Salawikain is a Tagalog word whose English translation is Proverbs. It is a Tagalog Saying filled with Lessons and Wisdom about Life or “Buhay”, Friends or “Kaibigan”, and Family or “Pamilya”. There are Salawikain that have a direct English translation and is easy to interpret, while some have a deeper Tagalog meaning.
The Filipino versions of Proverbs have variations too. This is due to the different Dialects that Filipinos speak depending on their province of origin. Regardless the meaning, wisdom, and life lessons that we will get from them are still the same.
Mga Halimbawa ng Salawikain with Explanations
These are the 21 examples or “mga halimbawa” of Salawikain and I will explain their meaning or “kahulugan” to the best of my knowledge.
1. Aanhin pa ang damo kung patay na ang kabayo
English translation: What’s the grass good for, if the horse is already dead
We all know that horses feed on grass. In my understanding, it means that the grass refers to a “help” that was given too late. Or an “action” that would no longer have an effect on the outcome of an event.
2. Pag binato ka ng bato batuhin mo ng tinapay
English translation: When someone throws you a stone, strike back with a bread
This is a life lesson based on the scriptures. This means that instead of taking revenge by doing the same “hurtful” thing to the person, you can choose to show kindness or forgive him/her.
3. Walang malaking nakakapuwing at walang maliit na nakaka hirin
English meaning: No big things can get into your eye, and no small things can cause you to choke
What happens if dust or a strand of hair gets into your eye. You will probably feel restless or uneasy. You want to remove it immediately. This salawikain means that you can not disregard even the small stuff as the latter can have a huge impact on you or on someone else life.
For example, simple “Good Morning” greetings can go a long way for a person who is having a not-so-favorable day.
4. Pag hindi ukol, hindi bubukol
English translation: If it’s not meant or destined to be, it will not happen
This reminds me of a quote about love that says “If you love her, set her free. If she returns you know she is yours forever.” Based on my example, this only means that no matter how long or far you part your ways. If you are meant to be, the universe will conspire to bring you guys back together.
5. Masamang damo mahirap mamatay or matagal mamatay
English translation: Wild grass doesn’t die easily or have a long life
Grass has a good purpose which is to prevent soil erosion to bare land. Unfortunately, for this particular salawikain, it is used to portray a bad person.
The possible explanation for this one is that bad grass has the ability to grow anywhere. Even if you pull them out, eventually there is a new one that will germinate and grow to replace it.
6. Huli man at magaling naihahabol din
English translation: It is better to be late than never
Another possible English translation is “A good thing is never too late.” It’s better to fulfill promises late than not doing it at all.
7. Sa pagkahaba- haba ng prusisyon sa simbahan din ang tuloy
English translation: The procession may take long but it still ends up in the church
Usually, this salawikain /proverb refers to a couple who have experienced difficulties, hurdles, and obstacles. Yet they still end up marrying each other or have a happy ending.
8. Ang sakit sa kalingkingan ay ramdam ng buong katawan
English translation: The pain in the pinky finger is felt throughout the whole body
This salawikain means that if one member of the family (pamilya) is facing issues or hurdles, oftentimes the other members are also affected by it.
9. Kung may tiyaga, may nilaga
English translation: Hard work pays off
Persevere in fulfilling your dreams, eventually, your hard work and sacrifices will result in success.
10. Pag mataas ang lipad ganun din kasakit ang pag bagsak
English translation: Don’t fly so high so it’s not excruciating when you fall
The way I see it, it means that you should not dream very high so when you fail, the disappointment that you will feel is manageable.
11. Ang hindi lumingon sa pinang galingan ay hindi makakarating sa paroroonan
English translation: A person who does not look back to where he came from will not be able to reach his destination
This is one of Jose Rizal’s famous quotes. In my interpretation, this means that you should remember your roots in spite of all your success. You also have to remember the person who once helps you when you were starting your journey to success.
12. Aanhin ang bahay na bato kung ang nakatira ay kuwago buti pa ang kubo ang nakatira ay totoong tao
English translation: What’s good with a house made of stone when only the owls live there, better to live in a hut with real people.
This is my interpretation of this salawikain. Owls are predators, they often hunt at night alone. Probably this means that you do not need riches in life if you enjoy it alone just like an owl who stays up at night alone while it hunts for food. Oftentimes, people who show real attitudes, whether good or bad, live a simple life.
13. Kung ano ang itinanim ay siya ring aanihin
English translation: You reap what you sowed
This may be a shallow explanation but it’s the perfect one. Here it goes, if you spread love chances are you will also get love in return.
14. Ang buhay ang parang gulong minsan nasa ibabaw ka at minsan naman ay nasa ilalim
English translation: Life is like a wheel. Sometimes you are on top while sometimes you are at the bottom.
It signifies that there are times that we are at the bottom of our lives where we face hardships and difficulties. There are times that we are on top where we experience happiness and success.
When you are at the bottom have the courage to weather it because your time will come that it is your turn to be on top or successful.
15. Kapag may sinuksok may mabubunot / Kung may tinanim may aanihin
English translation: If you stashed away (money or valuables), you have something to pull (during rough times)/ If you sow, you will have something to harvest
These two proverbs almost have the same meaning. They refer to being wise with money. They remind us to save money so that during rough times or rainy days we have funds that we can use to bring food to the table.
This reminds me of the fable “the ant and the grasshopper.” The ant is preparing for the rainy days while the grasshopper is happy-go-lucky. We know what happens to the latter during the rainy season.
16. Makikilala mo ang tunay mong kaibigan sa oras ng iyong kagipitan
English translation: You will know who your true friends are during your struggles and difficulties.
This holds true even in the present times. Often, a person has a lot of friends especially when they benefit from the former. However, when the person faces hurdles, such as becoming poor only their real friends will stay with them to provide help through thick and thin.
17. Kung kaya nila, kaya mo rin
English translation: If they can do it so can you
This is a type of encouragement. We often say this to our friends who are about to face challenges or about to fulfill their dreams. It means that you are as equally capable as the other. What you need to do is believe in yourself.
18. Bato bato sa langit ang tamaan ay huwag magagalit
English translation: Do not get angry or upset if you are hit by a stone falling randomly from the sky
This simply means that you should ignore hearsays, gossip, or negative information that you randomly read or heard especially if you know that it is not true.
19. Ang naniniwala sa sabi-sabi ay walang bait sa sarili
English translation: A person who believes in rumors has no sense of self.
Do not get swayed by the rumors that you read or hear from various sources. Verify the information first to know whether it is true or not.
20. May tainga ang lupa, may pakpak ang balita
English translation: The earth has ears, the news has wings
The simple explanation about this Salawikain is that good or bad information spreads easily by word of mouth.
21. Bago mo punahin ang dumi ng kapitbahay mo, linisin mo muna ang sarili mong bakuran
English translation: Before you criticize your neighbor’s dirt, clean up your own yard first.
This means that you should focus on fixing your own flaws before you turn your attention to finding faults in others.
22. Ang Edukasyon ay ang tanging yaman na hindi mananakaw ninuman
English translation: Education is the only wealth that no one can steal
Education such as acquiring a skill or earning a degree is considered a type of asset (or pag-aari) that stays with the person forever wherever he/she goes. A person can also use their education to generate more wealth. Physical wealth such as a house can be destroyed, jewelry can be stolen, and money can be lost. But once you acquire an education you cannot throw it away.
23. Kung ano ang Puno, Siya rin ang Bunga
English translation: As the tree is, so is the fruit
This is about family members (tungkol sa miyembro ng Pamilya) particularly about parent – child relationship. Children (Bunga) usually take their parents (Puno) as their role models. Often children copy the behavior, action, and ways of their parents. As a result, when the kids grew into an adult, they behave and act (whether positively or negatively) like their parents.
Who are the People that Speak about the Examples of Salawikain
Teachers taught about Salawikain in Elementary School. Aside from the latter, we often hear examples/mga halimbawa of Salawikain from our parents and grandparents. The reason is their ancestors also taught them those “Kasabihan”. They also live their lives based on the Wisdom that they learn from them. Have you heard your parents saying “Kung hindi ukol hindi bubukol”? Well, I hear it often too hahaha.
Showbiz personalities in the Philippines also share their favorite Salawikain. They say it in English and in Tagalog. The most common Proverb that I hear when I watch them on TV is “Kung kaya nila kaya mo rin.”
Sometimes other TV personalities joke about it such as “Kung Kaya Nila, Ipagawa mo sa kanila.” Do you see the difference? But again, it is a joke, I’m sure they want their followers to learn from the original version.
Now that you are familiar with some of the Salawikain or proverbs and their meanings (kahulugan). You will realize that they are everywhere. You can hear anyone sharing them. You can read it as you scroll through the newsfeed of your social media account. You can watch showbiz personalities share theirs on television. One thing is for sure, when you encounter them you will be reminded of the lessons that they gave you.