Iring is Bisaya for cat, iring-iring is…

Something else. I’ve been trying to find its English equivalent but failed. It’s close to flirting but without the sexual connotation. It shares shades of meaning with courting but is less formal and doesn’t mean that the person wants to go steady with the object of the iring-iring.

My kumpare and colleague Myke Obenieta says there isn’t an equivalent English word for iring-iring. Myke will launch his book “Iring-iring sa tingbitay sa iro” on Saturday at 4:00 p.m. in Kahayag Cafe.

Now, tingbitay sa iro is a curious phrase. It literally means “the time to hang dogs.” It means hard times. Cebuanos now just say “tingbitay” to describe hard times. I suspect, and Myke says this is the case, that Cebuanos of old slaughtered their dogs for food during hard times. Maybe they hang the dogs to kill them or to prepare the meat for cooking, I don’t know.

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