Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Talking to Dogs in Isinay

STRANGE how the memory works. I had just finished giving our three dogs their lunch of rice plus pork rejects that I cooked with papaya, and was watching them do their toilet in the camote patch near our house – when suddenly the word ara-ara popped in my mind.

The word is an Isinay command for a dog to do what they do best – bark and chase and/or bite someone such as a quail, rat, lizard, or chicken hiding in the cogon grass.

I wonder if dog owners in Dupax still use that term. But decades – nay, almost a half century – ago, I used it to mobilize my dog Dargo each time he would accompany me in my Vitamin C-foraging nature walks in the guava and sapang bushes in Pitang and I wanted him to go after something moving in the thickets.

We would say ara-ara to kid someone being barked at by a dog that we of course knew was all sound and no bite.

We would say ara-ara, too, to jumpstart a dog to fight or drive away a neighbor’s dog that strayed in the yard and is chasing our chickens.

And we would use the command to push our dog to fight other dogs.

Stopping a Dog

The opposite or rather the antidote for ara-ara is isa-isa, also uttered quickly and in a commanding tone.

This latter dog command is used at least three ways.

First, you shout isa! isa! when you pass by or go to a neighbor’s house and you want someone inside to hold or pacify their barking dog.

Second is when you use it as a warning of sort to a dog or its master when you wanted the dog to stop barking at you.

Third is to stop or drive away a dog from eating food in the kitchen (mangkallung in Isinay, magdungkal in Tagalog, agkallong in Ilocano).

We also used isa! isa! to stop a dog from running after a chicken particularly if it is addicted to biting and devouring dead or alive chickens (mammanu^ in Isinay).

And we used the command to stop a dog from howling (man-ayuwong in Isinay, umalulong in Tagalog, agtaguob in Ilocano) like the one you normally hear on Filipino horror movies.

A side note on this howling. Dog experts say that dogs that make such irritating sound at night are either feeling cold or are not feeling well. There is, however, this belief among many Filipinos, not only in Dupax, that when a dog repeatedly howls in the middle of the night, someone in the neighborhood is going to die.

If, after repeated isa! isa!, the dog still doesn't stop howling, a normal Isinay in my time would go to the dog and shout "Naveyandah an asu!" (You pesky dog!) and often accompany the scolding with a couple or more of whipping the poor animal with a bamboo stick.

Calling a Dog

And how do Isinays call a dog to go to them?

The normal way is to call the dog by its name (example: Potot, Balbon, Kulut, Bantay, Blacky, Whitey, Brownie, Spot).

Another method is to whistle "whi-weeeep!" or "wheeet-whit-whit-whit!"

Still another is to gently shout titit! Or tuuuu! Or both titit… tuuuu!

And when any of these methods fail to call the dog, you may try banging on the kaldero (rice kettle) or the palanggana (basin) used as dog feeder.

1 comment:

  1. I just received this email from an Isinay who had been living in Melbourne, Australia for 30 years now and, thus, is highly qualified as unpolluted reference for the nuances of the Isinay language since he has unwittingly kept his Isinay intact (unlike many whose tongues have unknowingly been influenced by, among other things, TV-sourced Tagalog). I posted it here because it is a feedback to our post above:

    From: Alfonso Magalad
    To: charles castro
    Sent: Friday, March 30, 2012 7:01 AM
    Subject: mandopaj

    charles iva,

    i went thru the email i sent to you and i noticed i made a mistake. when you say "MANDOPAJ A", it means lie on your stomach and not your back or simply "MAN LU^ VUV".

    and also i went over once more on your blogsite about talking to dogs. yes, i still remember ara ara to order it to be aggressive and isa isa to shoo it away.

    when we were young, i remember what we used to say when we want to call our pigs and in a loud voice we yell PIGGGGGGG and out of nowhere they come running.

    and another thing too, with cats we usually say ngi yaw if we want to see them.

    if you remember too when you go to somebody else's house we usually say "PUWERA AN AN NUNG".

    one more i can fully recall is when the weather is really hot and what we do is whistle and, believe it or not, we can feel a slight breeze. i cannot explain the tune but it was just a normal whistling through the lips.

    please check out for wrong spellings because it's a mistake i do sometimes. and also with the tenses. i type with two fingers only.

    have a nice weekend iva.

    all the best to you and your family.