Sunday, January 4, 2009


I have figured out two reasons for writing this. One, which is more important, is to make you laugh or at the very least smile. Second is to bring some information which you might find apropos. A good laugh and a good thought are a perfect combo to kick off the year of the Ox.

Warning! Don't underestimate the power of words! Before you know it, you are already giggling in laughter 'til your lungs burst, God forbid.

Born and raised in Dumaguete, I am a certified "Bisdak", a contraction of the cebuano phrase "Bisayang Daku". I speak and know the dialect by heart. As time evolved, the word "Bisdak" has acquired a lot of connotations, two of which are glaring not just exclusive to the circle of pure Cebuanos but reaches as far as the Manileños or the Ilonggos alike. One is called Bisdak if one enunciates wrongly. For example, the Tagalog word "ate" is enunciated with a long "e" which makes it "ati". Or one is called Bisdak if one dresses out of fashion. They try to figure out Bisdaks as people who do not know the difference between straight cut jeans and skinny jeans. People who only have a slim chance of visiting shopping malls. But I will not extract a single sweat to prove that these are all fallacies. However, allow me to articulate that one should not make a generalization unless otherwise proven.

I could still remember that one fateful day when I was asked by my manager why I wanted to be transferred in Cebu. (That time, I was in Bacolod.) I paused. I thought very hard to make myself as persuasive as I could. It's going to be a make or break decision. A critical one. Life-changing maybe. I gave three reasons of decreasing importance. With eagerness and decisiveness I said "Sir there's no language barrier, Cebu is a really familiar place, and its nearer to my abode. Now, I am still in Bacolod. Could somebody tell me any reason more convincing? Who knows that question might come to me tomorrow or next month.

Since I was made to stay, I can't possibly beat all Ilonggos in Bacolod, so I have to join them. This means I have to learn their dialect, the Hiligaynon.

I was utterly lost when I set foot in the city in 2006. With no relatives around, I know I am in for a big challenge. Lost because I didnt even know where to start. My first unforgettable moment was when I rode a jeepney. A passenger with a roaring voice said, "Bangga lang". I thought, what? It made me panic! What the hell is that? Why would he want this jeepney bumped! So I waited. But nothing notorious happened. We just halted beside the street. I felt relieved. When I got home, I hastily asked my landlady what "bangga" means and to my surprise its not to bump. Thank goodness my panic did not manifest! It could have been a Bisdak moment?!

I was with my colleagues when we were about to cross the street, I declared "labang", but nobody crossed. They just gave me a pensive stare. To cross in Hiligaynon is "tabuk". Now I know!

I saw this miniature animal trying its way near us when I exclaimed to a friend, "ok-ok". To my surprise, that friend did'nt even react. Cockroach in the dialect of the Ilonggos is "tanga".

I almost quarreled a colleague because she said she'll be around in a while. I waited for minutes before she came. What she said to me was, "Coming nko karon". Trying to settle things, I came to know that "karon" in Ilonggo means later but in Cebuano, it means now. How contradicting words can get!

All of these mishaps are already etched in my mind. Inseparable! Who to blame? No one! Not my manager of course! (I hope he can read this.) Because whenever I look back, it always gave me that beaming, contagious smile. Now I am smiling!

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