Listless Tongue


There is usually on our communities or barangays, a keen interest among their members in the affairs of each other.

And, to feed this social appetite, people eagerly gather up and distribute an abundance of facts and statements with regard to their neighboring fellow beings, which too often, combining with the frailties and errors of human nature, take the form of slander and detraction.

There is nothing objectionable in the origin of this practice. However, it takes its rise in an activity of mind which, when misapplied, fastens upon improper objects or statements.

The above, in a nutshell, explains the view last week of good ol’ handsome pal, Daniel Bolhayon, from Ifugao and presently residing in Itogon Municipality, Benguet, about “idle gossip” or “tsismis.”

Now, “discussion” is far different from the so-called “gossip” or “tsismis” since it is an interactive communication between two or more persons bordering on etiquette  and sober dissection  of what is being talked about.

Some say the national pastime of majority of Filipinos is watching basketball. Yet some other Filipinos disagree, believing gossip to be the national pastime. Whoever is correct is anybody’s guess.

There is a Filipino saying, “It is easier to dam a river than to stop the flow of gossip.”

Paraphrasing such phrase, we kinda realize that the tongue, although it has no bones in it, has that sheer strength to break into two a human being, and possesses the sharpest cutting edge of a razor blade.

Consider, my good friends, the tongue is the only part of our human body which, instead of getting dull, amazingly becomes sharper through constant use.

It’s a miracle, to say the least. Comparing it with, say, a bolo or a knife. Constant use of these tools will make them dull and these need to be sharpened on a whetstone.

The tongue? No, no, my friend. Nevah does it need to be sharpened on a whetstone. Just keep on using it and it becomes sharper every day.

Daniel says he doesn’t believe for a moment that there is a blacksmith (panday) alive in CAR, Region 1 or anywhere else for that matter who can make a blade as sharp as the tongue and he’s ready to bet all his peseta if there is one who can do so.

Indeed, indeed, even the razor blades of the   barber (barber) and knives of the partidor (butcher) just really cannot compete with the sharpness of the tongue.

If we go further studying this part of our body, we also come to realize that eventually, all parts of our human body gets tired somehow, in one way or another – except the tongue.

Lest we forget, somehow the tongue and the mouth conspire with each other to bring out the sharpest utterances to smite anybody.

It’s no wonder that often times, the tongue is the very reason why some people have their faces slapped, their noses and lips bloodied and split and their teeth knocked out by others wounded by the offense of the tongue.

An example of this is an acquaintance of Ah (a lady, by the way) who got into trouble last Christmas. She confessed to Ah that she always tries to be nice, “but sometimes her mouth doesn’t cooperate,” were her exact words.

She tried to make amends, but like they say, “what the tongue can do, it’s hard to undo.”  Asking Ah what further she can do, Ah jokingly recommended that sometimes it’s good to carry a scotch tape or duct tape when the mouth begins to itch. You know, the tape comes handy when the situation needs it.

“You mean, sometimes it is better for me to keep my mouth shut,” the lady asked Ah sullenly.

To which Ah answered, “There is a saying by our old folks in the provinces that a closed mouth – when it’s needed to be closed –  catches no flies, because happier is the person whom good talk flows from his/her mouth.”

If this vast amount of wasted mental energy were but turned into the right direction and devoted to improvement of individuals, how quickly would the aspect of things be changed, Bolhayon believes.

Indeed, Ah Kong agrees. How much better would our moral, social and physical duties be explained and enforced. How much more closely would the sentiment of human brotherhood entwine itself around every generous heart.

Good old folks in Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR) who, whenever they get upset hearing a person who can’t zipper his/her mouth would admonish such person, saying, “Nan tupek mo!”

Ilocanos do the same, saying to any who can’t put the mouth shut, “Dayta ngiwat mo!”  On the other hand,  Tagalogs will blurt, “Yang bunganga mo!”   In English, the Cordillerans, Ilocanos and Tagalogs terms all mean the same as, “Watch your mouth!”

Perhaps, the subject may deserve more attention than it has usually received. At all events, it was deeply impressed upon Ah’s own mind by many incidents of “tsismis” he heard and begs to relate these to you.

Ah has discovered that reputations of individuals and communities alike are constantly reshaped by news, comment and rumor.  Gossip, ubiquitous as in most places, play a role in molding public opinion.

Men and women exchange news on the street, market, church, at work, in the fields and even during funerals.

Gossip thus constitutes a coercive weapon, defining and reasserting a community’s social values. But gossip can also divide a community, if an individual targeted has friends who rallies to his/her defense.

In other circumstances, its role can be subversive rather than coercive. When gossip is aimed at the figure of a local authority, gossipers relish the pleasure with less danger to themselves, provided the talk is discreet.

In practice, differing element may overlap. Light-hearted banter can become serious if challenged by one or two of listeners. But an “idle” or merry story can appear very differently once it reaches the ears of its targets.

Bolhayon, who has a good sense of humor, however can reverse understanding of gossip that can you smile. He says, “life is too short to worry about what others say or think about you. Count your blessings, value your friends, move on with your head held high and give a smile for everyone. Have fun and give those who gossip something to talk about.”

Daniel further adds, “Katawaam ketdi dagity mangurgura kanyam, gapu ta isuda ket ebidensya nga saan ka pay laeng nga artista ket addan dagiti fans mo!”

Along comes Dalmas Kimpilay, residing in La Trinidad Municipality, who hastens to interject that, “Ti biag ti maysa a tao ket kasla sine ta adda latta ti kontrabida.”

Like Ah who never finished Grade 1, Dalmas, a farmer who successfully sent all his four children to college and all graduated, smiling says that “Gossip withers on the vine when it enters the ears of the wise.”

Passing by Bulacan lately, Ah saw an advertisement by a certain barangay there which apparently got fed up with those who love to gossip in their community. The advertisement was intended to reverse psychologize recidivist-gossipers.

The advertisement in a billboard announced: “Wanted: Tsismosa, urgent hiring! No need for resume. Apply ASAP! (As Soon as Possible). No Questions asked!  Contact (then the telephone number was mentioned).”

Also, last week, Ah happened to drop by La Union, in the home of Ms. Norma Botiyug to ask if she would attend the editorial writing seminar slated for January.  As Ah neared their home, he saw Norma addressing five women.

Ah didn’t know what they were discussing, but he heard very clearly the last statements of Norma to women when she said to them, “For all of you who gossip about me, thanks for making me the center of your attention.”