‘Ningas Kugon’- a Common Filipino Trait



‘Ningas Kugon’ – a common Filipino trait

Yes,  what  is  “ningas kugon”?   For  the sake of  literal interpretation so  that  it  is  easily  understood,  allow  me to dissect  what  the phrase  means:  ningas means  “in flame”,  it  could also be a “spark” that could eventually turn  into  fire,  something that  could also  be “burning”.   There  are many  ways of interpreting  it  but,  basically  those  are  the  straight  out  meaning  in English as they are in Tagalog  and of course  if you come from a  different province in the Philippines,  the word  might  have  a contrasting  significance.  But  for  purposes  of understanding,  we shall make use of  how it  is  commonly  understood.  Going to the  ‘kugon’ –  it  actually  refers to a tall, perennial grass used in thatching. Its scientific name is  Imperata cylindrica.

Etimologically,  the  English word ‘cogon’ is from the Spanish cogón, while in  Tagalog,  it is  expressed and spelled as ‘kugon’.

Cogon grass is called  by  the Japanese as bloodgrass and is considered a noxious weed that’s a more invasive species than kudzu in the southeastern United States.

The  two words  put  together is  “flaming cogon grass”.  As  a  Filipino cultural  trait,  it  refers to the Filipino cultural trait of  enthusiastically starting things, but then quickly losing enthusiasm soon after. So  if  you try  to lit  up  a  ‘cogon’ you would observe  how it will just  burn into flames and poof!, gone afterwards!

Correlating  ‘ningas  cogon’  to the Filipinos  could be rooted  from the fact  that at  times  or  in  more ways  than  one,  Filipinos  tend  to leave problems  unsolved or  projects  undone   because  of lack of knowledge  on how  to resolve  or fix  the problems  thus,  it  is “better”  to  leave  it,  but,  the truth is, it  is more of  the lack of  understanding of the root  of the problems.

In short,  that  cultural  trait  has  been  attributed to the Filipinos  for  years and  somewhere along the years,  it  appears  that  Filipinos  themselves – not  all but  some –  have  admitted or even owned,  such a character  trait.   The  reality  though  is  different,  because  we know full well that we are much more  than  what that  preconceived attributions say  of  Filipinos  than what we  actually  are.  It  is  a negative  connotation  which  we ourselves  have  proven to be a  mere attribution outside  of  the fact.

Insofar as  I am concerned,  it  is  a  misnomer  in the Filipino culture  that  could even lead  to discrimination to us as Filipinos and to our  culture in general.  It  has  been proven  for years that Filipinos are hard workers,  and those  who  are  abroad working  are sacrificing  for the sake of their  families  and loved ones left  behind in the Philippines,  is  a demonstration of  NOT being a ‘ningas kugon’.  Filipinos  have made themselves  worthy  to any society  they face.  Experience  tells us  that.  Although  a  saying holds  true  ‘that in any  forest  there is a snake’  but,  the  Filipinos have shown integrity  and  dignity,  and  in  the midst  of the problems  the country and its people are  facing  now, our  nature  is  to prosper,  and it may  not  come  now  but  surely,  later.

With the ideals  of the  present dispensation,  and in the presidency  of  Rodrigo Duterte,  the speck  of  light  at the end of  the tunnel  the Philippines  is going  through,  can  already  be seen even from the far distance.