Philippine Riddles: Bugtong

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MGA BUGTONG AT BUGTUNGAN 

 

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.

Bugtong Tagalog started generations ago and has passed from one  

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.

 

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Bugtongan Tayo!

 

1. Kung kailan mo pinatay, saka pa humaba ang buhay.

Sagot: kandila

 

2. Baboy ko sa pulo, ang balahibo'y pako.

Sagot: langka

 

3. Nang sumipot sa maliwanag, kulubot na ang balat.

Sagot: ampalaya

 

4. Isang butil ng palay, sakot ang buong buhay.

Sagot: ilaw

 

5. Ako ay may kaibigan, kasama ko kahit saan.

Sagot: anino

 

6. Sa araw ay bungbong, sa gabi ay dahon.

Sagot: banig

 

7. Dumaan ang hari, nagkagatan ang mga pari.

Sagot: siper

 

8. Munting hayop na pangahas, aaligid-aligid sa ningas.

Sagot: gamu-gamo

 

9. Tinaga ko ang puno, sa dulo nagdurugo.

Sagot: gumamela

 

10. Naabot na ng kamay, ipinagawa pa sa tulay.

Sagot: kubyertos

 

11. Malaking supot ni Mang Jacob, kung sisidlan ay pataob.

Sagot: kulambo

 

12. Maliit pa si kumare, marunong ng humuni.

Sagot: kuliglig

 

13. Baka ko sa palupandan, unga'y nakakarating kahit saan.

Sagot: kulog

 

14. May bintana nguni't walang bubungan, 

may pinto nguni't walang hagdanan.

Sagot: kumpisalan

 

15. Heto na si Kaka, bubuka-bukaka.

Sagot: palaka

 

16. Magandang prinsesa, nakaupo sa tasa.

Sagot: kasoy

 

17. Hindi pari, hindi hari, nagdadamit ng sari-sari.

Sagot: paruparo

 

18. Dalawang batong itim, malayo ang nararating.

Sagot: mga mata

 

19. Kay lapit-lapit na sa mata, di mo pa rin makita.

Sagot: tenga

 

20. Sa maling kalabit, may buhay na kapalit.

Sagot: baril

 

21. Sa buhatan ay may silbi, sa igiban ay walang sinabi.

Sagot: bayong o basket

 

22. Hindi tao, hindi hayop, kung uminom ay salup-salop.

Sagot: batya

 

23. Isa ang pasukan, tatlo ang labasan.

Sagot: kamiseta

 

24. Buto't balat na malapad, kay galing kung lumipad.

Sagot: saraggola

 

25. Lumuluha walang mata, lumalakad walang paa.

Sagot: ballpen o Pluma

 

26. Nagbibigay na, sinasakal pa.

Sagot: bote

 

27. May puno walang bunga, may dahon walang sanga.

Sagot: sandok

 

28. Hinila ko ang baging, sumigaw ang matsing.

Sagot: kampana o batingaw

 

29. Yumuko man ang reyna, di malalaglag ang korona.

Sagot: bayabas

 

30. Nakatalikod na ang prinsesa, ang mukha'y nakaharap pa.

Sagot: balimbing

 

31. Maliit na bahay, puno ng mga patay.

Sagot: posporo

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