Your Essential Filipino Words and Phrases
While most locals are bilingual and the majority of the country can speak English, an experience in the Philippines (or any other foreign nation for that matter) can greatly benefit from the use of a few Tagalog phrases. Tagalog is the local dialect used in most parts of the Philippines.
Filipinos are known for their hospitality, and when it is thanked by a show of respect and a genuine willingness to learn the language and culture, friendships are established. There’s nothing like a foreigner making a valiant effort to pronounce colloquialisms to make a Filipino’s day!
Navigating the country becomes a fun adventure that’s made possible by learning even just a few nifty phrases in the national language. Here are twenty of the most important Filipino phrases and expressions.
Po is added to certain phrases, usually at the end, to denote respect. One does not use this term with one’s peers. It’s more commonly used when speaking to figures of authority like parents, police officers, bosses, and teachers.
Both mean “Yes,” but opo is the more polite version.
Hindi is the Filipino way of saying no, to not sound offensive most Filipinos will say Hindi po. Learning how to say “no” is just as important as learning how to say “yes.”
This is a casual greeting that means “How are you?” or “How have you been?”
Kumain ka na?
Like in a lot of Southeast Asian cultures, food is intrinsic in everyday culture; so much so that a phrase that directly translates to “Have you eaten?” is considered an introductory greeting, especially if one is hosting the party/dinner/lunch/whatever social gathering. Kumain ka na? often follows whatever phrase is used to acknowledge somebody’s arrival.
It means “Let’s go!” and is commonly used in everyday conversation.
Pasensiya na ho/po
This is a very respectful apology, though a simple “Sorry” in English will suffice in most situations.
Magkano ‘to sounds more natural than Magkano ito? It’s nifty for a stroll through bazaars and the many shopping malls in the country! It simply means “how much for this?”
Wala nang tawad?
“No more discount?” This applies to bazaars and such, but you’ll get a funny look if you try this in a mall’s retail store.
Magandang umaga/hapon/gabi po!
This means “Good morning/afternoon/evening.” The po is optional but preferred by addressees who are older or if you want to be more polite.
This can mean “great,” as in Sarap maligo! or “That was a great shower!” but you’re most likely going to use it more commonly to mean “Delicious!” A Filipino host will greatly appreciate this expression in reference to the food he/she has served, whether or not it was cooked by somebody else.
The rough and literal translation would be “Possible,” but in Filipino, it’s a positive expression that can refer to a variety of things—a t-shirt that you think is good or a delicious dish. It’s also used to directly mean “Sure!”
Saan po ang sakayan?
This means “Where is the taxi/tricycle stand or bus station?” This is essential if you’re a first-time commuter.
Anong oras na?
It means “What time is it?”
This is an expression of disappointment. Sort of like, “Aww, man!”
Sagot na kita!
“My treat!” Use sparingly unless you have unlimited funds.
It means “help!” and it’s important to know just in case you’re in a dangerous situation.
“Come here” can be nifty if you want someone to come over. Said to a lover, it can be very sweet.
And of course, there’s one phrase we all want to learn when in a country that speaks a language other than English. In Filipino, it’s…
It means “I love you.” Savor the words next time you say them and feel the words roll off your tongue. The words are even more musical in Filipino, and it just sounds… sincere.
Good luck with navigating a country with 7,107 beautiful islands! With these easy phrases, you can be sure to establish a good rapport with the locals!