Sikolohiyang Pilipino, the Baybayin of Bahala, and a Westerner’s Mockery of Filipino Beliefs and Subjectivism

Posted on Mar 7, 2010 in bahala na, controversy, interpretations

Bahala na is an old saying in the Philippines that means many things to Filipinos. 
In the Bahala Meditations, the words of Bahala na provide many meditative points.
In Sikolohiyang Pilipino, it is one of the traits of Filipinos that indicates determination.
Even the baybayin of bahala na provide many points of interpretation through tacit knowledge and other subjective translations.

In Kapwa*, Katrin DeGuia shares this:

The oldest known form of bahala na, the alibata[baybayin] version of the term, renders its root word as “God.” … and bahala is made up of the three letters B, H, L, spelled BA-HA-LA. The syllable BA stands for woman (babae), LA for man (lalake), the central HA for “breath” [hinga or ginhawa] or “wind“[hangin] (both of which signify God [or Spirit]).3 These three glyphs BA-HA-LA represent an ancient Filipino trinity where woman and man stand side by side on the base of a triangle and God unites them in the elevated midpoint. Bahala na then is a unique Filipino expression which could loosely be translated into “Leave the final outcome up to God!”  

 3Odal, G. “On the Word Bathala”. Unpublished position paper. Quezon City: University Philippines, 1996.

…This proclaimed submission to a force larger than humankind was thoroughly misinterpreted by American social scientists who mistook bahala na as fatalism.

Most westerners cannot comprehend wholly Filipinos’ philosophy, applications and interpretations of “Bahala na,” Bahala and Bathala.

For a recent example of this, please see Morrow’s sensationalized trivialization of Filipino beliefs called “Da Bathala Code”(the play between Filipinos’ accents of “the” and the title of the controversial Dan Brown novel is not lost on us as part mockery, part tongue-in-cheek) at: or download this pdf. Unfortunately, his online article does not allow any dialogue to take place with the public. No one, including Filipinos, cannot post their feedback whether neutral, positive or negative.

*page 85, Kapwa, the Self in the Other: Worldviews and 


  1. I believe if Filipinos had never mentioned the baybayin symbols of "bahala" in their many artistic, subjective psychological interpretations of the phrase "bahala na," Paul Morrow would never have ventured to write his article "Da Bathala Code." As he is a big baybayin enthusiast, and as his Internet tools and articles on Baybayin has been a large resource for many

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  2. I don&#39;t dismiss Baybayin&#39;s role in Filipino Spirituality because I consider them to be culturally symbiotic and an integral part of our heritage. Symbolism is a natural part of spirituality; just like X stands for the Christ, why shouldn&#39;t BHL stand for Bathala?<br /><br />However, as a man of logic, I support more tangential studies relating to Baybayin paleography, linguistics (

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  3. I agree with Norden — Paul&#39;s article simply explains that a certain current view about Baybayin has a quite modern (19th century) roots. <br /><br />I also note that in regards to Filipino culture and history Paul&#39;s posts tend to be otherwise respectful.<br /><br />Look at authentic Baybayin examples from the 16th century, written by actual Filipino writers, and let those writing

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  4. Paul Morrow has certainly done his share of creating compelling and comprehensive historical information on baybayin on the web. I too have been able to benefit from his work. In this article though, he does come up with a narrow description of Guillermo Tolentino, illustrating him as some sort of drunken kook who held seances— I detect a tone in Morrow&#39;s article that scoffs at Filipino

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  5. Why do Filipinos everywhere find baybayin so intangibly healing to their pagkapilipino? There&#39;s just no &quot;code&quot; in that experience.<br /><br />Ancient Hebrews and Nords believed in mystical meanings in their writing symbols too… so how about &quot;Da Yahweh Code&quot; or &quot;Da Runes Code&quot;… <br /><br />Or maybe there is no such thing as a hoaxy &quot;code&quot; in any of

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  6. …one day our comprehension of the tale is strong enough to wrestle with the spirit-killing jealousy of our own rationalist minds whose initial lack of metaphor ability might want to destroy or trivialize the royalness of our own natural sense of mystery and organic imaginations. The distance we must go insures that the secret the story holds remains safe from greedy, impatient minds who treat

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