The Deeper Meanings of Lakbay and Bakla

Posted on Aug 28, 2011 in BA, bakla, interpretations, KA, LA, lakbay

the deeper meaning of the baybayin of "lakbay" and "bakla".
The insights that baybayin symbolism can give us can be quite deep and mind-bending. This post is inspired by Diwata Olympia who wrote the words lakbay and bakla in baybayin symbols in a notebook and shared the page with me in 2011.

Bakla is defined in Filipino as third-sex or effeminate man. In Philippine society, all types of bakla, gay men and women have been socially and economically accepted to various degrees.
In some families, having a gay child is an indication of good fortune.
In my town, when I was growing up, effeminate men who dress like women are common in villages and cities and are not the victims of prejudice the way they are in other parts of the world. Even if there might be giggles and slow slide glances, many times they were held in esteem.
Gay people are considered an important part of the community make up in the Philippines. (Also see Wikipedia on Bakla).
Lakbay is the tagalog term for “journey” or “to take a trip”.During a symposium retreat that I helped organize, Decolonization and Indigenization as a Path to the Sacred, given by Center for Babaylan Studies in August 2011, Diwata Olympia was sitting quietly and wrote out the baybayin symbols for lakbay and bakla on a notebook and showed them to me without saying anything.


(translations courtesy of translator by Kristian Kabuay)

I was immediately struck by the fact that Diwata had written both these words using the same three symbols. I was also struck by the fact that they were in reverse order of each other. We didn’t discuss it there because of all the event talks and activities. So I was intent on reconnecting with her later.

After the retreat, I reached out to her online to ask her explain what this meant for her and Diwata Olympia answered me with this message:

I don’t know how else to explain it, but for me, the concepts of kapwa and wholeness (pagbubuo) are inextricable from each other.
Lakbay is a journey you take away from your usual environment to understand yourself and your kapwa better. meeting new people opens your eyes to see yourself in other ways.
Bakla is the inward journey to wholeness where you find that you are complete within yourself, and this wholeness is what you share and bring as gifts to your kapwa.

~ ~ ~

Here is also what I noticed about the baybayin symbols for lakbay and bakla.


Both spellings with baybayin contain symbols that represent male principle (la)  and female principle (ba) (See interpretations for ).


The baybayin symbol of ka is two wavy lines laid parellel with a line joining the two of them at their center.

To some ka represents two rivers (wavy lines) joined by a center line.

The baybayin symbol of ha is the baybayin symbol that can represent breath, spirit and even soul. So to some others, ka can represent two spirits joined by a center line.

So when you know what the syllable of ka does within Filipino words, that is, creates a relation or connection ((kapatid (sibling), kasintahan (loved-one), kapwa (fellow), kalakbay (fellow journeyer). ka-klase (classmate)), and then you see the meaning of ka with its actual baybayin symbol, it seems immensely appropriate.

The baybayin symbol of ka can mean “connection.”

It’s interesting to me that lakbay or “journey” is the joining of both male and female symbols.

Thus the baybayin symbols of lakbay here evokes the meaning of human life being a journey of creating and maintaining a dynamic balance within oneself and also staying at one’s loob (inside, within or center).

The sequencing of the baybayin symbols then mean to me that lakbay is not just a travelling from point A to point B as a practical thing, but lakbay, because of its baybayin symbols means a task in life to be constantly balanced or to live a dynamically balanced Life.

It may also mean how the male principle(dynamic, rationale, practical) within us is meant to align with the female principle(passive, intuitive, emotional) within us and how that male and female principles are to be dynamically balanced with one another (like the balance of yin and yang).

And I agree with Diwata, that one’s life journey is to find wholeness (pagbubuo) or to make one’s being whole (magbubuo) or to be a whole person (mabubuong tao) and find ones nobility (kagandahang loob or beautiful Self)

The fact that bakla is the reverse of lakbay is intensely meaningful to me now.

The lakbay symbols now in reverse within bakla are symbolic to me of how my dearest gay friends and all gay people are born with deeper meaning of having the task of living Life with a reverse take on sexuality.

I also believe that they have a cosmic task of turning upside-down our traditions and mores, impressed upon us by institutions, AND at the same time living life as noble, gifted human beings who have something to contribute to their families, communities and this Earth.

The fact too that ba comes before la, in bakla, in reverse to lakbay‘s la before ba is quite evocative to me. And I invite you readers to share your own interpretations here.

I thank Diwata for her insights and presence in this world. I dedicate this Baybayin Alive blogpost to my dearest gay friends and colleagues whose souls and innate nobleness I cherish close to my Loob.

Mabuhay, LifeLightLove

Omehra Sigahne

See also various baybayin interpretations here on Baybayin Alive.


  1. very interested in metathesis of words (most common in semitic languages and gematria indigenous to the children of shem) and word/letter scrambling; having novicely adapted the methods into english/poetic device, naturally. in hebraic texts, there is an account of a midianite prince of moab named, Balak son of Tzipor, who hired a prophet of the baal deity to invoke curses upon the nation and

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  2. Wow interesting post from #2

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  3. Hello, is this the ancient and original baybayin scripture of lakbay?

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  4. wow cool. I wonder what other words and symbols we can switch around and understand in other ways. Do you have more examples?

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  5. Thanks you for illuminating the parallel. May I ask what offered evidence that gay men are accepted in Philippine society?

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