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Here's What the Names Balintawak, Tayuman, and Antipolo Mean

Did you know Malinta means "full of bloodsuckers"?
IMAGE FELIX RESURRECCION HIDALGO/PUBLIC DOMAIN
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It is common in geography to name places after objects, but as people grow accustomed to these names, the original meaning gets lost in history as they associate the word more with the place than the thing it was named for.

Here are a few surprising facts about the lost meanings of places’ names in the Philippines.

Balintawak 

Balintawak is a district in Quezon City. But the word balintawak refers to a style of Filipiniana clothing worn by women: attire with a cloth or tapis over the saya or skirt, and another cloth or alampay over the shoulder worn like a short shawl.



Tayuman

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Tayuman is a very busy street in the heart of Manila. Its name has literally colorful origins: Tayuman is the Tagalog word for a place where fabrics are dyed with an indigo pigment. Additionally, it also means a place where there are many tayom plants.  Its lilac-colored flowers are used for dye.

Baguio

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The Summer Capital of the Philippines was named after bagiw, the Ibaloi word for moss. The place had plenty of bagiw because of the cool climate in the mountains. If you go to Baguio, you can still see bagiw growing on one side of the pine trees there.

Marilao

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Marilao is a city in Bulacan, which, incidentally, got its name from bulak or cotton. Marilao supposedly got its name from a the word madilaw or yellowish, owing to the abundance of a plant with yellow flowers.

Kawit

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In Tagalog, kawit means hook or a shape like a hook. It is no coincidence that Kawit was named such because it rests on the base of a hook-shaped peninsula in Cavite.

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Payatas

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Payatas is a barangay in Quezon City and also the name of the landfill that collapsed in 2000, killing at least 218 people. The name Payatas is a contracted form of payat sa itaas, referring to soil that is not fertile (as opposed to matabang lupa or fertile soil).

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Antipolo

Antipolo is not a Spanish name given to this city. It comes from the word antipolo or tipolo (Artocarpus blancoi), which refers to a type of tree indigenous to the Philippines and Southeast Asia. 

Albay

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Albay is a province in Bicol and the location of the beautiful Mayon Volcano. According to Diksiyonaryo.com, the word albay is the structural support of a house and is another Filipino word for tukod. It is an object that keeps something from falling, like how a buttress would function. Some sources claim, however, that Albay's name came from Al Baybay, which means the shore. 

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Karuhatan

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Karuhatan is a district in Valenzuela City bordering Bulacan. It is among the northernmost points in Metro Manila. Its name was derived from kaduhatan, which means a place full of duhat. Duhat is a sour fruit with a dark tinge that stains, and was once abundant in the area. 

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Malinta Tunnel

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Malinta Tunnel got its name from a bloodsucker: leeches. Malinta literally translates to "full of leeches." Filipinos named the tunnel for its abundance of leeches that thrive on the moist surface of the tunnel and the mountain. 

Barangka and Ilaya

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There are several towns in the Philippines named Barangka, such as Barangka Ilaya and Barangka Ibaba in Mandaluyong, and Barangka Itaas in Marikina. The Tagalog word barangka comes from the Spanish word barranca or cliff. Literally, Barangka Ilaya means "on the cliff," while Barangka Ibaba means "below the cliff."

Similarly, Ilaya means uptown or a location somewhere in the higher regions of a town, those situated on a hill or a place in the upriver area. Kumintang Ilaya and Kumintang Ibaba in Batangas are a fine examples (incidentally, Kumintang was the ancient name of Batangas.)

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Mario Alvaro Limos
Features Editor, Esquire Philippines
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