always for a visit; not something that would mean staying away for good. I will never say never because one never really knows even at my age; but up to this point in my life, I have not even remotely considered living away from these beautiful islands of ours.


06 June 2010

A Weekend in Bangkok: Similarities and Differences Between Thais and Filipinos

In geographic terms, a region is a broad expanse of land where the terrain, climate as well as the flora that can be found on it look and feel similar anywhere within that expanse of land. This definition may even be loosely extended to encompass cultural considerations such as the homogeneity of the people, their languages, religions and other traditions that may be observed in that land.




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