The Filipino Future

Business Cultural Notes

Filipinos are generally not known to plan ahead in the future. Whatever comes tomorrow is something that is left to God or fate.  This attitude is best captured in the common Tagalog expression “Bahala na!” (Let it be, or So be it!).  What lies ahead is something beyond the control of human beings, and the best that one can do is to pray and hope for a better life in the future.

There are some Filipinos, however, who may be anxious about what comes tomorrow.  One way to deal with such anxiety is to consult a manghuhula (soothsayer).  A manghuhula (from root word hula, “to guess” or “to predict”) usually looks at one’s palm and “reads” the meanings of lines on one’s hand.  Those who usually  go to a manghuhula are concerned about their health, money, bad luck that may come, or simply to alleviate some worries about their own life or carreer.

In general, Filipinos are quite laid-back in their attitude about life and the future.  In most instances, there is plenty of room for spontaneity.  If someone wants to do something, he could invite his friends to go somewhere at an instance.  No planning, no care for what they are going to do.   Expressions like “Tara na,” “Halika na,” “Punta tayo…” are common, which signify that it was an unplanned activity but everyone will join out of pakikisama (camaraderie). 

In talking about coming activities, Tagalog-speakers are also “imprecise” about reference to time in the future.  It is common to hear expressions that pertain to a particular part of the day, with the use of mamaya as a marker to indicate future time (e.g., mamayang umaga, mamayang tanghali, mamayang hapon).  There is also reference to a particular day of the week (e.g., sa Sabado, sa Linggo, sa Martes), a part of the year (e.g., sa Enero, sa Abril, sa Hulyo), or simply a particular holiday (e.g., sa Pasko, sa fiesta, sa Mahal na Araw).

Some Tagalog expressions that signify activities in the future are as follows:

  • mamayang gabi (later this evening)
  • mamayang madaling-araw (later at dawn)
  • bukas ng umaga (tomorrow in the morning)
  • sa makalawa (two days from now)
  • sa susunod na araw (in the next day)
  • sa darating na buwan (in the coming month)
  • sa darating na taon (in the coming year)
  • sa pagsikat ng araw (when the sun rises)
  • pag lumaki na siya (if he is a grown up already)
  • mamaya pa (later yet)

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