CAR & R-1’s Homegrown Talk


Every day, people from all walks of life in Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR) and Region 1 consciously or unconsciously butter their mouths to converse, with smatterings of figures of speech that can either raise or depress spirit of a hearer.

In every nook and cranny in CAR and Region 1 where this bearded hooligan goes a-working, he continues discovering to his capricious delight that people in both regions spout more or less the same figures of speech to describe a situation, the living like themselves, or an inanimate object.

In short, words or phrase flow from highlander and lowlander mouths that effect a non-literal sense for vivid or rhetorical effect.

Mortals have described human being as a two-legged and unfeathered animal – and have found other distinctions in their power of their figures of speech to make hearers of what they say, laugh, shed tears or downright angry.

Many highlanders and lowlanders, waxing poetical during instances of a day, depending on their moods, for instance, may compare individuals to various animals or an animal itself, in general.

And Nanang Nature, who prefers staying not at the limelight but at the background, isn’t also spared of our semantics.

As the desire of an individual’s figure of speech, so is the wish to make a figure descriptive.

But even by description, it must be limited by right reason, so it borders not on violation of justice and prudence, is innocent at least, although scarcely laudable.

Take some our co-lowlanders and some highlanders for this matter.

Last Friday, this hooligan being in Pugo, La Union, to discuss matters with a group composed of lowlanders and highlanders, the latter having made residence in Pugo due to intermarriage.

During the talk, Leona Dupes, a Cordilleran married to a man from Pugo, felt peeved at a female friend who promised her she’ll attend the meeting but didn’t, said, “Animal, nga Mila (her friend’s name). Kunana ag-atindar ti miting, awan met isuna. Haay, Mila, animal ka talaga!” (You, Mila, you animal!).

Curious, the hooligan asked the group why   people love to compare humans with animals and the   group laughed, while Leona gurglingly said, “Ay na, Ah Kong, kasla ka naiyanak laeng idi rabii. Ket kasta la a ti pagayatan ti expresyon ti bibig mi!” (Haay, Ah Kong, like you were only born last night. Of course, that’s merely our mouths figure of speech!).

Leona continued, “Ngem ammom ba, Ah Kong, nga diay sarita nga animal ket mabalin usaren nu nakapung-tot ka?” (D’you know that the word animal can be used in time when you’re irate?).

More curious, the bearded stranger just answered Leona with, “Uhuh?”

So Leno explained: “Kastoy ni, o, Ah Kong. Kasparigan agap-apa ti ag-asawa. Ket kuna diay asawa nga babae kenni lakay na, ‘Animal ka.’ Siyempre sungbat met diay lalaki nga asawa kenni baket na ket, ‘Animal ka met a, apay siak lang. Parehas tan a!”

Then Leona, raised her eyebrows, looked quizzically at Ah, with a mysterious smile on her lips. She asked, “Ket ammom Ah Kong ti kayat na nga ibaga diay panag-apa dagidiay ag-asawa nga kasla da animal, eh?”

The bewildered stranger answered Leona, “No!”

Leona, pouting, answered Ah, saying, “Kastoy ni, Ah Kong. Di ba kuna ti nasantuan nga bibliya nga ayatem ti padam nga parsuwa. Kayat na ibaga ti parsuwa, tao man wenno animal. Ket diay agap-apa nga ag-asawa, ti arig da kenyada a duwa, animal da, isunga agin-inayat da a kasla animal.”

Leona’s figure of speech to the bewildered stranger drew howls of laughter from her group and left the stranger more bewildered.

Last month, this wayfaring hooligan was in Loo, Buguias, with a group of farmers when Bars Damyong, from La Trinidad, who drives a pick-up to haul vegetables to Baguio, got annoyed when Salting Bencio, his co-business partner lazed around while vegetables were loaded onto the pick-up and he yelled, “Okis ti kamatis mo, Bencio, agtignay ka man!” (You peeling of a tomato, Bencio, move your butt!).

Well, this rambling wanderer, hearing the figure of speech, “okis ti kamatis,” wondered that last month whether the jolly tomato –  upon hearing its smooth, soft, unwrinkled peeling and refined bumps being compared to foolish   humans with all their ungainly bumps and wrinkles –   feels elated at the comparison or downright horrified being compared to humans with all their faults and worst attitudes.

One day, also while in Dagupan, Pangasinan, this stranger overheard a woman say to her friend seated besides her, while both were practicing singing, “Alla ni, Tanya, (name of her friend), napinpintas ka pay kuma manen, nu saan nga kasla liha (sandpaper) ta boses mo.”

Now, this stranger was forced to consult with Mr. Sandpaper regarding the matter and the Liha feels insulted by the remarks of said woman.

For Mr. Sandpaper said cabinet and woodworkers rely 100 per cent on liha, another workhorse in their job.

Liha smooths with just the right amount of abrasion, leaving wood surfaces ready for finishing or painting. Sandpaper removes defects, problems and fillers in wood, sanding down uneven joints and miscalculated edges, rounding them for a smooth feel to fingers and hands.

In short, liha gives beauty and Mr. Sandpaper said it doesn’t matter at all if Tanya has a voice of liha.

While in La Union, this depressed stranger got more depressed one day when he overheard an abrasive figure of speech, said in fancy, in pleasure of gratified pride, in the circle of friends, by one person when he said in his figure of speech, “Diay kaaruba mi ket agrup-ruppa nga bakes.”

Or, the phrase can be, “Ni kwa ngay ket agruprupa a bakes.”

Whenever this bearded hooligan remembers this, he laughs, knowing pretty well there are real monkeys in the wilds more intelligent than the rest of us, mortals.

Because such figure of speech is a state which no rational human, who possesses the faculty of which he/she boasts as his/her noblest distinction, can deem desirable.

Yet many times, Cordillerans and lowlanders figure of speech suit fine the hearing others and make them wholehearted the whole day.

Take for example an undeniable fact that, we, all, as figures of speech say, must one day “cash in one’s chips, or bite the dust or meet one’s Maker.”  Most, with an exception of a few accept this fact.

And these people say figuratively, “When it’s time to kick the bucket, I would prefer to die in my own bed or with my boots on.”

Now, here’s a figure of speech this stranger picked up when he went visiting in Besao, Mountain province.

Besao people are a sturdy tribe and their figure of speech, interestingly hearty. That day he went visiting Besao, and as that day wore on, he heard of a figure of a speech in Igorot-Tagalog about places in Besao:

“Ang mekdag at maketket ng aso sa Payeo (To fall and be bitten by a dog in barangay Payeo), ang matekdag sa puno ng star apple sa Catengan (To fall from a star apple’s trunk in barangay Catengan?”

“Ang masunburn sa init sa Pangweo? (To get sunburn in barangay Pangweo?), Ang maloko sa Tamboan? (Your mental faculties get awry in barangay Tamboan?)   Ang malunod sa mga ilog ng Panabungen (To get drowned in the rivers of barangay Panabungen?)   Ang mai-yaw-awan sa Gueday? ( To be lost in barangay Gueday?)  Ang mamulto sa Suguib? (to be spooked by ghosts in barangay Suguib?).”

“Ang makusilapan sa Padangaan? (To be fiercely stared sidewise in barangay Padangaan?) Ang mabeten sa Kin-iway? (To be hanged in barangay Kin-iway?)  Ang mataynan sa Lacmaan? (To be left behind and baaa like a lost lamb in barangay Lacmaan?) Ang makutaw sa Banguitan? (To be bewildered in barangay Banguitan) Ang ma-curfew sa Besao East? (To be curfewed in Besao East?)  Ang masidingan sa Ambagiw? (To acquire black mole in barangay Ambagiw?) At ang maulaw sa kagandahan at kagwapuhan ng mga I-Besao West? (To go crazy at the beautiful ladies and handsome   men in Besao West?)”.

Now, whether such figure of speech from I-Besao West is true that ladies are beautiful and the men handsome there is still subject to lively debate among the Besao folks.

Yet, I-Besao West folks swear upon their bosoms their depiction about the beauties and handsome in Besao West is just as true, as gold is colored yellow.

As for Ah, he’d rather experience getting spooked by ghosts in barangay Suguib, for his readers say anyway, “As for Ah Kong, he’s ghost, now you see him; now you don’t.”

However, Besao folks’ advice tourists going to Besao not to take these figures of speech literally, but instead, with an ingestion of humor and common sense.

Or, many a Cordilleran or lowlander will pout when you tell him “he was very drunk last night.” But paraphrase your words and say, “You’re a little bit groggy last night,” he will take that wholeheartedly.

And, really readers, our homegrown language defines our pleasing character to a listening audience.