The “Bisaya” as a Generic Reference

The “Bisaya” as a Generic Reference

By Apolinario Villalobos


An extensive dissertation on the prominent dialects of the Filipinos who are distributed throughout the archipelago would require a thick wad of papers or hundreds of e-page on the computer screen. By prominence, I mean those that are popularly used by Filipinos, based on the density of population of users in certain provinces. Outstanding among these dialects are the Tagalog, Ilocano, Ibanag, Pangasinense, Kapampangan, Hiligaynon, Karay-a, Bikol, Romblomanon, Akyanon, Bol-anon, Waray-waray, Leytenyo, Palawenyo, Surigaonon, Maranao, Iranon, Tausug, and Chavacano. There might be some that I forgot, hency, I am encouraging viewers to mention in their comment so that this blog can appropriately be updated. But, a unique and generic reference to the different dialects of the Visayan region, such as Waray-waray, Leytenyo, Hiligaynon, Bol-anon, Surigaonon, Karay-a, Akyanon (Aklan), Davawenyo and Cebuano, is simply, “Bisaya”. Such reference is also used to those who come from the said region.


This practice has been in use ever since the Filipinos began to develop regionalistic propensity. The same impression has also been deeply stamped in the consciousness of Filipinos, especially, those in Luzon, such that, if one is from the south, hence, not “Tagalog”, he or she is a “Bisaya”, without any specific distinction on a particular province of origin.


A problem ensued when the “Bisaya” is viewed by those from Luzon as an inferior class of Filipinos to the point of their being ridiculed. In this regard, the affected who are studying in Manila, for instance, try their best to camouflage their regional identity, but their thick accent and vocabulary betray them. To remedy the situation, they resort to speaking in English which they know by heart, but which unfortunately result to their being viewed as snooty and trying-hard classy.


With the election of Duterte as the new president of the Philippines, the negative impression on the “Bisaya” is hoped to be eradicated. The new president does not hesitate in speaking “Bisaya” every time he has an opportunity. So far, it has done good to the vocabulary of the Filipinos in general as they began to pick up “Bisaya” expressions from him, including some which for others may sound vulgar such as “bigằ-bigằ”, “biga-on”, “piyaet” (confess/ pumiyok) that he unconsciously let go without any malicious intent. “Bigằ” is usually said without any malice by the Bisaya, the closest equivalent of which is “landỉ” that Tagalogs speak with disgust. The “Bisaya” dialect of Davao, as the rest of Bisaya-speaking provinces, is rooted in the “Bisaya” dialect of Cebu.


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