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The Talonggo, as Talonggo himself describes it, is a person who has settled in Manila, but has Visayan roots. A good number of Ilonggos and Negrenses are all in Manila, and for the Tagalogs who meet them, there is little difference.

Both the Ilonggo and the Negrense speak Hiligaynon, a Visayan language that is specific to Western Visayas. The rest of the Visayan regions speak Cebuano or Bisaya, while others have developed their own languages. Hearing an Ilonggo and a Negrense (Negrense from Negros Occidental or Bacolodnon), one would wonder where the differences lie.

Let me be blunt here. At the risk of offending both Ilonggos and Negrenses alike.

Manilans and people from Mindanao and other regions always comment that the "Ilonggo" (as a catch-all label for people who speak Hiligaynon) is very "mahangin" or boastful. They have this running joke: "Sa amon banwa, ang kwarta, gina piko kag gina pala!" And whenever somebody has been identified as Ilonggo, they usually go "Ahh, kaya pala," referring to the guy's boastful antics.

We Ilonggos tend to wash our hands free of the guilt and declare that the Negrenses are the boastful ones. After all, Negros Occidental is home to all those expansive haciendas, and the Average Toto may, more often than not, feel the need to "keep up with the joneses." Or the Cojuancos, for that matter.

On the other hand, being a transplant from Mindanao soaking in the culture of Iloilo, I would have to say that there is one Ilonggo trait that I can confirm, without a doubt: Ilonggos are so darned sensitive.

Ilonggos are so easily offended that correcting them is not an option. Or, correct an Ilonggo at your own risk. At the risk of gaining a new enemy. Ilonggos are so balat-sibuyas (thin-skinned or sensitive; literally, "onion-skinned") that if a Tagalog were to come over, the Tagalog tends to rock the Ilonggos' fragile placidity.

Although times have changed and the balat-sibuyas nature has increasingly been sloughed off, one still has to watch it with the Ilonggo natives. Being nice and being nonconfrontational is needed, if you are to survive negotiating in Iloilo.

We can keep poking at each other's negative traits, but that won't get us anywhere. I'd rather see it in a different light.

I believe that the Negrenses' confidence is an asset. Their identities are firm, and they would best be able to negotiate in circles that require oozing self-confidence. If the Negrense were to aim for sales, or media planning/media strategy, the confidence they have would help them break through clients' barriers and win deals.

On the other hand, the Ilonggos' sensitivity is also an asset. Being able to feel through interpersonal relationships, and being nice and nonconfrontational makes for peace and understanding in a team. The "pusong mamon" trait may also make for an emotional haven that others could run to. However, this could backfire when the Ilonggo may need to speak up. All the Ilonggo needs is to recall that the courage their ancestors needed to muster to defend their land is the same courage that is in them, ready and available when needed.

If there's anything I learned from the book Strengths Finder by Tom Rath, it's that we should not push against or try to neutralize the things that we are weak in. Rather, we should learn to leverage our strengths and make them our best assets. But most importantly, our greatest weaknesses may turn out to be our greatest strengths in disguise. So, if you note that you have these culturally-ingrained traits, maybe you should listen to it and try to see how you could turn your Visayan quirks into your life-winning assets.

 
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