Beautiful Cebuano

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Saturday, June 1, 2013

I HAVE finally found in the Internet through Project Gutenberg a copy of A Dictionary of Cebuano Visayan compiled by John U. Wolff of Cornell University, Southeast Asia Program and the Linguistic Society of the Philippines.

Other existing dictionaries of the Cebuano language are translations of English into Cebuano. This dictionary has some 25,000 Cebuano words translated and explained in English.

Every Cebuano who loves the language should take a look at this dictionary and savor the delicacy of the language which runs the risk of being lost in the new generation of Cebuanos.



Two of my friends, who were among more than a hundred people who helped in the research of this unique dictionary that strives to explain in English the beautiful Cebuano language, brought my attention to this dictionary.

They are retired Executive Labor Arbiter Reynoso Belarmino and Edgar Godinez, an accountant whose son, Joe, has just passed the Bar Exams.

What’s surprising about this extraordinary work is that it contains a lot of Cebuano words.


One of the entries, for example, is about the word “bulbul.” In English, it means pubic hair. But the dictionary explains to us that when you say, “gihimulbulan,” it means to dress fowl or birds by plucking the feathers.

If a mistress does it to a man, it means she milked him dry.

Did you know that the word “tinapay” is an original Cebuano word for bread? Cebuanos apparently ditched it for the shorter “pan” and the Tagalogs adopted it.


This dictionary also has entries about birds, among them, the “bangkiyod” which I saw when I was young in Cabadiangan.

I learned that the bird is the Malaysian fantail, a small bird that moves its tail up and down while perched.

It is also a study of Cebuano culture. For who was the unrequited lover who never dreamed of having a “lumay,” a magical love potion used to cause a girl to be to be irresistibly drawn to the user?

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on June 01, 2013.


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