It is always fascinating to trace the roots or origins of words.
The etymology offers us an explanation of how a word came about. Consider for instance these two Bikol words, pandog and takal.
The meaning of pandog intrigues me. My mother explained to me it was used in the days of Spanish occupation to punish serious offenders by locking the head and the two hands of a malefactor in a block of two pieces of wood.
Now, in English “pillory” is the exact equivalent of this contrivance.
How come Bikol has evolved a word for “pillory”? Since this is not Spanish-derived, it would seem to suggest bikol society had already devised an interesting way of punishing offenders even earlier than Spanish colonization… In this contrivance, an offender can move or walk about but he carries a dead weight and definitely he is placed in a very awkward position, looking like a buffoon..
Yet, I failed to find this word in Lisboa’s Vocabulario de la lengua bicol. His entry for the word PANDOG means a “trap”(Sp. cepo, p. 275). Is this simply an extension of meaning?. Lisboa’s pandog does not explicitly describe the physical design of the trap Unless the trap is one that locks into one’s leg like an “atipil”, it is farfetched to assume the new meaning originated from the idea of a “trap”. Such extension of meaning would seem inappropriate for while a trap ( li’tag, a Bikol synonym) is passive as it waits only for a prey, a pandog is active as it is purposely clamped upon a person to limit his physical movement.
My mother, who explained to me the construction of this contrivance, often quoted a proverb,: An maisog harani sa pandog (A cruel person is neighbor to a pillory, or Cruelty will reap its just reward.) Likewise, Malanyaon, in his book , Istorya Kan Kabikolan (1991), also includes this same proverb in his collection.
The Bicol editor of Balalong, Luis G. Dato, also quoted a similar proverb in two forms: “An maisog harani sa pandog” and “Marhay an daog ta harayo sa pandog.” (Better a person who is humble for he is far from a garrote) . This appeared on page 3 of the March 4, 1977 issue of Balalong, a now defunct weekly newspaper in Naga City. Since Dato did not give an English translation, I took the liberty of making one according to his understanding of the word.
Dato translated the word “pandog” as a garrote (vide, same issue, same page of Balalong, in his regular section Pambihirang tataramon sa Bikol)
I tend to disagree with Dato, however, for a garrote is a Spanish device; an iron collar, in fact, used for executing criminals by wringing the neck and the old Bikols were unlikely to have invented a similar device, especially if it was made of iron altho the act of wringing the neck, or an act similar to the movement of a torque, is “pagbibiling” in Bikol.
So, where does that leave us as regards the valid meaning of “pandog”? I would still hold to my view “pandog” means “pillory” since the contraption is simply made of wood and, if ever- although it seems far-fetched- it could be an extension of meaning from the old word Lisboa referred to as a “cepo”.
Mintz and Britanico in their Bikol-English dictionary (1985) affirmed the meaning I placed to this word. In page 413, this is their entry: PANDOG, pillory, stocks.
Now, what about “takal”?
Takal as used by vendors in Naga City refer to metal currency or “coins” as distinguished from paper money. This also brings up an interesting observation.
The word takal could have sprung up etymologically in this manner: 1. It could be an ancient reference to the old practice of using shells (cowrie shells or clams) for currency as I half-seriously proposed in a previous article (Takal- Bingkay Na Kwarta Kan Mga gugurang?), or 2.) The word could be ancient and related to coinage or currency and drawn from a much older language such as Sanskrit or Chinese,or 3. It is an authentic Bikol word which only happens to be similar in sound and spelling to another bikol word, takal, referring to a specie of clam
So far no historian has discovered if the old Bikols ever possess a pre-Hispanic minting technology although they were noted by the Spanish chroniclers to be the “best artificers of gold” in the country. Gold processing was highly advanced and the old Bikols had technical words to describe every aspect of gold processing and metal working.
Consider these words we draw from Lisboa’s Vocabulario:
Dudulangan, dulangan la mina de cualquier metal (mine; the mining of metal) (p. 128)
Hirapo, gold of highest carat (p.185)
Dalisay, gold of “muy fino de quilates” (p. 115)
Panica, oro fino en quilates (gold of high carat)) (p. 276)
Harom, dark gold or gold of lower carat(p. 171)
Gasak, inferior kind of gold, brittle gold) (p. 138)
Bisig, gold with so many impurities(p. 67)
Hinolog, gold containing many impurities(p. 182)
Malamote, gold mixed with too much silver (241)
Apis, separating gold from grit or dirt (p.
Bare, (to barter two tael of inferior gold with one tael of fine gold ) (p. 58)
Tamas, refining of gold (p. 377)
Gangob, purify or refine gold in a forge (p. 135)
Babasingan, weighing scale for taels of gold(p. 60)
Sangbasing na bulawan, a tael of gold
My mother passed on to me these words related to metal- and gold-working: sanghid(to assay ) and bita (ore). From the sense of the word, Fr. Luis Dimarumba coined the name of his 10-page weekly paper in 1927 Sanghiran Nin Bikol.
Possessed with advanced knowledge in goldworking, did the old Bikols succeed in making gold coins? This is an interesting speculation.
Interestingly, Mintz & Britanico acknowledged the presence of the word “takal” in Bikol. In their Bikol-English Dictionary (1985), right on page 508 we find these entries:
takal (sp-) clam
takal any big coin
Current usage does not connote the size or the kind of coin (whether gold or silver or an alloy) in use but rather more in reference to metallic currency as against paper money.
Incidentally, there is this book by Ramon Villegas published by the Bangko Sentral Ng Pilipinas (2004) on the subject of gold and gold coins: Ginto, History Wrought In Gold I have to see a copy. It must be an excellent piece of research on Philippine goldmaking.