The definition of bakitwhy.

Why "BakitWhy"?

Bakit? Why? "Bakit why" are you not coming to the party? Ay nako, "bakit why" are you wearing those pants? "Bakit why" is the cat in the tree?

Many Pilipinos have used this seemingly silly phrase all around the world.  An almost redundant expression, "bakit why," has been the identifiable expression of confuse-ment and curiosity throughout the Pilipino diaspora

Several online sources relate the origin of "bakit why" to the introduction of English during the American colonial period in the Philippines. Beginning with the introduction of the "Thomasites" with the purpose of "educating" the Pilipinos in English and other subjects, the phrase "bakit why" may have been a conglomeration of the American policy of monolingualism combined with Pilipino adherence to Tagalog.

Other theories attribute the phrase's origin to the manong generation of the early 1920's and 1930's. Some of our grandparents and great-grandparents came to the United States with less than the bare necessities and some English.  "Bakit why" may have been a result of the manong's quick adoption of the American lifestyle while keeping to their Pilipino roots.

Here at, we pay homage to the term not as a historical reference or a common slip of the tongue.  "BakitWhy" for us represents the duality of identity for Pilipino Americans through the juxtaposition of Tagalog and English versions of the same word.  Bakit haven't we come together as a strong community? Why are we as Pilipino Americans still invisibile to mainstream America?

Have you heard any other explanations about the history of "bakit why?" What does the phrase "bakit why" mean to you?

About the Author

Kaywan has been on the BakitWhy team since 2008 and is equally as ancient.