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Filipino Language

Filipino, the national language of the Philippines is actually mainly derived from Tagalog the dialect of the people from Manila and the neighboring north.  But if you would listen closely, you would notice some words which were borrowed from the Malay language due to the close proximity and relationship of the Filipinos and the Malayan people. It is not surpising though that there are lot of Spanish words in the language as the Philippines was a colony of Spain for more than 300 years. Some words are Hokkien in origin as the Philippines has established diplomatic ties with the Ming Dynasty and as a consequence further enriched the Filipino language.

Although it would be fun to learn a few words in Filipino, English is the second language in the Philippines so most of the people can speak English.  It is also the official language in business and the medium of instruction in private schools (Filipino is the medium of instruction in public schools) unlike in other Asian countries. One of my frustrations being posted overseas (like for example when we were posted in Korea) is the absence of a decent website in the internet that I can refer to that can help me communicate in my day to day living.  That is why, I feel this would help foreigners at least grasp some basic words they would need everyday. Enjoy to try them out then!

Filipino Survival Kit

Greetings when you meet somebody in the office or in the street.

  1. Good morning. – Magandang Umaga.
  2. Good afternoon. – Magandang Hapon.
  3. Good evening. – Magandang Gabi.
  4.  How are you? – Kumusta?
  5. Good – Mabuti naman (i.e. if somebody asks you Kumusta?)

Add po if you want to be polite especially to the elderly just like how they add usted in the Spanish language. 

Good manners

1) Thank you. – Salamat po.
2) Don’t mention it. – Walang anuman.

Other Greetings

  1. Long Live – Mabuhay
  2. Happy Birthday – Maligayang Kaarawan
  3. I love you.  – Mahal kita.
  4. I like you. – Gusto kita.

Counting Filipino style

  1. one – isa
  2. two – dalawa
  3. three – tatlo
  4. four – apat
  5. five – lima
  6. six – anim
  7. seven – pito
  8. eight – walo
  9. nine – siyam
  10. ten – sampu
  11. eleven – labing – isa
  12. twelve – labing –dalawa

Please note that up to 19,  just add labing and then the single digit number.

20) twenty – dalawampu
21) twentyone –dalawampu’t isa

Note: add the contraction ‘t which is at, that means and in Filipino for the number with ones.

30) thirty – tatlongpu
40) fourty – apatnapu
50) fifty - limampu
60) sixty - animnapu
70) seventy - pitongpu
80) eighty – walumpu
90) ninety – siyamnapu
100) one hundred – isang daan 
200) two hundred – dalawang daan
300) three hundred – tatlong daan
400) four hundred – apat na daan
500) five hundred – limang daan
600) six hundred – anim na daan
700) seven hundred – pitong daan
800) eight hundred – walong daan
900) nine hundred – siyam na daan
100) one thousand – isang libo

Money matters

Peso is piso in Filipino.  If you know how to count the above, you’re good to go as you would only add some letters at the end as well as the piso to make you sound like you are talking about the local currency.

For example,

PHP 1 – Piso
PHP 2 – Dalawang Piso
PHP 3 – Tatlong Piso
Money matters, Spanish from PHP 20.

Please note that you only add ng at the end

Shopping / Bargaining

  1. How much is it?  - Magkano po.
  2. It is too expensive. – Ang mahal naman.
  3. Is there a discount? – May tawad ba?
  4. There is. – Meron
  5. No. – Wala

Riding a taxi

  1. Please go to Makati City Hall. – Sa Makati City Hall po.
  2. Please go straight. – Derecho po.
  3. Please turn left. – Paki (please) -liko (turn) po sa kaliwa (left).
  4. Please turn right. – Paki liko po sa kanan (right).
  5. Just please stop here. – Paki hinto (stop) po dito (here). Dito (here) lang po.  Diyan (there)  lang po sa tabi (on the side).

Characteristics (this is useful so you would know if people compliment you or speak ill of you)

  1. Handsome – Guwapo / Pogi
  2. Beautiful – Maganda / Gwapa
  3. Ugly – Pangit
  4. Stupid – Tanga
  5. Stupid Boy – Gago
  6. Stupid Girl – Gaga
  7. Spendthrift – Kuripot
  8. Crazy – Baliw
  9. Strict - Strikto

FILIPINO WORDS THAT ARE SPANISH IN ORIGIN (the filipino word is presented first, then the English translation and then the Spanish origin)

silya,  chair,  silla
mesa,  table,  la mesa
kotse,  car,  coche
karne,  meat,  carne
gobyerno,  government,  gobierno
rosas,  rose,  rosa (s)
sorpresa,  surprise,  sorpresa
permiso,  permission,  permiso
sabon,  soap, jabon
kabayo,  horse,  caballo
relos,  watch,  reloj
tsinelas,  slippers,  chinelas
sapatos,  shoes,  zapatos
harina,  flour,  harina
porke,  because,  porque
kruz,  cross,  cruz
suwerte,  luck,  suerte
“Kumusta”,  “How are you?”,  “Como estas?”

Days of the Week in the Filipino Language with Spanish Origin

Lunes,  Monday,  Lunes
Martes,  Tuesday,  Martes
Miyerkules,  Wednesday,  Miercules
Hwebes,  Thursday,  Jueves
Biyernes,  Friday,  Viernes
Sabado,  Saturday,  Sabado
Linggo,  Sunday,  Domingo

Months of the Year in the Filipino Language with Spanish Origin

Enero,  January,  Enero
Pebrero,  February,  Febrero
Marso,  March,  Marzo
Abril,  April,  Abril
Mayo,  May,  Mayo
Hunyo,  June,  Junio
Hulyo,  July,  Julio
Agosto,  August,  Agosto
Setyembre,  September,  Septiember / Setiembre
Oktubre,  October, Octubre
Nobyembre,  November,  Noviembre
Disyembre,  December,  Diciembre


baranggay,  village / sub-district,  balanghai
dahon,  leaf,  dahun
kanan,  right,  kanan
sarap,  delicious,  sedap
nipa, nipa hut,  nipah
puti,  white,  putih
sinta,  love,  cinta
itik,  duck,  itik
anak,  child,  anak
tulong,  help,  tolong
lalaki,  male,  lelaki
langit,  sky / heaven,  langit
sulat,  letter,  surat
taon,  year,  tahun
bato,  stone,  batu
kambing,  goat,  kambing
utang,  debt,  hutang


bihon,  bi-hun,  rice vermicelli
ditse,  second eldest sister,   Di-chi
kuya,  eldest brother,  Keh-ya
ate,  eldest sister,  A-chi
santse,  third eldest sister,  San-chi
tokwa,  soybean curd,  tau-kua
hikaw,  earrings,  hi-kau

Over-all, I don’t personally think you need to speak Filipino if you are posted in the Philippines as most of the Filipinos can speak English.  Of course the quality or accent will not be the same when you speak to people from different walks of life.  But if you want to bring a smile on your host’s face, especially if you speak Filipino with a foreign  accent, do not be surprised if they laugh a little bit but it does not in anyway to embarass you but it is a way to show their appreciation of you trying to speak their language. 

It is also common that Filipinos would speak Taglish, a combination of Tagalog and English, in a day to day basis.  So inserting Tagalog or Filipino in English conversations is very common.