From Manila to Boracay or Cebu to Davao, wherever you are traveling in the Philippines you can count on a friendly, safe, and warm welcome. The Filipino people are well known for being generally very open to communicating and enjoying the company of tourists. Traveling in the country is therefore a great way to try some Filipino phrases and meet local people.
While English is one of the main languages spoken in this island nation, it is good courtesy to try talking a little of the local language of Filipino/Tagalog.
To make your trip a little easier and possibly even make friends with the locals, have a couple of Filipino words and phrases on hand. Read on to practice some of these Basic Filipino (Tagalog) Phrases before your trip to the beautiful islands. Of course, if you are a language enthusiast you may want to get deeper knowledge of the Filipino/Tagalog language. To learn Tagalog language and get to a level where you can speak it more fluently than just the basic phrases, you need to be a bit more dedicated. Luckily, using a fun and interactive language applications can go a long way towards mastering this beautiful language.
Greetings & Goodbyes
Whether you are starting a conversation or just passing someone in the street, a greeting is always a friendly way to communicate. Being able to end the conversation politely can also be equally as important.
Kumusta? (ku-moos-ta) / How are you doing?
This greeting is used in place of the English “hello”.
Mabuti namán akó, salamat! (mah-boo-ti na-man ah-kau sa-la-mat) / I’m fine, thank you!
Magandang araw! (ma-gan-dang a-rau) / Good day!
This is a general greeting used in the Philippines. More time specific greetings include:
- Magandang umaga (ma-gan-dang u-ma-ga)/ Good Morning
- Magandang tanghali (ma-gan-dang tang-ha-lee) / Good Noon (used between 11am and 1pm).
- Magandang hapon (ma-gan-dang ha-pon) / Good Afternoon
- Magandang gabi (ma-gan-dang ga-bi) / Good Evening
Here’s a few ways to end the conversation politely.
Aalis na ako (a-a-lis na a-ko) / I’m leaving now
Paalam (pa-a-lam) / Goodbye
Ingat (e-ngat) / Take care
Mamayâ uli! (ma-may-ya oo-lit) / See you later!
Maging masayá sana ang araw mo! (ma-ging ma-say-ya sa-na ang a-rau moh) / Have a nice day!
General Words & Polite Phrases
Politeness gets you a long way in any country you are visiting and the Philippines is no exception. Try to use a couple of polite Filipino phrases when you are out and about.
Oo (o-o ) / Yes
Hindi (hin-di) / No
Salamat (sa-la-mat) / Thank you
Walang anuman (wa-lang a-noo-man) / You’re welcome
Paumanhin (pa-ooo-man-hin) / Excuse/Sorry
Getting to Know Someone
With Filipinos often being known for their friendliness to tourists, making friends in the Philippines can be quite easy and is a nice way to learn more about the local people and culture. Here’s a few standard Filipino phrases to learn more about the person you are talking to and get the conversation started.
Ikinalulugod kong makilala ka (i-kin-a-loo-loo-god kong ma-ki-la-la ka) / Nice to meet you
Ano ang pangalan mo? (a-no ang pa-nga-lan mo) / What’s your name?
[___] ang pangalan ko ([____] ang pang-a-lan ko) / My name is [____]
Saan ka nagmulâ? (sa-an ka nag-mu-la) / Where are you from?
Nagmulâ ako [____] (nag-mu-la a-ko [____])/ I’m from [____]
Anó ang hanapbuhay mo? (a-no ang han-a-boo-hay moh) / What do you do for a living?
[____] ako (a-ko) / I’m a [____]
Malígayang batì! (ma-li-guy-oong ba-tee) / Happy Birthday!
As there are so many islands in the Philippines (7,641 to be exact), you may easily be hopping between them by car, boat, or even plane. Therefore you will want to know a couple of words and phrases that make sure you get to the right place at the right time.
Hinahanap ko (hi-na-ha-nap ko) / I’m looking for
Papunta ba to sa [____] (pa-poon-ta ba too sa) / Is this the way to [____]?
Pakihatid po ako sa [____] (pa-kee-ha-tid po a-ko sa) / Please take me to [____].
Pabili po ng ticket papunta sa [location] (pa-billy po nang tick-et pa-poon-ta sa [____]) / I want to buy a ticket from here to [____].
Nawawala ako (na-wa-wa-la a-ko) / I’m lost
You may need to direct a local that is transporting you. Use these for basic directions:
Kaliwa/Kanan (ka-lee-wa / ka-nan) / Turn Left / Turn Right
Para po (pa-ra po) / Stop here
Bayad po (ba-yad po) / Payment
When paying for a trip, as well as good and services, it is normal to declare your payment before giving it to the appropriate person.
Restaurants and bars in another country are always a great place to practice speaking the local language. A restaurant or bar in the Philippines will often have a menu with the English translation so you know what you are ordering.
Pakisuyò nga ng mesa para sa [isá/dalawá] (pa-kee-soo-yo na-nang meh-sa pa-ra sa [ee-sah, dah-lah] / A table for (one / two) please!
Gusto ko ito / (goos-toh koh it-oh) I like/want this
Pahinging tubig (pa-hee-nging too-big) / May I have water?
Kainan na! (ka-ee-nan na)/ Enjoy/ bon appetit
Mabuhay! (ma-boo-hi) / Cheers!
Pakisuyô nga ang check? (pa-kee-soo-yo na-ang ckeck)/ Can we have the check please?
Whether shopping at the local market stalls or a big shopping plaza, a few shopping phrases will help you find what you looking for and make you aware of the prices you are paying.
Ano iyan? (a-no e-yan) / What’s that?
If you want to know more about a product on sale you can ask this to get more information. Just remember you might get a long answer in Filipino.
Tumitingín lang akó (too-mit-ing-gin lang au-ko) / I’m just looking
Magkano? (mag-ka-no) / How much?
Wala na bang tawad / bawas? / Can the price be reduced/is there any discount?
At the market it is common for both locals and tourists to haggle prices. Try this phrase and see what kind of deal the shopkeeper can do for you.
Isa, dalawa, tatlo, singkwenta, isang daan (ee-sah, dah-lah-wah, taht-loh, sing‧kwen‧ta, ee-sang-dah-an)/ (1, 2, 3, 50, 100)
Here’s just a few of the numbers and normal prices for things in the Philippines.
You May Need to Know
If you are finding it difficult to communicate in Filipino or just need help in general, most Filipinos will be happy to help you. Try out these phrases if you are in such a situation.
Marunong ka ba [mag-Ingles]? (ma-ru-nong ka ba [mag ing-gles] / Do you speak English?
Hindi ko maintindihan (hin-dee ko main-tin-dee-han) / I don’t understand.
Paano mo sasabihing [____] sa Tagalog (pa-ano moh sa-sa-bee-hing [____] sa ta-ga-log / How do you say [____] in Tagalog?
Pwede bang tulungan mo akó? (pwe-deh bang to-loong-an moh a-ko) / Can you help me?
Nasaan ang CR? (na–sa-an ang C-R) / Where’s the Comfort Room?
Instead of saying toilet, bathroom or restroom, Filipino’s usually called it the ‘comfort room‘. Ask for this if you need help finding it in a public establishment like a mall, restaurant or bar.
What language do they speak in the Philippines?
The two official languages spoken in the Philippines are Filipino and English, with Filipino being the national language. However, there are many more languages spoken throughout the country. In fact, the Philippines is one of the most linguistically diverse countries in the world , with 187 languages currently being used today. The Philippines even has a monthly event in August to celebrate its language diversity called Buwan ng Wika, or Language Month.
It is hardly surprising that so many languages are spoken in the Philippines when you consider the historical and geological context of the country. The dispersion of the Filipino people across many islands means communities have evolved their own language and dialect. Previous to Filipino, Tagalog was considered the national language of the Philippines and was the official language spoken in the capital: Manila. Tagalog is still considered an important language in the Philippines today and is where Filipino originated from. Before Tagalog, the colonization of the Philippines meant Spanish was the official language. English did not replace it until the US occupation when it became part of the public school curriculum. Filipino still has elements of Spanish within it, as well as bits of English, Chinese, and Malay mixed in too.
What is the common greeting in the Philippines?
There is no direct translation for ‘hello’ in Filipino. If you say the English word “hi” or “hello” most Filipinos will know what you mean. The normal common greeting in the Philippines would be “Kumasta?”, which is really a way of saying “how are you?”. Another way to greet someone is to say “Magandang araw!” which means “Good Day!” or “Beautiful Day”. This is a good general greeting to use in passing.