10 Widely-Used Filipino Proverbs
Filipino proverbs are part of Filipino culture. They clearly reflect old traditions, customs, and beliefs. They are passed on from one generation to another to teach truths that cannot be doubted.
Touted as the National Proverb, this salawikain tells about the importance of showing gratitude to one’s roots or benefactors. Filipino elementary school children are taught about utang na loob, one of the core values of the Filipino values system, which is best described by this proverb.
Filipinos are known to be religious people, as evidenced by the number of religious celebrations and events happening annually in the country. Still, the proverb reminds Filipinos that one cannot leave everything to God alone. Determination and diligence are also important in achieving one’s dream.
This proverb can be crudely translated as: “It’s easy to be human but it’s hard to act like one.” Roberto T. Añonuevo carefully scrutinized this proverb in his blog. He points out that man acts in relation to other people and his surroundings. In essence, he reminds readers that the proverb should be understood using many different views.
“The early bird catches the worm,” so the saying goes. It can also be related to this proverb that tells people how an early person beats one who is merely industrious. A person who is always on time tends to achieve more than one who is not.
This proverb warns Filipinos that spending lavishly will make one end up with nothing. It encourages people to save more and prepare for the hard times. It can also be understood as a proverb which teaches the value of spending beyond one’s means.
Nothing will happen if it is not meant to be. This is simply the message of the proverb. It should not be seen as a proverb teaching Filipinos to resign everything to fate, though. Rather, the proverb teaches one to accept the circumstances especially when all efforts have been made to attain a dream.
This is another proverb that teaches the value of diligence and perseverance. Without these, one should not expect a reward. Nilaga is a Filipino dish that entails boiling meat for hours to tenderize it and let its flavor out. As in cooking nilaga, an objective cannot be achieved with half-baked efforts.
What good is the grass if the horse is already dead? This is another proverb that speaks about the importance of being on time. The horse in the proverb is analogous to problems that need solutions. It teaches Filipinos to arrive at a solution to a problem on time. It will be as good as nothing at all when a solution is delivered late.
When translated, the proverb means: A patriot who is wounded becomes more courageous. The proverb best describes the “never say die” trait of Filipinos amidst many obstacles and hardships in life. Instead of giving up, Filipinos are challenged to face the future.
Filipinos are known to be highly adaptable people. They know how to adapt to the hard times by being thrifty and sacrificing luxury. This is probably the reason why Filipinos can still flash a smile even with all the difficulties they are experiencing.
- “The Philippine National Proverb.” (Accessed 21 December 2009).
- “Mga Halimbawa ng Salawikain.” Center for South East Asian Studies Northern Illinois University. (Accessed 21 December 2009).
- “Tao at pagpapakatao.” Alimbukad. (Accessed 21 December 2009).
- “Salawikain: Filipino Proverbs.” Zambales Forum. (Accessed 21 December 2009).