“Bahala ka sa buhay mo”

“Bahala ka sa buhay mo,” it essentially translates to “Whatever, it’s your life; you can handle it,” in a tone that, in a way, communicates the exact opposite to whoever is hearing it.  It shows disapproval for something that a person of lesser power, like a son or daughter, is about to do.  It is the withholding of validation that hurts the most when you hear that from someone you respect.

Background: This is a proverb/saying that anyone who has had a parent disappointed in them has heard.  It’s extremely common to hear mothers say it to their children when they are about to make a decision that is frowned upon.

Context: The informant is a 60 year-old Filipina immigrant to the United States who has children of her own.  This myth was told to me during a weekly luncheon that always follows our Sunday church services.

As the daughter of Filipino immigrants, I have also been told this a countless number of times whenever I’m having a struggle of autonomy with my parents.  My experience of Filipino culture has included a highly involved family life, which often means that parents exert heightened amounts of control over their children’s lives and decisions.  While I used to resent having them dictate the actions I should take, the idea that they are relinquishing all of the control to me and having me handle my own life knowing that they do not believe I am ready to do so is also scary.  That, I think, is the saying’s purpose.  It drives home the idea that our parents are so sure of our failure that they’re willing to watch us deal with the consequences of our actions without their help.

Bahala Ka” by MC Einstein is a song that uses the proverb to give an “I don’t care” attitude to the listener from the singer’s point of view. The disappointment and lack of concern in the original proverb are then inserted into the song’s lyrics and message.