On “akaw” and the linguistic tangle of Aurora

I am from Nueva Ecija, from the side of the Plains far from the Sierra Madre. Thus, I know this for sure: most of Aurora’s outside trade and commercial activities are done in my province. If Aurora were a country, its biggest trading partner would be Nueva Ecija.

Novo Ecijanos would often go to Aurora to buy agricultural goods. When they want a piece of the sea, they go to the nearest Aurora town with beaches. Aurorans, before the urbanization of Baler, had Cabanatuan City as their main shopping area.

I know that many Novo Ecijano traders have settled for good in Aurora after their trading days were over. And some of the more prominent families in Aurora have Nueva Ecija roots. Of Aurora, I can say this: I know something about the people and the land.

Yet, this familiarity with Aurora has not equipped me to fully comprehend the special linguistic traditions of the province, the non-Tagalog component of that language, that is. For example, the prefix “Di” that starts the names of many places across the province. Natives say that the “Di“ was a prefix that Dumagats used that then led to the general description of the place with the prefix. The Dumagats may have moved up – into the uplands of the Aurora-Quezon boundaries. But their linguistic imprint on Aurora lives on.

A cove in Baler with a scenic view is called Dicasalarin. A beautiful beach is called Dinadiawan. A rock formation is called Diguisit. Digisit, without the “u” is also the name of a beach. A waterfall is called Ditumabo. Towns are called Dingalan, Dipaculao, Dilasag, Dinalungan.

There are also things about Aurora-speak that are beyond the prefixes of the Dumagats. Are you familiar with the Baler word “akaw”?

The meaning of the word depends on the mood and predisposition of the speaker. But its general meaning is the expression of wonder or disbelief on the part of the speaker. When Towa, the driver of Nini Tan, appears to be spinning a yard, Nini would often react with “akaw!” Of course, it is  also occasionally used to express “wow” but the common usage is to suggest incredulity of the minor kind.

Are you kidding me? There is a shorter and more succinct term for that in Aurora – akaw.

Now, we get to “ariyonda.”

“Ariyonda“ is a noun that generally means time whiled away, relaxation, and gallivanting. There are occasions when it means saying unkind things about your neighbor, friend, next of kin, or a member of your family. Simply put, when you are gossiping you are uma-, or nag-aarionda.

A liar is not called “sinungaling “ in Aurora. He is called “bulaan” or  “bulastug.”

The Tagalogs and the Kapampangans use the word “bungisngis” to describe a person with the predisposition to laugh even over minor incidents and events. The Aurora/Baler version is bulislis.

What about Baler’s description of main events? It is “benebens.”

If a kid is a bit on the chubby side, he is called “butegteg.”

One who gets muddied all over is not called “naputikan” in Baler-speak. He was “na-dupelak.”

Someone addicted to drugs, alcohol or certain vices is called “hidhid.”

A certified loser is described as  “kegkeg.”

“Malangeg“ means dirty, while “malag” means dumb.

One who is rendered incomprehensible due to drunkenness is called “nonol.”

A light downpour is called “puropur.”

A shred of clothing is called “ramotmot.”

“Sibig” is dismissal time at school. “Subi “ is savings.

When the people of Baler want to call time out during a game, they say “topopung“ not time out.

A person driven away by a bolo-wielding, would-be assailant is called “winakil.”

The collection of words native to  Aurora/Baler – despite the general classification of the place as part of the larger Tagalog Region – can fit into a junior dictionary. To think that the greatest son of the place, Manuel Luis Quezon, the president of the Philippine Commonwealth, was the most famous advocate of a national language that would bind all Filipinos. Baler-speak has no words to describe a dedicated patriot like Quezon though.

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