Let’s talk about regional idiosyncracies as we explore Ilonggos’ quirkiness and understand why they behave the way they do.
This is a short list of observed Ilonggo quirks and their origins. Some would make you proud; some might infuriate you. Read on, and feel free to comment!
Souped Up Public Utility Jeepneys (PUJ)
The Observation: The best-looking jeeps for public transport is from Iloilo. It is easy to spot an Iloilo PUJ — a sleek, modern-looking, color-coordinated jeepney with airbrushed artwork (and stickers) on the hood or the side of the body.
More often than not, these public transport vehicles have their fronts designed to look like those of popular SUVs, pick-up trucks, or vans (Fortuner, Starex, Frontier, etc…). These jeepneys have awesome sound system built in them as well; speakers are often placed under the passenger seats.
The Reason: Ilonggos are talented jeepney fabricators and mechanics. Sarao may be the nation’s household name for PUJs but Ilonggos would rather go with its own brand of fabricators like Pasajero Sosyal and Patoo Wheels.
These jeepneys are called ‘pasad’ and the culture of the design is reinforced by the preference of Ilonggo OFWs and seafarers who invested their hard-earned money to have their own cool-looking PUJs as means to augment their income.
Ilonggos are ostentatious when it comes to the product of their hardwork. If owning an Isuzu D-Max is financially out of reach at the moment, the next best thing is to own a Jaro CPU jeep with D-Max grill, headlights, and bumper. Painting the lower sides of the jeep with statements such as “Katas Ng Saudi” is also obligatory.
The Case of Patis
The Observation: Picture this. You are an Ilonggo eating at a ‘carinderia’ somewhere not in Visayas … say, someplace in Luzon. Your food is rather bland and you ask for that old reliable condiment to add more flavor to your lunch.
“Ate, meron kayong patis?”
To your surprise, you are given a brownish colored condiment which you know for sure is not patis. Well, you are both right and wrong — it is not the Silver Swan Soy Sauce, the patis you’re accustomed to; it is likely to be Rufina Fish Sauce which is somewhat alien to you but still patis to a non-Ilonggo/Visayan.
In Iloilo, your patis is toyo (Soy Sauce) in other regions. Remember that next time you go travel.
The Reason: No one really knows for sure. Perhaps soy sauce reached the Visayan regions first, and Ilonggos had been cooking and eating with the condiment since then. With that, Soy Sauce had embedded itself into the Ilonggo culinary culture. By the time fish sauce was introduced in the land, it could no longer influence the Visayan
cooking and taste.
Soy Sauce and Fish Sauce are almost interchangeable, having similar properties and use. They are both mixed with food mainly to enhance flavor (sweetness and saltiness). Thus being called by the same name — patis.
Pa-sabaw kag Pa-caldo (Broths and Soups)
The Observation: Food, and eating behavior, is a huge part of culture. Since the curious case of patis was discussed, let’s tackle another food-related Ilonggo trait. Ilonggos love sabaw (broth)!
Batchoy, Pancit Molo, and Laswa are three of the most popular native Ilonggo dishes and they are definitely what you call “wet solid food”.
Arroz Caldo and Nila-ga are also timeless Ilonggo favorites and although they are not native to the region, Ilonggos created their own ‘timplada‘ or version and proudly call it their own.
In specialty restaurants, it is customary for Ilonggos to ask for extra ‘caldo‘ when eating Batchoy, Arroz Caldo, Nila-ga, etc. In turo-turos and carinderias, Ilonggos often ask for (when not offered) ‘sabaw‘ to complement their meal. The ‘caldo‘ and the extra ‘sabaw‘ are willingly given free of charge.
The Reason: The influence of Japanese and Chinese settlers in the land is the best probable reason. Batchoy is often dubbed as the Pinoy Ramen. Pancit Molo and Arroz Caldo on the other hand are mainly from the Chinese.
Ilonggos had also gotten used to eating with sabaw since food is much easier to eat and finish when they are wet. A testament to Ilonggo work ethic — more work is done when you finish food faster.
The Observation: Culturally, Ilonggos are ‘maisog‘ but are generally non-confrontational. The Ilonggo language is known to be sweet in tone and affectionate with words. In fact, it is often said that a furious Ilonggo would still sound sweet.
It is not only the tone but also the choice of words, and the way they act. Ilonggos are probably the most indirect people. They try to avoid hurtful words and often tend to say things that sound more polite, or say something that would make them sound more hospitable or humble. Here are some examples of Ilonggo Euphemisms:
“Ambot sa imo da.” – It is an expression of annoyance or dislike. Equivalent to the english expression, “Whatever.” Other people think it sounds cute.
“Kaon ta. Sensya, amo lang ni galing.” – Offering something to eat even when the food is obviously limited while secretly hoping that the person declines. For the Ilonggo, what is important is the gesture of offering.
OR…. Offering a bounty but saying it is not much just to sound modest.
“Sus, naghanda ka gid.” – A common reply to the previous statement which basically means, “Oh, you shouldn’t have…” But, in reality, you are famished and glad that there’s food to eat.
“Ano aton?” or “Wala gid ta da?” – When something is worth celebrating, Ilonggos use these expressions. They are indirect ways of saying, “Let’s celebrate and your paying.”
“Tsamba ah.” or “Naswertehan lang ah.” – When an Ilonggo is being commended for an achievement, he or she would downplay the achievement by attributing it to luck to sound humble. Or probably to avoid “Wala gid ta da?”
There are plenty of Ilonggo euphemisms and they are rather amusing when you think about them.
The Reason: In the past, Iloilo was a place of high-class Spaniards, Mestizos, Natives, and educated Filipino ilustrados. Even the obreros were cultured — saying the right words and politically correct terms were expected.
Ilonggos from Iloilo would often separate themselves from the Negrenses
Now to the most controversial part…
The Observation: People from other regions, especially the Bisaya, label Ilonggos as ‘tikalon’ (pompous, boastful, or conceited). Regardless of Ilonggos sounding sweet and the euphemisms, people from other regions still assume that Ilonggos are self-important pricks.
Of course, these labels are merely generalizations and as an Ilonggo, I’d go to great lengths to defend my people but this is besides the point. This is about how the Ilonggos are taking the criticism.
More often than not, Ilonggos from Iloilo deflect the ‘tikalon‘ label towards the Negrenses, particularly Bacolodnons. An Iloilo person would express that the label is more suited for people from Bacolod. Moreover, Iloilo people seem to have lots of anecdotes on Bacolodnon’s boastfulness.
In short, Ilonggos are saying, “We are not tikalon. Perhaps you are referring to the other Ilonggos across the sea.”
The Reason: There is a theory why Ilonggos from Iloilo feel this way towards their counterpart. And why Ilonggos are perceived to have an air of superiority with them.
In the Spanish era, Iloilo is the best place next to Manila in terms of economy, progress, and culture. This is one reason Iloilo was hailed the Queen City of the South. Looking back in history, Iloilo was truly a darling of Spain.
Negros, on the other hand, was initially neglected by the Spaniards mainly because of security reasons. Pirates plague the land.
When harsh elements were eliminated, high-class Ilonggo families (e.g. Lopez, Locsin, Araneta, Lacson, Ledesma, Arroyo) founded towns in Negros (e.g. Silay, Pulupandan, Bago, Pontevedra, Talisay, Binalbagan… etc.) At that point, Negros was undoubtedly a land of agricultural opportunity for the rich. And these Ilonggos made their newfound land their haciendas.
Many of these hacienderos made their haciendas in Negros their second residence. Soon their kin ruled the land as feudal lords, reinforcing the Ilonggo haciendero’s air of superiority. It can be said that for a very long time, the wealthy Ilonggos, albeit from Iloilo, are living like royalty in Negros.
Over time, these Ilonggos made Negros a prosperous province and Bacolod City, being the province’s capital, had become the residence of entitled people.
The reputation of Ilonggos in Bacolod as hacienderos precedes them. Whether they’re actually boastful or not, their heritage has made it easy for people, especially from Iloilo, to assume that Negrenses are feeling entitled.
Content Credits to the following: jeepsndgirls.blogspot.com iloveiloilo.wordpress.com projectiloilo.com/how-to-sound-like-an-authentic-ilonggo-in-13-phrases/ ilongo.weebly.com