Visaya terms in mainstream Filipino

October 22, 2014

Visaya terms in mainstream Filipino

Let me start by sharing a few facts:

The Philippines is a multilingual paradise. It has 185 languages, 4 of which are extinct. Startling? It shouldn't be. Not really, especially if you factor in the fact that the country is an archipelago composed of more than 7, 100 islands. That sort of geographical separation naturally gives rise to a host of different languages.

The country has two official languages: Filipino (or, as some people describe it, standardized Tagalog) and English.

As a corollary to that, most Filipinos speak at least three languages: Filipino, English, and a regional language. A Filipino who is only bilingual is either from a Tagalog-speaking region or the capital.

Visaya, like Ilocano, is a language. 

Now for a few personal observations. I watch the local news a lot, and it just dawned on me lately that some Visaya terms have been cropping up in mainstream discussions. For instance, we have the term "buang," which everyone seems to know means "crazy." It's been around for so long that few people pause to reflect that it's actually just adopted from the Visayan language. Last week, my ears perked up when I heard "kawatan" (or "thief") being used by a news anchor from GMA News TV who was reporting about ATM scams. Then we have "pirmi," which means "always." I utilized the word in relation to the presence of whale sharks in Donsol, and somehow my companion understood exactly what I meant to say. The term may not be used "pirmi," but it isn't far-fetched to say that it could be soon enough.

Of course, this is a welcome development. As historian Ambeth Ocampo mentioned in his one of his Inquirer columns, Filipino was originally envisioned to be directly influenced by the various Philippine languages. Filipino is basically just standardized Tagalog right now, but hopefully it will evolve into a confluence of different regional languages in the future. 

That's the lovely thing about living languages. They're beautifully fluid. To know a language is to be aware of how it constantly changes. This is the reason why - although I put a premium on grammar - I also temper my observance of such by paying attention to fluency as well. If you're unreasonably rigid about the rules of a particular language, you might end up noticing the trees yet not the entire forest. 

Comments are most welcome.

Image from an article from They are referencing The Ethnologue, an encyclopedic reference work cataloging all of the world's 7105 known living languages.

Up next: revisiting a Typhoon Haiyan experience.

Breast cancer awareness in the Philippines

October 08, 2014

Breast cancer awareness in the Philippines

Did you know that breast cancer is the most prevalent form of cancer in the Philippines? Did you know that it's also possible for men to have breast cancer? October being Breast Cancer Awareness Month, I thought it would be useful to read up on the topic:


The Philippines has the lowest survival rate of people with breast cancer among 15 Asian countries.
3 out of 10 Filipinas will get breast cancer before reaching their 75th birthday.
Breast cancer accounts for 15 percent of all new cancer cases in the Philippines for both sexes.
Philhealth has this "Z Package" which provides Php 100,000 for members who are in the early stages of breast cancer. This seems to be good news because the survival rates for patients with Stage 0 to 2 cancers can go up as high as 93 percent.


The province of Pampanga has the highest incidence rate of breast cancer in the entire country.
In Asia, the Philippines has the highest incidence of breast cancer. It registered the highest increase (589%) among 187 countries over a 30-year period from 1980 to 2010.
The Philippine risk for mortality is 1 in 49 cases.

Risk factors

Advancing age
A family history of the disease
A personal history of the disease
Women who started their menstrual cycle before the age of 12
Women who went through menopause after the age of 55
Excessive alcohol consumption


New breast masses
Nipple discharge
Nipple pain
Breast swelling


Conduct monthly breast self-examinations.
Visit your OB-GYN annually.
Manage your risk factors.

Not a very happy reality. :| Let's do all that we can to stave off this disease.

The Pink Ribbon Walk 2014. Image by Jerome Oei from

* From a published October 2012 article by the Department of Health.
** From the website and blog of the Philippine Breast Cancer Network.

Comments are most welcome.


Department of Health
The Philippine Society of Medical Oncology
Philippine Breast Cancer Network

Three foodie discoveries in Tagaytay

September 24, 2014

Three foodie discoveries in Tagaytay

Most Metro Manila residents will agree that Tagaytay is a great place to recharge after the end of a long work week. It certainly is one of our go-to weekend spots. Deviating from our usual haunts last month, we decided to check out new places to bond over good food.

Balinsasayaw Restaurant

I should have taken shots. Grabbed this one from

Along Tagaytay-Nasugbu Highway near Leslie's Tagaytay is Balinsasayaw Restaurant. For those wondering about the curious name, balinsasayaw is the vernacular term for a particular type of bird native to Palawan. According to popular knowledge, they use their saliva to build their nests. Their nests are a highly-prized delicacy.

This Filipino restaurant has a main hall, but not a few diners prefer to stay in one of the private little outdoor huts at the far end of the lot. Each hut comes with an electric fan and a bell for calling the waiters. 

We enjoyed all our orders, especially the garden salad with honey mustard dressing. Their rather large grilled squid, I was glad to note, wasn't rubbery at all. I also recommend the tuna sisig (an appetizer made of meat, soy sauce, vinegar, and chiles and served on a sizzling plate) and the crispy pata (deep fried pig knuckles). The taste of their malunggay (moringa) juice, however, was too diluted.


The cloth they use to clean the tables doesn't smell fresh. We elected to wipe our table again with wet wipes.
Their lavatory seems to be an afterthought.


It's best to come early to avoid the crowds.
They have another branch in Silang, Cavite.
Budget Php 400.-500. per person.

To wash everything down, we usually have coffee or tea, and that is how we found Gourmet Farms in Silang. Located along Aguinaldo Highway near the Rogationist College, the farm offers some of the things you seek out in places near the vicinity of Tagaytay: a relaxing garden ambiance, a surfeit of organic produce, and the option of taking home a piece of the experience via bottled gourmet products. While we sipped freshly brewed coffee in their shop-cum-coffee corner, we took note of the foodie goodies for sale, including civet coffee, lettuce chips, various tea selections, and special sauces. 

We weren't even able to go past the front area and check out the gardens and their restaurant called the Dining Room. It would be great to sample delicious (and possibly nutritious!) meals made from ingredients freshly harvested from their farm.


I hear that there's a regular farm tour too. Yet another reason to go back.

Casetta del Divino Zelo

On another occasion, we went to the Ilog Ni Maria Honeybee Farm also in Silang to buy this effective pain reliever made from bee products. On the way back, we chanced upon Casetta del Divino Zelo. It seemed to be open to the public, so we went in for a look. We were pleasantly surprised to discover a mini-dining section overlooking an organic garden. Since it was already close to lunchtime, we decided to satiate our appetites there. 

Run by the Daughters of Divine Zeal, Casetta del Divino Zelo offers pasta, pizza, and bread in a rustic home setting. It's a very unpretentious space, and appreciating the flora while glancing at the Italian nun cooking your orders is enough to make you temporarily forget about such realities as Edsa traffic and Sunday mall crowds. As for the food, the pasta was al dente and I liked the bread that came with it. I'll try their pizza next time.


They are open on Wednesdays, Saturdays, and Sundays. If you're coming from Dasmarinas, Cavite, a way to reach Casetta is to turn left to the paved street with the sign St. Paul's Seminary Foundation. Go straight 'til you see a gate labeled Ilog Maria. Both Casetta and Ilog Ni Maria are just a few meters away from that gate.
Budget Php 200.-300. per person.

Chillax time: one of the huts in their garden. Photo credit: Jiah B. Cordovez.

Do share your Tagaytay foodie discoveries!

Comments are most welcome.

Of pyruvate and the North Star

September 10, 2014

Of pyruvate and the North Star

So are you doing what you're meant to do? Let's ruminate the answer to that million-dollar question together. All of humanity's greatest achievements stem from two innate needs: finding meaning to this earthly existence as well as perpetuating one's legacy. Others may argue that such exercises are futile, as we are just but drops in a vast ocean, but my personal belief is that even drops can ultimately alter a solution. 

A few days ago, I chanced upon this blog by Ronibats, a University of the Philippines College of Medicine graduate and a neurosurgery resident in Philippine General Hospital. In his rather thoughtful blog, he shared that it was his desire to do life-saving and life-changing neurosurgical operations that solidified his career decision. He also advises his readers not to emulate pyruvate, an organic acid which "could never decide if it should become acetyl CoA, oxaloacetate, ethanol, alanine, or lactate." 

Not knowing what you want will render you rudderless, and frankly, our time is so limited that traipsing about aimlessly isn't an option. I make no claims about how one can unequivocally find one's purpose; I suspect there is no ironclad answer. What I know, though, is that one's North Star can be found by reflecting on your value system as well as what makes you tick. To be sure, even when you have found your inner compass, it will still be hard to keep tabs especially when the pressing events of everyday life clamor for your attention. Are the mortgage payments on track? Has the baby been vaccinated already? Convenience or passion? 

May the skies in our spheres not be too cloudy all the time.

Not really, but this is a lovely image. By Julie Aucoin. From

Comments are most welcome.

The riff (Poetry)

The riff (Poetry)
by Patricia Mirasol

The riff
That solitary, bombastic, horrific riff
Caused the unlikely tiff. 
The slight was, well... slight; no one else could tell the diff.
Indeed, it would have made more sense to just decipher a glyph.
Instinct tempted her to give the git a biff
And she would have too, where it not for his quiff.
When finally and bemusedly asked by the resident stiff,
"But why? Was that enough to cause a miff?"
Muttered she with a sniff, 
"Not quite. Hang on. I'll be back in a jiff."

Comments are most welcome.
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