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 “?

May 31 – Feast of “Tapusan”

May 31 is a very important date in the calendar of the people of Alitagtag in the province of Batangas. They have the feast of Tapusan which literally means the end and it is celebrated in honor of the Holy Cross on the last day of May.

The Hermano Mayor, for the most part volunteers and come from the wealthier and more prominent families in town and cannot pass the opportunity for its prestige. He foots the bill for various fiesta features, from church decoration, church choir, meals at open house tables for the whole day of festivities. At times, he can go into deep debt to provide something extravagant for the feast since it can  be hiya, (a shame of not living up to the standard of one’s community) to have a small party. Besides feeding his guests at home, there is also the ‘takeaway’ custom of sending guests home with extra food from the feast table.

The Hermana will have a big gathering at her house starting late morning. She will serve lunch and dinner and snacks in between the day and everybody in the town is invited. The hermana is also in charge for the big procession called “Santacruzan” (Festival of the Holy Cross) at night with floats, band and “Reyna Elena”. There is a contest on who has the best float. The floats are made by each “buklod” or village in secrecy so the other area will not know what the design is. Nobody can spy because everybody knows each other in the whole town and no person from another area is allowed in the area where the float is being made. After lunch, the ladies are frantically busy making the floral arrangements that the young ladies will hold at the parade. Young girls from 5 to 15 dress up in fancy long gowns to be in the parade. You have to be invited by the Hermana to be in the parade. The Hermana will be at the end of the parade, just in front of the float. Young children who are not in fancy clothes will tow the rope attached to the float. The young girls with fancy gowns will be inside the rope holding the floral arrangement with her consort holding a candle. The float is made to sit on top of a jeepney and driven slowly down the road, about one kilometer west of the ‘buklod” and one kilometer east of the “buklod”. Some “buklods” are more ambitious and will do two miles each way.

In Alitagtag, there is only one road in town, running east to west. Spectators usually go to the middle of the town to catch a glimpse of all eight floats, one for each village or “buklod”. Everybody in the parade walks slowly as they say the rosary. The band will be playing behind the float after each decade of the rosary. It is a very moving and festive experience. The whole town is aglow with lights. The floats are always fabulous and garner ohs and ahs from the crowd.

“Tapusan” is a day in May that everybody is looking forward to.


To learn more about customs and traditions of the Filipino people, get a copy of “Bahala Na (Come What May)” available in paperback and kindle at www.amazon.com/author/rosalindarmorgan

“Bahala Na (Come What May): A WWII story of Faith, Love, Courage, Determination and Survival” is a historical fiction, a travelogue and a love story immersed in all the customs and traditions of the Filipino people.