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Hombac” is the Tagalog term for storm surge

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Finding a Filipino word for storm surge: ‘Daluyong’ or ‘humbak’?

Posted at 11/18/2013 8:41 PM | Updated as of 11/18/2013 9:35 PM

MANILA – Not many people in the Philippines knew what a storm surge was before ‘Yolanda’ hit central Philippines. It was a new concept that did not arouse fear, unlike the the word tsunami, which evokes images of the destruction in Japan in March 2011 and in countries affected by the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake.

After the super typhoon claimed the lives of more than 4,000 (and counting), people began to criticize authorities for not explaining well what a storm surge is.

Filipino-American geologist and environmental scientist Kelvin Rodolfo told ANC authorities correctly warned about the threat posed by storm surges before Yolanda struck on November 8, but many did heed the warning.

Thus, Rodolfo suggested there should be a Filipino term for “storm surges.”

He said communication is key in effective information dissemination.

Rodolfo disagreed with some local officials of Leyte and Sámar who say they it would have been better if they had been told that a tsunami was coming.

He said the public should not be warned of an incoming tsunami when what is going to happen is a “storm surge”.

“While people know what tsunami is like, we could have generated unnecessary panic…and you would have also killed people in panic,” he said.

Rodolfo said a tsunami is triggered by an earthquake, and a storm surge is not.

CLICK HERE to read the rest.

Photo by Aarón Fávila.

In light of super typhoon Yolanda’s record-breaking onslaught last November 8, there has been a debate on what should really be the Tagalog equivalent of “storm surge”. National Artist Virgilio Almario says it’s “daloyong” (or “daluyong“) while Lagunense historian Jaime Tiongson, using the 17th-century Spanish-Tagalog dictionary “Vocabulario de la Lengua Tagala” as his basis, claims that it should be “hombac” (or “humbak“).

I support Almario’s advocacy of using Filipinas instead of the dull-sounding Philippines to refer to our country (more on this in a future blogpost). But with regard to a Tagalog term for “storm surge”, I’ll go for Tiongson’s “hombac” because it was well defined/mentioned at least three times in that ancient dictionary which was compiled by Fr. Pedro de San Buenaventura (published in Pila, La Laguna in 1613) and it accurately describes the tragedy that happened in Tacloban (and other nearby areas) early this month. Below are three entries for that ancient Tagalog word in the said dictionary:

1) ARibar : Hombac pc : con tormenta es de la costa y tambien de la laguna : significa, golpe de mar, cami.y. hinohombacan nang dagat, hiconos la mar arribar aputos golpes de sus olas. http://sb.tagalogstudies.org/2010/10/77.html
2) Fondo : Humbac pc : de entre ola y ola, hungmohumbac .1.ac. hazer fondos la mar, hinohumbacan .1.P. . ser arrojado y goldpeado dellos, humbac aya nang dagat nayto, o que de fondos haçe esta mar. http://sb.tagalogstudies.org/2010/10/323.html
3) Ola : Vmbac pc : que hae el agua con la fuera del viento, hinohumbacan .1.P. ser golpeado dellas; patabi tayo at nang di tayo humbacan, bamos haia la orilla no nos golpeen las olas. http://sb.tagalogstudies.org/2010/10/452.html
(emphasis mine)

As can be gleaned from above, we can easily see that “hombac” has been associated with storms (“con tormenta“) or a strong/violent surge of water (“golpe de mar“, “ser arrojado“). Also, in definition 3, I believe there is a typographical error: instead of la fuera del viento (outside the wind), I’m pretty sure Fr. San Buenaventura meant la fuerza del viento (wind force) especially when preceded by “que hae el agua con“. Now, hae is another typo error (it doesn’t mean anything at all in Spanish); it should be hace (yes, this ancient book has lots of typos with many words lacking the appropriate accent marks). Loosely translated into English, “que hace el agua con la fuerza del viento” means “what the water makes (or what happens to the water) when blown by forceful winds”.

Meanwhile, (and if I’m not mistaken), Almario’s “daluyong” appears in only one entry (spelled archaically) in the country’s oldest dictionary, and it is even subcategorized under the Spanish word “ola” which means “wave”:

Ola : Daloyon pp : de la mar o de otra agua, dungmadaloyon .1.ac. olear el agua, dina daloyonan .1.P. ser golpeado; lubha tayong dina daloyonan nitong dagat, mucho nos golpeen las olas. http://sb.tagalogstudies.org/2010/10/452.html

Unfortunately for Almario, his Tagalog candidate for storm surge had nothing to do with gale-force winds nor storms.

On a related note, the city of Mandaloyong in Metro Manila was named after “daloyon” which meant “a place of waves” because hundreds of years ago, there used to be a beach there. Due to geographical and tidal shifts coupled with anthropogenic circumstances, that beach is no more; it is now covered by the bustling city of Macati, “a place of tides”. The place therefore opened up to what is now Manila Bay.

For the sake of argument, let us pretend that Almario is correct. Since Mandaloyong was named as such, it can be surmised that it was frequently visited by large waves. But frequently visited by large tidal waves or wave surges? A stretch. Besides, there has been no record of a tidal wave —or a storm surge— that had happened in Manila Bay. At least, none that I know of.

Tiongson is correct. What destroyed Tacloban was a deadly hombac, not a surfer-friendly daloyong.

*F*I*L*I*P*I*N*O*e*S*C*R*I*B*B*L*E*S*

It’s not over till it’s over. People in the Visayas still need our help. Their road to recovery will not be overnight. It might take months or even years. So please, let us do everything we can to help them. Remember: we are all in this together.

La gente filipina es una familia, no una nación. :-)

Please CLICK HERE on how you can help our Visayan brothers and sisters. Thank you.

Breaking news for the upcoming coffee table book “LA LAGUNA The Heart of the Philippines”…

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It’s now official: renowned historian, scholar, and linguist, Señor Guillermo Gómez y Rivera, will write the foreword to my debut book, LA LAGUNA The Heart of the Philippines!

Meeting last Sunday night (04/07/2013) at J.Boy Japanese Fast Food Shop in Macati City. Man, their noodles there are almost as thick as my fingers! (L-R: me, Ronald Yu of In-Frame Media Works, and Señor Gómez).

To those who do not know yet, Señor Gómez— as he is called by friends, students, admirers, and critics—is currently one of the board of directors of the prestigious Academia Filipina de la Lengua Española, the oldest state institution in the Philippines. From 1971 to 1973, he was the secretary of the National Language Committee of the Philippine Constitutional Convention. For many years, he taught Spanish language and grammar as well as Philippine History, Geography, and Philosophy of Man at Adamson University (my alma mater). In 1974, the Department of Education condecorated him for his work as a teacher and writer with the Plus Ultra Filipinas award. The next year, he won the Premio Zóbel for his play El Caserón, but primarily in recognition for his efforts in preserving the Spanish language and culture in our country. He has since been a longtime master of ceremonies for the said award-giving body until its demise in 1999. Prior to this, Señor Gómez won second place in the Premio Manuel Bernabé for an essay on the historical and nationalistic value and import of the Spanish language in the Philippines.

Señor Gómez has authored many books, among them El Conflicto de Soberanía Territorial Sobre las Islas Malvinas, Georgias, y Sándwich del SurThe Conflict Over Territorial Sovereignty on the Malvinas, Georgias, and Sandwich Islands of the South (Manila, bilingual edition, 1984), FilipinoOrigen y Connotación, y Otros Ensayos (Manila: Ediciones Solidaridad Filhispana-El Maestro, 1966), and various textbooks on Spanish grammar and history such as Español Para Todo El Mundo and Texto Para Español 4-N: La Literatura Filipina y Su Relación al Nacionalismo Filipino (both used in Adamson University and Centro Escolar University). He is also active in Filipino dance and music. He is currently an instructor of various Spanish dances, particularly flamenco (he is in fact considered as the undisputed maestro of Flamenco in the Philippines).

Aside from sharing his knowledge of Flamenco, he has made several researches on Philippine songs, dances, and costumes, especially those of Hispanic influence, which he was able to contribute to the internationally acclaimed Bayanihan Philippine National Folk Dance Company. In fact, most of the Spanish-influenced native songs and dances choreographed by the said group can trace their origins from Gómez’s researches, which earned him an advisory role for Bayanihan. He also released an LP back in 1960 when he was still the producer of La Voz Hispanofilipina, a radio program of DZRH. He made research about “lost” Filipino songs that were originally sung in Castilian during the Spanish colonization of the Philippines. He reintroduced the songs through recording. The successful LP was entitled Nostalgia Filipina. He was the one who sang in all of the songs, accompanied by the late Roberto Buena’s rondalla (on 14 August 2006, he relaunched a digitally mastered version of this album at the Instituto Cervantes de Manila through financial support from the Spanish Program for Cultural Cooperation).

In 1997, he was a segment host of ABS-CBN‘s defunct early morning program Alas Singko Y Media. In the said show, he hosted a five-minute Spanish lesson.

In addition to his contributions to Philippine literature, culture, and history, he was also a journalist; he used to publish and edit the El Maestro magazine which served as the organ of the Corporación Nacional de Profesores Filipinos de Español, Inc., and also contributed to various newspapers, magazines, and websites (Philippine Daily Inquirer, The Philippines Free Press, Revista Filipina, etc.). Aside from the weekly newspapers The Listening Post and The Tagalog Chronicle, he also edited Nueva Era, the only existing Spanish newspaper in the Philippines in modern times (these three, owned by the late Batangueño publisher and businessman Emilio M. Ynciong, were accessible only via subscription; I used to be Señor Gómez’s editorial assistant for these papers, now out of print, from 2001 to 2003).

Señor Gómez is also an accomplished linguist and polyglot. He speaks and writes fluently in his native Hiligaynón as well as in English and Tagalog. Aside from being an acclaimed master of the Spanish language in the country, he is also conversant in Italian, Portuguese, French, Quiniráy-á, Cebuano, Hokkien, and has made an extensive study of the Chabacano and Visayan languages (he was crowned Diutay ñga Príncipe Sg Binalaybáy sa Binisayà at the age of 13).

It is a little known fact that Señor Gómez, although a Bisayà, can also be considered a Lagunense: he traces his Gómez Spanish ancestor to Pagsanján, and has many Rivera relatives in Pila.

Indeed, the writer of the book’s foreword is a virtual heavyweight compared to the lowly writer himself. But hey, I am humbled with all of this. I admit now that is difficult for me to imagine somebody else writing the foreword to my very first book. And if I’m not mistaken, this would be the fourth time that Señor Gómez will write a foreword/introduction for somebody else. The first time he did so was for multi-awarded multilingual poet Federico Espino (Premio Zóbel awardee, 1978) for his bilingual collection of poetry, Ave En Jaula Lírica / Bird in the Lyric Cage (Solidaridad Filipino-Hispana, 1970). The second was for Conchita Huerta (another Premio Zóbel awardee, 1965) for her Arroz y Sampaguitas (Ediciones Fil-Hispanas, 1972), a collection of essays and short stories. And the last he did was for Perspectives in Politics: Public and Foreign (UST Publishing House, 2005) by UNESCO Commissioner and international political analyst José David Lápuz.

This is truly a huge dream come true for me. :D

LA LAGUNA The Heart of the Philippines is a collaboration between the historic Provincial Government of La Laguna (Gov. E.R. Ejército) and In-Frame Media Works (Mr. Ronald Yu).

Book launching will be announced soon! :D

LA LAGUNA The Festival of Life (booths of towns and cities)

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LA LAGUNA The Festival of Life 2012. Featuring photos of all the beautifully decorated booths of each town and city of the cultural-conscious province of La Laguna (only Majayjay did not participate; I still have to find out why). Each booth showcases its respective town and city’s identity — products, festivities, cottage industries, and tourist attractions. So, without further adieu, feast your eyes on these…

First District

SAN PEDRO
The Sampaguita Capital of the Philippines

BIÑÁN
The Home of the Famous Puto Biñán

SANTA ROSA
The Lion City of the South

Second District

CABUYAO
The Town of the Legendary Golden Bell

CALAMBÂ
The Hometown of the National Hero

LOS BAÑOS
Special Science and Nature City of the Philippines

BAY
The First Capital of Laguna

Third District

VICTORIA
The Duck Raising Center of the Philippines

CALAUAN
Home of the Sweetest Pineapple

SAN PABLO
The City of Seven Lakes

ALAMINOS
The Home of the Coramblan Festival*

RIZAL
Tayak Adventure and Nature Park

NAGCARLÁN
Site of the Nagcarlán Underground Cemetery Historical Landmark

LILIW
The Footwear Capital of Laguna

Fourth District

PILA
La Noble Villa de Pila

SANTA CRUZ
The Capital of Laguna

MAGDALENA
The Bamboo Capital of Laguna

LUISIANA
The Pandán Capital of Laguna

CAVINTI
Laguna’s Ecotourism Capital

PAGSANJÁN
The Tourist Capital of Laguna

LUMBÁN
The Embroidery Capital of the Philippines

KALAYAAN
Laguna’s Symbol of Peace and Unity

PAETÉ
The Woodcarving Capital of the Philippines

PÁQUIL
Home of the Turumba Festival

PÁÑGUIL
Home of the Nuestra Señora de la O and the Santo Niño de la O

ñ

 

SINILÓAN
Waterfalls Sanctuary of Laguna

FAMY
The Home of Bamboo Weavers

MABITAC
The Site of the Fabled Battle of Mabitac

SANTA MARÍA
The Rice Granary of Laguna

Today, by the way, is the last day of festivities. Click here for the schedule. And for more of the festival’s day one (21 April 2012) photos, click here.

Congratulations to La Laguna Governor E.R. Ejército, his team, and to all Lagunenses for this splendid event!

*******

**COconut, RAMbután, and LANzones

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