On that word “Manigong”

Now here is a Tagalog word that you only hear during new year’s eve (and even then, hardly). That is “manigong” as in Manigong Bagong Taon, the Filipino greeting for a Happy New Year.

I have always had a problem with this word, which I presume means “prosperous”. It is a word doused with generous obscurity and inaccessibility. For Merry Christmas , we say Maligayang Pasko, which is simple enough…since “maligaya” is of fairly common usage. But “manigong”?

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In the whole history of the Tagalog language, a Rappler study says the word “manigong” has been used only 4 times in plebeian conversation, once in Cavite in 1956, once in Laguna in 1969, and the two other times yesterday in UP Diliman in a conversation between two leftist academics.

Did Filipinos just exhaust their vocabulary for “Happy”? If the intent was not to duplicate the Christmas adjective (maligaya) then we could have gone for Masayang Bagong Taon. But no, the intent seems to be a less Western, and rather a more Asian, focus on materiality and hopes for a better standard of living in the coming year. Think about all the Chinese wishings for a “prosperous“ or “bountiful“ new year. That’s what we are going for.

So we are stuck with “manigong” , which to me sounds like “maligo”, as in Maligo ka sa Bagong Taon! Quite a well-intentioned and meaningful greeting, especially if one is experiencing a particularly harsh winter and has been skipping showers.

Taking a daily bath is a very Filipino trait, and probably our most (only?) notable mark of cultural advancement. It shows dogged habit and discipline despite all odds, like lack of hot water. It also shows the concern for our fellows that we typically do not show otherwise. We will go counterflow and jam up traffic, but at least we don’t stink up the mall with BO, and people can enjoy their paseo.

Some would argue, the point is moot (like RevGov) because everyone in the Philippines says Happy New Year in English anyway. So why bother pointing out the inadequacy and peculiarity of a quaint archaic phrase?

Precisely because, if we had a catchier local way of saying Happy New Year, we would probably be using it more. The diagnosis is everything. And IMHO it is all the fault of that grinch word “manigong”.

So I will start a petition on Change.org and I want 100 million signatures to change “Manigong Bagong Taon” to “Maligo ka sa Bagong Taon”. Catchy, huh? No need for Con-Ass or Con-Con. No need for plebiscite to ratify. (Charles Englund has always been authoritarian).

In a complementary move, “manigong” will be demoted (or reassigned) to a new saying, “Mabuhay at Manigong Ka”. This is along the lines of the Vulcan, “Live long and prosper”.

20 Replies to “On that word “Manigong””

  1. Whatever catch phrase, you throw in tagalog, for Happy New Year. We all can accept it. The Tagalog purist, may call Happy as: “manigong”. We ordinary Filipinos, who are not Tagalogs, can call it: “Maligayang Bagong Taon”, or “Masaganang Bagong Taon”. It does not matter, as long as , it comes from our hearts, and we wish everybody well for the New Year.

    The old year , 2017, had passed. Welcome 2018. We wish everybody a: Prosperous New Year !

    1. Manigong that is matalinhagang salita.. more on mayabong masagana magandang pasok ng bagong taon.. its like wish all the best thing happened this coming new year.. all in one words hahahaha????

  2. I can’t really figure out what your point is, but my takeaway is that Tagalog-speaking Filipinos have a very limited vocabulary and really ought to make an effort to expand it.

    There might be an even simpler explanation for your observation that Filipinos don’t use the word ‘manigong’ very often (it translates most closely, I suggest, to the Chinese ‘xinfu’, 幸福, or just 福). The Philippines is not ‘manigong’, and has no chance of ever becoming ‘manigong’. There is therefore no valid occasion to ever use the word.

    Perhaps Filipinos ought to go around wishing everyone a crappy new year, since that’s the most likely actual outcome for 2018.

  3. “Positibong Bagong Taon” is more appropriate for the reason that it has a global message for everyone to understand.

  4. or better yet: “Makinig na lang kay Marius ng Buong Taon!” (Ang Taong Palaging Tama! Sa Palagay Lang Naman Niya!)

  5. I agree: Maligayang Bagong Taon is more easily understood – even by the rest of the Filipinos who are not familiar with Tagalog (those who speak the other languages and dialects in the islands).

    Also, it is rather frustrating to keep seeing Tagalog referred to as the national language of Filipinos-
    The official language is called Pilipino-

    Tagalog is one of the 8 major dialects. There are 22 sub-dialects and some 300 odd idiolects in the Philippines – an archipelago of 7, 104 island (on high tide!).

    This is according to a friend who was studied linguistics and lexicography.

    Perhaps, you can help disseminate this important fact.


  6. When we speak a language, let’s speak it correctly and fluently. Every time we speak, it is an opportunity to expand our vocabulary. So, let’s keep manigong bagong taón with its subtlety of meaning.
    And since Maligayang Pasko was mentioned, let me relate to you that when a Spanish speaking person asked me how we say Merry Christmas, I said, Maligayang Pasko. He said, that’s Easter. Pascua is Easter. We Filipinos are confused and learned it incorrectly from the Spaniards. Let us say Maligayang Pagsilang instead. In the next 500 years, let us correct the 500-year mistake.
    Please see my article on Maligayang Pasko here: https://www.illouminate.us/en/maligayang-pasko-feliz-pascua-happy-easter/

        1. I suppose it has something to do with the birth of the divinity in man ? Filipinos celebrate every year. Might as well talk about it.

  7. “Maligayang Pagsilang”?
    That’s happy birthday. Are you sure you’re not trying to confuse people? ?

      1. Maligayang Pasko carries the spirit of the season. It’s perfectly fine.

        If Pascua means easter, we’re ok too, because we use it like in Pasko (easter) ng Pagkabuhay. No need to correct or change anything, it will only create confusion.

        Pagsilang and kaarawan is like the sides of the same coin. If we nitpick, one is an act the other is the date of the act. Kakaloka!

        Let’s not mess with established traditional customs because we might end up correcting all the details of the birth of Jesus. Imagine finding out when the birth happened and where and who did the delivery and where it was registered. There were ‘ninongs’ (3 kings) but no ninangs. Was there a feast, who cook what? How many visitors and how big is the manger?

        Diba nakakaloka?

        Let’s leave it at that. Happy New Year to all Get Real people!!!

        1. We are here because we beg to differ. It was a Spaniard who pointed that out to me that we are confused with our terminology. So, why not correct the confusion, even if it takes another 500 years of Christianiy?

        2. Yes, but to be differ does no mean to change establish tradition through innuendos or sow confusion. I don’t know who that Spaniard (them again?) you’re talking about but I’m done with foreigners telling me what I’m supposed to do.

          If historians, the real ones, doesn’t bother to even contemplate ‘correction’ in holiday greetings why bother?

          Bottomline: If saying ‘Maligayang Pasko’ doesn’t offend anyone and in fact bring positive vibes, F that Spaniard.

  8. @JL: “Let’s not mess with established traditional customs because we might end up correcting all the details of the birth of Jesus.”

    If you think about it, correcting details of the birth of Jesus, with the help of science isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Think for a minute about the geography of Israel at the time of His supposed birth. It helps humanity to understand Him more and that we didn’t just originate from micro-organisms and apes. The Truth set us free.

    In the old days, December 25, the supposed birth date of JC, was an invention of the Church as a reaction to counter the threat of growing popularity of Pagan festivities called Saturnalia (similar to the traditions of Christmas of merry-making), as mentioned in The Book of Days.

    Zebed33 has a point. There are certain things we beg to differ…

    1. “If you think about it, correcting details of the birth of Jesus, with the help of science…”
      Correcting religion with the help of science? I’m out.

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