TALE OF TAMPALPU*E: What ‘isda’ meaning of this?

Image by Wikimedia

Don’t judge a book by its cover.

As the cliché goes, don’t judge anyone or anything by its name. I don’t know how or where to start this story of mine; a story that may inspire you … or perhaps annoy you.

Anyway, this is how it goes – The tale of a strange fish. I mean, the tale of Tampalpuke.

Image by Wikimedia

I know what you’re thinking, please don’t make fun of it, please don’t laugh too much. ^_^

Well, I can’t blame you, though ’cause the first time I heard the odd name of that fish, I also felt the same way, and laughed even more.


Actually, in our native language, it translates to something weird. It came from two tagalog words coined together to create a fish name. Tampal, which means to slap or to hit someone lightly. To hit more strongly would yield the word sampal which usually refers to face being slapped hard.

Anyway, Tampal hurts, too. Add to that the other word Puke, the literal tagalog translation of the female body’s bud – vagina. Presto! Tampalpuke was born.

Translating it in English, I got the phrase ‘slapping the Vagina’.  LOL!

Tampalpuke, I know everybody will laugh at the mere mention of this word. What more if you’ll say it aloud? or even shout it out? ^_^

For reasons, people say it’s unethical or bastos to utter such. A common Filipino way of thinking.

But reality check. This type of fish exist and are usually found in the sea waters of Quezon province and sold in the market. Actually, due to the fame brought about by this Tampalpuke, there is even a Barangay in Lucena City which was named after the fish. What a legacy!

I just can’t imagine someone buying or even selling this type of fish, or worse, eating this fish. The typical vendor usually shouts and advertises his product, but how about a vendor selling Tampalpuke?

“ T a m p a l p u k eeeee!!! Tampalpuke kayo diyan! Mura at sariwang-sariwa!” That would be shameful.

And what if your mom asks you to buy Tampalpuke in the market. Will you say: “Ate, magkano Tampalpuke mo? ”  I wish the vendor won’t kill you for that.

To satisfy my curiosity as to why the fish was called by that name, I tried to ask different people, did some research and grabbed the chance to visit the Barangay named after Tampalpuke in Lucena City.

Well, I learned that the fish rose to fame because of the Holy week. Catholic people, especially in Quezon, don’t eat meat out of respect to the Lenten season, and as such, they eat Tampalpuke instead. They say it’s a holy fish and a good food during holy week.

However, it set me thinking. If it is indeed a holy fish as they say, why wasn’t it given a holy name?!?

I never had the chance to eat Tampalpuke and I don’t think I could even try to eat such a strange-looking fish. You see, the specie has a different color on each side. White on one side and black on the other. It also doesn’t have complete eyes. The fish has only one eye.

They say Tampalpuke tastes good, but the name just don’t sound so yummy. So I’ll pass. ^_^

What isda meaning of this?!?


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