Tag Archives: folk song

Most popular: translated folk songs and the origami CD envelope

It is an interesting phenomenon and an eye-opener for me.

Out of the 6,000-plus who accessed this blog over the twelve months since I started it, the most popular posts have been Bahay Kubo (and other English translations of Filipino folk songs), in a near dead-heat with the origami CD envelope I designed myself. (For comparison, the video instructions for the origami CD envelope I posted on YouTube eleven months ago has logged more than 20,000 accesses.)

What is interesting is that folk song accesses seem to come in waves — a steady 3-5 accesses a day, then every two weeks or so, I’d see 15-20 folk song accesses on a single day. Often it is Bahay Kubo, but sometimes, Sitsiritsit alibangbang, Paru-parong bukid or Leron, Leron sinta.

I am imagining that an elementary class somewhere in the Philippines is given an assignment to translate a folk song into English, and the students go in groups to a nearby Internet cafe, to search the Web for a translation. They find my site, and their work is done.

Hopefully, they’d realize that it would be easy for their teacher to notice that the translations look alike, so they’d each try to make some major or minor changes here and there, exercising further their skills in English, rhyme, rhythm and thinking.

Translating Philippine folk songs

I’ve gotten some encouraging comments about my English translations of Filipino folk songs. This is probably because my translations can be sung with the original tunes. So far, I’ve done four: Bahay kubo, Paru-parong bukid, Leron Leron sinta, and Sitsiritsit alibangbang. I think my most appreciative audience is elementary school students, who have to do their homework.

If you want your favorite folk song translated, please email me the lyrics (rverzola@gn.apc.org). If it’s a song I like, perhaps I’ll translate it sometime.

No promises, though. Translation is tough work.

Sitsiritsit, alibangbang (English translation)

Hey, hey, butterfly

English translation by Roberto Verzola

Sitsiritsit, alibangbang

Traditional Filipino folk song

Hey, hey, butterfly

beetle me, oh, beetle my.

Watch that girl on the block;

she poses like a fighting cock.

Blessed child of Pandacan,

Rice biscuits on a stall.

Why won’t you give me a loan?

The pesky ants will get you soon.

Miss, miss, with parasol,

keep this baby in the shade.

When you get to Malabon,

trade him for some fishy paste.

Sir, sir, on the boat,

take this child and go off.

In Manila, at the mall,

trade him for a nicer doll.

Sitsiritsit, alibangbang

salaginto, salagubang

Ang babae sa lansangan

kung gumiri parang tandang

Santo NiƱo sa Pandacan

Puto seko sa tindahan.

Ayaw mong magpautang?

Uubusin ka ng langgam.

Ale, ale namamayong,

pasukubin yaring sanggol

pagdating sa Malabon

ipagpalit ng bagoong.

Mama, mama, namamangka

pasakayin yaring bata

Pagdating sa Maynila

ipagpalit ng manika

Paru-parong Bukid (English translation)

Butterfly from the field

English Translation by Roberto Verzola

Paru-parong Bukid

Traditional Filipino folk song

I just saw a butterfly,

flitting and floating by;

waiting by the main trail,

fluttering in the air.

Sari wrapped around her,

sleeves as wide as my palm,

Skirt’s a trifle oversized,

ends dragging on the ground.

Her hair held with a pin


Her hand twirling a comb


Decorated half-slip,

drawing others to peep.

Then she faces the stage,

ogling her own image,

She would come and tease us,

hips swaying like a duck.

Paru-parong bukid

na lilipad-lipad

Sa tabi ng daan


Isang bara ang tapis

Isang dangkal ang manggas

Ang sayang de kola

Isang piyesa ang sayad.

May payneta pa siya


May suklay pa mandin


Naguas de ojetes

ang palalabasin

Haharap sa altar

at mananalamin

At saka lalakad

nang pakendeng-kendeng.

Leron, Leron sinta (English translation)

Leron-leron my love

English translation by Roberto Verzola

Leron, Leron sinta

Traditional Filipino folk song

Leron, leron my love,

papaya seeds above.

He took a bamboo box

to keep the fruits he’d get.

Then as he neared the top,

the entire branch broke up.

“It’s not my lucky day;

I’ll find another way!”

I offer you my love,

my courage suits you fine.

I’ve got me seven knives,

I’m keeping nine more guns.

A journey, I will make

to distant parts beyond.

A plate of noodles is

the foe I will engage!

Leron, leron sinta

buto ng papaya

dala-dala’y buslo

sisidlan ng bunga

pagdating sa dulo

nabali ang sanga

kapos kapalaran

humanap ng iba!

Ako’y ibigin mo,

lalaking matapang

Ang sundang ko’y pito,

ang baril ko’y siyam.

Ang lalakarin ko’y

parte ng dinulang.

Isang pinggang pansit,

ang aking kalaban!

Bahay Kubo, English translation

Translations of Paru-parong bukid and Leron, Leron sinta also available.

My Humble Hut

English translation by Roberto Verzola

My humble hut

may look tiny,

but the veggies around

it, sure are many.

Yam beans and eggplants,

wing’d beans and peanuts,

string, hyacinth and lima beans.

Winter melon and loofah,

bottl’ gourd, squash, et cetera.

There is more, amiga,

radish, mustard, yeah!

Onions, tomatoes

garlic and ginger.

If you look all around,

sesame seeds abound!

Bahay Kubo

Traditional Filipino folk song

Bahay kubo,

kahit munti,

ang halaman doon,

ay sari-sari.

Singkamas at talong,

sigarilyas at mani,

sitaw, bataw, patani.

Kundol, patola,

upo’t kalabasa,

at saka meron pa,

labanos, mustasa.

Sibuyas, kamatis,

bawang at luya.

Sa paligid-ligid

ay puno ng linga!

Translations of Paru-parong bukid and Leron, Leron sinta also available.