In Filipino, #LoveWins | Inquirer Opinion
Young Blood

In Filipino, #LoveWins

12:11 AM October 27, 2015

“MAHAL MO ba siya?” “Oo, mahal ko siya.” How would you say that in English? “Do you love him/her?” “Yes, I love him/her.”

When you introduce your spouse to someone in English, you say either “This is my husband” or “This is my wife.” But in Filipino, you just say, “Siya po ang asawa ko.” It’s the same thing when you introduce your boyfriend or your girlfriend. In Filipino, you just say this is your kasintahan, your sinta, or even your syota or dyowa.

You see, that is the beauty of the Filipino language. In most of its terms, it is genderless, or gender-neutral. The Filipino language is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking. I say this with all my heart, and probably with all bias, but Filipino is the most romantic language out there—yes, not French (French nowadays is more associated with “Excuse my French”).


Exhibit A. Love in the English language is just that—love. However, in the Filipino language, we have a spectrum of words for love, even varying levels of it: pagkamahilig, pagkagusto, pagsinta, paggiliw, pag-irog, pag-ibig, pagmamahal. Filipinos are naturally loving people, and it can be seen from our mother tongue.


Exhibit B. Have you read the famous love letter of one of our beloved national heroes, Ka Andres Bonifacio, to the love of his life, Ka Oryang (Gregoria de Jesus)? A part of it tells her that they did not meet only to go separate ways at the end of the road; that wherever their struggle takes them she will always be his fair one, the one with whom he would stand before the red flag; that he did not embrace her only for her to feel upon his arms’ release that he was leaving her; that he would be true to their vow all his life, a promise to which he swore in the nation’s name: that they will remain soldiers and heroes in their love for each other:

“Mali ka. Hindi kita nakasalubong upang sa dulo ng kalsada, ako ay liliko sa kanan at ikaw sa kaliwa. Sapagkat saan man tayo dalhin ng ating pakikibaka, ikaw lang ang aking itatangi at makailang ulit na ihaharap sa pulang bandila… Hindi kita niyakap nang ilang ulit upang sa pagkalas ng mga braso ko sayo ay maramdaman mong iniiwan kita. Habambuhay akong magiging tapat sa ating panata, Oryang. Kapara ng binitawan kong sumpa sa ngalan ng bayan, tayo’y mananatiling katipun, kawal, at bayani ng ating pagmamahalan.”


It was deep, without trying to be “pa-deep.”

During the early times, I’m sure Andres was not trying to impress Oryang with deep words. He was using simple, almost everyday, terms (their everyday terms), yet he was writing from the heart. The English translation loses the enigmatic, passionate appeal that only the Filipino language can bring.

Exhibit C. Another proof of the charm of the Filipino language, as I read in another viral post long ago, is that some of its most beautiful words cannot be easily translated into English. If ever there is an English version, some unexplainable part of it gets lost in translation. There’s kilig (thrill), humaling (extreme fondness), marahuyo (to be enchanted), paraluman (a muse that inspires artistically), kundiman (a love song), dalisay (pure), gigil (an uncontrollable urge to pinch someone), tampo (the state of being not so much angry as hurt), and, of course, there’s tadhana (an invisible force that makes things happen). There’s no other language as rich as ours.

Exhibit D. The richness of our language is best epitomized by OPM, or Original Pilipino Music. Here’s an OPM song about the beloved being everything to the lover for all time: “Ikaw ang lahat sa akin/Kahit ika’y wala sa aking piling/Isang magandang alaala, Isang kahapong lagi kong kasama/Ikaw ang lahat sa akin/Kahit ika’y di ko dapat ibigin/Dapat ba kitang limutin?/Pa’no mapipigil ang isang damdamin,/Kung ang sinisigaw—Ikaw ang lahat sa akin?/At kung hindi ngayon ang panahon/ Upang ikaw ay mahalin, bukas na walang hanggan/Doo’y maghihintay pa rin…”

Majestic, don’t you think? No need for highfalutin stuff; the words pierce right through you. In Filipino—tagos.

But if you read the lyrics again, who is singing? A he or a she? Who is he or she singing to? Which brings me back to my first point: The beauty of the Filipino language actually lies in its mysterious anonymity. In Filipino, love wins. Yes, any kind of love.

* * *

The clamor for LGBT rights is not something new. It has been there for centuries; historical accounts can prove its existence. In the Philippines, perhaps the issue is taboo because no one dared open up in the earlier times.

But with globalization, as other older and more advanced countries have become more open about the topic, slowly it is being accepted, and in our country as well. But by the term “accepted,” I mean baby steps, compared to what the United States, Canada, and Ireland have achieved.

Will we ever get there? I hope we will. No matter how long it takes, I hope we do. I hope Filipinos will someday understand that this issue is actually not about religion. This is about being Filipino, being human, hence the clamor for human rights.

When the LGBTs fight for the legalization of same-sex unions, they are not attacking religion. Because marriage, in reality, is a legal contract. It is different from the sacrament of matrimony. LGBTs are fighting for legal rights, for acceptance, that their husband or wife or asawa will receive the same benefits as all other spouses should. It is not a question of whose god they believe in. It is not a question of morals. It is not a question of science. Rather it is a question of how great love is, how great we should let it be.

I hope we can take a cue from the Filipino language, which sees beauty and sees love in everything and anyone. Let us let pag-ibig, pagmamahal, tadhana win.

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“Nyumpfer,” 29, describes herself as “a frustrated writer and dreamer who hopes and wishes that someday she can openly introduce her ‘sinta’ or ‘asawa’ without being judged or frowned upon.”


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