Kinaray-a Words for the Week: Balay, Sugidanun, Balay Sugidanun

What is Balay? What is Sugidanun? What is this awesome project Balay Sugidanun?

Kruhay! That is Mabuhay! in Tagalog. Our greeting of welcome.

And what is it in your mother tongue, abyan?

Abyan, friend, let’s talk about that soon.

For now, we are here in Balay Sugidanun: Storytelling House, or House of Storytelling.

Balay is a Visayan word for house.

When we say “sa balay,” we refer both to the physical structure and to the nuclear family; thus, most especially it means at home. For many of us transplanted in different cities of the world, “sa balay,” when speaking with a fellow Visayan, could mean in the current residence or back home in the Visayas region, a group of islands in the central Philippines.

The languages of this region include Kinaray-a. It is primarily spoken in the province of Antique in Western Visayas. Kinaray-a is my mother tongue. It is also considered the mother of Hiligaynon, the lingua franca in Panay Island and Negros Occidental.

Therefore, it is not surprising that Kinaray-a speakers can readily shift to Hiligaynon. I doubt though if many Hiligaynon speakers could perform a similar shift to Kinaray-a.

Kinaray-a comes in variants of syntax and pitch, which indicate if one is from the north or the south, farm-bred or town-raised. The “r” of Kinaray-a turns into the “l” of Hiligaynon after a zigzag of mountains becomes your highway. Talk about geopolitics and language.

Kinaray-a is also spoken in many parts of Mindanao, like in North Cotabato. Stories from our grandmother and in books tell of how Mindanao was considered the Promised Land, such that Visayans flocked to work and settle there. I hope to visit our relatives soon.

Kinaray-a and Hiligaynon share a rich vocabulary with other Philippine languages, such as Cebuano, Waray, Bikol, and Tagalog. Balay, for example, is bahay to the Tagalogs. It is also called balay in some towns of Bicol.

Years ago, in a museum in Ilocos, I was delighted to read labels of agricultural and fishing implements and other traditional materials: the Ilocano names for the objects were similar to the Kinaray-a and Hiligaynon names.

Philippine languages also have plenty of words drawn from Spanish and Bahasa. Maybe Chinese, too.

If there is one thing that unites us, that would be the ancient, the old. Oral literature. Things folk.

Now this is sugid. Talk. Tsika in your contemporary Filipino. But sugid is more than that, as we would like to believe, and so it becomes sugidanun. Narrative. “Necessary Fiction.”

This is your Balay Sugidanun. Producer of narratives. Of lived experiences and aspirations of common tao, people, and communities. It is a public space of and for storytelling: a living tradition that is an effective tool for learning and dialogue.

Of meaningful possibilities.

Ah, kanami, kanamit, palangga, paminsaron!

These, I will speak of soon.

2 thoughts on “Kinaray-a Words for the Week: Balay, Sugidanun, Balay Sugidanun

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