Tigkiriwi: Why August is a Bad Month for the Ilonggos

Posted on 02 August 2021
By Fr. Ric Anthony Reyes, OSA

August is a “lean month” for the Ilonggos. They call it tigkiriwi, derived from a Hiligaynon adjective kiwi which means “asymmetrical” or “not balanced.” (It is a cognate of the Cebuano word hiwi which means the same.) Old folks also called tigkiriwi “tiempos muertos” (Spanish for ‘dying times’) in times in Iloilo.

A typical native scene in a Philippine lowland community, depicted in the celebrated 1734 Philippine map by Fr. Murillo Velarde, SJ. Courtesy of Ambeth Ocampo.
Another native scene in a Philippine lowland community, from the Velarde map. Courtesy of Ambeth Ocampo.

Socio-culturally, the harvest season in Iloilo usually ends in August. Since Iloilo is a rice granary of Western Visayas, farmers tend to look for alternative jobs in the city in order to make ends meet. This is the same situation after the planting season. Moreover, August is a stormy month. It remains the same in Iloilo, in spite of the global warming changing the weather pattern significantly.

Modern-day Ilonggos have endured tigkiriwi through time, making them unconscious of once burdensome season. But not until the COVID-19 pandemic. The said health crisis transformed tigkiriwi into a more-than-a-year-long debacle. It takes the form of ECQ and MECQ. Gladly, our ancestors bequeathed us the spirit of creativity in overcoming tigkiriwi through the myriad of diskarte sa kabuhi (creative living). To borrow the wisdom of Saint Augustine, “You say, the times are troublesome, the times are burdensome, the times are miserable. Live rightly and you will change the times… So, change human beings and the times will be changed” (Sermon 311.4).

17th century illustrations of Visayan natives, from the 1668 Historia de la Bisaya by Fr. Francisco Ignacio Alcina, SJ. Courtesy of the University of Santo Tomas Press.

Tigkiriwi reminds us of our free will, like choosing betterment, healing, and deliverance. The virus will indeed overtake us if we will not be creative in living. The Ilonggo brand of resiliency promises hopes in the midst of adversity–but not meant to be abused by those entrusted with the power to uplift the morale and living standard in society.

Let us start the month of August, therefore, with hope.

About the Author

Fr. Ric Anthony Reyes, OSA is an Augustinian advocate of history and culture. He was the immediate past director of the museum of the Basilica Minore del Santo Niño de Cebu. He is presently connected with the University of San Agustin in Iloilo City.

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