‘Bulgar,’ ‘binulgar,’ ‘nabulgar’ | Inquirer Opinion
Kris-Crossing Mindanao

‘Bulgar,’ ‘binulgar,’ ‘nabulgar’

The word “bulgar,” a street slang that has found its way into commonplace usage in many Filipino languages, actually meant something else in its original sense. But linguistic dynamism has made its original meaning benign.

Said to be a Filipino translation of the English adjective “vulgar,” it is used to denote rudeness or coarseness (i.e., malaswa, bastos). The online tutorial Tagalog Lang says it is also rooted in the Spanish “vulgar” (rude, poor taste).


For example: Naging bulgar ang pananalita ko, at bastos akong magbiro (My speech was uncouth and I had a filthy sense of humor).

But used as a verb in today’s street language, the meaning fascinatingly shifts. “Ibulgar” is “to expose.” Ibubulgar ko ang mga sikreto mo—“I will expose your secrets”—is a popular threat feared by many. There’s also Hindi ito ibinulgar—“This wasn’t disclosed.”


The noun forms even enhance context: “di-pagbubulgar” means “nondisclosure”; “di-pagbulgar” is “concealment.” Notice how it has broadened into different speech patterns so dissimilar from its original sense.

That shift is fascinating, because the verb form peculiarly portrays President Duterte’s predicament with his bank accounts, from the myriad ways he has hemmed and hawed over them. When somebody’s secrets are “nabulgar” (notice that this becomes an antonym: revealed) because it was “ibinulgar” (disclosed), the person’s reactive behavior creates curious attention.

Last July 30, Malacañang released the order dismissing Overall Deputy Ombudsman Melchor Arthur Carandang from office for being deemed “liable for graft and corruption and betrayal of public trust.”

Never mind who filed the complaint. Some are now familiar names after appointment to high offices. The complaints stemmed from Carandang’s media interview in which he said he received documents from the Anti-Money Laundering Council on the Duterte family’s bank records. This seems to be the cinch:

When queried by media if it had similarities with bank records obtained by  Sen. Antonio Trillanes, Carandang answered “more or less.”

How devastating were these supposed bank documents sourced from the AMLC? Vera Files carefully scrutinized the Duterte bank records obtained by the Senate and concluded: “Father and daughter (Duterte) failed to declare from P44.25 million to as much as P85.73 million a year from 2006 to 2014 (emphasis mine).” These amounts failed to match the cash on hand and cash in bank that both had declared in their statements of assets, liabilities and net worth.

In some years, the amount of deposits exceeded P100 million, when they were mayor and vice mayor of Davao City. From 2006 to 2012, some transactions were in US dollars, amounting to $220,000.


Recall that Senator Trillanes first bared the exposé less than two weeks before the May 9, 2016, elections. When Carandang said his AMLC-sourced documents tallied “more or less” with Trillanes’ copy of the Duterte bank transaction history, Carandang crossed the Duterte line.

Before we could even make sense of the Malacañang order that runs contrary to established jurisprudence, which says it has no authority over the constitutionally independent Ombudsman, Mr. Duterte fumbles. Speaking last Friday in Bukidnon, his reply to the challenge to open his bank accounts morphed for the nth time: “I am challenging ABS-CBN. We will go to the central bank and I will ask the governor to open my account. If my account exceeds P40 million, I will step down.”

In street lingo perception, Mr. Duterte has quivered. Applying street lingo, Si Carandang bumulgar, si Duterte nabulgar (Carandang disclosed, Duterte is revealed).

Meantime, it is public office that suffers. For those who serve the people, taking up the challenge—because one has nothing to hide—and passing public scrutiny could have boosted the standard for public office.

Vera Files puts the dilemma to a T: If truth is not on your side, suppress it. That very well sums up the Duterte standard for public office as a public trust. It is a very low standard. It is dishonorable.

Sign the waiver, Mr. President.


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