Pinoy Propensity for Co-opting Pervades The Presidency


In your world I have no meaning though I’m trying hard to understand.“- Missing You, John Waite.

When I write I find myself often defining words straight from the dictionary. Unconsciously it has become my defense against people collectively assigning the wrong meanings to some words. Trying to get a point across is hard enough in a world where you are bombarded with many different sources of information. All those different sources have almost an equal number of agendas for your time and your consciousness. Competition is everywhere. I should hope most people when they discern what information they will pay more attention to reward the source that bothers to establish authenticity.

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What do I mean by that? Well in more primitive terms, you don’t want a foundation of  bull feces. You want people to come at you with some sort of basis of truth. The reality of Filipino urban life in our lifetime has been that a lot of our information is in English. Like it or not, even after a once captured land gains their “independence” institutions like religion and language remain as a reminder of the previous occupants. For those of you who have been around Asia but live here, what do you notice the instant you step outside the airport? Every other country drives on the left hand side of the road. We are the one country occupied by the U.S. and we drive on the other right hand side of the road. Except during rush hour or any other hour but I digress.

Is there one person with any sort of business sense that would argue that having some understanding of the English language has helped the Philippines when it comes to international commerce? Things would be different if all our signs, newspapers, school curriculum and TV were truly all in Tagalog. How different neither you nor I can say for sure. Just know that our acclimatized use of the English Language over the last hundred or so years has had it’s impact on us.


Definition of CO-OPT


a : to choose or elect as a member

b : to appoint as a colleague or assistant


a : to take into a group (as a faction, movement, or culture) : absorb, assimilate <the students are coopted by a system they serve even in their struggle against it   A. C. Danto>

b : take over, appropriate <a style coopted by advertisers>

Since I believe the case that we have adopted the English language for communicating with the world and communicating with ourselves, is it too much to ask not to add an additional  Pinoy layer to the meaning of English words? There are English words like run , base and concentrate that already have multiple meanings that pinoys take a complex thing and add their own unique brand of chaos to it. You guys can complain when other countries that use the Filipino language change the meaning to Filipino words.

I often use the dictionary because it’s a point of reference. A point of reference in real life is some sort of marker to prove to yourself you have not gone astray. The pinoy culture has always resisted order and embraced rudeness. For those of you reading me for the first and maybe the last time (onion skins) let me cite the examples: jeepney drivers, bus drivers, MRT passenger queuing , Ultra Stampede, death count during election season , jejemon writing. All those I would think do not indicate a mature, considerate society. When the tsunamis hit Japan last year , local viewers admired the grace the Japanese people showed during a calamity. Which culture has the better sense of community? You be the judge.

There are already many barriers to understanding each other in life like  different cultural backgrounds, misuse of technology, pronunciation and others. It bothers me that some English words have uniquely co-opted by the pinoy  culture to mean something different. It bothers me because it renders a civilized tool like the dictionary useless. It is one thing entirely to come up with a new word like  jologs and put your own meaning. Fine, but if you take words that already have a meaning and insert your own there is just something so kapal about the practice. There are many dictionaries available here giving precise meanings to English words. None of them are authored here. There is a reason for that. It’s not our language to redefine.

What I did was  list five words that Filipinos redefined and quoted the Webster- Merriam definition of the five words:

1) bold.


a : fearless before danger : intrepid

b : showing or requiring a fearless daring spirit

2: impudent, presumptuous

3 obsolete: assured, confident

4 : sheer, steep <bold cliffs>

5 : adventurous, free <a bold thinker>

6 : standing out prominently

7 : being or set in boldface

I am old enough to remember when the showing of a James Bond movie originally released in the early sixties on prime time on RPN Channel 9 a decade later was event viewing for my classmates and cousins who did not have prudish parents. To this day I remember the tagline for the TV trailer as bigger, bolder, better. Pinoys use the English word bold to imply a state of undress. Of course the off shoot of this pinoy bastardization of the word bold was the common noun bold star. As in “Oh you have a relative named Kristel? Sounds like a bold star”.

2) gay.


a : happily excited : merry

b : keenly alive and exuberant : having or inducing high spirits <a bird’s gay spring song>


a : bright, lively <gay sunny meadows>

b : brilliant in color

3: given to social pleasures; also : licentious


a : homosexual <gay men>

b : of, relating to, or used by homosexuals <the gay rights movement> <a gay bar>


gay adverb


gay·ness noun

Gay is actually a word that itself was co-opted decades ago to an alternate meaning. Still at some point , that revised meaning made it’s way into the dictionary. Gay is a great word to use an example because instead of changing the meaning pinoys got more brazen and actually changed the part of speech  of the word ‘gay’ from an adjective to a noun. For example “Maybe the guy is a gay”. As you can see from the dictionary definition that noun form of gay is “gayness”.

Not that there is anything wrong with a man being gay. Conventional use of the adjective gay. Where gay describes the man and the man is the subject. As in “not that there is anything wrong with being a gay. “Pinoy use of the word gay as a noun. Where gay is the actual subject and the noun.

3) Slang



: language peculiar to a particular group: as

a : argot

b : jargon

2 : an informal nonstandard vocabulary composed typically of coinages, arbitrarily changed words, and extravagant, forced, or facetious figures of speech

Slang is used by pinoys when the proper English word for what they should be saying is “accent”. Slang/ accent yes very similar words. Add the word sarcasm to the list of similar words. I have no idea how the entire culture made that leap but they did. If there was some central entity that decreed this alternate meaning, I could understand but there is not. Having a process like that requires some order and civility. Something we lack here.

4) USB

a standardized serial computer interface that allows simplified attachment of peripherals especially in a daisy chain


Pinoys seemed to have reduced the definition of the USB standard down to the one tool, the flash memory drive. The USB ports present in a computer open the door to many many things beyond flash memory ranging from webcams, printers , DVD burners , game controllers and even electric fans. Pinoys somehow confined the Universal Serial Bus to just flash memory.

5) Dugout

1 : a boat made by hollowing out a large log


a : a shelter dug in a hillside; also : a shelter dug in the ground and roofed with sod

b : an area in the side of a trench for quarters, storage, or protection

3 : either of two low shelters on either side of and facing a baseball diamond that contain the players’ benches

I love sports. I hate the way pinoys cover sports. Sports is just entertainment. Competition on the field, track , pool or court does not define one’s national self esteem unless other more significant aspects in a country are lacking in achievement. Then sports becomes a substitute to the significant things in life. Pinoys are by no means the only violator of this but they are annoying the way they go about it. I have gone on record saying that pinoy priorities are messed up compared to real national issues that they love to sweep under the rug.

News is news and sports is sports. Sports is entertainment with a score as Colin Cowherd once said. Ideally the headlines of a newspaper is reserved for the most significant story of the day. In the Philippines it can be  used for Manny Pacquiao’s trainer to say his prediction of an upcoming fight. Like I said before Filipinos uses Manny Pacquiao as their ticket to pansin and he don’t care. Pansin is the holy grail for pinoys.

Another reason why I don’t like seeing sports through the eyes of pinoy “journalists” is because professional pinoy sports journalists are not professional. They would rather sound hip instead of being right. That speaks volumes to the pinoy desire to appear sophisticated as opposed to just being simply right. Accuracy is often a voluntary sacrifice for the pinoy who wants to look good. For NBA fans there will always be the flash in the pan guards with fancy behind the back no look passes that are more likely to end up as turnovers and then there is John Stockton. As in no flash and dash but the basics done well over a long period of time. It’s like comparing Pedro Calungsod with Vicky Belo. Both have extremely contrasting value systems. Pinoy culture is a great canvas for the classic conflict of style vs. substance. The problem is in a baduy culture, substance rarely shows up for the fight. Style is what is desired.


Wharton educated Manny Pangalinan is not immune to the co-opting of the word by pinoy sportswriters.





No such thing.

No such thing.

“Joined team for mass at Araneta dugout. My final act. Happy for the players & coaches. I said I’ll be w/ them til the end. Mission accomplished,” his tweet read, posted about an hour before the thanksgiving mass on campus.

The NBA is the only one international sport that the nation will watch that has absolutely no Pinoys. It is lost on them the word dugout is never used in the context of NBA basketball, ever. Unless of course the commentators are pinoys. Somebody should get all these so called professional sports writers and introduce them to this thing I sometimes use called Google Images. There you see actual dugouts not the pinoy version:




real dugout
You notice something funny about dugouts in the concept of a basketball article? That they are outdoors? The presence of grass? That people in them are below ground level? That to make room for a dugout in a field you have to dig out the ground and having done that you can then place the benches there hence the name dugout.

I am not a genius but sometimes I find that if you take a word and break it down , you get the meaning of that word. The word timeout comes to mind. A situation where the play and the clock are both paused. It never occurred to pinoy professional sports writers that a dug out is earth literally dug out from the ground to make room for the facility. Baseball is the only sport, not football, basketball, hockey or soccer where the players waiting to get into the game are at a lower level than the surface of play. Hence they are the only sport with a “dugout”.

Pinoy sports writers try to be too fancy that the words “locker room” are beneath them.  So they use another word they may have randomly heard at the cost of accuracy. Then you have sports editors that do not know the difference.  It’s a cultural mind fart. Then again elections can be described as the same.

There is not a nationality in the world that will care what meaning you assign to erpats or jologs or whatever. If you want chaos with your own language that is fine. Specially with a language that is only used by native speakers and foreigners that want to communicate with native speakers. Changing meanings and even categories of English words just reveals why very few people point to us how to get things done. Our national tolerance for this totally explains why we tolerate bus drivers who seem to be direct from hell.

Vocabulary enables us to interpret and to express. If you have a limited vocabulary, you will also have a limited vision and a limited future.

Jim Rohn


Language is a dynamic thing. If you don’t believe me where art thou been? I am not saying we should treat the dictionary like the Ten Commandments Moses came down with but there should be some common reference everybody can use so we don’t go adrift. A framework as Prof. Elfren S. Cruz preaches in his column in Business World and to his many many classes. A lesson that he says has been lost on me. A framework is so you can have common terms of reference. Christians use the Bible as a framework and Muslims use the Koran as a framework. So the answer to the question is it immoral to eat pork ? Depends on the framework you adopted.

Words do two major things: They provide food for the mind and create light for understanding and awareness.

Jim Rohn

Pinoys every day and every hour treat laws of all types (not just traffic) as suggestions. They disregard all sorts of frameworks. Frameworks are there for guidance and order and to establish a standard. All those things run counter to the pinoy mentality of “basta” and “bahala na”.

The Philippine Constitution is supposed to be a framework yet the highest elected public official is himself high. In it under

Article 3 Sec.4

Section 4. No law shall be passed abridging the freedom of speech, of expression, or of the press, or the right of the people peaceably to assemble and petition the government for redress of grievances.

Yet Noynoy himself talks about derelict of duty when it comes to aggressively pushing for the Cyberact. He signed something essentially unconstitutional. A constitution his own mother (the source of all his perceived credibility) put into place. Not only in our treasured president so gung-ho about co-opting the Constitution but he did it in such a covert fashion.

Do you ever recall in Noynoy’s campaign his promise he defy the Constitution? I don’t recall either. Yet defy it he does. Sorry but those of you who believed for a second that Noynoy’s words will match his deeds did not take five seconds to analyze his “track record”. The campaign also told you he was a leader and had integrity. How’s that working out for you Philippines?

Our beloved president of course is no stranger to co-opting:

a) The Laban hand sign became the Liberal party hand sign

b) The Yellow Ribbon co-opting the Philippine Flag

c) The Color Yellow- replacing the national colors.

d) Noynoy’s arbitrary declarations of innocence and guilt co-opting due process.

Make no mistake, Noynoy Aquino The Accidental President does all this co-opting but we let him. We ourselves have existed so long in a culture of co-opting that our brains and good judgement have been co-opted too. It takes a “special” culture that gets more worked up over a teen idol spreading humorous memes about a public event that was meant to be entertainment (to the point of banning) but to give some balding, bespectacled, bumbling, befuddled boor free reign over real national institutions like the Constitution and the flag. The joke is on us folks.

I wrote this blog not only to correct faulty perceptions of words but to show how a meaning can spread throughout a culture whether it’s right or wrong with very little basis. English is a complicated , inconsistent language to begin with. The pinoys with a combination of their hubris and their laziness butcher and distort meanings of simple words which adds to already inevitable episodes of misunderstanding. Like most of my posts where I point out misplaced values, it just gives the powers that be carte blanche to mess around with things we should be valuing. They know our attention is more on Justin Bieber’s Instagram. Instead of a national debate on issues that matter we find ourselves acquiescing to the uninformed. It’s their agenda. Look at the relevant issues and look at the elected officials.  All this starts with assigning arbitrary inaccurate meanings to words. In an ignorant culture it’s the people who are educated who are penalized.


Credit Statement as Required by


Quotes by Jim Rohn, America’s Foremost Business Philosopher, reprinted with permission from Jim Rohn International ©2011.
As a world-renowned author and success expert, Jim Rohn touched millions of lives during his 46-year career as a motivational speaker and messenger of positive life change.
For more information on Jim and his popular personal achievement resources or to subscribe to the weekly Jim Rohn Newsletter, visit

19 Replies to “Pinoy Propensity for Co-opting Pervades The Presidency”

  1. “For those of you who have been around Asia but live here, what do you notice the instant you step outside the airport? Every other country drives on the left hand side of the road. We are the one country occupied by the U.S. and we drive on the other right hand side of the road.”

    I’m correcting your mistake. In fact, 13 out of 48 Asia countries drive on the left side of the road.

    “Right- and left-hand traffic” Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia. Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. 27 Dec. 2012. Web. 27 Dec. 2012.

  2. T4Man, Gogs,

    Technically, the phenomenon isn’t like the implementation of “Newspeak.” The language promoted by the state in George Orwell’s “Nineteen Eighty-Four” is deliberately designed to simplify grammar and reduce vocabulary. ( “It’s a beautiful thing, the destruction of words.”) One of its stated aims is to eliminate the means of individual expression. Newspeak was a means for the state to exercise complete control over every aspect of a person’s life, including the formulation of individual thought. What we see in the Philippines is a deplorable bastardization of language by the pretentious and the clueless. Here’s a sample of Philippine English vocabulary:

    It is not directed by some malevolent agency with a (secret) agenda.

    What is more alarming is how bad Filipino-English colloquialisms have begun to creep into the official English language. The Oxford English dictionary felt that extravagant and/or ostentatious weren’t enough. They included “Imeldific” (loosely defined as ostentatious extravagance) shortly after it was coined. This isn’t evidence of an evolving culture; it’s a reflection of a decadent, deteriorating language.

      1. I don’t believe it is a concious evil act. It’s simply a bunch of idiots acting stupidly with the apathetic masses going along with it.

        1. The culture is more about emotion and feelings than accuracy and precision. That explains the mockery of the English language and the mockery of public service. The execution is all a joke.

        2. I agree that culture develops organically in spite of the so-called intelligentsia’s attempts to impose their narrow political, social and artistic values on society and the bourgeois idiot lapdogs who desperately try to emulate them.

          However, that opens us to the tired, overused fallback argument that our current cultural experiences (including language) are merely signs of the existing social condition. That we cannot do anything about it or influence the direction of its development. I don’t agree. There’s this thing called an EDUCATION. Properly used it can (to paraphrase Matthew 17:20) “move mountains.” We don’t have to be content with pretentious posturing, idiotic and meaningless words and phrases, mindless rhetoric or what is just simple bad manners and poor conduct. In fact even George Orwell (where we started this thread) holds the same position. He believed we can cure ourselves of the “decadence of our language” and remove those things from it that “encourage unclear thought and reasoning.”

  3. Let me add two more words to the list:


    sal·vage Pronunciation (slvj)
    a. The rescue of a ship, its crew, or its cargo from fire or shipwreck.
    b. The ship, crew, or cargo so rescued.
    c. Compensation given to those who voluntarily aid in such a rescue.
    a. The act of saving imperiled property from loss.
    b. The property so saved.
    3. Something saved from destruction or waste and put to further use.

    In the Philippines, it means, to assassinate, ambush, execute. Quite the opposite of the true meaning.


    traf·fic Pronunciation (trfk)
    a. The passage of people or vehicles along routes of transportation.
    b. Vehicles or pedestrians in transit: heavy traffic on the turnpike; stopped oncoming traffic to let the children cross.
    a. The commercial exchange of goods; trade.
    b. Illegal or improper commercial activity: drug traffic on city streets.
    a. The business of moving passengers and cargo through a transportation system.
    b. The amount of cargo or number of passengers conveyed.
    a. The conveyance of messages or data through a system of communication: routers that manage Internet traffic.
    b. Messages or data conveyed through such a system: a tremendous amount of telephone traffic on Mother’s Day; couldn’t download the file due to heavy Internet traffic.
    5. Social or verbal exchange; communication: refused further traffic with the estranged friend.

    In the Philippines, it is one of the most common excuses for being late. We use it when we actually mean “heavy traffic”. If we were to take the true meaning of the word, if there was no traffic, there would be no movement, you should actually thank traffic for letting you be where you have to go.

  4. Here is another one I forgot to include:

    Definition of TOMBOY
    : a girl who behaves in a manner usually considered boyish
    — tom·boy·ish \-ish\ adjective
    — tom·boy·ish·ness noun

    Pinoys as far as I have experienced added the dimension of the look of the woman as well as the sexual orientation. The dictionary term only mentions behavior or manner. It is possible to be somewhat boyish in manner yet still be attracted to men and still have a feminine look.

  5. The phrase only used in the Philippines ” in the province” is meant to convey either a) my hometown b) where I was when I was not in the city. c) places not Metro Manila. It is Taglish disguised as English. It does not make sense to an English speaker not based and / or not raised in the Philippines. The phrase is in English and the syntax is correct but the meaning in Filipino culture is totally lost anywhere else. Canada has provinces but this phrase is not used. Toronto is huge city but technically is in the province of Ontario. In the US they have states not provinces. A literal substitution does not work. In the state??? Just like ” for a while ” does not make sense anywhere else since it is a direct substitution for ” sandali” .

  6. This might make interesting reading if you are here :

    “Filipino English” from an Englishman’s point of view

    This is a must-read for all students of English. It’s a good study in how deeply rooted our culture is: we haven’t adopted English totally; we’ve adapted it to our own language. We did the same thing with Spanish. In fact, we do the same thing with any other foreign language. We are the ultimate subversives!FOR A WHILEBy Mathew SutherlandTwo countries divided by a common language — George Bernard Shaw (on the US and the UK)The very first thing the arriving tourist sees in Manila after the planedoor opens is a sign in the walkway that reads “watch your steps.” This may not sound funny to you, but it sounds funny to me, an English speaker from England. This is because, in the UK, the expression is ,”watch your step,” singular, not “steps,” plural. There’s nothing wrong with “watch your steps”; in fact, it actually makes more sense to watch all your forthcoming steps than to watch just one generic step. It just sounds funny, that’s all.”Watch your steps” is the first reminder for English speakers from outside the Philippines that English usage here is idiosyncratic, even unique.Of course, every English-speaking nation has its own unique set of English phrases and idioms; English is equally idiosyncratic in, say, India, Jamaica, Zimbabwe, or Singapore. There is no right or wrong way to speak English. The many versions of English spoken around the globe merely serve to make English an even richer tongue. However, the purpose of this column is to shed light on Philippine culture from a foreign perspective, and many Filipinos may be surprised to find out that some of the phrases they use daily are unique to this country, thus sound odd to visitors.If you ask most English-speakers from abroad to pick just one idiom unique to the Philippines, I reckon 75 percent would select that stalwart phrase, “for a while.” This is the English translation of the Tagalog, “sandali lang.”Whilst the component words of the phrase “for a while” are clearly English, this expression as a whole does not exist in the rest of the English-speaking world. In the UK, where I come from, the idiomatic equivalent would be something like “just a second” or “just a moment.”On the telephone, where “for a while” is frequently used in the Philippines, in England we might use “hold on,” “hold the line” or, informally “hang on.”My second favorite uniquely Filipino-English phrase is “I’ll go ahead.” Used when leaving a place before the person addressed, it is a translation of the Tagalog “mauuna na ako.” “I’ll go ahead” sounds funny to me, because it seems to imply that the listener should follow. If someone’s going ahead, then someone must be following behind, right? When I first heard my secretary say “I’ll go ahead,” I thought she was expecting me to follow her to some secret assignation! Sadly, this turned out not to be the case; she’s now suing me for stalking her. (“Just kidding!”, as they say in the Philippines).In the third place for me comes the phrase “I will be the one to do that.” This is a translation of the Tagalog “ako na lang ang gagawa.” Frequently shortened to just “I will be the one” (“ako na lang”), this is a Filipino-English way of saying “I’ll do it” or “let me do it.” These shorter versions would be the idioms I would use more commonly in the UK.I was always taught by my English professors that the shorter the words used, and the simpler the grammatical construction, the better the resultant English. Perhaps that’s why the four extra words “be the one to,” inserted into the already perfectly adequate phrase “I will do that,” sound odd to anyone taught English in England.Another example of this type of seemingly unnecessarily weighty construction is the marvelous phrase “make an ocular inspection,” which I caught my girlfriend Kitty saying in the back of the car last weekend. Ocular inspection?!? Per-lease! What’s wrong with “go and have a look,” I’d like to know?From an intellectual point of view, one of the fascinations in all of this is how these phrases evolved. At some point in history it must have been deemed necessary to have an English equivalent for Tagalog phrases such as”sandali lang.” At that moment, what you might imagine would happen is that the nation would borrow an existing equivalent idiom from an existing English-speaking nation. The magic is that, instead, the nation invented its own English idioms, and by so doing enriched the world of English.I was so massively confused for at least my first two years over a couple of time-related phrases. The one that really gave me problems was the phrase “the other day.” In the UK, it merely means “recently,” i.e. a few days ago, whereas in the Philippines it means, quite specifically, the day before yesterday. I used to get furious when I would read in the paper that the Philippine peso closed at a certain rate against the dollar “the other day.” This seemed to me to be a terribly imprecise piece of information, until I realized that the phrase was far more specific here than in England!More confusion in the language of time arises from different usage of the word “last.” Filipinos tend to use the English word “last” wherever they would use the Tagalog word “noon.” This results in pharses like “last October 26th” and “last 1994,” which we would not use in England. Instead, we would tend to say “on October 26th” and “in 1994,” only using “last” in the context of “last week” or “last year.”And lastly, English in the Philippines has spawned some unusual nouns connected with the world of crime that commonly appear in the newspaper headlines, but which are unusual to me. Where I come from, “graft” means hard work; “salvage” means rescuing things that have sunk; and I had to look up “mulcting” in the dictionary. It sounds like it ought to be something to do with fertilizing flowerbeds, but it turns out to be more about enriching policemen than the soil.Hope you enjoyed your ocular inspection of this article. I’ll go ahead. 

  7. ” Masteral ” – purely a Filipino invention . Masters degree is the term the rest of the world uses. Graduate degree is synonym. Google the term “masteral” and only pinoy websites show up. Including high end universities use it in their websites.

  8. Americans pronounce the last letter of the alphabet as ” zee” which might sound too close to the third letter of the alphabet. Anybody influenced by the British pronounce the last letter as “zed” . The Philippines as far as I know is unique with “zay”.

  9. commute
    Learn to pronounce
    travel some distance between one’s home and place of work on a regular basis.
    “she commuted from Westport in to Grand Central Station”

    Pinoys use the word commute when it means traveling with the masa in the same vehicle. Commute is routine trip you make all the time no matter what mode of transport.

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