The Grey Chronicles


The ‘Galit’ of Filipinos

Webster Dictionary (1988) defined anger: a feeling of displeasure resulting from injury, mistreatment, opposition, etc., and usually showing itself in a desire to fight back at the supposed cause of this feeling.

Lorenzana (2006) wrote:

“The concept galit is specifically unique. It may contain shades of similarities with other anger words but is never identical. . . the Filipino galit is that its source and cause is a person. . . Seldom, or never at all, will a Filipino be angered by a situation or thing by its very nature. If it involves a situation or thing, it is attributed to a particular person.”

Characteristically, when a Filipino is annoyed, he vocalizes it. When a Filipino experiences galit, however, he does not say so. For him, voicing galit makes him sound as if he is not, or as if he does not mean it. Why? Lorenzana explains:

“The Filipino galit is perceived, formed, appraised and can reside unexpressed. Filipinos put a premium on peace. They avoid conflict whenever possible and when it exists they try to settle it in a non-confrontational way.”

Filipinos expresses his galit differently. Lorenzana differentiates:

“To an ingroup member, where unconditional acceptance is assured, Filipinos simply express one’s feeling of anger. . . . He expects the other/s to listen to him using verbal and nonverbal means of expressing galit.”

“To an outgroup / outer ingroup members, fearing that the other may get angry if he says something, thus Filipino hides, keeps quiet, cries, or uses nonverbal modes of expression or indifference or, simply waits until galit has passed before expressing it.”

Filipinos delay or withhold the expression of galit. Lorenzana enumerates some reasons why:

“1. To preserve one’s impeccable image or mukha [face]. How one will appear before others is important. Poise, which means for a Filipino, personal dignity, is valued.
2. Anger as a sign of emotional and mental immaturity. Filipinos do not encourage uncontrolled display of anger; for him, a person who does not get angry easily is deemed to be broad-minded and sensible.
3. Anger as a cause of evil things. One’s anger ‘narrows one’s perspective. It
kills empathy, charity and joy. It justifies deliberate actions in the form of revenge, fraud, violence, or murder.”

Lorenzana discusses the forms of responses to the Filipino galit, such as:

a. Withdrawal of Customary Cheerfulness. A Filipino may sulk or tampo and withdraw customary cheerfulness in the presence of the one who has displeased them.
b. Through Parinig or trying to let others hear what one says. A Filipino may say something unpleasant within earshot of the person whom he wants to address it to, says what he has in mind but all the while acting as though he is addressing it to no one.
c. Through Non-Verbal Means or through pakiramdaman, which enables a Filipino to feel his way through the correct meaning of non-verbal language.
d. Use of a Go-between or a third person, an intermediary who tries to effect a reconciliation. Ramos and Goulet (1981) considered this “is not considered meddling and is a socially approved way of helping patch up disturbed relations.”
e. Using Indirect Means or Euphemisms Filipinos are especially sensitive to public criticism because of amor propio. What is regarded as constructive criticism can be an insult to Filipinos.
f. Through Teasing Among family or friends, Filipinos express objections or grudges by teasing, without openly discussing sensitive issues.
g. A Change in One’s Way of Speaking. When angry, a Filipino may speak in a slightly higher voice tone than usual; or speak in monosyllables.”

Wanna try some Filipino galit? Curse him to kingdom come or publicly castigate or correct him.


Lorenzana, Angela E. (2006), Galit: The Filipino Emotion Word for ‘Anger’. Paper presented at Tenth International Conference on Austronesian Linguistics (10-ICAL). 17-20 January 2006. Puerto Princesa City, Palawan, Philippines. 13pp. back to text

Neufeldt, Victoria and David B. Guralink [eds.] (1988). Webster’s New World Dictionary of American English. New York: Webster’s, 1988. p. 52. back to text

Ramos, Teresita V. & Rosalina Morales Goulet (1981). Intermediate Tagalog: Developing Cultural Awareness through Language. Honolulu: University Press of Hawaii, 1981. p. 469. back to text

Disclaimer : The posts on this site are my own and doesn’t necessarily represent any organization’s positions, strategies or opinions.


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