Oh My Gulay 2

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Few years ago I wrote “Oh My Gulay!” (link here) to showcase our colorful Pilipino language with idioms using vegetables. Terms like balat-sibuyas, nangamote, pulis patola, nagmumurang kamias and others were featured on that post.

Well after these years, I gathered some more gulay-related idioms for a second part. And it’s not after singing Bahay Kubo over and over again, for the vegetables on this post are not even mentioned in Bahay Kubo except for one.

1. Ampalaya

This term means to be bitter. Like feeling bitter for the success of another as you feel left out. This is very understandable as ampalaya (bitter gourd) taste bitter. Though ampalaya as we all know is very nutritious, that’s why parents forced their children to eat it. After some time, it is an acquired taste. One recipe that I really like is ginisang ampalaya with egg.

Example: Huwag ka namang ampalaya. Dapat matuwa ka para sa kaibigan mong nagka-boyfriend ng gwapo.

2. Saluyot

This idiom means to loose badly. I am not sure how this idiom evolve, and why we disdain the saluyot. In fact saluyot leaves are nutritious, it is rich in calcium, iron, protein, vitamin A, C and E, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, folate, and dietary fibers. That does not sound like a loser to me. Though I cannot deny the fact that this vegetable is slimy.

Example: Pare, ‘yung basketball team mo saluyot sa basketball team ko.

3. Okray

This word is more of a slang or in our language salitang balbal. The term mean to criticize, to look down upon or speak of rudely. I am not even sure if it is really related to the okra or it just so happen that it sounds similar to that vegetable. Again, I don’t understand why we relate this nutritious vegetable to something negative, except that is also a slimy vegetable. Maybe we are just not fond of slimy food like okra and saluyot, though both these vegetables would be very good in a bulanglang.

Example: Inokray ni Kulasa si Kurdapya dahil ang mga damit raw niya ay panahon pa ni Mahoma.

4. Kasinlamig ng Pipino

This idiom is a borrowed English idiom of “cool as a cucumber.” It means being extremely calm and collected despite being in a stressful situation. I know a cold cucumber is refreshing to eat and help keep us cool when it is hot, so that’s why this expression. We even put a slice of cucumber over our eyes to help reduce eye bags, right? However, if a cucumber is made into a pickle, it take on a different meaning, since the idiom “in a pickle” means to be stuck in a difficult situation.

Example: Ang tatay ko kahit na marami kaming utang, siya pa rin ay kasinlamig ng pipino.

5. Kalabasa Award

This term means a very poor performance, like getting a grade of 0 in a test. I know kalabasa (squash) is very rich in Vitamin A and also in Vitamin C, so it does not sound like a poor performance to me. Definitely a kalabasa is not less nutritious than a pipino, and perhaps it is even better. But I don’t know why our idioms prefer the pipino and detest the kalabasa. Same thing with the kamote.

One dish I like with kalabasa is the ginataang kalabasa. Of course I like it in the pakbet too.

Example: Mare, balita ko ‘yung inaanak ko nangamote sa kanilang exam kaya nakatanggap ng kalabasa award.

6. Alilang Kanin

This term means a servant that is not paid by money, but works only for food. It can also mean in an abusive condition. I know kanin (rice) is not a vegetable but I included this here.

There is another idiom that include rice and that is sundalong-kanin. This term means a good-for-nothing soldier whose only contribution to the battle is to consume the rice ration. The term kanin may have a connotation of good for nothing, but in reality, in our culture we cannot live without our kanin. I mean a meal is not a meal without the rice.

Example: Kawawa naman ‘yung ibang mga kasambahay sa Middle East, ginagawa silang alilang kanin.

7. Hilong Talilong

This is an old Tagalog idiom that means confused and does not know what to do. Can also mean madly in love.

I have heard some people say “talong talilong” which is not the right idiomatic expression, for it should be “hilong talilong.” I know talong is a vegetable but talilong is as well. Talilong is the talinum plant or also called Philippine or Spanish spinach. One popular dish with this vegetable is ginisang munggo with talilong leaves.

Example: Mula nang makilala kita aking sinta ay para na akong hilong talilong.


There you have it folks, until next time.

Pinakbet Recipe - Foxy Folksy Pinoy Recipes
my favorite Ilocano dish, the pakbet, with all the gulay

(*image from foxyfolksy.com)


  1. Interesting! I just had pipino for lunch, and yes it has a soothing effect. 🙂 Saluyot is one of my favorite leafy vegetables. Enjoy siya with labong na inasiman ng hilaw na mangga. Nice list!

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