Friday, March 4, 2011


We Filipinos love using idioms and metaphors to express what we want to say. Be it in a serious conversation or some funny “okrayan” moments, metaphors/hyperboles/similes come handy. Most of the time, we refer to fruits, vegetables and primarily food to compare and describe the (unconsciously sexual) things around us.

I was appalled to write this entry when I was walking in a supermarket. I was in the fruits section when I saw two persons playing around with the bananas. Based on those persons’ reactions and gestures, they were a bit naughty. And so, this post comes to life.

Now, let’s start with the TOP 15 FRUITS, VEGETABLES or FOODS which most Filipinos use in metaphors/hyperboles/similes to describe PARTS OF THE BODY, HOTNESS or YUMMYNESS.

  1. PAKWAN (Watermelon)
First in our list is the rounded water melon. The watermelon is one of the popular fruits especially during summer in the Philippines. Best enjoyed cold or not, the water melon is just thirst quenching. Apparently, because of its big and rounded shape, some Filipinos refer to this fruit to describe something that is BIG and ROUNDED. With a naughty and wild imagination, the image of the watermelon is associated with a _______ (fill in at your own risk).

  1. PANDESAL (Salt Bread or Pan de Sal)
The pandesal is a Spanish influence in the Philippines. For the longest time, the garrison cap shaped bread, which is mostly enjoyed hot and topped with a spread, is always present in a traditional Filipino breakfast. For some, they dip their bread in coffee or some chocolate drink. Apparently, apart from the pandesal role in a Filipino’s life as a breakfast buddy, it is also referred to as a symbol to describe masculinity. With the boom of gyming, the concept of the Pandesal is now referred to describe a man’s six pack abs. So do not wonder if a Filipino would say “pandesal” even inside the gym for they are just referring to their well formed abs.

  1. SIOPAO (Siopao)
Siopao is not only a chinese influence in Philippine diet. Apart from its appetizing filling, the siopao's size attract a Filipino's penchant for metaphors/exaggerations. Before, the concept of the siopao was used to refer to Judy Ann’s chubby cheeks. Surprisingly, Judy Ann, a well known Drama actress and married to Ryan Agoncillo (one of Philippine celebrities), now possesses a sexy body because of intense work out. However, despite the celebrity's transformation, the siopao description has become part of Philippine vanity.

  1. LABANOS (Radish)
Labanos or Radish is a white edible root vegetable. In the Philippines, it is commonly added in Sinigang and in a wide range of cuisine. However, apart from its culinary contribution, the radish is referred by Filipinos to describe a person’s skin. If a Filipino tells you that you have a “radish skin,” you must be happy for it’s a compliment. Meaning to say, that Filipino admires your flawless and white healthy skin.

  1. SIBUYAS (Onion)
Onions are used in different Filipino recipes ranging from salads to main course. However, because onions sometimes make a person teary at the moment of slicing it, Filipinos associate such effect as relative to the concept of sensitivity. If a Filipino tells you that “Ikaw ay Balat-Sibuyas,” you are very sensitive that you cry even in the slightest provocation.

  1. TALONG (Eggplant)
Talong or Eggplant is an elongated purple vegetable. Apart from being popularly cooked as tortang talong in Filipino cuisine, talong is referred by naughty Filipinos as something phallic. Yes, it is used to symbolize the male sex organ.

Definitely bigger than Talong, naughty Filipinos refer the Bottle Gourd as phallic. It also represents to describe a sex organ that is unimaginably large.

Rice is a staple food in Filipino diet. In most cases, a Filipinos gets or orders an extra rice to complement the big appetite with an irresistible dish. Oddly, the phrase “ma-pa-pa-extra rice” implies a discreet sexual tone. For some, they use the lines “ma-pa-pa-extra rice ka” to refer a ‘liking’ of someone’s beauty/looks. In short, a person is viewed as a tasty dish that may require you to get or order another extra rice.

  1. LUYA (Root Ginger)
Luya or Root Ginger acts as a useful food preservative and adds taste in food. In the Philippines, apart from its mild taste which can be also be used to soothe a throat, the root ginger is referred to describe someone else’s finger toes. If someone tells you that you have finger toes like root ginger, perhaps you may think further or better yet, refer to an image of a root ginger.

The coconut best represents the Filipinos. Just like a coconut, Filipinos are brown in the outside but white in the inside. Thanks to Emily Ignacio, the author of building diaspora: Filipino community formation on the Internet, for the information. In further explanation, despite the brown skin of the Filipino race, the inner self is enslaved by the colonial or white culture as seen through language use, consumption, politics, and even in religion.

  1.  AMPALAYA (Bitter Gourd)
Ampalaya or Bitter gourd is widely grown in the Philippines. It has a bitter taste due to the presence of momordicin. But despite the bitterness, the ampalaya is recommended for diabetes treatment; Charantia, that is. Based on studies, it has been shown to increase production of beta cells by the pancreas, thereby improving the body’s ability to produce insulin. Apparently, with the influence of Filipino gay language, the ampalaya is also referred to describe a person’s bitter reaction or outlook in life. Yes oh yes, "Wag Bitter!" (Don't be bitter!)

  1. MANI (Peanut or Groundnut)
Mani or peanut in the Philippines is not only enjoyed in chitchats or as a starter. This dried brown and rounded piece is also referred by Filipinos to describe a situation that is easy to hand. If a Filipino says “Mani lang yan!” then it is just like saying “It’s a piece of cake!” On the other hand, a peanut is referred to describe a part of the body (now I hear giggles!).

The makopa is a gong-shaped and red fruit popularly grown in the Philippines. Apart form the makopa’s sweet scent, its reddish coat is referred by Filipinos to describe someone’s glowing and rosy skin. Specifically, while the labanos or radish is referred to describe legs, the makopa can be used to describe a rosy cheek. In general, their image is used to describe a healthy skin.

  1. MELON (Melon)
Derived from the Latin word melopelo, the Melon is a sweet, rounded and light orange colored fruit. Because of its sweet fragrant, most Filipinos referred to this fruit to describe someone’s alluring smell. In a Filipino’s word, it is said as “amoy melon!” (smells like melon)

  1. SAGING (Banana)
Last but not the least in the list is the ever-popular Banana. Bananas come in different sizes; some are small and some are big and long. And in a naught Filipino’s mind, the banana may sometimes be used to signify a sexual symbol. Believe me or not, the Banana is one of the powerful metaphors to describe a _________ (fill for yourself). By merely mentioning any member of the Banana family tree, you'll surely get sexy grins and flirtatious laughs.

HIPON (Shrimp)
Shrimp is one of the glorious gifts of the sea in any human's appetite. Apparently, in the Philippines, the Hipon or Shrimp does not only serve to be an irresistible treat, it is also referred to describe someone's state of attractiveness. 

With the influence of the Filipino Gay language, the concept of the Hipon is used to describe someone who is "PHYSICALLY HOT" but not gifted with a HANDSOME/BEAUTIFUL FACE. So what's the relation with the SHRIMP? 

Answer the question "How do you eat a SHRIMP?" and you'll know the association. Let me explain: In eating a shrimp, you throw the head but you enjoy the body. That's all. Bow!
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