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Oibos and the Etymology of a Batangueño Word

After having started and procrastinated for the better part of almost two years on another of my web projects, The Salitang Batangas Project, for some reason I got interested in it again last week. The site seemed so abjectly under-designed that I added some widgets just to spruce it up.

I also added what Facebook calls a Like Box; and to do that you have to set up a Facebook Page. So, I did. Now, putting up that page has really been a blessing of sorts these past few days. Keeping it updated has been fun, especially as the page is linked with a Twitter account.

What has been more fun, however, are the posts people have made. Take this one ridiculously Batangueño post somebody left on the page:

“Noong ako’y batâ pa, tandang-tanda ko doon sa silong ng bahay ng aking mamay ay may inahing manok na nalimlim sa sirang tiklis na ginawang pugad at nakasabit do’n sa kubang haligi na katabi ng kubeta. Alam ko’y marami ng itlog sa pugad dahil ‘pag ako’y nadaan at masanggî ko’y kakak na agad yong inahin. Minsay ako’y ginutom dahil naubusan ako ng boneteng galing sa panadriya ni Ka Artong, ay ang ginawa ko’y binugaw ko ng patpat ang inahin... Ayon, dumale ng kapuputak, sabay lipad pababâ. Ako nama’y dali-daling kumuhit ng isang itlog para ito’y mailagâ ko. Hindî ko alam ay pumanaog pala ang mamay dala ang kanyang bastong kamagong at akala’y may mga batang galâ na naman sa looban. ‘Dî ako’y sumiksik sa tabi ng malaking takuyan para ‘dî makita ng mamay… Nako’y sumilip sa pugad sakâ sumigaw ng: SINONG NANGAHAS BUMAWAS SA AKING MGA OIBOS? LINTAK NA MGA BATA KAYO, PAG KAYO’Y NALINGILAN KO’Y MABABALIAN KAYO NG GULUGOD... ‘Yon pala’y bilang na bilang ng mamay ang mga itlog sa pugad dahil ngâ ito’y pinalilimliman. Ala, pagtalikod ng mamay ay patikar na ako… Mahirap na, baka maharibas pa ng kamagong...”

If you’re not Batangueño, you have my sympathies. But I am Batangueño and even I had to ask the person who made the post for some definitions.

Gulugod, I learned, is the thigh or hitâ. Takuyan, meanwhile, is a large basket woven out of thatched material and otherwise called the tiklis or kaing.

But the word that captured my imagination the most was oibos, meaning egg or itlog. I had never heard of the word used in my entire life in this province. I asked the person who made the post where in Batangas the words are used.

Mataas-na-Kahoy, he replied. Quite strange because the tiny municipality is no more than a few kilometres from where I live. When fireworks explode during the town’s fiesta, I can hear the sounds they make quite audibly.

At any rate, before long somebody commented on the post, apparently a Batangueño who lives in California. He works with Mexicans and has learned that he can understand quite a few of the words that they use; and vice-versa. Hardly surprising because of the Acapulco Galleon Trade.

Anyway, he proposed that the word oibos is probably a leftover from the Spanish era. The Mexicans that he works with, he says, use the Spanish word huevos for eggs. Although I took up 12 units of Spanish, that was more than 30 years ago. But there is Google Translator, and indeed the Spanish word for egg is huevo.

The Spaniards do not pronounce the ‘h’ so that huevo is pronounced wevo. Factor in the fact that Mexicans when they speak Spanish often contract vowel sounds, then it is easy to imagine the wevo sounding as oivo. Then again, although the Philippines as history books declare was colonized by Spain, the country was actually governed by Spaniards from Mexico.

The obvious conclusion here, therefore, is that oibo is actually not really an old Tagalog word but instead a throwback to the Spanish era and is a localized pronunciation for huevo or, if spoken quickly, oivo.

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