Bugtong is a Tagalog riddle (palaisipan) that showcases the Pilipino wit, literary talent, and keen observation of surroundings. It involves references to one or two images that symbolize the characteristics of a unknown object that is to be guessed. Bugtungan is the playing of bugtong.
generation to another. New ones are being created with the passage of time but to be considered a true Filipino bugtong the riddle should meet all the elements of a Tagalog bugtong . These elements are:
A Pilipino bugtong, or Tagalog riddle, is a short, one-liner, statement.
The statement is consist of two phrases. Each phrase refers to an image, or characteristic of an image, that symbolizes another object that is to be identified.
The two phrases end in words that rhyme.
The object to be identified must relate to our daily lives, personal experience, and observation of common things around us.
Let us study some examples:
Example 1: Balong malalim, puno ng patalim
In this example the first phrase is: balong malalim (deep well). The second phrase is: puno ng patalim (full of knives.) These phrases are distinct of each other. Both phrases end in words that rhymes: malalim and patalim.
Although it literally refers to a deep well full of knives, the bugtong uses this symbolism to refer to a different object and challenges us to use our wit and imagination to identify that object as it relates to our daily lives, personal experience, and observations. The word balong (or balon) symbolizes cavity and patalim symbolizes a sharp cutting object. In other words the riddle is referring to a cavity filled with cutting objects. The answer is mouth.
Example 2: Mataas kung nakaupo, mababa kung nakatayo
In this example the first phrase is: mataas kung nakaupo (tall when seated.) The second phrase is: mababa kung nakatayo (short when standing up.) Both phrases end in words that rhymes: nakaupo and nakatayo.
Think of something that is tall when seated but short when standing up. The answer is dog. One can think of other animals, cat for example, as an answer that also fits the description but the best answer is the one most people will usually relate to in their daily lives. This is what makes bugtong, or bugtungan, an inherently Pilipino riddle.
Example 3: Nagtago si Pedro, nakalabas ang ulo.
In this example the first phrase is: nagtago si Pedro (Pedro hides.) The second phrase is: nakalabas ang ulo (his head is exposed.) Both phrases end in words that rhyme: Pedro and ulo. The bugtong uses a masculine name to symbolize physical strength. The name Pedro, being a very common name, represents just about anything and it also rhymes with ulo. The bugtong uses the symbolism to refer to a common object that is strong and if hidden out of sight would still have its head exposed. The answer is pako, or nail.
Now that you are familiar with Tagalog bugtong try to answer some of these palaisipang Pilipino: (click here)