Welcome! NewFilipina.com is happy to present the Bahala Na Meditations blog which is about finding fresh and enlightened, new and spiritual meanings when saying the traditional Philippine Bahala Na and Bathala Na.
The phrasing of Bahala Na and Bathala Na comes from the word Bathala which is an ancient Philippine word that signifies a Supreme God or Supreme Divine Being. Read more on Bathala as the name of deities in the Philippines, Java and India.
Bathala Na literally means “God now” or “Divine Presence, here and now.”
Bathala = supreme deity
Na = “now” as an adverb or “being” as a verb
Bahala Na and Bathala Na are phrases commonly said to invoke courage and resolution in order to take action in the face of daunting tasks and unknown circumstances.
Depending on the regions of the Philippines, Bahala Na and Bathala Na are sayings that mean the same thing. So as you read here you can always exchange Bahala Na with Bathala Na if that is how you say it where you come from. Click Sayings to read and share how these phrases are said by Filipinos. It has its negative and positive connotations but this blog is dedicated to saying Bahala Na and Bathala Na in a transformative and conscious way.
The American novel Bahala Na: Come What may has a setting that takes place in the Philippines during World War II and the title is interpreted towards a fatalistic attitude. Many westerners, examining Filipino psychology within the framework of colonialism, project the worldview of Bahala Na as a superstitious fatalism and lack of responsibility for one’s actions. This point of view by Westerners attempting to understand Filipinos’ c’est la vie (such is life) attitude fails to recognize and understand that the worldview of Bahala Na is in fact a deep spirituality, a soul’s connection to a Sacred Source, and a sacred connection to all living creatures and Life (pakikipagkapwa) and is a spiritual tradition that exists among the indigenous and the westernized Filipino up to today, and is older than Muslim and Christian religious influences in the Philippine islands. It is part of Philippine ancestral beliefs.
In the Global Dictionary of Theology: A Resource for the Worldwide Church, William A. Dyrness and Veli-Matti Kärkkäinen present both the western interpretation and the Christian interpretation of Bahala Na/Bathala Na and also mention negative and positive connotations of saying these phrases.
It is true that bahala na may at times indicate a shirking of responsibility… which tends toward a fatalistic attitude… this negative view was included in grade school textbooks and officially taught in Philippine public schools as far back as 1940 [latter period of United States occupation]… and was faulted as propounding a defeatist worldview… Partly due to the massive influence of the United States on many aspects of Philippine life, this stereotypical judgement has persisted up to the present time…
A more internal (emic) approach in anthropology and social sciences has contributed to this recognition [whereby] bahala na could also convey an attitude of courage, resiliency and hope in the midst of difficult situations… In sum, bahala na has both positive and negative aspects. Negatively, it involves the tendency toward a fatalistic attitude. Positively, however, it reveals three elements: the daring and courage to take reisks, hope in the midst of difficulty, and the freedom that is inherent in risking and hoping.”
Sikolohiyang Pilipino or Filipino Psychology, the first liberation psychology studies for Filipinos and many colonized countries, includes Bahala Na as part of the Filipino value system too(see Related Links in sidebar).
In the Philippines, Alredo Lagmay, eminent psychologist and National Scientist, interprets, beautifully, the tradition and philosophy of saying Bathala Na/Bahala Na as a dance with the cosmos:
Bahala-na implies perseverance and hard work; it gives a person courage to see himself through hard times; it stimulates creativity…
In blurting this expression, we are actually accepting the presence of Nature in our dealings; that we must also acknowledge Nature and not just conquer it to achieve our means. Like water, we can change our paths but leave our mark just the same.
The original page on the Bahala Meditations was written around 2003 at a page on babaylan.com and I’ve been meditating on more meanings of Bahala Na since then. A small book had a short self-publishing run, and it is now being updated, but this blog has been created to share the meditations online in a free format.
You can click on “meditations” to browse all posts or you can browse the various topics under “meditations.” I have many more meditations to post and am looking forward to sharing with you.
Mabuhay—LifeLightLove to you and all you do and all you love