For Joey de Leon, hearing today’s colloquial terms made up of inverted words gives him major throwback feels.
Among the more popular jargon being bandied about by today's millennials include "lodi," "werpa," and "petmalu," which are actually the reverse forms of the words idol, power, and malupet, respectively.
Some are straight inverted spellings, while a few others reverse the order of the word's syllabication.
Millennials seem to be getting a kick out of this fad, but this isn't exactly the first time that this kind of slang became a pop culture trend in the Philippines.
Local Generation Xers—or those who were born from 1961 to 1981—will clearly remember how this trend became prevalent during the '70s as part of “hippie slang,” and how some of today's millennial jargon appears to be a derivative.
In the 1970s, Joey—then a radio jock striking out as a songwriter, musician, comedian, and TV host—was already speaking in similar fashion.
“Kami, nung panahon ng Iskul Bukol, puro baligtad ang salita namin,” he said, referring to the sitcom he co-starred in that was very popular in the late 1970s up to the 1980s.
Joey had a chat with PEP.ph (Philippine Entertainment Portal) and YES! magazine at the baby shower honoring mom-to-be Pauleen Luna held last October 19, at a condo complex clubhouse in Quezon City.
Joey and Pauleen’s husband, Vic Sotto, were lead stars in Iskul Bukol, along with Vic’s older brother Tito Sotto.
The three actors are collectively known as the Tito, Vic & Joey (TVJ) trio.
They were also part of the defunct '70s band VST & Co., and are likewise acknowledged as the pioneering hosts of the longest-running noontime show Eat Bulaga!
“Kami nga, nag-uusap nang mabilis,” he said, and blurted out words like “bomalabs” (for malabo) and “kemalaks” (for malaki).
Because of his enduring presence on television, Joey and his cohorts could have actually played a major role in popularizing these versions of street slang from way back.
The “dabarkads” term commonly used in their noontime show is a clear example of this trend.
Joey also remembered that other people in their circle went further by speaking words as spelled backwards.
He mentioned someone named Og, and gave a pair of examples: “gibut” for tubig and “gimalam” for malamig.
“Mahirap yung paatras,” Joey acknowledged, recalling another friend, Spanky Rigor, who provided vocals and played the bass guitar for VST & Co.
“Nung VST noong araw, ganyan kami mag-usap. Iskat—taksi. 'Tumawag ka ng iskat.'”
More examples from Joey: “aratig” for gitara and “adakrab” for barkada.
A wide grin appeared on the showbiz icon’s face when asked about the resurgence in the use of reverse words.
“Wala, napapagano’n ka lang,” he replied, slightly shaking his head.