SENATOR Vicente Sotto III, aka Eat Bulaga! co-host Tito Sotto, aka Tito Sen, is back in the news.
Nearly half a decade ago, he got panned for delivering speeches that contained passages copy-pasted or Tagalized from other sources, without attribution—in short, plagiarized. That boo-boo episode in his real-life dramedy gave rise to a number of booing buzzwords, including sottocopy, sinotto, and sottoism. And now comes… the sottosequel! On May 3, 2017, former university professor Judy Taguiwalo appeared at a bicameral hearing of the Commission on Appointments, which would give the thumbs up or thumbs down to her appointment as Secretary of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD). Towards the end of the hearing, Tito Sen raised questions—“on the lighter side,” he said— about Sec Judy’s personal life.
She confirmed that she’s the mother of two daughters, and that she’s single. But she pointed out that her life had “never been a normal one,” since she had gone underground during the martiallaw dictatorship and had later spent time in prison.
That was when Tito Sen came up with a new sottoism. News reports quoted him as saying: “In the street language, when you have children and you are single, ang tawag diyan ‘na-ano lang.’”
(Sidenote: Na-ano, hyphenated, is how the word is spelled in news reports. If a Tagalog grammar police or brigada balarila were around, it would do away with the hyphen, since that isn’t really required when the prefix na- is attached to a verb, as in naasar,
nainis, naokray. Hence, naano. But back to Tito Sen.) The senator’s one-liner reportedly got a laugh from people at the hearing. But it wasn’t long before he got dissed for being sexist and misogynist. And why was that?
In regular parlance, ano is a pronoun that literally means “what,” and naano is a past-tense verb that functions like the spoken word like in current English—“used when you pause while you are thinking what to say next,” the Macmillan Dictionary explains.
The same goes for naano. Let’s imagine a dialogue between a dad and a mom where, like, naano can be seen as a “syntactical oral hiccup,” to use a term apparently coined by Washington Post book critic Michael Dirda. She: “Naku, nahulog sa hagdan ang anak natin.” he: “Nabalian ba?” She: “Hindi. Naano lang… nagalusan.” That’s in regular parlance. But in Tito Sen’s street language, naano lang has an entirely different definition or connotation. “Ang ibig sabihin ng ‘na-ano lang’ ay nabuntis o naanakan,” the online Philippine Entertainment Portal (PEP.ph) pointed out.
“Na-ano is a loaded word,” Norma P. Dollaga of the Kapatirang Simbahan para sa Bayan, Kasimbayan Women’s Collective, wrote in a letter to the editor of the Philippine Daily Inquirer. “It suggests that one has been ‘used’ for sex or had casual and accidental sex.
Na-ano devalues sexual intimacy. By na-ano, the senator implied that Taguiwalo got into a sexual act, but not in expression of mutual love and without thought of any responsibility. This is why the word
na-ano is offensive.” The tagaloglang.com website, using the unhyphenated spelling of naano lang, explained: “A colloquial translation of this phrase in American English would be, ‘She got knocked up.’ The word ano (more commonly used as the question word ‘what’) is often used in Tagalog as a substitute word for an unmentionable topic.”
Hay naku! Nakakaano ang anong ito!