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What is 'tampalpuke' and why is it tickling the funny bone of netizens?

By John Patrick Magno Ranara Published Sep 15, 2022 4:56 pm Updated Sep 15, 2022 5:29 pm

Have you browsed through Twitter today and wondered why "Tampalpuke" is among the trending topics?

It's a bit of a raunchy word, to say the least, but what exactly is the term and why is it a hot conversation on social media?

The term originated from the sixth episode of the reality competition Drag Race Philippines, the local version of RuPaul's Drag Race. The episode aired on Sept. 14 and had the queens playing the Snatch Game for this week's main challenge, where they needed to show off their best celebrity impersonations.

Eva Le Queen amused the judges as comedian Rufa Mae Quinto, Brigiding transformed into the iconic rock singer Elizabeth Ramsey, while Viñas DeLuxe had a dual imitation of Kris Aquino and Boy Abunda.

Meanwhile, Marina Summers portrayed former president Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, Xilhouete transformed into dermatologist Vicki Belo, Minty Fresh channelled the gorgeous model Maria Sofia Love, and Precious Paula Nicole portrayed the talented actress and host Charo Santos-Concio.

The Drag Race episode contained lots of hilarious and light moments, and RuPaul even delivered the late Cherie Gil's iconic line from one of her classic films as an opening statement to the contestants. "My queens, I have one thing to say: You’re nothing but a second rate, trying hard, copycat!"

But the moment that everyone seems to remember is what Eva Le Queen said during the Snatch Game, where contestants attempted to match celebrities' answers to "fill-in-the-blank" questions.

For those not familiar with the challenges in the reality show, the goal of the Snatch Game is to deliver comedic punchlines while staying true to the characters they are impersonating. 

In the middle of the game, host Paolo Ballesteros asked celebrity guest Jojie Dingcong to fill in the answer to the question, "Para i-represent ang mga Pilipino, Bruno Mars rewrote his hit song '[Blank] on the Floor'".

He answered "Mamaru on the Floor", and when Paolo asked the contestants to show what they wrote on their whiteboards, Eva caught everyone by surprise and sent them laughing with her unexpected answer.

"Ang sagot ko—favorite ko kasi ito—tampalpuke," Eva said in Rufa Mae Quinto's voice.

"Itong tampalpuke—huy, totoong isda ito. Totoong isda ito sa Cavite, shoutout sa mga Caviteño. Ano ito, flounder fish. Ito 'yung best friend ni Ariel, [so kapag tinatawag niya ito], 'Tampalpuke halika dito', kapag nagkaroon ng Tagalog version," Eva explained. "Isda 'yan. Hinihimas niya 'yung tampalpuke niya, so 'Tampalpuke on the Floor' [ang sagot ko]".

Paolo then asked "So anong asawa ng tampalpuke?", to which Eva replied, "Mr. Tampalpuke. Akala mo ha."

Believe it or not, "tampalpuke" is actually the real term used to describe a type of flat fish.

According to food historian Ige Ramos, it's a Caviteño term that can refer to a flounder or any flat fish except for the sap sap. Others call it "isdang dapa".

A research study on coral reef conservation by the Palawan State University in Puerto Princesa also lists tampal-puke as the local name for sole fish, a member of the flatfish family known to have an excellent taste when cooked.

Tampalpuke is the local name of halibut in other nearby provinces. It's a popular fish in Quezon and Batangas, and was even referred to in scenes in the movie Mulanay sa Pusod ng Paraiso (1996), starring Jaclyn Jose and Gina Alajar. The movie was set in Patabog, a barangay in the rural community of Mulanay in Quezon.

Eva's joke landed well with her fellow contestants and it was even referenced later in the episode, when Viñas did her runway presentation and described herself as a "fish na natutuyot to fish in the water".

BJ then commented "Serving fish?", to which Kaladkaren quipped, "Serving Tampalpuke!"

The joke also snatched laughs among social media users. YouTuber Madam Aivan posted on Facebook that he'll never watch The Little Mermaid the same way again as he'll always remember the word.

One user even posted a photo of Ariel's best friend, Flounder himself, referring to him as "Mr. Tampalpuke".

Meanwhile, Eva took to her Twitter account thank everyone who loved her joke, "All I can say is maraming, maraming salamat! Sabog na sabog 'yung feed and direct messages [ko] and I really appreciate it and feel seen after today's episode. Good night mga Tampalpukeans. Love you all!"