In an earlier work, we have shown that the Filipino does not have a Western mind.1 Instead of being deductive, he thinks inductively and intuitively. These two features are what I call "psychological." Although we know that inductive thinking is also logical, the word logical has come to be almost equated with discursive and deductive thinking.

Induction may be defined as "the legitimate inference of universal laws from individual cases."2

One clue to how Filipinos think is their languages. English and most of European languages are characterized by subject, predicate and linking verb. The linking verb can also embody active verbs. That is why propositions in English and other western languages can be reduced to the algebraic formula of s = p, where s stands for subject and p for predicate. Where there is no subject, then an impersonal subject is made as in `It is raining' or `There is a man.' Philippine languages, on the other hand, are more complex because they can have from one to four components.3 In Tagalog (which is like other Philippine languages), `Umuulan' (literally, `is raining') is a complete sentence as a monadic solidarity. So is `May tao' (literally, is a man). Furthermore, Philippine languages are concrete. The concreteness of thinking, however, approaches the abstract through the poetic.


Ellington-Waugh classifies logic as either algebraic or geometric.4 Western, as algebraic, logic can be translated into mathematical symbols. Symbolic logic uses the equation where two components (subject and predicate) are either equated or denied (which happens when a preposition is either affirmative or negative). However, geometric logic is not like algebraic logic because it deals with constructing relationships between figures which may be similar. The symbols, like that of a mandala, can have more than one value, such that it may either be east, west, north, or south. Hence the mandala (which is often a circle or square or combinations thereof) may serve as "a cosmogram, a psychogram, and a purified ritual site" which simultaneously represents "various meanings."5

Furthermore, while the algebraic logic is linear, geometric logic is non-linear. Since the latter has different levels of meaning, it is more profound. Algebraic logic propositions are either-or in nature, but propositions in geometric logic are both/and. Hence the latter tend to be ambiguous, non-verbal or symbolic. Thus contrary symbols in dream can co-exist in the both/and propositions of geometric logic.

The distinction between algebraic logic and geometric logic is similar to the distinction between and "semantic" and "poetic" meaning.

Poetic meanings are metaphorical and orient the individual toward objects in the external world establishing a motivational, attitudinal, and emotional context. The individual is invited to participate maximally in the situation,and hence is oriented for action. Semantic meaning, on theother hand, is merely the neutral naming of the object. It is perception without affective overtones.6

In the semantic meaning, both object and subject are separated from each other. The division between subject and object arose especially during the Enlightenment period of Western history.

Poetic meaning therefore is multi-level. Words do not have one meaning but are multi-faceted like the truth which can never be fully exhausted. Its spirit of the truth is contrary to semantic meaning which tries to narrow down the truth and its meaning.

One cannot judge volleyball from the rules of basketball, or checkers from the viewpoint of chess; rather each game must be judged from its own rules. Likewise to judge geometric logic from the viewpoint of algebraic logic would miss the point. Unfortunately, this has been done, for example, in a study judging Filipino logic from Aristotelian deductive logic.7


The use of versed debate is pan-Philippine, from the tribal to the lowland Filipinos. Why do they use the poetic instead of plain language on certain occasions?

Let us first look at the tribal Filipinos because they represent the pre-colonial people. From Northern Luzon are the Ilongots and from the south in Mindanao are the Subanens of Zamboanga.

The Ilongots

The Ilongots of Northern Luzon have been known to be headhunters.8 They use poetic oratory to manage conflict which negotiates anger. These poetic encounters facilitate deals and mediate two contending parties. The context of these debates is a meal with plenty of food and drink. The purpose of these poetic encounters is to negotiate and to cultivate a relationship with an opposing party. The issue may be compensation for past killings or the asking for the hand of women in marriage. In these encounters the orators confront each other with the use of indirect (poetic) language. A direct or blunt language may hurt feelings and thereby result in disruptive outburts. These debates need good orators who "have both `knowledge' and `passion' in their speech; they wear ornaments and taunt their opposites with witty words, and in so doing, prove themselves established men of `anger.'"9 Their public oratorical debates (purung) use "a style of speech, and correspondingly, of social interaction, that Ilongots recognize as different form that encountered in ordinary working life."10 In these debates, "there is a concern for hearts that hide their deepest thoughts, a use of language that is intentionally indirect, a drama of revelation and deception.11

Before they go to debates, the orators learn from the differences which their people feel, like past grievances against other groups or past hurts like killings which will demand compensations.

In their metaphorical language a short supply `honey' or `wine' are conventional ways of talking about a wife. `Tasted objects' refer to weapons, `young pups' are prospective husbands, `absence' means death, `handling of death' is burial.12 For example, Amung kamin limdeseka alaken, (literally, `We are like frogs who jumped') actually means `We jumped into this and feel vulnerable.'13

The negotiation may drag for hours. The purpose of delaying is to permit each party to know better each other, to gain trust while enjoying the food and drink. Good orators know how to retrain their anger and tortured thoughts and use indirect speech to "'hide' their deeper meanings."14

Trained in elaborate and metaphorical turns of phrase, all orators are `slow' and cautious in their use of speech; they allow time for words to `reach' their points and avoid direct statement. In purung as in daily talk, the overt mention of offense may be disruptive. And although the orator hopes his phrases will excite an opposite's response, he knows that insults suffered may give rise either to violence or to new and difficult demands. Speech alone seems to provide a neutral ground in terms of which one can negotiate relations.15

In short the use of poetic language is primarily for diplomacy. This tactful language is more effective plain language in attaining desired goals.

The Subanens

The Subanens, a tribal group in Mindanao also have poetic encounters.16 Again the context is a drinking party.17 The poetic encounter takes place in the last stage of the drinking party. Its first stage is the tasting part which assigns the role, distances and authority rules to the participants. The second stage is the competitive drinking where the participants take turns in drinking and talking as well as in exchanging information. The third and final stage is the game drinking where, after euphoria has been established, issues are decided on the basis of poetic skills.

Songs and verses are composed on the spot to carry on discussions in an operetta-like setting. Even unsettled litigation may be continued in this matter, the basis for decision being shifted from cogent argument to verbal artistry. . . . Participants who have displayed marked hostility toward each other during the course of drinking talk may be singled out for special ritual treatment designed to restore good feelings.18

Other Tribal Filipinos

As early as 1668, the Jesuit historian and ethnographer, Ignatio Francisco Alzina, noted that the early Visayans of Leyte and Samar had different types of poetry. One was the ambahan which consists of two lines of blank verse, each verse containing seven syllables.19

Another type is the bical.

The meter is the same and the verses are complete in thought. This one is used between two persons, either two men or two women. They answer one another in strict musical time and without hesitation for one or two hours at a time, saying anything they wish even in satiric fashion and making public whatever faults the other may have. The shortcoming may be physical which is most common or at times moral, when these are not too offensive. . . . When the bical and the party is over, everything remains forgotten without any resentment for the shortcomings or failures included in the rendition or contest.20

The present-day Hanunoo Mangyans of Mindoro, a group of tribal Filipinos, have retained the ambahans which has also seven syllables for each verse.21 They also have poetic debates in their own language.

Lowland Filipinos

For the lowland Filipinos one remnant of versed debate has been the traditional negotiation for marriage. Since traditional marriage is not a union of two persons, but of two extended families, the choice of a future spouse needs expert negotiators. In the Visayan context these negotiators did their business in verse.22 Besides serious business, versed debate also served as entertainment. An example of this kind is the kulilisi (Visayan) or duplo and karagatan (Tagalog), a socio-religious play held during funeral wakes.23 A similar verse debate is the balitaw.24 The context of entertainment of the Balagtasan which we shall explain later.

We shall take two types of poetry (namely, proverbs and balagtasan) to illustrate how Filipinos reason.


Proverbs, those short, didactic statements current in a given tradition, are one kind of folklore.25 Folklore mirrors and validates the culture, educates, maintains conformity of the culture's behavioral norms, entertains and offers catharsis.26 Thus in traditional Philippine culture the use of proverbs in face-to-face communication stresses "moral points and in supporting popular arguments."27 The quoting of local proverbs and aphorisms minimizes or even overrules objections.28 Verzosa says that

among Filipinos, as among other Orientals, the use of proverbs has the dignity of authorized finality. Proverbs may settle a feud, a long drawn litigation, even a dispute of long standing that may involve bloodshed. The occasion and nature of circumstances call for appropriate salawikain or proverbs. Our venerable mga matanda sa nayon or elders in Filipino communal districts held these proverbs as authoritative injunctions. We can note that the proverbs are not uttered one after another unless there is an occasion for advice or query. They are intended for all ages and children are taught early the implications and significance of proverbs.29

These proverbs, which were considered as "dogmas" in early Philippine tradition, range from general attitudes toward life, to ethics, values, general truths, humor, to many miscellaneous topics. The proverbs may be prose statements or poetic statements from five syllables to five-line stanzas.

Their imagery are "derived from the common everyday life and occupations of the folk."30 Human life may be compared to crops, the behavior of animals, common objects in the farm, rural ways and manners. They also reflect customs and beliefs, native food and delicacies, games and amusements.

When compared to proverbs of other nations, especially the west, Philippine "parallels tend to be more concrete and specific than their foreign counterparts."31 They are also poetic and have a "predilection for rhyme."32

In spite of the linguistic and cultural variety of Filipinos, "there is a general agreement among the proverbs from different regions regarding basic outlook on life, ethical teachings, and observations about life and human nature."33 Hence the proverbs "give a clear and accurate image of the Filipino."34

The following instances may illustrate the logic of proverbs. A daughter who quarrels with her mother is made to respect her when her sister quotes a Capisnon proverb: "Bisan tuktukon ang balahibo mo sing pinupino, indi ka pa gihapon makabayad sang imo utang nga kabalaslan sa imo ginikanan!" (Free translation: Even if your body hair is cut into very fine pieces, you cannot still pay your "debt of reciprocal favor" to your parent!)35

A woman reconciles two quarreling brothers when she tells the younger one to "respect your elder sibling because you never became a human being if he caused your mother's death when she delivered him."36

In the two cases mentioned above, the appeal to values as rooted in the culture clinches the argument. Therefore arguments by value has a high convincing power.

Furthermore, proverbs as symbols do not have a one-to-one correspondence. One proverb can be used on different occasions. This Tagalog proverb may serve as an example,

Kahoy na babad sa tubig,

sa apoy huwag ilapit;

pag nadarang at nag-init,

sapilitang magdirikit.

(Even soaked wood, if put near the flame long enough, will

surely burn.)

The proverb not only applies to the dangers of constant association between men and women, but applies also to other circumstances such as relations between good and bad people.

Compared to the simple construction of proverbs, the balagtasan is a more complicated matter.


If the proverb is a short metaphor, the balagtasan is a longer metaphor.

Balagtasan is a poetic debate.37 It is a later development from the karagatan and the duplo, both of which are forms of poetical banters delivered during the nine days of the prayers for the dead, the thirtieth day after death and finally on the first death anniversary (pag-iibis ng luksa). The karagatan was a play performed to amuse a bereaved family. Unlike the karagatan and duplo, the topic discussed under balagtasan are set.

The balagtasan in its present form began in 1925 and is named after Francisco (born 1788), the renowned Tagalog poet. Its counterpart in the Ilocos regions is the Bukanegan (after Pedro, the Ilocano poet). Its counterpart among the Kapampangans is the Crissotan (after the Kapangpangan poet, Juan who used the pen name Crissot).38

A variant of the balagtasan is the batutian (named after Jose Corazon de Jesus whose pen name was Huseng). Batutian differs from balagtasan in the sense that the former uses jokes, banters and boasts among the contending poets.39

Balagtasans take a topic for debate. The first one in 1925 ("Bulaklak ng Kalinisan", Flower of Cleanliness) was allegorical. Another old text was "Alin ang higit na mahalagang taglayin: ang dunong, ang yaman, ang sipag, o ang ganda?" (Which should be valued more: learning, wealth, industry, or beauty?) However, more modern topics, as aired on the radio have more current themes. For instance, should the country have divorce? Should a person marry early or late? Should religion be an obstacle to marriage? Whom should parents prefer to finish their education first: male or female children? Who tend to be more jealous: men or women?

From Libiran's collection of balagtasans, we shall take a sampling of two, an old one ("Alin ang Higit na Mahalagang Taglayin: and Dunong, ang Yaman, ang Sipag, o ang Ganda?") and recent one ("Dapat ba o hindi dapat mag-asawa agad ang isang tao?) which was aired over the radio in 1982. To facilitate quotation, we have numbered the stanzas of the previous one with two digits (from 01 to 48) while the latter has three digits (from 100 to 140).

Since this is only a sampling, our findings are preliminary. We recommend that more studies on the balagtasan be carried out.

One must note about the literary genre of balagtasans. They are poetic debates intended for entertainment and not as a serious academic debate. In spite of the entertainment purpose of balagtasans, the logic is there.

We notice that in the Balagtasan, argumentation is based on inference by comparison or analogy. The inference on the real experience of the speaker which is familiar to the audience.

The images in forms of analogies and metaphors are the models for inference. The metaphors may refer to nature, to God, to real experience. For example, marriage may be compared to unripe fruits (103), to water (107), bamboo (111). God is creator (42, 44), master (45). Some personal experiences are those of parental quarrel (124), young love (125), hunger and plenty (8).

We find the following structure in the balagtasan: (1) a thesis, (2) followed by a reasoning which is supported by (3) a metaphor, and (4) a conclusion. Each number refers to a "level." In most instances the thesis (level 1) and the conclusion (level 4) are often omitted, but implied because they are part of a string of argumentations on the same topic.

For example (103):

Kung agad na mag-asawa mura't batambata,

Halaghag pa ang isipa't hindi alam umunawa;

Bungangkahoy ang katulad ng pitasi'y murang mura,

Kaya tuloy nang mahinog, maasim ding mawiwika.

(If married at once while immature and young,

The mind is still care-free and hardly understands;

It's like the fruit when plucked very young;

The fruit is said to be sour even if ripe it becomes.)

The same can be reconstructed as follows:

(1) Thesis: (implied, against early marriage).

(2) Reason: Because the mind is unsettled and immature.

This is based on experience in young marriages which

do not last long. If they endure, they are filled with

troubles and misunderstanding.

(3) Metaphor: Fruits when plucked green ripen sourly.

(4) Conclusion: (not mentioned but implied).

The counter-argument (107) runs thus:

Kung ikaw ma'y maliligo, sa tubig daw ay aagap

At nang hindi ka abutin noong tabsing nasa dagat;

Kung sinagot nang dalagang inibig nang buong tapat,

Pagtataling puso ninyo'y hindi dapat na magluwat;

Pakat baka ang mangyari, ang lunggati't hinahangad,

Maging isang panaginip kung panaho'y makalipas.

(When you are swimming in the water, be careful

So that you won't catch a sea cold;

If the proposal is accepted by the woman you love most,

The binding of two hearts should not lie in wait;

Lest it will happen that the ambition you wish,

Will become a dream through the lapse of time.)

The stanza (which is in favor of early marriage) can be reconstructed as:

(1) Thesis: (not mentioned but implied)

(2) Reason: because when you wait for old age, your dream

will not come true.

(3) Metaphor: young marriage is like swimming; one should

not stay long lest one will catch a sea cold.

(4) Conclusion: (not mentioned but implied)

Stanza 109 (which is against early marriage) may be constructed thus:

(1) Thesis: (implied)

(2) Reason: (implied, that early marriage might lead to

regret and affliction.)

(3) Metaphor: a glutton who gulps hot soup burns his

mouth and does not relish the fried fish.

(4) Conclusion: (not mentioned but implied).

The same structure can be seen in stanza 111 (against early marriage):

(1) Thesis: (implied)

(2) Reason: (implied)

(3) Metaphor: young bamboo used for making tools easily

gets destroyed. But a house made of fully grown bamboo


(4) Conclusion: therefore those who marry late will be far

from harm.

Another argument for early marriage runs thus:

(1) Thesis: early marriage has another advantage.

(2) Reason: their honeymoon and togetherness are sweet.

(3) Contrast metaphor: the love of old couples is dry and

probably childless.

(4) Conclusion: (implied)

Likewise (113),

(1) Thesis: (implied)

(2) Reason: (implied)

(3) Metaphor: early marriage is like planting early a

fruit tree: children are produced easier and you can

"harvest" their help and love.

(4) Conclusion: (implied)

The arguments presented by di dapat, the negative side (that is against early marriage) does not deny the facts presented by the affirmative side (dapat). The negative side adheres to customs and traditions such as respect to elders, the value of gratitude (utang na loob). That is why in this debate the negative side seems to have the upper hand.

Argumentation Based on Higher Values

After Knowledge, Beauty, Industry, and Wealth show their arguments on who is the best, they separately appeal to God as their source (18, 19, 42, 44, 45) or as the higher value. As mentioned earlier, the appeal to the values of traditions as also a base of argumentation.

What was said of the balagtasan is also reflected in the proverbs.

We believe that what we said of the balagtasan also applies to their counterparts in other Philippine languages such as the Bukanegan for the Ilocanos and the Crissotan among the Kapampangans.

One example of the Ilocano counterpart was held in 1954.40 Like the Tagalog balagtasan, three Ilocano poets discussed which of the three virtues (sanikua [wealth], adal [education, knowledge], dayaw [dignity/honor]) is the best. Iloko poetry shows deep religious feeling, didacticism and moralizing.41

Classification of Inferences

Comparative oriental philosophy has been quite useful in clarifying Filipino philosophy. From the viewpoint of contents, Buddhism classifies syllogisms and inferences into three kinds, namely, analytical, causal, or negative.42 An example of the analytical type is: "All horned animals have hoofs. Now the goat has horns. Therefore it must have hoofs." An example of inference by causation: "There is smoke in the mountain. So there must be fire there." An example of negative kind is: "There is no flower garden in the sky because we can't perceive any."

Is this classification also found in the balagtasan? We find that inference by causality is there, but in a slightly different form. We find more inference by causality, little on inference by analysis and almost nothing in inference by negation.

In 103 the ill-effects of plucking a fruit while green, or the result of using green bamboo for making tools (111), or of eating too soon a hot dish (109) definitely show inference by causality.

The metaphors of wealth compared to an abundant spring (09) or a luxuriant tree (08) are examples of a combination of inference by causality and inference by analysis.


We have seen how Filipinos think as illustrated in the use of proverbs and in the balagtasan. These two instances show that Filipinos think less deductively than inductively.

The examples show that induction prevails. In some cases of the balagtasan, both deduction and induction are found. In deduction, the different examples illustrate the major premise which is often the topic of the debate. But in general induction prevails as the form of argumentation.

The induction type of reasoning uses poetry. This poetic use is much against the spirit of deductive thinking, which is semantic. In other words, semantic or deductive thinking degenerates into hair-splitting regarding the nuances of terms in the major and minor premises of the syllogism. As poetic, the basis of reasoning is on metaphors which do not have always a one-to-one correspondence. In other words, they are geometric, not algebraic. Since Filipino thought is geometric, it is not dualistic like Western thought.

Can poetry be logical? Very much so. Through the concrete and the poetic, the mind can equally reach the truth.43 Poetic symbols can serve as paradigms for intuition. Thus mature bamboo as used in the construction of houses can be a paradigm for mature marriage. Likewise a healthy tree or an abundant spring can serve as paradigm for wealth.

How can what is concrete lead to universal truth? Induction is based on the principle of the uniformity of nature. Pollsters can predict outcomes through a sampling, of respondents, they do not have to interview the entire population; physicists also need only a sampling to make general conclusions.

Furthermore, induction also infers general conclusions through the principle of causality. By causality is often meant the four Aristotelian categories of efficient, final, material and formal causes,44 but the Filipino has a different notion of causality.45

That the Filipino thinks inductively perhaps may have to do with his brain. Scientists have pointed out that some people use more their left brain, while others use the right brain. The left brain emphasizes language, mathematical formulas, logic, numbers, sequence, lineality, analysis, and the words of a song. On the other hand, the right brain emphasizes forms and patterns, spatial manipulation, rhythm and musical appreciation, images/pictures, daydreaming, dimensions, and tune of a song.

Does the Filipino think like the Japanese? In 1978, Dr. Tadanobu of Tokyo Medical and Dental University's Medical Research Institute published The Japanese Brain46 after 20 years of research. He contends that the distribution of functions in the left and right brain is different for the Japanese than for the Westerner. While the left side of the Western brain handles consonants and calculations, the left side of the Japanese brain handles emotions, vowels and consonants, human and animal sounds, traditional music and calculation. While the right side of the Western brain processes emotions, human and animal sounds, vowels, mechanical sounds and all sorts of music, the Japanese counterpart processes consonants and calculation.

Scientists have pointed out that left brain people tend to have linear thinking in logic while right brain people have non-linear or lateral thinking. Lateral thinking people see more connections in things which seem to puzzle linear-thinking people.

Since all the music and mechanical noises for the western brain are processed on the right side,

a Westerner might miss the sound of a rippling water or a chirping cicada, while the Japanese will like hear it quite distinctly. . . . This close relationship between natural and verbal sound perception accounts for many of the unique features of Japanese culture, particularly its intimacy with nature. Thus, he says, the Japanese naturally give priority to sentiment and duty, while Westerners stress logic and ethics.47

This theory, Dr. Tsunoda contends, has nothing to do with race or genetics because "second and third generation Japanese brought up overseas show the Western brain pattern [while] Caucasians raised in Japan mirror the Japanese."48

Does Filipino logic follow lateral thinking? Scientists will have to find out, but we are inclined to suspect that lateral thinking is the answer. Both induction and deduction are complementary ways of arriving at the same truth. The Filipino way of looking at the truth illustrates his intersubjective way of thinking. Polanyi has shown through various disciplines that there is no such thing as true, impersonal knowledge. He says that "complete objectivity as usually attributed to the exact sciences is a delusion and is in fact a false ideal."49 He contends that pure objectivism, which has been the ideal of many western philosophers, is wrong.

Objectivism has totally falsified our conception of truth, by exalting what we can know and prove, while covering up with ambiguous utterances all that know and cannot prove, even though the latter knowledge underlies, and must ultimately set its seal to, all that we can prove. In trying to restrict our minds to the few things that are demonstrable, and therefore explicitly dubitable, it has overlooked the a-critical choices which determine the whole being of our minds and has rendered us incapable of acknowledging these vital choices.50


As we have seen above, Western thought is based chiefly on the either/or thinking. Things are either good or bad, right or wrong, and so forth. As part and parcel of the Platonic dualism, people are considered to have two components (body and soul) which often are in conflict. If it were not both/and things would not be either-or but would allow for a middle possibility. Whereas if this dualistic or either/or thinking is pushed further and applied to theology, God is either immanent or transcendent, personal or impersonal, spirit or body.51

René Descartes pushed further the subject-object dichotomy. His cogito-ergo-sum philosophy separated humans from their environment and enabled them to examine the animal and mineral world from the vantage-point of scientific objectivity.

We have seen above that Filipinos employ a geometric logic. If that is the case, do Filipinos also have the object-subject dichotomy? We suspect that the answer is no. The reason is that as an oriental, the Filipino shares the world view of many of his Asian neighbors. One example is Chinese philosophy, which is dominated by the spirit of harmony, and in which there is no dichotomy between object and subject. Chinese thought has three elements: the object (pin, originally meaning guest), the subject (chu, originally meaning host) and the environment (ching, environment or things in vision).

Taking the subject as host, the object is the guest who is invited and loved by the host (this symbolizes the object's immanence in the subject), and also respected and sent out by the host (this symbolizes the object's transcendence to the subject). On the other hand, the world can be seen also by the poets and philosophers as host, and then the man (or I as an individual) is guest of the world and is entertained by the hospitality of the world. It is quite clear that there is no dualism between host and guest. This metaphor is the best symbol for Chinese thought about the relation of the subjective individual and the objective world as mutually immanent and transcendent in an ultimate harmony.52

Here there are three elements: subject or ego, object or guest, and the environment or things in vision. Are there also three elements in Filipino thought?

While Western thought also contrasts body and soul, the same is not true for Filipino thinking. As explained in Chapter I, the Filipino sees the person as composed not of two principles, but three, namely, body, soul and spirit, all in a spirit of harmony. This trichotomy is similar other oriental philosophies, including Jewish thought as reflected in the Bible.

Covar also discovers three elements in the Filipino personality, namely, labas (exterior), loob (interior) and lalim (depth).53 He draws an analogy from the earthen jar, which has an exterior, an interior, and depth. Each dimension has its corresponding elements. Three, however, is not a fixed number. We said above that sentences in Philippine languages can have as much as four components.

Furthermore, Philippine language also offers tips on how Filipinos think. We have shown elsewhere that Philippines sentences do not have the linking verb "to be".54 Instead of the tense, more emphasis is given to the mode or focus of a sentence as to who does the action (actor), the action, the goal of the act, the location, and the beneficiary of the act. Besides the subject and the object, there is this third element of mode or focus which is the environment or "house" of the interaction between the object and subject. This interaction is in the context of the Filipino's harmonious world view. This harmony or non-dualism is between the object and the subject in the "house" of mode or of focus.

We may end this chapter on how the Filipino thinks with a Tagalog proverb. It sums up the law of life where our actions have consequences, like having debts.

Ang buhay ay gayon lamang

Ang ugali't kalakaran

Ganti-ganti katwiran

Magbayad ang may utang

Sa pinagkakautangan.

Life is just like that

The behavior and path

Give and take is the reason

He who has a debt pays

To whoever he is indebted.


1. Leonardo N. Mercado, Elements of Filipino Philosophy (Tacloban City: Divine Word University Publications, 1974), pp. 73-91.

2. Celestine N. Bittle, The Science of Correct thinking (Milwaukee: Bruce, 1950), p. 297.

3. Mercado, Elements of Filipino Philosophy, p. 75.

4. Ter Ellington-Waugh, "Algebraic and Geometric Logic", Philosophy East and West, 24 (1974), 23-40.

5. Ibid., p. 26.

6. Franklin Fearing, "An Examination of the Conceptions of Benjamin Whorf in the Light of Theories of Perception and Cognition," in Language in Culture, ed. by Harry Hoijer (Chicago: University of Chicago, 1954), p. 71.

7. Florentino T. Timbreza, Claro R. Ceniza, and Andrew Gonzales, FSC, "Filipino Logic: A Preliminary Analysis," Karunungan, 6 (1989), 71-100.

8. We shall use here the findings of Michelle Z. Rosaldo, Knowledge and Passion, Ilongot Notions of Self and Social Life (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1980).

9. Ibid., p. 188.

10. Loc. cit.

11. Ibid., p. 189.

12. Ibid., p. 198.

13. Ibid., p. 198.

14. Ibid., p. 202.

15. Ibid., p. 195.

16. Subnanen is the correct term for Subanun. See Fausto M. Lingating, "A Subanen Comment," in Filipino Religious Experience and Nonbiblical Revelation, ed. by Leonardo N. Mercado (Manila: Divine Word Publications, 1992), p. 150.

17. Charles A. Frake, "How to Ask for a Drink in Subanun," in Language and Cultural Description (Standford, California: Standford University Press, 1980), pp. 166-173.

18. Ibid., p. 172.

19. Cantius J. Kobak, "Ancient Bisayan Literature, Music and Dances: in Alzina's Historia de las Islas e Indios de Bisayas . . . 1668", Leyte-Samar Studies, 11 (1977), 35.

20. Loc. cit.

21. Antoon Postma (ed. and trans.), Treasure of a Minority, the Ambahan: a poetic expression of the Mangyans of Southern Mindoro, Philippines, rev. ed. (Manila: Arnoldus Press, Inc., 1972).

22. An example of pamalaye (verses for negotiating a marriage) is found in Cebuano Poetry/Sugboanong Balak, trans. by Resil B. Mojares (Cebu City: Cebuano Studies Center, 1988), pp. 52-57.

23. An example of kulilisi is found in Cebuano Poetry, pp. 30-47. For a commentary, see Ma. Lelani P. Echavez, "A Study of the Three Kulilisis as Literature," M.A. thesis, St. Theresa's College, Cebu City, November 1966.

24. Ibid., pp. 34-47.

25. Leothiny S. Clavel, "Folklore and Communication," Asian Studies, 8 (1970), 218-247.

26. Ibid., p. 221.

27. Loc. cit.

28. Ibid., p. 226.

29. Quoted in Damiana L. Eugenio (comp. and ed.), The Proverbs, Philippine Folk Literature Series, vol. 6 (Quezon City: The U.P. Folklorists, Inc., 1972), p. vii.

30. Ibid., p. xl.

31. Ibid., p. xxix.

32. Ibid., p. xxxix.

33. Ibid., p. xlviii.

34. Loc. cit.

35. Ibid., p. 222.

36. Ibid., p. 225.

37. Pablo Reyna Libiran, Balagtasan, Noon at Ngayon (Manila: National Book Store, 1985).

38. Ibid., pp. 5-7.

39. Ibid., p. 6.

40. "Bukanegan a Nagrurpirran da Mariano N. Gaerlan, Godofredo S. Reyes, Leon F. Pichay." Naipabuya Ditoy Manila, April, 1954.

41. Marcelino A. Foronda, Jr., Philippine Poetry in Iloko, 19211971 (Manila: De la Salle University, 1976), p. 10.

42. F. Th. Stcherbatsky, Buddhist Logic, vol. 1 (New York: Dover Publications, Inc., 1962), p. 305.

43. Mercado, Elements of Filipino Philosophy, p. 85-85.

44. Bittle, The Science of Correct Thinking, pp. 305-313.

45. Mercado, Elements of Filipino Philosophy, pp. 131-141.

46. Reported in Asiaweek, April 11, 1980, p. 35.

47. Loc. cit.

48. Loc. cit.

49. Michael Polanyi, Personal Knowledge, Towards a Post-Critical Philosophy (London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1969), p. 18.

50. Ibid., p. 286.

51. For more details on this subject, see Jung Young Lee, "The Yin Yang Way of Thinking, A Possible Method for Ecumenical Theology," International Review of Mission, 60 (July 191), 363-370.

52. T'ang Chuen-i, "The Individual and the World in Chinese Methodology," in The Status of the Individual in East and West, ed. by Charles A Moore (Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 1968), p. 116.

53. Prospero R. Covar, "Kaalamang Bayang Dalumat ng Pagkatong Pilipino," lekturang propesoryal, Marso 3, 1993, Bulwagang Rizal, U.P. Diliman, Lunsod Quezon (QC: Dr. Jose Cuyekng Memorial Library and Information Center, 1993).

54. Mercado, Elements of Filipino Philosophy, pp. 73-74.




(Which is More Important to Possess: Knowledge, Wealth,

Diligence, or Beauty?)

Ina (Mother):

01 Sa nangalilimping mga panauhin

ako'y nagpupugay nang buong paggiliw;

inihahandog kong taos na damdamin

itong sa balagtasang itatanghal namin.

To all valued listeners

my wholehearted respect to you all;

I offer with all my heart

this poetic debate that we'll present.

02 Ang tungkulin ko'y pagkalakambini

ang papel ng inang batis ng mapagkasi;

sa isang tahana'y siya ang babae

na sa mga bunso'y tagapagkandili.

My function is that of a lakambini

The role of a mother, spring of love;

In the household she is a woman

And to her children she nurtures.

03 Sa bawat sandali ang laman ng isip

ay ang mga bunsong supling ng pag-ibig;

Kanyang inaakay sa dakilang nais,

kanyang hinuhubog sa mabuting hilig.

Every time the content of her mind

is her children the fruit of love

that she leads to what is ought

and moulds them to what is good.

04 At pagkat ako nga'y ina ng tahanan

ang apat kong bunso'y ibig kong tawagan;

sa kanilang labi'y nais kong malaman

ang kanilang hilig at hangad sa buhay.

And because I am the mother of the house

To my four children I want to call;

From their lips I want to hear

Their plans and dreams in life.

05 Ibig kong malama't lubos na matatap

sa apat na bagay kung alin ang dapat

ang Dunong ng isip, o ang Yamang pilak,

ang Kagandahan ba, o kaya'y ang Sipag?

I want to know and fully understand

which of the four things is right

The Knowledge of the mind or the Wealth of silver,

Is it Beauty or Diligence that matters?

06 Aking mga bunso, ngayon ay isulit

ang laman ng puso't pag-iisip;

pagkat apat kayo'y ang sa yamang panig

ang ngayo'y ibig kong maulinig.

My children now you speak

The content of your heart and your mind;

because you are four, the side of wealth

I now want to hear.

Yaman (Wealth):

07 Inang ko, kung ako ay pamimiliin,

ay ang yaman na po ang aking kukunin;

kung tayo'y mayaman, ang bawat hilahil

kailanman, inang, ay di-sasaatin.

My mother if I am the one asked to choose,

Wealth is that I will get;

If we are wealthy, all suffering from hardship

never, mother, will be ours.

08 Sa atin ay hindi dadalaw ang gutom,

hindi mahuhubdan kahit may linggatong;

tayo ay katulad ng punong mayabong,

sa ulan at araw'y may bunga't may dahon.

For us hunger will not come,

We will not be in want even if there is scarcity;

We are like a luxuriant tree which

In rainy and sunny days has always fruit and leaves.

09 Tayo'y matutulad sa bukal ng batis

na dinadaluyang lagi na ng tubig;

sa bayan, sa nayon, o kaya'y sa bukid,

tayo'y maligaya at laging may awit.

We become like a source or spring

in which water continually flows;

in the town, in the barrio, or even in the farm,

we are happy and always with a song.

10 Kahit na dumating ang kapighatian

tayo ay hindi na mangangailangan;

tayo ay maraming mga kaibigan,

at kung magtabisi'y hindi magkukulang.

Even if hardships come

we won't need assistance;

we have a lot of friends,

and when together are always not in want.

Dunong (Wisdom):

11. Sa akin po naman ang ibig ko'y dunong,

ito po'y puhunang hindi natatapon;

ito kahit saa'y aking mababaon,

at di mananakaw hanggang sa kabaong.

And for me it is wisdom that I want,

it is an investment that can never be thrown;

it is that which I can bring wherever I go,

nobody can steal it until my death.

12 Mag-isa man ako, saan man sumapit;

ang dunong ay aking laging magagamit;

paano'y taglay ko sa sariling isip,

hindi mauubos, hindi mapupunit.

Even if I am alone, and wherever I am

Wisdom it is that I can always use;

because it always in my mind remains,

it never will end and can't be torn.

13 Sa piling ng aking mga kapwa-tao,

ako'y maaring makapanagano;

ang aking sarili'y maiwawasto ko

at matutulungan ang kahit na sino.

At the side of my friends,

I can explain things out;

I can prove myself right

and can extend my help to all who need.

14 Hindi nanganganib na ito'y pumanaw

samantalang ako'y may diwa't may buhay;

ako'y mangunguna, saan mang lipunan,

ako'y itatangi, ako'y igagalang.

I am not afraid that it will go

as long as I have life and soul;

I will be at the head in any society,

I will be honored, I will be respected.

Sipag (Diligence):

15 Naiiba naman, yaring aking nais,

pagkat kasipagan ang lagi kong ibig;

ang taong masipag, saan man sumapit

ay di magugutom, hindi mananangis.

What I want is different,

because diligence is what I love;

wherever a diligent person goes

he never becomes hungry and in want.

16 Ang taong masipag saan man tumungo

maluwag ang buhay at makapwa-tao;

paano'y karamay ang kahit na sino

kasama sa tuwa't sa dusa'y kasalo.

Wherever a diligent person goes

he will always be well-off and close to others;

because he is a companion in everything

be it happiness and sadness.

17 Ang awa ng Diyos sa lupa'y laganap,

may buhay sa bukid, may buhay sa dagat;

sa bayan at nayon ay di maghihirap

ang kahit na sinong may puhunang sipag.

God's mercy on earth is full,

there is life in the mountains and life in the oceans;

In town or in the barrios will never be in want

for those who are diligent.

Ganda (Beauty):

18 Ako nama'y iba ang paniniwala,

nasa kagandahan ang lalong dakila;

sapagkat ang ganda'y galing kay Bathala

ligaya ng tao sa balat ng lupa.

I, on the other hand, believe differently,

in beauty is more nobility;

because beauty comes from God

the happiness of man in the face of the earth.

19 Ang ano mang bagay kailanma't pangit

sa tao't sa Diyos ay nakabubuwisit;

ngunit sa maganda ay kaakit-akit

nasisiyahan kang tumanaw, lumapit.

Anything that is ugly

in the eyes of God and man is misfortune;

but for the beautiful and attractive

you will be glad to look and come close.

20 Ang ganda ay isang magandang puhunan

ang pakikisama't pagkakaibigan;

subalit ang pangit, sa iyong pagtulog

ay nagiging sanhi ng iyong bangungot.

Beauty is a good investment

in relating with others and in friendship;

but the ugly, in your sleep

becomes the cause of your nightmare.

Ina (Mother): Lakambini (Muse)

21 Kung kayo'y mayroong ibig ipahayag,

ang tatlong nauna'y aking tinatawag;

ang Dunong at Yaman, gayundin ang Sipag,

sa inyong katwiray bigyan ng liwanag.

If you have somthing to say,

the first three that I called up;

Wisdom and Wealth and also Diligence,

In your thought give more light.

Yaman (Wealth):

22 Ang anumang dunong ay di matatamo

pag hindi ginamitan ng Kayamanan ko;

ang Ganda'y hindi rin gaganda, pag ito,

sa pilak at ginto 'y inilayo ninyo.

Whatever knowledge you can never attain

if my Wealth you won't use;

Beauty will never become beautiful,

if in silver and gold you will deprive.

23 Ang Sipag gayundi'y di magtatagumpay

Kung walang salapi at hungkag ang tiyan;

kung wala kang bigas, palayok at kalan,

ang pagsasaing mo'y di magagampanan.

Diligence will never succeed

if you have no money and your stomach is empty;

if you have no rice, pot, and stove,

your cooking cannot be done.

24 Sa panahong ito'y buhay ang salapi,

kailangang bilhin pati lunggati;

ang damit, pagkain at kubo mang munti,

kapag may pilak ka'y madaling madali.

At this time wealth is life

you have to buy even your fervent wish;

clothes, food and a small hut

if you have money, they are easy to get.

Dunong (Wisdom):

25 Ang kanyang matuwid ay di-natutumpak,

ang katotohana'y kanyang binaliktad;

ang pilak at ginto kaya lang lumabas,

ay dahil sa Dunong na siyang tumuklas!

His reasoning is not correct at all,

he inverted the truth;

silver and gold only come out,

because of Wisdom that discovered them!

26 Ang sipag at ganda ay walang katuturan

kapag sa Dunong ko'y mapapahiwalay;

kahit masipag ka, kung ikaw ay mangmang

ang kamangmangan mo, sa iyo'y papatay.

Diligence and Beauty have no meaning

if separate from my Wisdom;

even if you are diligent but ignorant

your ignorance itself will kill you.

27 Ang hindi marunong gumamit ng Ganda

ay asahan ninyong lalong papangit pa;

saka ang karikta'y malimit magdala

sa pagkariwara ng puri't kaluluwa.

Those who don't know how to use Beauty

expectedly will appear more ugly;

and charm always brings

the destruction of soul and of integrity.

Sipag (Diligence):

28 Lalong hindi tumpak ang iyong matuwid,

ang katotohana'y iyong tinumbalik;

ang yama'y sa Sipag kaya nakakamit,

ang tamad na tao'y siyang laging said.

It is more false what you think is true

you inverted the truth you seek;

Wealth is attained through Diligence,

the idle person is always in want.

29 Kahit ka marunong kung ikaw ay tamad,

ikaw'y namamatay na ang mata'y dilat;

nalalaman mo man kung saan lilipad

pag di ka kumilos, ikaw ay babagsak.

Even if you are wise but lazy,

you will die with your eyes open;

even if you know where to fly

if you won't move, you will fall.

30 Kung ang gagawin nama'y laging magpaganda

at masasawi pati kaluluwa;

sapagkat sa takot na marumihan ka,

pati ng paggawa ay tatanggihan na.

If what you do is always how to appear beautiful

and in the process lose even your soul;

because of fear of getting dirty,

even work you will abhor.

Ganda (Beauty):

31 Itong tatlong ito'y pawang nasisinsay

sa kanikanilang katwira't palagay;

kayo ba'y mayroon nang nakitang kariktan

na saan mang dako'y hindi kinalugdan?

These three persons here are troubled

in their thoughts and reasoning;

have you seen a charm

that has never been praised in any place?

32 Wala ka mang Dunong, pag ikaw'y maganda

ang kagandahan mo'y nagbibigay sigla;

kung ikaw ay pangit kahit mayaman ka

ay dahil sa yaman pag ikaw'y sininta.

You might not have wisdom but if you are beautiful

your beauty gives life;

if you are ugly even if you are rich

it is because of wealth that you are loved.

33 At kung sa sipag lang kayo'y mamahalin

alila't utusan ang iyong daratnin;

subalit pag kayo'y may kariktang angkin,

kahit saang dako, kayo'y sasambahin.

If you are loved because you are diligent

a servant and a maid you will become;

But if you have charm

wherever you are, you are always loved.

Yaman (Wealth):

34 Ngunit ang mayaman at hindi hikahos

saan man dumating ay di kinakapos;

ang dukhang marunong ay utusang lubos

ng kahit na mangmang ay di naman dahop.

But the wealthy and not the poor

will always have something wherever he goes;

a wise destitute becomes a servant

One may be ignorant but never in want.

35 Ang masipag nama'y mauutusan din

at ang kagandaha'y kaya ring bilhin;

Anupa't ang yaman, saan man dumating,

kahit saang dako'y papanginoonin.

The diligent can also be a servant

and beauty through money can be bought;

if you have wealth, wherever you go

in any place you are always revered.

Dunong (Wisdom):

36 Ang isang mayama'y laging nagtatanong

ng kanyang gagawin sa pantas at sulong!

Ako'y sanggunian saan man pumaro'n

at sa inyong lahat ay handang magtanggol!

A rich person always asks questions

of all that he does and in every challenge!

To me he asks advice whatever he takes

and you all I am ready to protect.

37 Ang Sipag ay usok pag ako'y nawala,

at ang Ganda nama'y babasaging bula;

ang Yaman ay yagit ang makakamukha

kapag ang may-ari'y mangmang at tulala.

Diligence is like smoke without me

and Beauty also is nothing;

and Wealth is empty

if the person is ignorant and nescient.

Sipag (Diligence):

38 Sukat nang ang tao'y may Sipag na angkin,

ay di mabibigo sa bawat gagawin;

ang Dunong ay isang bingaw na patalim

kapag itong Sipag ay di gagamitin.

It is enough that a person has Diligence,

he will never be frustrated in all that he does;

Wisdom is a blunt sword

if Diligence is left unused.

39 At ang Yaman nama'y mauubos kaagad

sa tamad na tao, batugan, bulagsak;

pati kagandaha'y malalantang ganap

kapag ang sino ma'y nanatiling tamad.

And Wealth can easily be spent

for an idle person, slothful and careless;

even beauty withers away

if someone remains lazy.

Ganda (Beauty):

40 Ang Dunong at Sipag, saka ang Salapi

ay mitsa ng buhay ng pangit na budhi;

kapootan ka't buhay mo ay iigsi

kapag ang asal mo, ay masamang lagi.

Wisdom, Diligence and also Wealth

would be a cause of misfortune to the wicked;

you will be hated and your life shortened

if your character is always abhorrent.

41 Ngunit pag maganda ang kaasalan mo,

ang lahat-lahat na'y gagalang sa iyo;

kaya naman lubos ang pananalig ko

na ang kagandahan ay higit sa mundo.

But if your conduct is good and pleasant

all people will respect you;

that is why I am fully convinced

that beauty is more important in the world.

Yaman (Wealth):

42 Nilikha ng Diyos ang yaman sa lupa

nang upang ang tao'y di maging kawawa;

sapagkat ang tao pag laging sagana,

ay di-magtitikim ng pait at luha.

God created wealth on earth

so that people won't live in misery;

if man has always abundance

he can never experience the bitterness of poverty.

Dunong (Knowledge):

43 Ngunit nilikha rin itong karunungan

upang itong tao'y matutong mabuhay;

ang yaman sa lupa'y hindi mahuhukay

kung di gagamitin ang katalinuhan.

But wisdom is also created

so that man learns how to live;

wealth can't be dug under the ground

if wisdom is not used and found.

Sipag (Diligence):

44 Hindi naman ninyo dapat na limutin,

na ang kasipagan ay inihabilin;

sinabi ng Diyos: ang iyong kakanin

sa pawis ng iyong mukha manggagaling!

And forget it not

that diligence is God-given;

God says: what you will eat

should come from the sweat of your brow.

Ganda (Beauty):

45 Kung diyan hahangga itong pag-uusap,

itong kagandaha'y sa Diyos nagbuhat;

ang langit, ang lupa, ang bukid, ang dagat,

masdan at sa ganda ay nagliliwanag!

If you want that this discussion ends in God

then this beauty also comes from God;

heaven and earth, the mountains and the seas

behold and in beauty they are shining!

Lakambini (Muse):

46 Ngayo'y narinig ko ang inyong katwiran,

ganito ang aking ibig namang turan;

ang DUNONG, ang GANDA, ng SIPAG, ang YAMAN,

sa buhay ng tao ay pawang kailangan.

Now that I know your thoughts,

this is what I emphasize and say;

Wisdom, Beauty, Diligence, and Wealth

in the life of man are all important.

47 Ang mangmang na tao'y daling mapahamak,

sa pangit ang asal, daming lumilibak,

nagiging apihin ang salat sa pilak,

at laging palaboy ang hindi masipag.

An ignorant person can easily fall into problems

to an ill-mannered man; many will mock

and those who are greedy in wealth become easily manipulated

Those who are lazy are always at large.

48 Hanggang dito't ngayo'y tinatapos namin

itong Balagtasang hiniling sa amin;

kung sakaling kayo'y may sukat pulutin,

pulutin ang wasto't ang mali'y limutin.

Until here we shall end

this poetic debate that we present;

if you want to learn something

learn from what is good and forget what is bad.

Reference: Pablo Reyna Libiran, Balagtasan, Noon at Ngayon (Manila: National Bookstore, 1985), pp. 22-28. English translation by Maxwell Felicilda and Adeodato Malabanan.



(Should a Person Marry Early or Not?)

Lakandiwa (Chief):

100 Bilang isang lakandiwa, nagpupugay muna ako

Tuloy itong balagtasan, ngayo'y muling bubuksan ko;

Sa naritong si Elena at batikang si Pablito

Na kapwa na hinangaan ng maraming mga tao

Ang nais ko ngayong gabi ay muling mapagsino

Ang tunay na mambibigkas at may diwang matalino.

As a Lakandiwa, I am first paying respect.

I now will open this poetic-debate;

To Elena who is here and to well-seasoned Pablito,

Who both are admired by many people.

My aim tonight is again to know

The real declaimer and who has wise ideas.

101 Mauuna sa tindiga'y ang panig na maghahayag,

Bago muna mag-asawa'y magpagulang ang marapat;

Kaya naman ang samo ko, kay Elenang isang dilag,

Sa kislap ng katwira'y palitawin ang liwanag;

Narito na si Elenang sa pingkia'y magbubukas.

Salubungin sana ninyo ng matunog na palakpak!

The first to stand is the side who will declare

That maturity first is necessary before marrying.

Therefore my earnest request to beautiful Elena,

Let the truth appear in the brilliance of reasoning.

Here now is Elena who will open the debate.

I wish you welcome her with a loud applause.

Elena (di dapat)

102 Akong abang lingkod ninyo na Hagunoy ang nag-atas,

Ay muling palalaot sa larangan ng pagbigkas;

Ang tinig kong mataginting na hindi nga kumukupas,

Sasainyong pakikinig sa himpila'y nagbubuhat;

Sa indayog ng tulaing hinabi ko sa pangarap,

Kayong mga tagahanga'y aaliwing walang liyag.

I, your, humble servant, from Hagunoy,

Will again sail in the arena of declamation;

My sonorous voice that truly does not wane

From the stage comes to your hearing from this very stage;

In the rhythm of poems woven from a dream,

You, my admirers, will be cheered without delay.

103 Ang panig kong titindigan sa napili ngayong paksa,

Karapatang mag-asawa, kung gumulang o tumanda;

Kung agad na mag-asawa, habang mura't batambata,

Halaghag pa ang isipa't hindi alam umunawa;

Bungangkahoy ang katulad nang pitasi'y murang mura,

Kaya tuloy nang mahinog, maasim ding mawiwika.

The side that I will defend is the topic now chosen,

The right to marry when mature in age or old;

If married at once while immature and young,

The mind is still care-free and can hardly understand,

It's like the fruit when plucked very young;

The fruit is said to be sour even if ripe it becomes.

104 Ang gawaing mag-asawa'y hindi isang pagbibiro

At di gaya niyang kaning iluluwa kung mapaso;

Ang sino mang magpakasal ay dapat na mapagkuro,

Nakahanda sa pasaning ligaya ma't pagkabigo;

Kaya bago mag-asawa'y pagulangin iyang puso

Nang sa hirap at tiisi'y di karakang magugupo.

Getting married is not a matter of joke,

And not like food when hot is thrown out of the mouth.

Whoever marries must be made to ponder,

Ready to assume the burden of joy and even frustration;

Thus before marriage have the heart mature

That in hardships and sufferings will not succumb at once.


105 Kung sa palagay ay batid kong sa bigkasin na talino,

Ay may angking karunungan ang makatang si Pablito;

Ngunit ngayon sa panig niya'y nangangamba ang puso ko,

Higpit iyang daraanan kung ito ay ipanalo;

Upang aking masubok nga'y narito na si Pablito,

Habang siya'y papalapit, palakpakan sana ninyo!

Of course, I know that in intelligent declamation

Poet Pablito has inborn talent;

But now about his side my heart is afraid,

Tight is the road he has to pass if this he will win;

So that I can really test here now is Pablito,

As he comes please applaud him.

Pablito (Dapat):

106 Kahit ako ay binatang wala pa ngang hustong gulang,

Sa edad kong ito ngayo'y ibig ko ng magpakasal

Ngayon pa bang natagpuan ang babaing minamahal,

Bakit ako magtiis ng mahabang paghihintay?

Sa buhay ng isang tao'y hindi talos ang hangganan,

Ang sa ngayo'y magagawa, di na dapat ipaliban.

Although I am a bachelor and really not old enough,

At this my age I already want to marry

Now that I have found the girl I love,

Why should I suffer the long waiting?

In the life of a man the end is unknown

What can be done today must not be postponed anymore.

107 Kung ikaw ma'y maliligo, sa tubig daw ay aagap

At nang hindi ka abutin noong tabsing nasa dagat;

Kung sinagot ng dalagang inibig nang buong tapat,

Pagtataling puso ninyo'y hindi dapat na magluwat;

Pagkat baka ang mangyari, ang lunggati't hinahangad,

Maging isang panaginip kung panaho'y makalipas.

If you are taking a swim, in water, though, be careful,

So that you won't catch a sea cold;

If the proposal is accepted by the woman you love most,

The binding of your two hearts, should not lie in wait;

Lest it will happen that the ambition you wish,

Will become a dream through the lapse of time.

108 Mabuti ring masasabi ang maagang mag-asawa,

Malakas pa ang magulang, may apo nang makikita;

Kung tayo ay magpatanda na binata at dalaga,

Pakasal ma'y walang sarap ang gagawing pagsasama;

Di tulad nang kung bata pang magtatalik sa ligaya

Marami mang maging anak, magpalaki'y maginhawa.

It can also be said that getting married early is good,

Parents are still strong they already can see grandchildren;

If we wait to be old bachelors and maid

Even if we get married living together won't be sweet;

Not like together in happiness when still young.

Although there may be many children to bring them up will be easy.


109 Ang naritong katunggali, mata ko mang pagwariin,

Sa taglay na kasabiha'y nagahaman ang pagkain

Kaya tuloy yaong sabaw na mainit nang ihain,

Ay napaso yaong bibig nang ito nga ay higupin.

Pati ulam na ginisa, di nakuha na lasahin,

Ubos na nga ng sabihing matabang at walang asin.

The opponent who is here, however seriously I think about,

According to common saying became greedy for food;

That is why the soup that was hot when served,

Burnt the mouth when he did sip it.

Also the fried viand he was not able to taste,

Already the food was consumed when tasteless and

without salt he said.

110 Kaya ikaw katalo ko'y huwag sanang magmadali,

Upang hindi ka magsisi kung ikaw ay mapalungi;

Kung nais mong magpakasal sa babaing itinangi,

Ikaw muna ay magsilbi, sa magulang kumandili;

Ang maagang mag-asawa, baka di mo nawawari,

Karaniwang kahinatnan ay magdusa't mamighati.

That is why you, my opponent, please do not hurry,

So that you do not regret if you fall into misery;

If you want to get married to the woman you regard as special,

First serve the parents who took care of you;

To marry early you might not have thought seriously,

The usual consequence is suffering and profound sorrow.

111 Ang kawayang pinutol ng bata pa't murang-mura,

Kung gamiting kasangkapan ay madaling nasisira;

Ngunit kapag gumulang na at sa puno ay tumanda,

Asahan mo at matibay, habang ito ay naluluma;

Kagaya rin nating tao sa ibabaw nitong lupa,

Ang matagal mag-asawa'y malayong mapariwara.

A bamboo that is cut when still young and very tender,

If used as a tool is easily destroyed;

But when it has already become mature and the tree has become old

You can rely upon it while it is getting old;

Like us men also on this earth,

He who waits long before marrying is far from misfortune.


112 Ito palang katalo ko'y sadyang kapos ang isipan,

Pinipilit akong tumanda pa at gumulang;

Kung ako ba'y magpapalamig, sa pag-ibig ay kupasan,

Baka kahit sa pindangga, akoy hindi na tibukan;

Dulo tuloy ang masapit ang tumanda nang hukluban

At kung ako ay humina, walang anak na aakay.

So this my opponent is no doubt short in mind,

Insisting that I become old yet and mature;

If I cool passion, in love lose potency,

Maybe in fetching water I will have no more feeling;

The end consequence is an old decrepit man,

And when I become weak no child to lead me by the hand.

113 Kung ikaw ay nasasabik makapitas niyang bunga

Ng gusto mong punongkahoy, magtanim ka nang maaga.

Kung agad na magpakasal sa hilig na mag-asawa,

Ang supling na hinahangad ay madaling makikita.

Kung malaki na ang anak , habang ikaw ay bata pa,

Tulong ninyo't pagkalinga'y lubos nilang madarama.

If you are eager to pluck the fruit

Of the tree you like, plant early;

If in your inclination to marry right away you get married,

The child that you desire will easily be realized;

When the child is already big (grown up) while you are still young,

Your help and support he will feel completely.

114 Eh, kung ikaw'y magpatanda't saka ka pa magkaanak,

Sasabihing apo mo na ang kilik mo't iyong hawak;

Sa paano'y uso ngayon ang bata pa'y may kabiyak,

Pagkat singaw ng panahon sadyang hindi maaawat;

Kayat hanggang maaga pa'y mag-asawa, kabalagtas,

Nang hindi ka nahuhuli at abutin niyang kunat!

If you waited to be old and then only have a child,

They will say the child you are holding is your grandchild;

Because it is now the fashion for the young to have a wife,

Because the traits of the time can surely not be stopped;

That is why while still young get married opponent,

That you are not being left behind and hardy become.


115 Sa halama't punongkahoy ang ginamit na batayan,

Ng katalong si Pablito tila waring nalabuan;

Hindi niya napag-isip na sa mga bunga ng halaman,

Pinipili sa pagpitas, mga hinog at magulang;

Ang kahoy nang pinutol na gagawing kasangkapan,

Ay magulang at matanda ang matigas at matibay.

Garden and tree were used as basis

By Pablito my opponent who seemed perplexed;

He has not thought that from the fruits of the garden,

The ones chosen to be plucked are the mature and ripened;

The tree that was to be made into a tool when it was cut

Was mature and old the hard and strong.

116 Sa maraming kabataang humarap na sa dambana,

Wala pa ngang isang buwan, malimit na ang kasira;

Palibhasa'y murang isip sa ligaya'y hindi sawa,

Hinahanap ang sarili'y dating layaw at paggala;

Kaya pati ama't ina'y nagsisi na ring kusa

Kung bakit ang anak nila'y nag-asawang batang-bata.

Of the many young who already got married,

Not one month is over quarrels are already frequent

Because young in mind in pleasure not satisfied,

They miss very much the absence of the

former life in comfort and going places;

That is why the father and mother no doubt are sorry

Why their child got married very early.

117 Lalong hirap sa magulang, kung anak ay magkasupling,

Na di alam mag-alaga at sa sanggol ay tumingin;

Asahan mo't yaong apo ay sa nunong aturgahin,

Bantay na nga araw-gabi'y tagalaba pa ng lampin;

Kayat iyang kabataan, nararapat na alamin,

Mabuti ng magpagulang, bago puso'y pagtaliin.

The harder it is for parents when their daughter begets a child,

Who does not know how to care and look after the baby;

Be sure that the grandparents will take care of the grandchild,

Babysitters by day and night, and diaper-washers;

That is why it is proper that the young should know,

It is good to wait for mature age before the hearts are tied together.


118 Katalo kong binibini dapat sanang maunawa

Na maraming nagagawa ang maagang magsimula

Iyang taong nag-asawa kung kailan pa tumanda,

Isa pa lang iyang anak, kumakalog na ang baba.

Ang maagang mag-asawa'y nagtatamo niyang pala

Pagkat agad na tumupad sa utos mga ni Bathala.

I wish that my maiden opponent should understand,

That early starters can accomplish many things;

One who marries after waiting till he is old,

With only one child, yet his chin is already wobbly.

One who marries early receives a blessing,

Because he immediately does God's will.

119 Sa magulang kong ito ngayo'y katamtaman na kasalin,

Magkaanak man ng sampu, ang magula'y bata pa rin;

Mag-aral man nang matagal, panganay na maging supling,

Nagagawang maituga kung hangad na pagtuluyin;

Ligaya nang mga anak, kung magulang tumitingin,

Ay bata pa at malakas, hanggang silay pagtapusin.

My age now is just the right time to get married,

Even if I get ten children, I'll still be strong;

Even if it takes long for my eldest to study,

Can succeed somehow if helped to achieve his goal;

Children are happy when parents are looking

Still young and strong until they are able to have their

schooling finished.

120 Kung gulang mo ay tatlumpo, saka lamang pakakasal,

Maliit pa iyang anak, ulyanin ka nang magulang;

Sa halip na iyang supling ay matuto kung mag-aral,

Sa tumandang ama't ay magsilbing taga-akay;

Kaya't iyang mag-asawa nang maaga ay mainam

Hindi tulad ni Elenang ang gusto pa ay gumulang.

When you are thirty and only then you marry,

Your child is still small, you are already a senile parent;

Instead that the child learns if he studies,

Will be a guide to his aged father;

That is why to marry early is good,

Not like Elena who still wants to become old.


121 Hindi pala nababatid nitong aking kabalagtas,

Kung nais na mag-asawa'y may tuntunin tayong batas;

Kung wala kang hustong gulang at menor pang tinatawag

Hindi puwedeng magpakasal, kahit ikaw ay magbayad;

Kailanga'y pahintulot ng magulang ay igawad,

Kung ibig na ang kasalan ay matuloy at matupad.

My opponent here does not understand,

If one wants to marry, there are laws to follow;

If you do not have the sufficient age, and said to be a minor,

You can't be married even if you pay;

Consent of the parents is necessary,

If you want the marriage to proceed and be celebrated.

122 Pagkat yaong mga anak, ay wala pang karapatan,

Magpasiyang mag-asawa, kung wala sa hustong gulang;

Tayo pa ri'y nasasaklaw nang tangkilik ng magulang,

Hanggang tayo ay tumanggap ng magandang mga aral;

Pagkat tayo kung malihis sa landas ng kabutihan,

Magulang ang sisihi't bagsakan ng kasal-anan.

Because the children do not yet have the right,

To decide to marry if the age is not right;

We still are under the protection of the parents,

Until we get good instruction,

Because if we deviate from the path of goodness,

Parents will be blamed and guilt attributed to them.

123 Kaya naman ang magulang, sa anak ay may tungkulin,

Bago muna mag-asawa ay turuan sa gawain;

Upang anak sa asawa, kung sumama't makapiling

Ay hindi nga mapintasan ng sino mang kasamahin;

Kaya't ikaw Mang Pablitong katalo ko sa bigkasin,

Umayon ka sa panig ko nang matumpak ng landasin.

That is why the parents have the duty to their children

To teach them skills before they marry;

So that when the daughter lives with her husband

Is not criticized by whosoever she lives with;

That is why you, Mr. Pablito, my declamation opponent,

Should agree with me so that you be on the right path.


124 Tila ibig palitawin ng katalong binibini

Kung di agad mag-asawa ay tiyak na napabuti;

Bakit yaong mga magulang ko, hindi naman sa pagpupuri,

Nang kasali'y batang-bata sa edad lang na tigkinse;

Hindi sila nagkaroon ng alitang sinasabi,

Hanggang kami'y mapag-aral at tuluyang mapalaki.

It seems my maiden opponent wants it to appear

That not to marry early at once is certainly better;

Why is it that my parents, not to praise them,

When they married very young at the age of fifteen;

They did not have the said quarrels,

Until we finished our studies and have fully grown.

125 Kung iyo ngang makikita ang tatay ko't ang nanay ko

Sasabihing mga bata't para lamang kapatid ko;

Kung sila ba nang kasali'y sa edad na trenta'y singko,

Marahil nga kung sa ngayon ay para nang lola't lolo;

Palibhasa'y murang puso sa ligaya nang magsalo,

Kahit na ang apo'y hindi pa rin nagbabago.

If you will really see my father and my mother,

You will say that they are young as if my brother and sister;

If they had been married at the age of thirty-five,

Maybe by now they'd look like a grandfather and grandmother to me;

Because they were young when in happiness they shared,

Even as grandparents they have not really changed.

126 Ang isa pang kabutihan ng maagang pag-aasawa

Ay mistulang pulo't gata sa tamis nang pagsasama;

Di tulad ng matandang sa suyuan ay bantad na,

Kaya tuloy kung makasal sa lambinga'y malagana

Hanggat di mag-kaanak ang tahana'y walang sigla,

Pagka't kapwa mga laos sa larangan ng pagsinta.

One more good thing in marrying early,

Is the honeymoon, the sweetness of living together;

Not like the old who, pleasing each other, are already bored,

Who when married have no interest in expressing fondness;

As long as they have no children the home is not alive,

Because both are exhausted of potency in the matter of love.


127 Payag akong walang sigla at malamig sa suyuan

Kaysa iyong mainit nga'y lagi naman ang bakbakan;

Kung busog nga sa ligaya't humpak naman iyang tiyan,

Sagana lang sa pagkain, mawala na ang lambingan;

Hindi kaya nagpakasal ang hangad ay kasiyahan,

Kundi upang magtulungan sa tumpak na pamumuhay.

I agree there is no enthusiasm and the love affair cold,

But it's better than those hot but always quarreling;

Even if full of pleasure the stomach however is empty,

If only food is abundant, never mind the caressing;

One does not marry only for pleasure

Rather that they help each other in right living.

128 Kailan ma't ang nagsama'y kapwa bata't murang isip,

Mahirap na masansala sa bisyo at mga hilig;

Gusto'y laging namamasyal, iba't-iba iyang damit,

Kaya't walang natitipon kahit na nga isang beles;

Parang hindi alintana ang panahon ay sasapit,

Kung sahaling magkasupling, sila rin ang nagigipit.

Whenever those who lived together were young and immature,

From vices and evil inclination will be hard to deter;

They like always promenading, always with new clothes,

And so nothing is being saved, not even a small coin;

As if they do not care a time will come,

In case they will have children, when they will be in financial need.

129 Ang magulang, pag babae ang anak na nililiyag,

Tutol silang mag-asawa kung bata pa siyang hamak;

Sa paano sa gawain, walang alam, walang muwak,

Nahihiyang ipisan nga sa biyena't mga hipag;

Kaya't ako kabalagtas sa panig mo'y di papayag

Na agad mag-asawa't magkaresponsibilidad!

If the child they love is a girl, the parents

Will object that she gets married while young;

Because in work she knows nothing, has no understanding,

They are ashamed to let her live with the parents-in-law

and with sisters-in-law,

That is why, my opponent, I won't agree with your side

On early marriage and irresponsibility.


130 Kung tayo ba aking Lena ay bata pang pakakasal,

Ano't ikaw'y mahihiya kung wala mang nalalaman?

Kahit ka na isang musmos at reyna nang katamaran,

Pagkat kita ay inibig, walang dapat pangambahan;

Magulang ko ay payag ding maging ikaw ang manugang,

Kaya't ikaw'y liligaya sa piling ko't pagmamahal.

If we, my Lena, will marry while still young

Why should be ashamed if you know nothing?

Even if you were an infant and the queen of laziness,

Because I love you, you have nothing to fear;

My parents too agree that you be their daughter-in-law,

That is why you will be happy beside me and in my love.

131 Bakit mo nga sasabihin na madalas ang kagalit?

Sa dalawang mag-asawa na kapwa nga murang isip?

Kung mayro'n ma'y tampuhan man sa pagsuyo at pag-ibig;

Na lalo pang tumitimyas ang tamis ng pagtatalik,

Kapag wala ang tampuhan, ang pagsinta'y walang init;

Bulaklak na walang bango ang kapara at kawangis.

Why will you say quarrels are frequent?

For the couple that are both immature in mind?

Even if there is the sulking of love and of ungrateful act,

The sweetness of being close to each other becomes more genuine;

If there is no sulking there is no warmth in love,

It is like a flower deprived of fragrance.

132 Ang panahon natin ngayo'y di katulad ng lumipas,

Na ang puso'y sumusunod sa isipang nag-aatas;

Ngunit ngayo'y naghahari mga pusong lumiliyag

Na di kayang mahadlangan sa dakilang paghahangad;

Kung agad na mag-asawa'y maaaga ring magkaanak,

Sa utang mo sa magulang ay madaling makabayad.

Our time now is different from the past,

When the heart followed the command of the mind;

But now reign the hearts that are in love,

That cannot be prevented from the noble desire;

If you marry early, early also you will have children,

The debts to parents you can easily repay.


133 Magbayad ka, Mang Pablito ng utang mo sa magulang,

Bago muna magpakasal sa mutya mong minamahal;

Ngayong ikaw'y mapalaki't mapalakas ang katawan,

Ang magulang na naghirap, agad mo nang iiwanan;

Kung hindi mo lilingunin iyang iyong pinagmulan,

Baka di rin makasapit sa anumang pupuntahan.

Pay, Mr. Pablito, your debts to your parents,

Before you marry the darling you love;

Now that you are grown up and strong in body,

The parents who sacrificed for you will leave already;

If you do not look back to where you passed,

You might not also reach wherever you are going.

134 Kung ikaw nga katalo ko sa magulang magsisilbi

Sa tungkuli'y gagampana'y matututo nang malaki;

At kung ikaw'y makatagpo hanapbuhay na mabuti,

Saka mo na pakasalan ang dalagang kinakasi.

Kung ito ay magawa mo, hindi ka nga magsisisi,

Kumuha man ng asawa't handa ka nang magsarili.

If you, my opponent, will serve your parents,

From the duty you will perform and learn plenty;

And if you find a good job,

Then you marry your sweetheart.

If you can do this, you won't be sorry,

When you get married you are prepared to be independent.


135 Sarili ko'y nakahandang sa tungkulin ay tumupad,

Kung ako man ay maagang nagkaroon ng kabiyak;

Ligaya ng aking pusong makamit ko ang pangarap,

Bahala na si Bathalang tumanglaw sa aming landas;

Kung hindi ko masusunod ang layuning hinahangad,

Sa wagas na pag-big ko'y ako na rin ang humamak.

I myself am ready to do my responsibility,

Even if early I had a better-half in life;

It is happiness of my heart to realize what I dreamed,

It is up to God to light our path;

If I will not be able to follow the goal I desired,

The love that is pure I myself despised.

136 Mabuti na ang maaga, kaysa ako ay mahuli,

At lubugan pa ng araw ang pag-asa ng sarili;

Kung ako pa'y magpabaya't di pakasal aking Leni

Ay magdamdam at magtampo ang irog ko't aking kasi;

Kaya hanggang maaga pa'y mag-asawa ang mabuti,

Nang hindi ko mapagsapit na ako pa ay magsisi.

It is better to be early than I be late,

That the sun sets on the hope of myself;

If I still be negligent and do not get married my Leni,

My darling and sweetheart will feel offended and show displeasure;

That is why it is better to marry while still early,

That I do not end up with myself being sorry.


137 Magsisi ka nga, Pablo kung ikaw ay makatagpo

Ng babaing di maalam na maglaba at magluto;

Karamihan sa maagang pinagtatali yaong puso

Ay bulagsak ang babae't ang lalaki nama'y dungo;

Kaya't itong sasabihi'y itanim sa diwa't kuro

Huwag ka agad mag-asawa't nang hindi ka nabibigo.

You will indeed be sorry, Pablo, if you meet,

A woman who does not know how to wash and cook;

Many of those who have their hearts tied early,

The woman is wasteful and the man is shy;

Therefore keep in your heart and mind what I will say,

Do not marry in a hurry that you be not disappointed.


138 Mabibigo ako Lena kapag iyong pipilitin

Na ako ay magpagulang bago puso'y pagtaliin;

Ang matapat na ibigan, kung amin pang patagalin,

Ay matulad sa sinaing na sunog na ng hanguin;

Ang maagang mag-asawa ang mabuti at magaling

Na panig kong itinampok ngayong gabi sa tulain.

I will be disappointed, Lena, if you will compel me,

That I wait till I am old enough before I get married;

The sincere love for each other if still prolonged,

Is like to the rice being cooked that is already burned

when removed from the stove;

To marry early is the better and wise,

Which my side presented in the poetry contest tonight.


139 Kung sa bunga ng halaman, itong paksa'y itutulad,

Huwag agad pipitasin sa laki ng paghahangad;

Ang kawayang kailanga't sa bahay mo isasangkap,

Kapag wala sa panahon, pulutin mo'y hindi dapat;

Mag-asawa'y hindi biro at laruang matatawag

Na kaya pang mailuwa kung mapaso ka mang ganap.

If the topic tonight be compared to the fruit of the plant,

Do not pluck it at once in your eager desire;

The bamboo you need and will use in your house,

If not yet mature you must not cut down;

To marry is not a joke and be called a toy,

That you can throw out if the mouth is burned.

140 Ang nais kong palitawin sa may pusong nagsumpaan,

Magpagulang muna kayo, bago sana magpakasal;

Kung kayo ay padadala sa init ng pagmamahal,

Ang mabigat na tunkuli'y hindi ninyo mapapasan;

Kaya naman ang hatol ko, ang panalo'y ibibigay,

Sa magandang si Elenang sa Hagunoy isinilang.

What I want to say to those who are engaged,

Wait till you are mature before you get married;

If you will allow yourselves to be swept by warmth of love,

Its heavy responsibility you will not be able to bear;

That is why in my verdict the victory will be given

To beautiful Elena who was born in Hagonoy.

Source: Pablo Reyna Libiran, Balagtasan Noon at Ngayon, pp. 116-125.

Translators: Maxwell Felicilda and Adeodato Malabanan