‘Fotobam’ is Pinoy Word of the Year

Photo via rappler.com

Photo via rappler.com

By Ghio Ong/The Philippine Star – Acknowledging the Filipinos’ love of taking photos, “fotobam” (photobomb) has been selected as the Filipino word of the year.

The word gained even more popularity after the condominium Torre de Manila was dubbed as the “national photobomber” for marring the view of the monument of national hero Jose Rizal in the park named after him, according to language experts who participated in the three-day National Conference on Language.

Fotobam was selected as “Salita ng Taon 2016” last Thursday, besting nine other popular words: hugot, milenyal (millennial), netizen, bully, tukod, viral, foundling, lumad and meme.

The words hugot and milenyal were ranked second and third, respectively.

The conference was organized by the Filipino Institute for Translation (FIT) in cooperation with the Komisyon sa Wikang Filipino (KWF), National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA) and the University of the Philippines College of Education.

Michael Charleston Xiao Chua, history professor at De La Salle University Manila and an officer of the Knights of Rizal, presented his study about the history and significance of the word “fotobam” during the conference.

The word “photobomb,” itself a coined word in the English lexicon, means the act of spoiling a photograph by a person or object, usually as a prank.

Chua said the word became more relevant after the NCCA issued a cease-and-desist order against the construction of Torre de Manila, owned by DMCI Homes, in January 2015.

The Knights of Rizal also filed a petition with the Supreme Court in September 2014 which, according to Chua, gave more relevance to both the Torre de Manila issue and the word photobomb.

In June 2015, the Supreme Court issued a temporary restraining order against the construction of Torre de Manila, while in January this year DMCI was told to ensure the safety of the unfinished building “to prevent damage to itself and to the public.”

The Supreme Court is yet to decide on the issue.

Torre de Manila became the talk of the town, increasing the usage and popularity of the word photobomb.

Chua also said fotobam was given a Filipinized syllabication in 2014 by a documentary created by Carl Angelo Ruiz and Jong Gutierrez, then film students at De La Salle-College of Saint Benilde.

Chua explained the selection of fotobam as word of the year “concretizes the significance of the issue in our society and education,” and expresses hope that the public will continue discussions on the issue with the frequent use of the word in Filipino discourse.

“It goes beyond being popular. The word became significant to our culture and history… We hope that now the word becomes the word of the year, the public will continue talking about this issue and its relevance to us because it shows the significance of our history, our culture, our heritage, how we value them, and how we should salute our heroes,” he added.

Poet Michael Corroza, FIT officer-in-charge, said the word of the year may come from a play of letters or words which have become common in street talk or those that have been given an entirely different meaning and have been used for quite some time, or at least two years.

These words, Corroza explained, have in one way or another made an impact on the Filipino psyche, given meaning “based on the history surrounding these words. These words may eventually become part of the Filipino vocabulary.”

He also hopes that by promoting the word of the year, the Filipino language will be known as a language that has “the capacity to accept new words.”

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