05 November 2010

Batangas-Speak: Discovering New Words in the Batangas Dialect



The danger when you say something that I previously have not heard before and I’m around is that there is every possibility you will end up that very same night in Facebook. “You will,” I therefore promised my secretary Von-dot, “be on Facebook tonight.”

And I like to think that I am a man of my word…

Eugene, Von-dot and I were walking under a light drizzle to the hospital to see the Litel Gel – and you will all have to read on to find out more about this – from Rob, where we had lunch, when Von-dot warned Eugene, “Sir, sanaw!”



I was skipping this way and that to dodge the stream of water that was flowing down the concrete from Rob to the street when the alarm bell inside my head instantly shrieked – without my having to break stride – “New Batangueño word!!! New Batangueño word!!!”

Now of course, excepting a five-year exile in Manila to get my college education, I have lived in this province all my life. So you will be asking yourselves, “Why does he not know that word?”

But peks man and cross-my-heart-and-hope-to-die, until midday today, I most certifiably had not!!!



I was, needless to say, making my consternation apparent to anyone within hearing distance. It was the flowing water, Von-dot explained; he was, considerate that he is, warning Eugene not to tread on it.

Cue start of obligatory linguistic debate! “Doesn’t that word mean awas?” Eugene asked, even giving – as an example – water flowing off a timbâ. Why do many Batangueño words mean one thing to one person and another thing to another?

“Gano’n na din ‘yun!” my secretary, in a display of brilliant eloquence, put an end to the debate.

Now fast forward to when we were walking back to the Diokno from our visit to the hospital. We were passing the covered basketball court in the sports plaza when Von-dot remarked that it was a good thing that the court was now playable even when it was raining. Before it got fixed, he went on, a little rain made it latití na!



Isn’t that the beauty of Batangueño lingo? Add one syllable and a word’s rating turns sa isang iglap from for adults to general patronage. I know what the word means, but how can I even begin to explain it to somebody who is not from around here?

Now to the in-between, when we were at the hospital visiting the Litel Gel – now a.k.a. Wonder Woman – who seemed to think she would never come down sick. When I walked into Room 253, already ensuring that the Litel Gel was not getting a restful stay at the hospital were Ces, Maricel, Me-an and Annie Batumbacal na taga-Frisco, gabi-gabi na lang siya’y nasa disco.

The quartet – or so they narrated – erroneously walked into Room 254 to find nobody home. They learned from a kindly member of the hospital staff that the occupant was, at the time, inside the OR.

That could not have been the Litel Gel, was the conclusion the ladies were smart enough to arrive at soon enough. I could not resist butting in and asking the ladies what their reactions would have been had they been told that the patient was having a CS.

That drew loud guffaws, of course, knowing as we all did that the Litel Gel was on the wrong side of forty. For a while, I was wary that an orderly would walk in to warn us to keep the fracas down!

Meanwhile, the narration went on, and Ces was telling us – the new arrivals – that they had to go see a Dr. Diga to determine which room the Litel Gel was really in. “Batangueño s’ya,” I again could not resist butting in, “although when she was in Manila, she was Dr. Diba…”

Loud guffaws once again as everyone realized that I was being cheeky… As Ces went on, I discovered that the very same Dr. Diga whose surname we were having so much fun about was, in fact, a former student of mine.

‘Yan na nga baga!!!

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