Dear President Obama, American & International Press On The Use Of “Putang Ina” & “Putang Ina Mo”

An open letter addressed to President Obama, American and International press on the use of “Putang Ina” & “Putang Ina Mo” is making the rounds online.

Facebook user Mia Tijam wrote a humorous but definitive lecture about the nuances of certain curse words that makes the Filipino language a very colorful one.

In the post, Ms. Tijam asks President Obama and the international media to consider exploring some aspect of the Filipino culture that should come handy in pursuit of diplomatic harmony.

Read the full text of the post below.

Dear President Barack Obama, White House, American and International Press On The Use Of “Putang Ina” and “Putang Ina Mo”:

In the Philippines, the phrase literally means “your mother is a whore” or “you are the child of a whore”.

In American English, this roughly translates to “son of a bitch”, but then again a “whore” is not a “bitch”. Or “motherfucker”, but then again that means you are fucking your mother or someone’s mother. Unless the mother that you are fucking is a whore, then “putang ina” or “putang ina mo” can mean “motherfucker”, literally, if translated to American English.

In Spanish, “putang ina” is equivalent to “hijo de puta” and the latter is both translated as “son of a bitch” or “motherfucker” in American English. (In the Philippines, high school graduates of the Lourdes School for Boys in Manila use the cuss “hijo de puta” in the 80’s and maybe 90’s.) Then again in Spanish “go fuck your mother” is “chinga tu madre”. Common word and meaning to both Filipino and Spanish is “puta” which means “whore”, and kindly remember that the Spanish influence in our language is due to the Philippines being a colony of Spain for 333 years.

However, unlike the Spanish, we don’t use ‘”puto” which means a “male whore” in Spanish. “Puto” in the Philippines roughly translates to what you call a “rice cake” or “rice pudding”.

Now in the Philippines, “putang ina” or “putang ina mo” is a common enough expression in our language that is often used not really to slander but rather to express anger or displeasure. It is seldom, if ever, taken literally as a reflection on the virtues of a mother. In Philippine jurisprudence, we have two cases that cite the utterance “putang ina (mo)” as such, and those are Reyes versus People in March 1969 and People versus Pader in February 2000.

Variations of the expression are “pucha”, “pohta”, “ampotah”, “ampucha”, “anak ng puta”, “anak ng pucha”, “anak naman ng puta oh”, “nakanampu”, “’tang ina,” “tangna” , “tengene” or just plain “puta”. (Unless you are Suzette Doctolero and her version is “tanzania”.)

Just like how you would use the word “fuck” as expressions of different emotions.

In addition to using this and these as expressions, we also like using the native names both in the national and regional languages for the sexual organs as expressions of emotions, especially surprise, anger, displeasure, frustration, and even as endearments.

We’re very colorful that way, and the elders tried to discipline us from being so colorful by making us eat soap, chili, vinegar, palms, feet, tsinelas (flip-flops), belts, or anything they can get their hands on while mostly invoking God in the midst of colorful language.

Please feel free to explore this aspect of cultural competence in diplomatic relations. I wish I could clarify further for you, but my father is my Facebook friend and he shows my mother my posts.

Kicking Pinay

Please feel free to post your comment below.

Credits to Mia Tijam


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