Do you say, ‘Pasensya Na’?

(Author’s Note: This is a two-part series on the topic of the Filipino vernacular, “Pasensya Na,” where we say it instead of saying “Sorry po”.  See how we can make it right by apologizing the right way.)

I often hear this phrase, ‘Pasensya Na’ /Pah-sen-sha Nah/ from someone who apologizes to me when they offended me. It’s good right? But I noticed that it’s almost automatic. So automatic that I hear it often and it annoys me.  Don’t get me wrong. I can easily forgive but to allow the trespasser say it just to get the “pass” immediately? No way.

That’s for another post.

Now, let’s fully appreciate ‘Pasensya na’ and know what it really means so we know what to say when we offend someone.

Why do people say Pasensya Na?
We, Filipinos, say this phrase to someone we offended. We think that by saying this we are removing the proverbial ‘burning coals’ off of someone’s head. We think that by saying this we’re “acknowledging” our mistakes but, really, it’s creating a misnomer.

What does Pasensya Na means?
Pasensya Na, and I’m no linguist, by all intents and purposes means, “Be patient” but to some extent and with utmost sincerity it may also mean, “Please be patient with me” (Note: “Pasensya” literally means ‘patience’ and ‘na’, be)

What is the issue with ‘Pasensya Na”?
When an offender tells someone ‘Pasensya Na’ and the heart of the message is, “Please be patient with my mistake or mistakes.” That’s wrong. First, the golden rule of apology is acknowledging your fault. It means no matter how small or huge it is, you are sorry for it, however, by saying “please be patient with me” is not acknowledging your fault at all. It is merely putting aside your shortcomings and not admitting to your fault.

By saying ‘pasensya na’ a person is inflicting more damage not just to the offended but to the offender as well. We tend to forget that growth and maturity comes from admitting our mistakes and not putting them aside.

Second, by saying this, you are making the decision for the offender.  You are taking away the person’s freedom to freely express their emotions. “Pasensya Na.” basically says, “Be patient with all my faults.”

We have to always remember that forgiveness and its decision is set aside to the person receiving the offense and therefore reserved to his/her judgment. Not ours.

What’s the right way of saying “Sorry” in Filipino then?
Read it here


2 thoughts on “Do you say, ‘Pasensya Na’?

  1. From time to time, Filipinos language expands and makes ambiguous or vague meanings such as this issue. For me, this culture trends back still to the early ages not by having a thought of not accepting a fault but by other way of apologizing. The term ‘pasensya na’ might not be rightful to say in a deeper meaning but if it is expressed in a thought of conveying a sincere apology then it’s just fine.
    – Timothy Jake D. Martinez, Contributor at

    • You said it right, Timothy, “if it is expressed in a thought of conveying a sincere apology” but the challenge I found is, saying “pasensya na” is said — not sparingly with utmost regret — but almost automatically like in defense of one’s honor. The essence is lost. On the other hand, I guess you could validate those who say “sorry” often is guilty of doing the same without expressing it to convey regret but then again to our language our fellow Filipino brothers and sisters should learn to know the meaning of one over the other and which word should be used right whether it is “pasensya na” or “paumanhin po”.
      Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Timothy. I appreciate it.

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