IN MY EYES
By Edward B. Antonio
Most monkeys live in trees. That’s where their comfort zone is. So when something grabs their attention enough to make them fall from the tree, you know it’s something.
Perhaps this was how the Filipino idiom “makalaglag-matsing” was coined. It’s so old that the expression appeared in the 1914 book “Agawan ng Dangal” by Fausta Cortes. It usually means beautiful or enchanting, as in “ang kagandahan niya ay makalaglag-matsing.”
- “Putok sa buho.”
Legend has it that the Filipinos and the entire human civilization owe their origins to two people: the first man, Malakas (Strong), and the first woman, Maganda (Beautiful). According to Philippine mythology, both emerged from a bamboo that was split open with the help of a bird.
This creation story is said to be the origin of the expression “putok sa buho” (sprout from the bamboo). It underscores the fact that Malakas and Maganda came out of nowhere, and with no known parents. For this reason, Filipinos today often use the expression to refer to an adopted child (whose parents and their whereabouts are unknown) or a bastard (a fatherless child).
If servants have a hierarchy, you’ll probably find alilang-kanin at the bottom. This is because alilang-kanin are servants that are not paid with money. They only work for food. This abusive treatment is usually experienced by orphans who end up working for their cruel relatives (think Cinderella).
- “May ipot sa ulo.”
Literally translated as “poop in the head,” this Pinoy expression is a euphemism for a man who has been cheated by his wife or partner, but doesn’t know it yet. Worse, almos everybody knows about it (or can see the “poop” in his head, so to speak) except him.
- “Consuelo de bobo.”
Consuelo de bobo (or “consolation for the idiot”) is a band-aid solution or a mock consolation given to those who has just suffered loss, rejection, or other hardships in life. And as the definition suggests, the benefits or relief a person get from consuelo de bobo are anything but permanent. Think of the money handed out by politicians to poor communities or the prize given to runner-ups in a contest as pampalubag-loob.
- Spanish loan words such as antemano, portamoneda, and eskaparate.
These are just some of the words we borrowed from our Spanish colonizers and now often used by our older relatives.
According to UP Diksiyonaryong Filipino, the word “antemano” means “sa una pa/noon pa”or “agad.” Both “portamoneda” and “eskaparate,” on the other hand, are alternative names for familiar things: the former is another word for wallet or bag, while the latter is an old term for a closet or aparador.
- “Topo topo barega.”
This relatively obscure expression is used as an incantation by a person who found an item so that its original owner won’t cast bad spell on him. In the trivia book Malictionary by Ernie Zarate, topo topo barega is said to have come from the words “barriga,” which means “belly,” and “topo,” which in Spanish means “spy, mole.”
Its etymology doesn’t makes sense, but those who use the expression today usually translate it into “walang bawian” (or “no taking back”).
- “Walang katorya-torya.”
People used to describe a boring movie as “walang kaistorya-istorya” which means it has no story at all. As time went by, it condensed into “walang katorya-torya” and now used to describe anything uninteresting–be it a movie, book, person, etc.
When you call someone bulang-gugo, it means that he or she is generous or what most Filipinos call “galante.” It was probably named so because the gugo, or the native Filipino shampoo made from the bark of a tree, produces a lot of foam when soaked and rubbed in water.
- “Basag ang pula.”
Egg yolk (pula ng itlog) is usually at the center, and where almost all the nutrients are concentrated (sort of like the human brain which serves as our ‘central switch’). Using the same logic, the Filipino expression basag ang pula (‘broken’ egg yolk) eventually became a euphemism for insane or crazy person.
According to the book Malictionary by Ernie Zarate, this either means “madly in love” or a person who is in a “hurried frenzy” so much that he/she already acts like a headless chicken.
Similar to “sanggang-dikit,” this Pinoy idiomatic expression refers to a friend whom we share intimate relationship with–so intimate that we no longer mind sharing a personal comb with him/her. You normally don’t allow someone to use your personal items (such as a comb) unless you trust that person.
Long before karancho became a slang term for “buddy,” it was a prison jargon widely used by Filipino inmates.
Prisoners are usually divided into different clusters, each of which is called rancho. They are organized that way to facilitate the proper distribution of food. A representative of each rancho typically receives the share of the entire cluster, which he then distributes among all its members (karancho).
The word was later adopted by the outsiders and even coined variations like chokaran or ka-chokaran (reverse of the original karancho) or simply choy.#