What does bilat mean in international context?

November 23, 2022 - 6:04 PM
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Photo shows U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris and President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. (Screengrab from Phil Gordon/Twitter; Jesse Bustos/The Philippine STAR; Artwork by Interaksyon/James Patrick Cruz)

A tweet of Phil Gordon, the National Security Advisor of U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris, caught Filipinos’ attention online.

On Tuesday, November 22, Gordon tweeted a photo of Harris and President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. at the Malacañang Palace in Manila.

“In her bilat w/ President Marcos, @VP reaffirmed the strength of our security Alliance and told Marcos that we want to strengthen our economic and investment ties,” Gordon captioned the photo. 

Some Filipinos poked fun at the post of Gordon for using the word “bilat.”

In Filipino, “bilat” refers to female genitalia. 

But what does the word “bilat” mean in the international context? 

According to Oxford Languages, bilat is an informal word that refers to a “diplomatic meeting between parties representing two countries.” 

Bilat, pronounced as “bi-lat” is also a short term for “bilateral.”

Carol Malasig, a journalist covering diplomacy for over a decade, also explained the word “bilat” in the context of diplomacy. 

“In most diplomatic settings, you read the word (bilat) as ‘bi-lat’ as in short for the word ‘bilateral,'” she said. 

“If you read world news quite often, then you’re probably familiar with the term bilateral agreement, bilateral relation, bilateral meeting,” Malasig said. 

“And in this case, this was a bilateral meeting between the president of the Philippines and the vice president of the United States,” she continued. 

Malasig reminded Filipinos how to pronounce bilat.

“So my Filipinos friends, just a reminder to read it as ‘bi-lat’ as in the prefix bi- pertaining to two, and the word bilateral means pertaining to two entities or two countries,” she said. 

During Harris’ visit to the Malacañang Palace, she promised that the U.S. would defend the country if it comes under attack in the South China Sea. 

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