What is the meaning of BAHALA NA?

When we were editing my book, “BAHALA NA (Come What May)”, a phrase popped up few times and caught our attention. That was when we decided to change the title of the book and published it with the new title, “BAHALA NA (Come What May)”.

“Bahala na” is a philosophical expression Filipinos used when they are confronted with problems. They will say “Bahala Na”, meaning “come what may,” “whatever will be, will be,” ‘leave it to God’, like the Spanish word “que sera, sera”.  

“Bahala na”,comes from the phrase Bathala na, where Bathala means God. Bahala also means trust or custody. Na is used as an adverb of time just like already. So it can literally be translated as God already or God will take care already. It is used in the context of “Trust in God”, “God will take control”,“Leave it to God” because God will provide. In a sense, it can be construed as a negative attitude in life, a defeatist or fatalistic attitude where you are only willing to do so much and leave the rest to God. Some people believe it makes you irresponsible, careless and lazy. On the other hand, it stops you from worrying about your problem during uncertain times. It relieves stress knowing you did everything you could and God will take control of the rest.

When faced with challenging situations, Filipinos can do a daring act and they leave everything to God hoping God will take care of them. They accept what comes their way, appreciate what they have, and God will take care of the rest. In time of tragedy, they are not easily discouraged. They know they have done their best and with a strong faith, they leave everything to God, knowing God is on their side. True, the term signifies an attitude intended to surrender to fate which can be construed as a negative attitude but it enables them to take a chance and accept what fate has to offer. It can also be viewed as a positive thinking, in the sense that it gives them strength and confidence to tackle any job head on in the hope that everything will turn out for the best if God wills it.  

“Bahala na” is used in different ways such as:

  • Bahala na come what may
  • Akong bahala sa ‘yo.I’ll take care of you
  • Bahalawhatever
  • Bahala ka na – it’s up to you
  • Bahala ka na ngait’s up to you
  • Bahala na ang Diosit’s up to God
  • Bahala na kayoit’s up to you or the decision is yours
  •  Bahala na silaleave it to them
  • Bahala ka na sa akin – you’ll take care of me
  • Bahala na sina nanay at nanay – it’s up to mom and dad
  • Bahala na kayong lahat – it’s up to all of you
  • Bahala na kong anong mangyari.he/she will accept whatever will happen
  • Ikaw ang bahala d’yan you’re in charge of that.
  • Ipabahalato leave the responsibility to someone else
  • mabahala to be concerned, to feel worried.
  • Palagi ka nalang bahala nayou are always saying come what may
  • magwalang-bahalato disregard
  • walang-bahalignorant,negligent
  • Nabahala ako sa narinig koI was distressed by what I heard

In Cebuano, a dialect of Cebu province, “Bahala Na”  is translated as mahitabo kung mahitabo; dili na mahinungdanon kung unsa pa may mahitabo o dangatan. I think I’ll stay with Bahala Na. It’s easier to remember.

Copyright © 2013. By Rosalinda R Morgan, author of BAHALA NA (Come What May.

All rights reserved. What is the meaning of “BAHALA NA “?

5 thoughts on “What is the meaning of BAHALA NA?

  1. Pingback: 10 positive ways to say "Bahala na" in English.Pinay.com

  2. It may appear that because Filipinos have a bahala-na (whatever will be will be) approach to things, they must be among the least anxious people on earth.

    Because I live with a Filipina I can say that bahala-na doesn’t take anxiety away, on the contrary it causes a lot of unnecessary kabalisahan.

    A typical example is budgeting money: many Filipinos whom I know are pretty careless about it and, although they do earn, they find themselves in a state of financial emergency every now and then because of lack of financial planning which, of course, creates much kabalisahan.

    So bahala-na, far from removing kabalisahan, actually creates a lot of it and the fact itself that the word kabalisahan exists in the Tagalog language suggests that, despite bahala-na, Filipinos do get anxious.

    Even if most Filipinos believe what Panginoong Jesus said, namely “huwag mabalisa”, they actually struggle to apply this counsel because of the bahala-na si Batman attitude

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  3. Filipinos do get anxious but not to the extent you’re implying. It is a human nature but still they believe somewhere, somehow they’ll survive what will happen and leave it to God. They have a strong faith and no matter what happens, they will take it in stride and move on.
    Regarding finances, it’s more keeping up with the Joneses and then finding themselves in hot water. Although some are so tight-fisted and so “cheapo” and those are the ones that when they retire have plenty of money in their nest egg. Since I’m married to an American and seldom see any Filipinos, I don’t keep up with the Joneses.

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    1. I am obviously talking from my perspective and based upon my observation of Filipinos whom I know (like my wife for example).
      They fail to budget and then find themselves in emergency situations that take away their kapanatagan.
      The idea of letting go and letting God and surrender to a higher power is actually a powerful one, so is the idea of living in the moment without worrying to much about the future but, based at least on my Filipina’s attitude and behavior, this is not exactly what Bahala-na entails. Real Bahala-na should create kapanatagan but most Filipinos whom I know seem to live in a constant state of restlesness that causes them to constantly look for the latest electronic gadget to buy, consume tons of alcohol and junk food. Well, that is not exactly an attitude that stems from a letting go and letting God mindset and morover letting go and letting God doesn’t justify total lack of planning, not budgeting, getting into debt, not going to the doctor and then find oneself in a constant state of emergency.
      This is, at least, how I look at it as the husband of a Filipina
      Thanks for your feedback

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