Tangay – tangay ed Pozorrrubio

Written by Mel V. Jovellanos

The Pangasinan _English dictionary defines “tangay” as, “to look up”. When compounded however, “tangay-tangay” has been interpreted specially in slang lingo, as “perplexed, confused, wondering and even wandering” further deteriorating into derogatory adjectives that insult the sensitivity of the people of Pozorrubio: “dumb, ignorant, stupid, tanga”. I have encountered Pagasinenss from the province) as coming from the Municipality of Pozorrubio, have jestingly been referred to as, “oh, tangay – tangay”.

I still believe however, that the correct way should be: “Tangay-tangay ka ed Pozorrubio. [More…]

Anyway what started this name-calling about Pozorrubians being tangay-tangay?
There are several theories regarding the derivation of this tangay-tangay thing. According to Vice Mayor Rey Reyes, some centuries ago, even before the coming of the Spanish conquistadors, the present site of Pozorrubio was nothing but thick, almost impenetrable jungles populated by headhunters and wild animals. To safeguard themselves, the original inhabitants constructed makeshift leantos atop the tall trees. Naturally whenever they had visitors form other tribes or from their own tribesmen, the guests had to keep onlooking up, trying to locate the aboriginal Pozorrubians. Thus as early as seven centuries ago people were already tangay-tangay in the vicinity of the first Pozorrubio-Eden.

During the time of the late Mayor Artemio Saldivar (20 years in power during the Martial Law years) Pozorrubio was famous for her trehouses constructed stop the century – old acacia trees along Cabalerro street. They were nicely designed and were tourist attractions. Since the treehouses were perched on a high elevation the people had to swivel their necks to look up at the treehouse everytime they passed by on their way to Baguio City and / or to the provinces of the far North.

The late Pastor Jeremias Torio once told me a “True” story (he believed this was the mother story of this tangay-tangay thing) about a wedding held in Pozorrubio during the Japanese occupation. Relatives o the bridegroom who came from Central Pangasinan thought Pozorrubio was just a small town where everybody knew everybody and therefore could locate any place in a jiffy arrived, they were surprised to find that Pozorrubio is a big town after all (in fact it is no. 13 in size and population out of the province’s 48 municipalities at that time). They went around asking people where the wedding was.

The wedding party was over and the quests started going home. That was the time they saw their out-of town kins who utterly failed to locate the bride’s residence. The people who came from the party chided those who missed the party with, “tangay-tangay kayo kasi ed Pozorrubio!” So, who is tangay-tangay?

Pozorrubio’s famous Plaza Pergola is the only one of its kind in the whole country. Before the construction of its concrete covered stage, the Pergola used to have two stages located on the “roof” of the pillars-filled rotunda. Those were where the orchestras usually stayed and played beautiful music until dawn during Pozorrubio’s well-attended fiesta nights. This was probably the start of the tangay-tangay phenomenon because the music aficionados who watched and listened at the famous Asiong Mamaril and other great orchestras strained their necks looking up all night. Two orchestras usually competed against each other and their friendly musical rivalry lasted until the wee hours of the morning. The people literally were tangay – tangay at the two exhibit conscious, highly paid live orchestras.

But the most credible origin of this “tangay-tangay” was during the Japanese interlude (late 1941 – early 1945) when of all places, the Japanese Imperial Authorities decided to make Pozorrubio as the lowland bus terminal for their transportation enterprise. The Japanese bus line, known as Rikuun Kanrikyuku (forerunner of the Benguet Auto Line or BAL) made two trips (Baguio – Pozorrubio) daily and the buses were always over-crowded. This was because Baguio City was in great need of food supplies from the lowland areas (rice, sugar, tobacco, etc.)

The place where this bus terminal was located is now the site of the Karen Saplan Social Hall, the POWD sub-office and the PNP – Office. During that time it was just an open space. There was no covered terminal and no make-shift shelter so the prospective passengers were exposed to the elements. The nearby Presidencia (the recently-demolished Municipal Building) was off-limits to civilians for security reasons (it served also as the Kempeitai headquarters). Passengers who could not be accommodated (coming from Manaoag, Binalona, San Manuel, etc. had to stay overnight in the vicinity of the terminal, fearful for their luggage and even for their lives. This was when they started going around the poblacion looking up at the people who stared at them from their high second floor windows. The stranded passengers looked up to see whether they could recognize (or be recognized) kins or friends or acquaintances they somehow met in Lingayen at the Provincial High School or anywhere else or meet a long – long relative, former boyfriend or anyone with sympathetic face who might offer them food, shelter and safety for the night. Thus they went around, always looking u in sheer desperation, hoping for a miracle. The people of Pozorrubio throughout the Japanese occupation were so used to this out – of towners who were always looking up (tangay-tangay), looking to become a classic cliché, adding vereve and spice to the Pangasinan language.

But how this expression became derogatory and aimed at the people of Pozorrubio themselves is one of those linguistic twists I myself is unable to fully explain.

At any rate, some years ago an enterprising couple put up a restaurant along the National Highway in Barangay Cablong, Pozorrubio, and named it, “Tangay-tangay Restaurant”. Believed or not but the name has been a big hit. In fact the name association always evokes smiles. But one local Councilor does not find it funny and so has tried to have the name changed to Tangay-tangayen (something looked up to). Until now however, this councilor and restaurant are still . . . you guessed it: tangay-tangay!
But what’s in a name? The people of Pozorrubio should stay united and work hard for their town’s progress and development. This way people will really look up to them and make Pozorrubio the town being looked up to.

So, who is tangay-tangay?

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