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What Do Batangueños Know About Bisayâ?

…and so, nagpapaantok, I tuned in to PBB’s live version late last night. And a lot of good it did me…

The three remaining females in Kuya’s house were whiling the time away telling each other stories while eating what appeared to be nuts from off a plastic pouch.

Now Divine Maitland-Smith, reported on the PBB web site as from Cebu but of Filipino-British parentage, said something about the nuts’ balat that I did not quite catch.

This Divine is a strange little character. She was born in Cebu and is more comfortable – the PBB web site again says – with Bisayâ than Filipino. Her accent when she talks in English, though, is decidedly North American.

I don’t really know. Perhaps she was educated in an international school in Cebu.

At any rate, when she said balat, she did so with the soft short ă sound as most North Americans would have pronounced it. That is, something like behlaht; not quite the hard ‘a’ as Filipino phonetics require.

Immediately, Batangueña Pamu broke into scornful laughter. “Hindî bilat,” she remonstrated, “bahlat!”

It was my turn to burst out laughing. Ah-ah… Nawalâ ang antok ko!

Although I myself am Batangueño, my Dad was Karay-a from Tigbauan about half an hour from Iloilo City. Although I can’t claim to speak Ilonggo – which is reasonably close to Divine’s Cebuano – over my lifetime I have picked up snippets of the language from not only Dad but likewise Bisayâ friends, relatives and acquaintances.

But what does Batangueña Pamu know? Divine had this impish look on her face when she told the two other girls, “Bilat is so rude in Bisayâ!”

Actually, the word itself is not rude; more like ‘anatomical.’ But used as an expletive, well, yeah it is rude…

I immediately recalled this one time in 1987 when my team and I were getting to leave the University of Life after an eventful Coca-Cola Go-for-Goal tournament. The Ilonggos of West Negros College won the tournament that year.

Our transport for the trip back home had not yet arrived, so we waited outside our quarters with our bags ready to board when Mang Erning arrived.

Soon, the West Negros players started filing out of the quarters to board their vehicle for their own trip back to Bacolod. They had to pass right where we were waiting.

My boys were sporting if not just a tad envious, congratulating the West Negros players as they passed with their bags.

One of these players, his heavy bag slung over one shoulder while carrying the championship trophy in one hand, tripped on the pebbled walk and nearly dropped the trophy.

“Bilat!!!” he instinctively swore as he righted himself. Fortunately, he managed to hold onto the trophy.

And, of course, I instantly burst out laughing… The boy sheepishly looked at me, instantly realizing that I understood the expletive, as he walked on past where we were.

Those among my players who waited close to where I sat, I realized, were all looking at me with eyebrows arched, apparently wanting to know what I was laughing about.

Haaaaayyyyy….!!! What do you Batangueños know, I chuckled to myself.

I say no more. This is a wholesome blog!

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