by Bro. Anthony Capirayan, SSP
I went offline for three hours and the next time I saw my Facebook account almost everyone was speaking in a cryptic language. TFW (That feeling when) everybody is rolling in the aisles laughing and you’re standing right in the middle, all glassy-eyed and forcing a smile so that you don’t look anything like, well, slow-witted.
Is lodi the latest rising YouTube celebrity? Does petmalu have something to do with the woes of this country? Is werpa a title of a trending rom-com movie? These and more were some of my millennial questions. As almost everything can be Googled these days, I immediately made my research on these lexical innovations. Thank God, they were neither secret codes nor hypertext markup language, after all. They were simply new Filipino expressions…with a twist! When I went back online, I did not feel estranged from the rest of the netizens as before.
Keeping ourselves abreast of the viral words does not only make us sound trendy; it also gives us a sense of belongingness. Our words, when used accordingly, can bring down barriers and cultivate our relationships. And so, even as we familiarize ourselves with the language of our culture, let us also refresh ourselves with the basic words that nurture our relationships—online and offline.
Affirming words aka lodi. We can be easily critical of others. We are quick to see the speck of sawdust in other people’s eyes rather than recognize their positive attributes. How about we take our prejudices to the backseat, hold off our scathing remarks, and discern the goodness in the heart of each person? By our words of affirmation, we are building up each other. Let us not be stingy of our praise and appreciation. Surely, we’ll make someone’s day by giving him or her a pat on the back, a compliment, or some words of encouragement. “You never cease to amaze me, lodi!”
Action-packed words aka petmalu. Words sometimes, though, are inadequate. Some situations call not only for elegant and sonically rendered speech, but also for words-in-flesh. Positive words are good enough, but we have opportunity to make them striking (petmalu) when we reinforce them with concrete actions. Even as simple as offering a seat to someone in the train, helping a classmate with his or her assignment, or passing a stranger’s fare to the driver when riding the jeepney are noble actions in many ways. To be petmalu is to be sensitive to the needs of others and making ourselves available for them. Now, let’s get those action-packed words rolling!
Vulnerable words aka werpa. Wait, that sounds rather paradoxical. How can vulnerable words be a sign of power? We can exhibit our all-out support to someone we love with thunderous cheers and drumbeat and pompoms. However, when our relationship goes through some trying times, loud arguments can only worsen the situation. Sincere and gentle words of apology restore our trust and understanding for each other. Saying “sorry,” as it is one of the hardest words to utter, does not in any way mean being weak. Asking for forgiveness is a sign of power because one chooses to save the relationship over his or her inflated ego.
Needless to say, there’s a constant creative refashioning of language, especially in the social media landscape. While we play a role in devising new hashtags and forming new words, let us also use this power to strengthen our relationship with God and one another.