CULTURE

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From the Legend of Palay

Filipinos are generally fascinated by ongoing events. In the Philippines, people are usually glued to their radios or television sets, hungry for news about what's going on.  How else could one explain the proliferation of newspapers and tabloid papers all over the Philippines if not for Filipinos penchant for being abreast with daily events.  In Metro Manila alone, there are more than 15 daily newspapers in English, excluding the tabloids.  Filipinos start listening to the news on the radio or television as early as 5:30 in the morning.

It does not matter whether the news is about politics, about show business people, or simply mundane ones like robberies or accidents.   Balita (news) is what excites Filipinos basically.    This is best captured in the Tagalog expression, "Anong balita sa 'yo?" (What's news about you?), following a greeting, "Kumusta ka na?" (How have you been?).  Even the simple question "Kumusta na ang kapit-bahay mo?" (How is your neighbor?) could be an indirect way of finding out how things are with the Joneses.

Balita could be anything from factual news, to tsismis (gossip), to the bizarre.  Tsismis is the Tagalog term for rumors or gossips that could connote both factual or non-factual news.  During the time of President Marcos, when access to reliable news or information was hardly available, people relied heavily on tsismis or news from the grapevine about national politics. 

Usyoso is the Tagalog term for watching idly an actual event happening, like a car accident, a fire going on, or simply looking at a brawl or fight in the street (without making an effort to stop it!).  Usyosero/ra is the person who is watching idly by these events, like it is a live television show!   Both terms also have a negative connotation in Filipino culture, because it implies that someone has an idle mind, or does not have a productive job to be busy with.   More than that, an usyosero/ra could be a source of nasty tsismis.  The usyosero/ra then becomes the tsimoso/sa. In sleepy towns of the Philippines, however, pang-uusyoso may be the only source of entertainment after all! 

Describing something going in Tagalog simply uses the incompleted form of a verb.  Some examples are provided below:


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