Questions on Terminologies in the Philippines

Questions on “Terminologies” in the Philippines

By Apolinario Villalobos


The title of this blog refers to the names being used today by various sectors of the Philippine society, such as:


  • BUREAU OF FIRE PROTECTION…in that name of the agency, it implies that what is being protected is the fire. Why not use BUREAU OF FIRE PREVENTION, instead because the agency is also involved in the prevention of fire occurrences? Additionally, the “Fire Prevention Month” is being used to promote the awareness on fire occurrences during the summer season.


  • SOCSKSARGEN….the acronym which refers to a region of southern Mindanao is being further “acronized” into “SOX” which can confuse outright the foreigners especially Americans who are used to the “RED SOX” a baseball team in their country. If it is for promotion purposes, I dare say, the attempt did not help but just put the region in a funny situation. Related to this is also the effort to promote “ONE MINDANAO”…why not then, just stick to the jargon “ONE MINDANAO” and maintain the acronym SOCSKSARGEN or Region 12, instead of SOX? Why be different with the rest of the regions of the Philippines that use the Roman numerical references such as Region I, Region II, etc.?


It should be noted that “Mindanao” is generic just like the “Bisaya”. Those who are from Mindanao regardless of the province are generally referred to as “taga-Mindanao” as the reference to their specific province or town comes only secondarily. For tourism purposes “Mindanao” is more exotic sounding than an abbreviated name of a region such as SOX for SOCSKSARGEN.


  • DEPARTMENT OF SOCIAL WELFARE AND DEVELOPMENT (DSWD)…the big question here is, what is being “developed”? The name of the agency has metamorphosed from its original name SOCIAL WELFARE ADMINISTRATION (SWA) into what it is now. Wise and discontented guys made fun of it by adding “PANG”, hence, “SWAPANG” which means greedy. Sometimes, instead of DSWD, people just refer to the agency as DSW but shortening the acronym did not help because of the unsatisfactory performance of the agency.


  • The NUESTRA SEṄORA DE LA REGLA….for the Filipino, “regla” means, menstruation, although, going deeper into the word with its Spanish meaning, it could also refer to the rule or measure.  My question is founded on the current time in which the old folks who were used to such title are no longer around. Filipinos and that include me now ask, when did such female phenomenon such as menstruation, have a patron? But why did the local Roman Catholic authority not correct such reference as it just elicits funny comments tantamount to blasphemy?…why the blatant disregard?…why the indifference when what’s at stake is the reputation of the Roman Catholic Church?


  • The CANDELA FESTIVAL…I came across this in the tarpaulin for the feast of the Our Lady of the Candles or Nuestra Seῆora de la Candelaria which shows that the “candela” refers to the “candelaria”. The word with the scientific symbol “cd” which means “standard candle”, with unit reference “SI” refers to the “luminous intensity”. The Filipinos are used to calling the candle as “kandila”, so that if the intention is to refer such “festival” to the “kandila”, then, the same word should logically be used. Also, though, the feast is about the candles, only very few who joined the procession were holding candles. My worse assumption is that the “candela” is the contracted form of the “Candelaria”….why the need to shorten it and make a “festival” out of it when the supply of candles in the locality come from Divisoria?  Proponents of local activities should be careful in using the word “festival” if their intention is to make an impression, because of the great negative impact that could result from disappointment.