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Bahala Na

  • Date Submitted: 02/03/2014 02:56 PM
  • Flesch-Kincaid Score: 45.7 
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BAHALA NA:  A PHILOSOPHICAL ANALYSIS1
 
ROLANDO M. GRIPALDO
 
 
This article tries to clarify the various senses of the term “Bahala na” in Filipino usage.  It attempts to show that the term has many senses but the primary one is to leave one’s life—or anything—in the care of God. The paper explores the various types of determinism and points out the types which entail the “Bahala na” fatalistic attitude.  Finally, the work shows that “Bahala na” as a cultural value is ambivalent in that it can be applied in varous situations responsibly or irresponsibly.  The author contends that it is best for Philippine society if Filipinos themselves can avoid using “Bahala na” irresponsibly.
 
 
INTRODUCTION
 
Bahala na is a Filipino cultural trait2 which is situationally-based, that is to say, its meaning can best be understood in a situational setting.  The word “Bahala” is believed to have been derived from the word “Bathala,” which in the Tagalog language literally means God3 (Bostrom 1968:401).  Thus “Bahala na,” as a linguistic expression, signifies leaving something or someone in the care of God.  In time this expression has become a philosophy of life, a cultural trait that has strongly developed into a significant core of Filipino attitudes.
I find it interesting and theoretically surprising that the Internet provides a wealth of information about the Bahala na subject.  The Google search engine yields some 3,710 entries as of 6 December 2001 and gives us 100 pages of 1,000 selected entries on this subject.  The phrase is so popular that we find a Bahala Na martial arts (Arnis) association (with many branches) based in the United States, a Bahala Na gang, a Japanese Bahala Na sports team, aBahala Na veterans organization, some Bahala Na songs, a Bahala Na movie, some Bahala Na messages in German, Japanese, and other languages, etc.  (see Google+Search 2001:  Bahala Na).4
The books and articles which directly discuss “Bahala na” are meager.  There is one...

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