Weave Pinoy-Culture in your Tagalog Texts

Tolerance in Pinoy-Culture
Filipinos are a tolerant people. Pinoy-culture has plenty of words for tolerance. When invited to an event or gathering and is either undecided or embarrassed to say no, a Tagalog will say, "Titingnan ko,"literally, "I will see" which can mean "yes" or "no" depending on the intimacy or lack of it in the relationship of the parties involved.

"Pasensya na" or literally, "Be patient with me," can mean, "I'm sorry, please forgive me," but the word is far from asking real forgiveness. "Forgive me," translates to "patawarin mo ako," in Tagalog. Given the intensity of this expression, you know that it will only be used in instances where a real offense requires someone to humble himself. You can imagine even an image of a sad face and teary eyes that go with it. But not with "pasensya." This one asks for tolerance rather than real forgiveness.

Isud-isod, Ipud-ipod, Usud-usod means "move a little," and the variations in spellings depend on what Tagalog province you come from. This expression is generic because Filipinos or Pinoys are always sharing small spaces where everybody needs to tolerate the noise and smell around them, and of course, including all sweat and all breath.

Given the Pinoy's tolerant nature, it's no wonder that the people are often smiling and laughing, sometimes, for instance, even if it's only a day after a great natural disaster! This is often referred to as resiliency, and fairly so, but not quite.And well, it's never easy to see through that smiling face. However dire his circumstances be the Tagalog will simply say with a hopeful grin, "bahala na," (an expression which is quite challenging to translate: "Let the future be?" "Fate will take care of it all?" "Let it be?")

From the word "bahala" or roughly, "care" in English, pinoy-culture smarts in tolerance. "Bahala ka" or "you take care of it" can mean exactly that but with a resigned connotation. Saying this means that one is ending a conversation or an argument or trusting another person to solve some problem.

The expression "Ako'ng bahala sa 'yo""I will take care of you," is not always said with compassion for the other person. Rather, it is sometimes cliche for those who expect some mutual benefit that will eventually propel them to a better paying, more powerful, more self-advancing status or position.

The English text lacks this special trait of "tolerance" because it is straightforward, confrontational, and specific. For the translator sometimes, here is where the difficulty in translation lies -- Pinoy-culture does not always allow its language to be too transparent.

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Kuwentuhan Lang

“Can you tell us where we can find the grotto?” a visitor asks a local.

Doon po (There),” the local points north using his hands and head.

“But how far yet from here?” the visitor asks for specific information.

Malayo-layo pa po (still quite far),” says the local.

The visitor is quite lost, and impatient but asks it in another way, “Should we take the pedicab or the jeepney?”

Kayo po, pero kaya naman po lakarin(Up to you , but it’s actually walking distance),” the local answers.

“Ah,” says the visitor, “do you think we can reach it in an hour if we walk non-stop?”

Siguro naman po (Maybe).”

The visitor scratches his head.

The local smiles, “Hindi na po siguro kayo aabutin ng dilim kung mabilis kayong maglakad,” (You’ll probably reach it before dark, if you walk fast enough).

The visitor sighs, “Maybe you can just take us there?”

The local smiles, “Sige po, kung gusto po ninyo, sunod na lang po kayo sa akin. (Ok, if you wish, just follow me.)”

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