I buy books. And sometimes I read them. This blog is for the times when I do more than just store shelf candy.

Monday, January 3, 2011

I Flipped through Jose F. Lacaba's Showbiz Lengua, Chika & Chismax about Chuvachuchu

My copy:
Trade Paperback
ISBN: 9789712724046
Complimentary copy from Anvil Manila
Read: January 2, 2011
141 pages
Book 1 for the 80-book challenge

Have you ever been in a salon where the staff seem to speak a language from another planet? A language that sounds vaguely familiar but with a lot of strange words that rhyme with eklavu and trubalu? A bewildering language peppered with names like Winnie Santos, Luz Valdez, Julie Yap Daza, and Purita Kalaw Ledesma? Have you ever scratched your head in total confusion as you watched a showbiz reporter mouth words that sound neither Tagalog nor English?

This book might just be the reference to help you decipher the jargon. And Jose Lacaba can be the professor to help you understand what the chuva they're talking about.

Poet, journalist, screenwriter, translator, and editorial consultant Jose F. Lacaba writes the column, Showbiz Lengua, for the showbiz chismax magazine, Yes!

I usually buy the magazine when the cover promises me a peek at some celebrity's home and/or closet. And when I do, I make sure I read Lacaba's column. But because I am not a loyal subscriber, I do not get to read as much as I would want to. So this book, which is a compilation of his posts, gives me a chance to catch up on what I've missed.

I daresay that his column is a league above other showbiz-oriented columns that dwell mostly with the minutiae of the sex lives, love lives, and other lives of showbiz personalities. Such columns provide me fodder for drinking party small talk, but leaves me hungry for meaty discussions on socially relevant topics. Lacaba's column, on the other hand, attempts to educate its readers about language; showbiz language that is.

Lacaba informs against the backdrop of the latest chismax to contextualize his language lessons. He highlights a current showbiz event or scandal, and picks up words and phrases that are part of the showbiz lexicon. He quotes celebrities who have used those words and phrases in a sentence.

Consulting a wide variety of sources that include Google, Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary, the Cambridge International Dictionary of English, urbandictionary.com, Webster's Word Histories, the UP Diksiyonaryong Filipino, Lynne Truss, Lourd de Veyra, among others, this language maven (defined by William Safire as a self-proclaimed expert) digs up the etymology and discovers the colloquial use of words like chuva (filler slang word that can mean etcetera), jologs (baduy; the opposite of coño), and krung-krung (affectionate nickname for Koreana). I'm very familiar with the first two words, but before reading this book, I have never heard of krung-krung.

Learning new words is one of my passions, and this book satisfies by adding the following to my vocabulary:
spongklong - worse than jologs
iskongkrang – variant of spongklong
torotot – the husband of an adulterous woman
kaposh – opposite of posh
butata – zero, zilch, nada
sulsotant – a combination of the word sulsol (to instigate or incite) and consultant
plangak - derivative of plangana, plangush; it means: exactly!, correct, korek, korak,

This book also elucidates the difference between acronyms (abbreviations that can be pronounced as words) and initials (an abbreviation read by its individual letters). AIDS is an acronym, and HIV is an initial. And BURMA is an acronym that means, Between Us, Remember Me Always. MANILA, you will discover, is not just a city, but is a greeting that means, May All Nights Inspire Love Always. And I’m pretty sure your life would be so much better now that you know that PASIG stands for Please Always Say I’m Gorgeous.

If I may, I’d like to add to Lacaba’s research. On page 66, he discusses the term ala verde (free for all), and in the process of dissecting the term, he touches on the meaning of steak a la pobre, which he defines as “steak cooked in the style of the poor.” I dare to venture a deeper analysis. My guess is that Steak ala Pobre is the bastardized form of the French Steak Au Poivre, which is "a classic French steak dish with a creamy peppercorn sauce." The Steak ala Pobre I know of is also smothered with peppercorns. It's a delicious dish, but had it retained its name as steak au poivre, it would probably be not as popular for rich and pobre diners alike. A hungry carnivorous wouldn't want to bother with French pronunciations. But that's just my theory. I have "no lexicographic proof."

Though he seems to have done due research, Lacaba offers the same disclaimer in this book: "My assertions here are based purely on chika, chismak, and chukchak."



  1. Hmmm... Steak au poivre. Not being a gourmet, I didn't know about that. Alba Restaurant, however, has a different take on the subject. This is from http://www.alba.com.ph/foodmenu07_carnes.htm:

    Our very own Solomillo a la Pobre
    Today, practically every restaurant has "Steak a la Pobre" on its menu, a delicious concoction of tenderloin fillet and toasted garlic chips. Many people think that it has always been around and is universally known version of steak. The fact is that Steak a la Pobre is unknown outside of the Philippines; it is actually one of the many dishes invented by Señor Alba! "A la Pobre" derives its name, according to Señor Alba, from the way the side garnish of potatoes are cooked: "Fried in just a little olive oil, with just a little bit of garlic -- muy pobre."

    Thanks for plugging the book!


  2. It sounds cool! For some written languages I don't know, I may ask Google translator for help. But the spoken unknown languages can be a tough issue for me and many others.

    pdf to flash page flip



Related Posts with Thumbnails