May 21, 2024

What is the baak narrative?
“Agasawa kan, mababaakan kan!”
Have you ever been a recipient of such comments? If you spend enough time on social media pages in the North recently, you would inevitably come face to face with this term. Generally, we use the term baak to pertain to unmarried middle-aged or elderly people. We also refer to our great grandparents as lola/lolo baak. In our households, we use it to describe aged objects such as rice and rice wine, for example (nabaakan nga bagas, nabaakan nga tapey, etc.).
Denotatively, it is straightforward. Connotatively, with the rise of social media, the term baak has revealed itself being used as less than innocuous to the point where it becomes an insult.
Why must we rethink the negative connotation of “baakhood” and challenge our initial perception or mindset?
Madi ti agbaak, awan ti makadwa ti biag!
Madi ti agmaymaysa, mayat latta ti adda ti anak.

Comments like these often come from good intentions and thoughtfulness. However, they should always be spoken with careful thought and consideration of other people’s freedom to choose for themselves. We are conditioned to think of bachelorhood as a pitiful state of loneliness and a solitary prison while marriage is a status of bliss and stability where we can always have someone to count on when we start holding our canes. I call it the “Baak Narrative”, where bachelorhood is something to be avoided like a plague while marriage is upheld; the perception of baakhood from people around me and what we normally see in social media.
This, of course, is not absolute. The truth is baaks can be happy living by themselves, and some families can be in a miserable state too.
We need to rethink our perception of baakhood and challenge stereotypes. It is not necessarily sad, pitiful, nor doomed to be unmarried at an older age. To some people whose personal choice is bachelorhood, it actually is what brings them joy and a sense of freedom. Just like having different preferences that work for each, a family and getting married does not have to be everyone’s goal. Let’s learn to reshape our opinion. Let’s learn to rethink and challenge our preset notions towards baakhood.
In a society where the fast pace of life tends to sweep us all in a raging current, some of us prefer the peace and quiet an empty home offers. Having a choice and being happy with it, albeit against the mainstream, should be respected and not shunned. Having a different lifestyle nowadays (as long as not violating others’ rights) should be tolerated, accepted, and rethought of. Similar to the narrative of the “ate sa Starbucks” where people perceive being alone as “kakaasi met, apay ngata kasla nakalidliday nga agmaymaysa” when in the first place, we should just mind our business and refrain from giving unsolicited opinions. Opinions are definitely helpful, but they are much better kept to ourselves when not asked.
People should rethink and challenge stereotypes about baakhood that it is not necessarily sad, pitiful, nor doomed to be unmarried at an older age, that to some people, it actually is what brings them joy and a sense of freedom. Just like having different preferences that work for each, a family and getting married does not have to be everyone’s goal. And that. Is. OK. Tolerance and an open mindset to accept other people’s lifestyle and choices is also a form of kindness. Let’s start this kindness with rethinking the Baak Narrative.