bahala na, a path to the happy place?

Pugad Baboy strip from Pugad Baboy Online

Generation after generation Filipinos have embedded in their entire lifestyle the bahala na* attitude, more of a philosophical & spiritual value than a simple mantra to get through life. After a couple of years of being uprooted from this culture, I realized that I have not applied this outlook for so long now. At first I wanted to say that I finally rid myself of what seemed to be a cultural flaw but I cannot really say if my life has been so much better without it.

Bahala na, believed to be rooted from the word Bathala, the Tagalog word for God, expresses our fatalistic attitude towards life. At home, in school and at work, we have always been reminded to change this habit. Now that I live in a culture where fatalism is non-existent and where the absolute truth is that life is a series of action & reaction, I found myself more depressed, more frustrated & affected when life does not turn out the way I would want it to. In the end, we are where we live.

While the reality of life is in fact reaping what we sow, the sun or the rain, the bees or the worms somehow affect our reap. We do with what happens in between but we cannot control everything. A lot of my stress & frustrations are rooted from here. The pressure of believing that we can do everything & control everything. It took long for me to be reminded of this. That there is something bigger out there.

A glance of back home, with their grumbles and troubles, they always manage to surmount the stress & depression in so little ways.
And when the news of the France Telecom employees rate of suicide cases headlined France, you really have to wonder about the importance of our individual character as a person in relation to the society we are part of. Probably we are really tougher when we are more hit. Sure, the complications of life are relative from one to the other but even the smallest detail can make a difference. We cannot put a planet on our shoulders all the time.

And when bahala na has a more negative connotation, it becomes more of a reassurance when applied responsibly. It is when when we try to do the best we can & then say bahala na. Knowing that we did our part then letting go of what may come. Imagine the emotional freedom it can bring. And I really believe that it's one of the things that makes us Filipinos manage to go through life, even happier than the most privileged.

In a society where there's no room for fate, I don't know what I'll do staying sane without bahala na. Is there any better way to cope with the pressures of life?

*bahala na = come what may
You can explore more of this Filipino culture with a Philosophical Analysis. Yes, it can go deeper.


From Manila to Paris, then to Marseille & to the Côte d'Azur, now in Singapore, clinging to a map of three worlds, where everything becomes all relative.


  1. Well written, Makis. Bahala na is probably the best way to cope when everything seems like out of control...Thanks for giving me a different perspective for this phrase.

  2. Hi Loraine! I think that is positive side of this attitude :) I bet you're all excited for the day you can hold your baby! You'll be in my prayers.

  3. And there is also a saying " I will cross the bridge when I get there." I believe that we all need to live each day. That we need to worry of the possible problem but will deal if it happens and avoid to initiate negative thoughts. Good things ika nga ;) !

  4. You're so right, Haze! Bahala na, getting there when you cross the bridge & living day by day. Good things! Good things!

  5. well written. you just explained to me why and how i survive in this world of stress and pressures. frenchguy's even stressed because im not stressed out... he just cant understand how i can shrug my shoulders on some problems which for him should cause me pressure, lol... but honestly, and more so, lately, after 5 years of working here, i start to forget the bahala na attitude. i start to feel the stress.. and i just realized that i dont know how to handle it. i cant eat, i cant sleep, i start to send emails (thus work) at 2am, i lost kilos! hayy buhay..

  6. Naku, Ana, if you're that stressed, French ka na talaga! I'm sure given the same work environment in the Philippines, you won't be as stressed. Pero at least that's a natural way to lose weight, o diba :)