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Filipino Sayings and Proverbs

Sayings and proverbs are known as salawikain or kasabihan in the Philippines. They describe the experience, customs, habits and truth in Filipino life. Many are based from the life experiences of ancestors and elders. Others were lifted from literature and the Holy Bible. These sayings and proverbs express the moral values prevalent in Philippine society. They serve as reminders on good manners and proper decorum in social interactions. They also embody the innate knowledge, aspirations and wisdom of the Filipino people.

Here are a few of the most common and well-known sayings and proverbs:

1. Ang hindi marunong magmahal sa sariling wika, daig pa ang malansang isda. He who does not love his own language stinks worse than a rotten fish. This saying is attributed to Dr. Jose P. Rizal, the national hero of the Philippines. It imbibes the spirit of nationalism.

2. Bato-bato sa langit, ang tamaan huwag magalit. May he does not get angry, he who gets hit. Normally said by an opinion-maker, referring to anyone who he may offend with his opinions or observations.

3. Ang hindi marunong lumingon sa pinanggalingan, ay hindi makararating sa paroroonan. He who forgets his beginnings shall not prosper. This reminds everyone to keep one’s feet on the ground especially when enjoying immense success in life.

4. Ang lumakad ng matulin, kung matinik ay malalim. This is similar to the English saying “Haste makes waste.”

5. Naghanap ng kagitna, isang salop ang nawala. In Filipino measurements, kagitna is half while salop is whole. This saying teaches that one should not be too greedy, lest you would lose what you already have.

6. Ang sinungaling ay kapatid ng magnanakaw. A liar is a brother to a thief. Meaning, a liar is untrustworthy because like a thief he steals (trust).

7. Tulak ng bibig, kabig ng dibdib. What one says is taken back by one's heart. The spoken words are contrary to what one really feels. This is resorted to by Filipinos in most interactive situations to “save face” or to avoid embarrassment, either of one’s self or the other party’s or both.

8. Ang maniwala sa sabi-sabi walang tiwala sa sarili. He who believes in rumors has no faith in himself. Rumors or gossips often times cause misunderstanding and conflict.

9. Ang buhay ng tao ay parang gulong; umiikot at minsa’y nasa ibabaw, minsa’y nasa ilalim. Life is like a wheel; it goes around, sometimes it’s up, sometimes it’s down. This saying gives hope. That one can change and improve his lot, for example through perseverance and work.

10. Mabuti pa ang kubo na nakatira ay tao, kaysa mansyon na nakatira ay kwago. A nipa hut is better where a man lives than a mansion where an owl lives. This saying teaches that material wealth is not everything; that there are more important things in life like peace of mind, healthy relationships, and sound body.

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Content copyright © 2013 by Rachel Meneses-Ponce. All rights reserved.
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