imyeyes-banner-sqIn My EyesBy Edward B. Antonio

IN MY EYES: ‘Bulang-gugo, basag ang pula!’ (Part 1)

Many, many years ago, while riding on a calesa with my favorite grandma one market day, I asked her what stuff she would buy in the market.

She enumerated, among others: mantekilia, purico, bukarilio and gurabis. I was familiar then, with the first three.

But gurabis?

“What’s that?” I inquired.

“That’s your posporo, apo,” she said.

Nowadays, kids don’t know these things anymore. They are more familiar with words such as mini-militia, DOTA, FB, Twitter and Instagram.

How time flies, fellas.

Expressions such as itis, agpi-feel, taralets, ta rupam, yucckkk!, bae, yaaas, MU, BTY, FYI, turn off, gurang, mudrang, bey, luvq etc. are common nowadays.

Expressions come and go. I doubt if the youngsters today know what’s almirol or expressions such as may ipot sa ulo, or basag ang pula!

Indeed, the old generation has passed away. Welcome millennial generation!

Here are some expressions of yesteryears that I researched that need a second look, fellas.

1. The use of “almirol” in washed clothes.

Long before we started using fabric conditioners on clothes to make ironing a lot easier, Filipinos from long ago relied on their good ‘ol almirol. It refers to the cornstarch (gawgaw) used to stiffen clothes. Our moms and grandmas would usually mix the cornstarch with water, soak the clothes to the mixture, and let them dry. The process often results into clothes that are so stiff they can already stand on their own.

2. “Para kang sirang plaka!”

This originated from the English expression “You sound like a broken record” referring to a person who repeats the same thing over and over again.

Throughout the 20th century, people enjoyed music by playing discs called records (or “plaka” in Filipino) on a device called phonograph/gramophone. You know you have a damaged disc when the same sound is repeated again and again, hence the expression.

3. “Panahon pa ni Mahoma yan.”

When you say nineteen kopong-kopong, you usually refer to an era–specifically the 1900s–that is so long ago nobody remembers it anymore. “Panahon pa ni Mahoma” has a similar meaning, but this time it identifies the person whom the expression was named after.

According to UP Diksiyonaryong Filipino, Mahoma is the Spanish name of Muhammad, a Muslim prophet who lived in the 6th century and has been regarded as the founder of Islam.

Other elders prefer to use Limahong instead of Mahoma. The former is a reference to a16th-century Chinese pirate who tried but failed to invade Manila. In other words, “panahon pa ni Limahong” also suggests a bygone era, and people use it in conversations to emphasize how outdated a thing or an idea is.

4. “Naniningalang-pugad.”

When a guy is courting a girl the traditional Filipino way, you can say that he’s “naniningalang-pugad.” It brings us back to those days when Filipino houses had balconies where young Filipinas would watch as their male admirers serenade them with kundiman or love songs.

5. “Giyera patani”

Politicians engaged in a heated verbal exchange are said to be in “giyera patani” with each other. Old folks also use this expression when referring to two or more people who are having an argument with each other.

In case you haven’t seen one, a patani (or lima bean in English) is a pod vegetable containing up to 4 large colored seeds. These seeds are lightweight and won’t cause serious harm when used to hit a person.

Therefore, when you say “giyera patani,” it only means that two or more people attack each other verbally but the fight is never serious enough to cause physical injury, or to involve dangerous weapons.

6. “Sanggang dikit.”

Filipinos have different terms of endearment for their friends: buddy, BFF, tropa, barkada, you name it. But when you describe the bond between you and another person as “sanggang dikit,” you consider him/her as your best friend.

A person like this has stuck with you through thick and thin, and even joined you in doing the craziest of things. Hence, you consider this person your “better half”–but not in the romantic sense.

7. “Makalaglag-matsing.”

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.”

(TO BE CONTINUED)