Saturday, November 15, 2008

Ilocano Proverbs and Sayings

Although English is spoken by many here, we feel we need to learn Ilocano to better communicate the message we came to give. Here is just a sampling to help you understand the task before us. It is not just the words but the meaning that makes you go "What did you say?"

Tay áso nga taol nga taol saán a makakagát ken makadunor.

Barking dogs seldom bite.

Notice the number of words needed to communicate this. If this is true, we have no need to worry about dog bites here. A good night sleep yes, dog bites no.

Ti táo a manákem, dína makíta ti panagdissó ti sakána ití dagá.

Kitáenna ketdi ti sumarunó a baddekánna.

A wise man doesn't see his foot on the ground, he watches his next step.

At home, there are all these signs to clean up after your pet. Not so here, there are numerous stray dogs and we have yet to see someone clean up after their carabou (water buffalo) that get walked on the streets to the different rice fields.

Naim-imbág ti matáy ta malipátanen ngem ti agbiág a maibabaín.

It's better to be dead and forgotten than to live in shame.

This says a lot about the culture especially when you become familiar with all that is done to honor the dead. Seriously shame is a big fear. When teaching it is difficult to get much participation because everyone is worried they might not have the "right" answer. Being seen crying is also shameful.

No awán ti ánus, awán ti lámot.

If there is no patience, there will be no food.

Meal preparation takes time. No fast food restaurants or microwavable microwaves either.

No sáan nga makaammó nga nangtaliáw ti naggapuánna, saán a makadánon ti papanánna.

He who does not look back to his origins will not reach his destination.

The village you come from is often part of your introduction. When we first came here it seemed where someone was from was emphasized more than even their names.

Di pay nalúto ti pariá simmagpáw ti karabása.

The bittermelon is not yet cooked and the squash jumped in.

Even after learning some Ilocano, we might need a translator! This supposedly means "Who asked you to join in?"


  1. I love the last one, I might need to use that!

    I love it when you share the culture of where you're living. you minister to so many more than you know including those of us reading your blog.

  2. You are in the Philippines and you went there to minister? oh! I am an ilocano working in the US as a k2 teacher. I am glad youre doing all these. In behalf of the Filipino people, thank you.


  3. George, glad to hear from you. We are blessed to have the opportunity to serve God among the Igorot people of Mountain Province.

    In what part of the US are you now living?