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A Show of Devotion: Feast of the Black Nazarene

The Philippines has a huge Christian population (with 92.5% of Filipinos identifying as Christian, around 80% of which are Roman Catholic), so it should come as no surprise that religious festivities hold great meaning here. Of particular interest is a massive holiday commonly known as the Feast of the Black Nazarene. 

In this article, you will discover the Feast of the Black Nazarene’s origins as well as how devoted Filipinos celebrate the holiday today. 

Let’s get started!

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1. What is the Feast of the Black Nazarene?

a silhouette of someone praying in repentance

Each year on January 9, millions of mga deboto (devotees) celebrate the Feast of the Black Nazarene. This is a major religious holiday in the Philippines, drawing massive crowds and much speculation. 

The Black Nazarene is a life-size statue depicting a dark-skinned Jesus bearing the cross. According to the Black Nazarene story, this statue was created by an anonymous Mexican sculptor and brought to the Philippines in 1606. While no one is certain why or how the Black Nazarene statue is so dark in color, some speculate that the statue was exposed to fire during its relocation to the Philippines. Others say that the statue is likely made of Mesquite, a type of wood known for its black color. 

The Feast of the Black Nazarene in the Philippines commemorates the date that the statue was enshrined in the Black Nazarene Church (Quiapo) in 1787. Prior to this, the statue was housed in a variety of other churches, so this permanent enshrinement was a significant moment for the Filipino people. The event is referred to as the Traslación (or Transfer).

In addition to commemorating the Traslación, this holiday is also seen as a time to pay paggalang (homage) to Jesus’s suffering.

    → To learn the names of different religions in Filipino, head over to our Religion vocabulary list!

2. Feast of the Black Nazarene Traditions

Feast of the Black Nazarene Procession

Celebrations for the Feast of the Black Nazarene really begin the night before, on January 8. This is when devotees gather together in Rizal Park to see and touch the statue, which is placed on a grandstand in the park. People also bring along their own statues of the Black Nazarene. Throughout the night, Filipinos celebrate and prepare for the following day with sermons, songs, and other festive activities. 

To show their debosyon (devotion), millions of Filipinos engage in the Nazareno parade. This prusisyon (procession) begins in Rizal Park following a mass. The statue is placed on a carriage, accompanied by several men who support and protect it—these men are known as the Sons of the Nazarene, and they wear yellow or white shirts.

To show pagpapakumbaba (humility) and their resonance with Jesus’s suffering, many Filipinos take part in this procession nakapaa (barefoot). Huge crowds follow the procession for several hours—normally just short of a full day—in order to show their devotion to Jesus. Many of those marching also try to touch the statue. 

Many of the faithful believe that the statue can perform miracles of healing, with some people reporting having been cured of disease or illness after touching the statue. Those who cannot get close enough to touch the statue themselves will often throw a panyo (handkerchief) toward the Sons of the Nazarene, who then wipe the handkerchief on the statue and toss it back. This is because the miraculous healing power is thought to be transferable to the cloth. 

In addition to those walking in the procession, there are millions of people gathered along the edge of the route to see their loved ones walking and to get a glimpse of the statue. Everyone shouts the words “Viva Señor!” during the procession to show adoration for the Nazarene.

The Feast of the Black Nazarene procession ends in Quiapo, at the Minor Basilica of the Black Nazarene. 

3. Holiday Confusion!

Many people assume that the Feast of the Black Nazarene is the Quiapo Church’s annual feast day. However, this is not the case—the Feast of the Black Nazarene only celebrates and reenacts the Traslación.

Rather, the feast day people are thinking of takes place on June 24. This is St. John’s Day, held in commemoration of St. John’s birthday. Filipinos celebrate this day by ‘baptizing’ each other and covering themselves in mud and dried banana leaves. Their ‘baptism’ consists of throwing or drizzling water on each other in a sort of game, though this event is known to get out of hand with people damaging others’ property. 


4. Essential Vocabulary for the Feast of the Black Nazarene

Someone Lighting a Candle in Homage

Now let’s review some of the vocabulary words from this article, plus a few more! 

  • Quiapo (Quiapo Church) – proper noun
  • Deboto (Devotee) – noun
  • Prusisyon (Procession) – noun
  • Nazareno (Nazarene) – noun
  • Panata (Vow) – noun
  • Nakapaa (Barefoot) – adjective
  • Pagpapakumbaba (Humility) – noun
  • Magsisi (Repent) – verb
  • Panyo (Handkerchief) – noun
  • Debosyon (Devotion) – noun
  • Paggalang (Homage) – noun
  • Mirakulo (Miracle) – noun

If you head over to our Feast of the Black Nazarene vocabulary list, you can also hear the pronunciation of each word to practice along with. 

Final Thoughts

The Feast Day of the Black Nazarene is one of the most important dates in the Philippines, especially among faithful Catholics. In learning about this holiday, you’ve taken a step toward better understanding Filipino culture and immersing yourself in the language. We hope you enjoyed this lesson, and that you feel inspired to continue your Filipino studies! To learn about more Filipino holidays, you can check out the following blog posts on FilipinoPod101.com:

For even more useful content on the Filipino language and culture, create your free lifetime account with us today. We provide practical lessons and other learning materials for learners at every level, so you can jump right in wherever you are on your language learning journey! 

Before you go, let us know in the comments if you celebrate a similar holiday in your country. If not, would you ever want to visit the Philippines to witness the Feast of the Black Nazarene yourself? We look forward to hearing from you.

Happy learning!

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Araw ng Jose Rizal: Rizal Day in the Philippines

In every nation and at every point in history, there are certain names, faces, and stories that stand out from the rest. There are writers, artists, activists, and leaders whom nations herald and commemorate for years and for centuries. And there are true national heroes like the Philippines’s own Jose Rizal.

Today, we’ll talk about the Rizal Day holiday and the events it commemorates. 

Let’s get started.

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1. What is Rizal Day?

A Sketch Drawing of Jose Rizal

Observed each year on December 30, Rizal Day is a national holiday in the Philippines. It marks the date in 1896 that Jose Rizal, pambansang bayani (“national hero”) of the Philippines, was executed. 

History

For centuries, the Spanish colonized the Philippines and abused their power over the native inhabitants. This abuse began in 1521, when Ferdinand Magellan arrived in the Philippines and claimed the territory for Spain. While many Filipinos over the years had wanted kalayaan (“freedom”) from Spain, any attempted dissent proved futile.

In 1861, Jose Rizal was born and would grow up to become the country’s national hero and a martyr. 

Though Rizal worked as a doctor, he is most remembered for his makabayan (“patriotic”) works as a novelist. His two great works were titled Noli Me Tangere (“Touch Me Not”) and El Filibusterismo (“The Reign of Greed”), both of which shed light on the negative impact of the Spanish rule over the Philippines. These two novels were Rizal’s way of expressing his—and the nation’s—desire for mapayapang reporma (“peaceful reform”), though he wrote them while away in Europe. Experts believe that his novels spurred the Filipino population to act out against the Spanish government and eventually gain their freedom.

In 1892, Rizal returned to his home country and continued to fight with them toward freedom and pantay na karapatan (“equal rights”). In all this, he was never directly involved in violence or warfare. His continued dissidence led to him being exiled to Dapitan, Mindanao for three years. He eventually made his way to Cuba, where he was wrongly arrested for suspicion that he was involved in a nationalistic revolt. Rizal was convicted of the crime and his penalty was death by firing squad. He was shot to his death on December 30, 1896.

The influence of Rizal on the present-day Philippines cannot be overstated. He played a major role in leading the nation to freedom, equal rights, and dignidad (“dignity”). Most importantly, his patriotic work inspired Filipinos and gave them pag-asa (“hope”) of a better future. These are things which Filipinos today continue to enjoy; they will never forget Rizal’s name.

The very first Rizal Day observations began in 1898, when the first President of the Philippines (Emilio Aguinaldo) declared December 30 a day of national mourning. This was done to encourage commemoration of Rizal and of all Filipinos who perished under the Spanish colonial rule. 


2. Rizal Day Celebrations and Traditions

A Woman Looking Up in Hope

Rizal Day in the Philippines is a national holiday. This means that most people get the day off of work, and those who do have to work will receive double their usual wages. The day also happens to fall near the end of Christmas Break for many schools, so students and teachers are free to participate in the observations.

The largest ceremony for Rizal Day is held in Rizal Park, the park in which Rizal was shot to death. The President and Vice President of the Philippines lead these ceremonies, which involve a twenty-one gun salute and laying a wreath at the Rizal Monument. The flag is also raised and the Philippine Air Force flies overhead. The President may give a speech discussing the events of the past year and looking forward to plans for the future. Throughout the Philippines, Rizal Day is also celebrated on a smaller scale in each province, led by government officials.

Flags must be flown at half-mast on this day, and certain activities are banned. These include: cockfighting, horse racing, and jai-alai (a Basque-inspired sport similar to racquetball).

A History of Rizal Day Observations

Over the years, there have been a few Rizal Day celebrations that warrant particular recognition:

  • 1937: President Manuel L. Quezon made Tagalog the official language of the Philippines.
  • 1942: Rizal’s final poem, titled Mi último adiós, was recited in Japanese and KALIBAPI was inaugurated. 
  • 1996: To mark the 100-year anniversary of Rizal’s murder, his final steps were retraced and his death was reenacted.
  • 2000: A terrorist bombing killed 22 people and injured 100 more.

Also note that from 1936 to 1973, Rizal Day also served as the President’s inauguration day. In 1973, the inauguration date was moved to June 30. 


3. Rizal Park

Rizal Park (also called Luneta Park) is where Jose Rizal was shot to his death and where the main commemorative event takes place each year. Within the park lie the Rizal Monument and the life-size diorama of his final moments, as well as museums and gardens. 

This is a major tourist destination and a popular site for native Filipinos as well. If you plan on visiting Manila, don’t forget to walk through Rizal Park!


4. Essential Filipino Vocabulary for Rizal Day

A Group of People Holding Each Other’s Wrists

Let’s review some of the key vocabulary words from this article so you can start discussing Rizal Day in Tagalog! 

  • Noli Me Tangere – “Touch Me Not”
  • El Filibusterismo – “The Reign of Greed”
  • Kalayaan – “Freedom” [n]
  • Makabayan – “Patriotic” [adj]
  • Araw ni Jose Rizal – “Jose Rizal’s Day”
  • Pambansang bayani – “National hero” 
  • Pantay na karapatan – “Equal rights” [n]
  • Pag-asa – “Hope” [n]
  • Mapayapang reporma – “Peaceful reform” [n]
  • Dignidad – “Dignity” [n]

Remember that you can find each of these words, along with their pronunciation, on our Rizal Day vocabulary list!

Final Thoughts

Rizal Day in the Philippines is a time of solemn commemoration and reflection on the events of the past, as well as a day to appreciate the nation’s freedom. Most of all, it seeks to honor Rizal for his major role in setting the country on its path to a better future.

Who are some prominent national heroes of your country? Do you have a special day to celebrate them? Let us know in the comments! 

To continue exploring the rich Filipino culture and language, you can read these articles from FilipinoPod101.com:

This is just a small sample of everything FilipinoPod101 has to offer! From themed vocabulary lists to fun audio and video lessons, we provide tons of learning resources for aspiring Filipino learners. Create your free lifetime account today and see what we’re all about! You’ll be speaking Filipino in minutes and fluent before you know it. 

Happy learning!

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Buwan ng Wika: Celebrating Filipino Language Month

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In many ways, language is both a culmination and an expression of culture. It allows for not only effective communication, but also communication that’s relevant in a given place, time, and context. 

In this article, you’ll learn how people in the Philippines celebrate Buwan ng Wika (Filipino Language Month) and gain some insight into the importance of the Filipino language. 

Let’s get started.

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1. What is Filipino Language Month?

A Row of Books with one Book Open in Front

For the entire month of August in the Philippines, people celebrate Buwan ng Wika, or Filipino Language Month. This holiday seeks to shed light on the importance of the Filipino language and the pagkakaisa (“unity”) it brought to the country. While the status of the Filipino language in the Philippines is debated, it serves as a marker of pagkakakilanlan (“identity”) for many! 

Before we cover how Filipinos celebrate Filipino Language Month, let’s see a few facts about Buwan ng Wika and the Filipino language. 

1 – Filipino or Tagalog? 

First, let’s clear the air. Are we talking about Filipino or Tagalog here (or any of the other 120+ languages spoken in the Philippines)? 

Many people are unsure of the difference between Tagalog and Filipino, and for good reasons. The thing you need to remember is that Filipino is basically a standardized version of Tagalog, making the two languages extremely similar, with nuanced differences. 

Buwan ng Wika celebrates the Filipino language specifically, though you should also note that most Filipino people speak Tagalog as their second language (and nearly a quarter speak it as their first). 

One of the Philippines’ official languages, Filipino has had a major role in unifying the bansa (“country”) through a more standard language. 

2 – History and Meaning of Buwan ng Wika

Buwan ng Wika was first celebrated in 1946 as a week-long holiday that coincided with the birthday of a famous Tagalog literary artist, Francisco Baltazar. This holiday lasted from late March to early April, though the dates were changed four times! 

In 1997, then-President Fidel V. Ramos signed a Proclamation that the holiday would now be a month-long celebration in August. This new timeframe allowed the holiday to coincide with the birthday and death anniversary of former President Manuel L. Quezon, who’s often labeled “The Father of the Filipino Language.” 

2. Celebrations and Events for Filipino Language Month

Folk Dancing

On August 1, there’s often a flag-raising ceremony and a speech about the relevance and significance of the Filipino language in modern times. The rest of the month is filled with tons of educational activities and events, usually geared toward children and younger generations. Each year, there’s a new Buwan ng Wika theme, focusing on a specific aspect of the language or kultura (“culture”). 

If you decide to visit the Philippines in August, definitely plan on attending one or more of the special events that take place throughout the country. 

1 – Buwan ng Wika Dance Competitions & Events

In different parts of the country, you’ll likely find a variety of dance competitions and events throughout August. During these events, many Filipinos and Filipinas enjoy doing a fun katutubong sayaw (“folk dance”), though there are also recent trends toward more modern dance styles. 

2 – Balagtasan (“Poetic Debate”)

During Buwan ng Wika, spoken poetry showings and poetic debates are common throughout the Philippines. How better than through a well-crafted tula (“poem”) in one’s language to show appreciation for it? 

In addition to these poetry readings and debates, many students are encouraged to participate in essay competitions. The topic of the essay usually correlates to the year’s theme. 

3 – Exhibits & Parades

There are many art and culture exhibits promoting the Filipino language, culture, and panitikan (“literature”) throughout the country. In addition, there are many parades during August that showcase different aspects of Filipino culture. 

4 – School Programs

Many schools like to get involved with the Buwan ng Wika celebrations, using games and fun lessons to teach students about the Filipino language and culture. 

3. Kuwentong-bayan (“Folk tale”)

A Group of Friends Whispering to Each Other

Oral storytelling has played a huge part in many cultures, and this is certainly true of the Philippines. There are numerous folk tales of Philippine origin, and during Buwan ng Wika, it’s not uncommon for people to tell these stories among themselves or for an audience. 

You may be familiar with the adage, “Haste makes waste.” Well, there’s a Filipino story with the same general message about the importance of taking your time. 

In this story, a man needs to travel a long distance on horseback with several coconuts in tow. Along the way, he meets a boy and asks him how much longer he’ll need to travel until he reaches the house. The boy tells him that if he travels slowly, he’ll get there early; if he travels quickly, he’ll get there late. Not understanding, the man sped up his horse only to have the coconuts fall off; he gathered them up again, and sped up the horse to the same effect. Because he didn’t take his time, he didn’t reach the house until after dark. 

    → Oral communication is great, but who doesn’t like a good book? Check out our list of the essential vocabulary for Talking About Books!

4. Essential Vocabulary for Filipino Language Month

White Slips of Paper with Words on Them

What better way to celebrate Filipino Language Month than by memorizing a few words? Here’s a list of some of the words from this article! 

  • “Language” — Wika [n]
  • “Word” — Salita [n]
  • “Culture” — Kultura [n]
  • “Literature” — Panitikan [n]
  • “Poem” — Tula [n]
  • “Legend” — Alamat [n]
  • “Folk tale” — Kuwentong-bayan [n]
  • “Folk dance” — Katutubong sayaw [n]
  • “Essay” — Sanaysay [n]
  • “Poetic debate” — Balagtasan [n]
  • “Unity” — Pagkakaisa [n]
  • “Country” — Bansa [n]
  • “Identity” — Pagkakakilanlan [n]

Remember that you can find each of these words with audio pronunciations on our Filipino Language Month vocabulary list

Final Thoughts

The development and adoption of the Filipino language was certainly a positive turning point for communication in the Philippines, making Buwan ng Wika a meaningful month for the country. 

What are your thoughts on this holiday, and the Filipino language in general? Does your country have a special holiday to celebrate its official language? Let us know in the comments! 

To continue learning about the Filipino language and culture, check out these free resources from the FilipinoPod101.com blog:

Whatever your reasons for wanting to learn Filipino or explore life in the Philippines, know that FilipinoPod101 has your back! Create your free lifetime account today and take advantage of our numerous learning tools: themed vocabulary lists, spaced-repetition flashcards, video and audio lessons, and so much more. 

Stay safe out there, and happy Filipino learning!

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Eidul Adha in the Philippines – Sacrifice and Charity

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Community, charity, and great food. What could be better in a holiday? 

The Eidul Adha holiday has all these things and more! In this article, you’ll learn about the Eidul Adha meaning in the Philippines, how Filipino Muslims celebrate, and why this day is so important. 

Let’s get started!

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1. What is the Eidul Adha Holiday?

Up-close Image of a Young Goat

Eidul Adha, often called “The Feast of the Sacrifice” in English, is one of the most important Muslim holidays worldwide. 

It originates from the story of Ibrahim, who was willing to sacrifice his son Ismael. According to the Quran, Ibrahim had asked Allah to give him a son, and Allah did so. But as Ismael grew older, Ibrahim began having recurring dreams of slaughtering his son and realized it was an order from Allah to sacrifice his son. Upon Ibrahim telling his son this, Ismael told his father to do as Allah willed. Ibrahim prepared his son for the sacrifice and was about to slaughter him, but was stopped by a voice. This voice told him that the “vision” had already been completed. Ibrahim was given a lamb to sacrifice in Ismael’s place, and Ismael was revealed to be a righteous prophet.

Today, the Muslim selebrasyon (“celebration”) of this holiday focuses on selflessness and serves as a reminder that Allah blesses the faithful. Eidul Adha is also associated with the willingness to give up cherished possessions to glorify Allah.

  • See our vocabulary list on Religion to learn the names of different religions in Filipino! 

2. When is Eidul Adha This Year?

A Silhouette of a Muslim Woman Praying

The date of Eidul Adha varies each year on the Gregorian calendar, as it takes place on the tenth day of Dhu al-Hijjah. The holiday then lasts for roughly three days. 

Here’s a list of this holiday’s tentative start date for the next ten years.

YearStart Date
2020July 31
2021July 20
2022July 10
2023June 29
2024June 17
2025June 7
2026May 27
2027May 17
2028May 6
2029April 24

Note that these dates may not be entirely accurate, and may vary. The date of Eidul Adha is officially determined each year by professional moon-sighters, and the dates above are only expected estimates.

3. How is Eidul Adha Celebrated?

Two Muslim Men Hugging for Eidul Adha

In the Philippines, the most popular way to celebrate Eidul Adha is to visit a moske (“mosque”) and listen to an Eid khutba (“sermon”). Muslims gather together for prayers, and many people like to wear new clothing on this occasion. They often give each other Eidul Adha wishes and other kind words. These Eidul Adha greetings often involve a friendly yakap (“hug”) in the spirit of community and friendship. 

In light of Ibrahim’s willingness to sacrifice his son—and Allah’s last-minute provision of a lamb—some Muslims in the Philippines make an animal sakripisyo (“sacrifice”) on this day. The animal’s meat is then divided into three portions: one portion to give to the poor, one portion to bring home to one’s family, and one portion to give to other relatives. Those who don’t make a sacrifice may still purchase large pieces of meat to give away and prepare for themselves

It’s important to note that on Eidul Adha, the animal sacrifice is not made as an atonement for sin, and it’s said that the blood and meat of the sacrifice don’t even reach Allah. The sacrifice has more to do with generosity, which is why a third of it is given as zakat al-fitr (charity in the form of food). This willingness to give up some of one’s possessions for those in need is said to please Allah and show one’s devotion to Him. 

4. Two Popular Mosques in the Philippines

While the Philippines has a large Catholic Christian population, the country still has quite a few mosques. There are two, in particular, that are worth noting:

You can read more about these and other Filipino mosques on Wikipedia. And don’t forget to check out our list of the Top Tourist Attractions in the Philippines while you’re at it! 

5. Vocabulary for Eid in the Philippines

A Table on Which Pita Bread and Other Foods Are Laid Out for Breaking the Eidul Adha Fast

Let’s review some of the Filipino vocabulary words and phrases from this article! 

  • “Eidul Adha” — Eidul Adha [n]
  • “Hug” — Yakap [v]
  • “Fasting” — Pag-aayuno [v]
  • “Sermon” — Khutba [n]
  • Charity in the form of food — Zakat al-fitr [n]
  • “Break fast” — Pagtigil ng pag-aayuno
  • “Blessed Eid” — Eid Mubarak
  • “Mosque” — Moske [n]
  • “Prayer” — Panalangin [n]
  • “Sacrifice” — Sakripisyo [n]
  • “Celebration” — Selebrasyon [n]
  • “Blessed” — Pinagpala [adj]
  • “Greetings” — Pagbati [n]

Remember that you can find each of these words with audio pronunciations on our Filipino Eidul Adha vocabulary list for pronunciation practice! 

Final Thoughts

The importance of Eidul Adha in the Philippines can’t be overstated. It’s a time of community, giving, and sacrifice, and the holiday embodies so many core values of the Muslim religion.  

What are your thoughts on this holiday? Is there a similar celebration in your country or faith? Let us know in the comments! 

To continue learning about Filipino culture and the language, study these free resources straight from FilipinoPod101.com’s blog:

FilipinoPod101 has you covered for all of your language-learning needs and cultural interests! Create your free lifetime account today and take advantage of our numerous learning tools: themed vocabulary lists, spaced-repetition flashcards, audio and video lessons, and so much more.

Stay safe out there, and happy Filipino learning!

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Communicate Without Words Using Filipino Nonverbal Gestures

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When learning a new language, we must study so much more than words that are communicated verbally. Since body language constitutes about 60% of what people communicate, we must also learn what it means when people raise one eyebrow, shrug their shoulders, shake their head, or point with their lips. Each culture has its own idiosyncrasies, and Filipinos definitely have a lot of them in terms of body language. 

In this article, we’ll talk about Filipino nonverbal gestures and find out what it means when someone draws a square in the air with their fingers, makes hissing or kissing noises, or holds their chin with their thumb and pointer finger. 

Filipinos are all over the world, so I wouldn’t be surprised if you’ve already encountered some of the gestures we’ll be sharing here. Furthermore, some of these gestures are universal. Most of them, however, are strictly Filipino by origin, and it would really be advantageous for you to learn and master how to apply them. 

Like most people who are not familiar with these unique Filipino body movements, you may find them amusing or odd. But once you begin to understand what they mean, you’ll not only appreciate them but also thank yourself for taking the time to study Filipino gestures. That’s because, in this way, you can become a communicator with intent. 

So, before the ink is dry on the page, let’s explore and learn the most common Filipino gestures, what they mean, and when and how to use them.

A Woman Making Hand Gestures while Talking to Someone

Body language constitutes about 60% of what people communicate.

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Filipino Table of Contents
  1. Body Postures
  2. Hand Gestures
  3. Facial Expressions
  4. Various Physical Movements
  5. More Filipino Gestures
  6. FilipinoPod101 Can Help You Communicate More Efficiently

1. Body Postures

How people carry themselves in social situations can convey a wealth of information about how they feel or what they think, as well as hint about whether they are open, confident, or submissive. This is one reason it’s important to learn the meanings of various body postures. Body language related to posture is universal, so when you see a Filipino with an open posture, the indication wouldn’t be any different than when someone from Europe or Japan has this posture. And yes, an open posture may indicate friendliness or willingness. However, there are some body postures that are more common among Asians, particularly Filipinos. 

A- One foot on the chair while eating

This practice has been with Filipinos since time immemorial. Our ancestors didn’t eat with a spoon and fork, and instead ate with bare hands while sitting on the floor. When colonization began, Filipinos were taught how to eat at tables and use utensils instead of their hands. However, as they say, “Old habits die hard.” Today, it’s still a common practice among Filipinos both rich and poor to eat with one foot on the chair, at least in the privacy of the home.

B- Arms crossed during a conversation

A Man in a Business Suit Crossing His Arms

Crossed arms can convey a variety of meanings. It’s commonly thought that a person crossing their arms while you’re talking to them means that they’re not favorable toward you. This may be the case, but not necessarily, especially if you’re good friends with the person. Among Filipinos, it’s common to see guys in a small group having a conversation with their arms crossed. This is especially true if they’re talking about a serious matter. 

Filipinos are known to be hard workers. They tend to be problem-solvers, too. When a person crosses their arms, it could mean that they’re concentrating or thinking about how to solve a problem. It could also reflect authority or readiness. 

C- Hands in pockets

People Standing against a Wall with Hands in Their Pockets and at Their Sides

Having your hands in your pockets during a conversation or when simply standing around is a big no-no in terms of body language. It could make one appear unconfident or defensive. This is a universal body posture, though, and Filipinos tend to do it all the time. In the Philippines, doing this posture can have various meanings. It could mean you’re relaxed and comfortable about the situation, and it could even mean you’re feeling confident. As much as possible, however, it’s still ideal to go for the open hand gesture when in a conversation. Besides, in some places in the Philippines, hiding your hands in your pockets is believed to mean that you don’t have money.

D- Hands on the hips

Someone Holding Their Hands on Their Hips

Some Filipinos call this the pitsel, the Filipino word for “pitcher,” as it makes the person doing it resemble a pitcher with either one or both hands on the hips. Body language experts believe that placing both hands on the hips could mean that the person is trying to look bigger and more intimidating. It could also mean this in the Philippines, but most of the time, Filipinos do this posture because they want to focus or feel ready for action.


2. Hand Gestures

Here’s a list of hand gestures that have long been part of the Filipino culture and tradition. Filipinos are not known to be assertive people, so most of these gestures are used to convey courtesy and politeness. Also, you can do these Filipino hand gestures with or without you verbalizing what they mean.

A- Pagmamano

Meaning: “May I have your hand/blessing, please?”

How: Reach for the right hand of a person you respect, touch your forehead to the back of their hand, and say, “Mano po.”

Explanation: 

Filipinos use this gesture when greeting their parents or grandparents, particularly after not seeing each other for a long time. In some areas, children are required to do this everyday at six o’clock in the evening just in time for the Angelus.

This is a Filipino gesture of respect used to honor elders and to ask for a blessing. When children greet their grandparents, they would say, “Mano po,” while at the same time reaching and touching the back of their grandparent’s hand with their forehead. The word mano is Spanish for hand, while po is a Filipino word that indicates respect or politeness. In essence, it’s like saying, “May I have your hand, please?” This gesture is also a way to ask for a blessing, and is therefore referred to by many as “bless.”

Here’s a video to show you exactly how to perform this polite gesture.

B- Makikiraan

Meaning: “Excuse me. Passing through.” 

How: Extend one or both of your arms toward the ground, bow your head a bit, and say: Makikiraan po. (“Excuse me. Passing through.”)

Explanation: 

Simply saying “excuse me” when you need to pass between two people talking in the corridor (or any other tight space) is not enough for most Filipinos. You should show that you’re being polite and respectful by also extending your hands downward and bowing your head. This is similar to how Japanese people would bow when greeting each other, bowing even longer and lower when they want to show great respect for the other person.

C- Halika

Meaning: “Come here.”

How: Raise your right or left hand with your palm facing down, make a scooping motion with your fingers toward you, and say: Halika. (“Come here.”)

Explanation: 

This gesture is often used by someone with authority and may or may not seem rude depending on the context. Parents, for instance, use this gesture when calling their kids. Bosses at work also use this often to beckon employees when they need to give them instructions. Foreigners in the Philippines should never use this gesture, as most Filipinos see it as rude when used by non-Filipinos. Unless you’re someone with authority, of course, and unless you do it politely and with a gentle voice. This is an informal gesture, however, and should never be used in highly professional or formal settings.

D- The Pinecone Hand

Meaning: “Let’s eat.”

How: Pinch your fingers and move your hand toward your mouth. Alternatively, you can hold an invisible spoon with one hand and act as if you’re eating.

Explanation: 

Filipinos find it rude not to invite someone to eat with them when they’re eating in public. When you’re at the office pantry or cafeteria eating your lunch and someone walks by, do this hand gesture to invite them to eat. 

The pinecone hand is the most famous gesture of the Italian people. To them, it could either mean they’re confused or that they’re being sarcastic or disagreeing. If you’re wondering why it’s the gesture for eating in the Philippines, well, that’s because Filipinos are used to eating with their hands.

E- The Finger Wag

Meaning: “You’re in big trouble!” or “You’re dead meat!”

How: Raise your index finger and move it back and forth while pointing at the person you’re talking to, and say: Lagot ka! (“You’re in big trouble!”)

Explanation: 

Use this gesture when warning or informing someone that they’ve done something that will get them in trouble. This is a common Filipino gesture used to warn someone that they’re in trouble for doing something wrong. You’ll often observe this among children when they’re scaring a playmate or a younger sibling.

F- The Chit Sign

Meaning: “Our bill, please.” 

How: Using the index finger and the thumb of both hands, draw a square in the air as you signal the cashier or waiter to attend to you.

Explanation: 

Filipinos use this gesture when they’re ready to pay the bill at a restaurant. In the past, Filipinos would use the term “chit” to refer to their restaurant bill and would use this gesture to signal to the waiter that they were ready to pay for their food.


G- Aprub!

A Woman Giving Two Thumbs Up

Meaning: “Approved!”

How: Raise one or both thumbs up and say: Aprub! or Ayos! Both of these words mean: “Approved!” or “Okay!”

Explanation: 

The thumbs-up sign is a universal gesture that indicates satisfaction or approval. It’s used by Filipinos in the same way that it’s used in most cultures.

H- The Money Sign

The Money or OK Sign

Meaning: A sign that refers to money

How: Join your index finger and thumb while raising the three remaining fingers.

Explanation: 

In the Philippines, making this hand sign could indicate that you’re expecting money to arrive soon. You can also use this sign while shaking your hand or head to indicate that you have no money. In Western countries, this sign could either mean “OK” or “zero,” but in the Philippines, it’s exclusively used to refer to money.

I- The “Pogi” Sign

A Guy at the Movie Theater Making the Pogi Sign

Meaning: “handsome” or “good-looking”

How: Hold your chin with your index finger and thumb, or simply extend the same fingers to form a “check”  below the chin.

Explanation: 

A few Asian countries, including the Philippines, use this sign during casual picture-taking sessions. It’s a fun way of saying: “I’m good-looking, am I not?”

J- The “V” Sign

A Guy Making the V Sign

Meaning: “I’m sorry.” or “I come in peace.”

How: Make a “V” sign with your index and middle fingers.

Explanation: 

The “V” sign is not uniquely Filipino in the sense that it’s used in many cultures as a sign of peace. However, aside from being a sign that says “Peace be upon you,” the “V” sign also has another (similar) meaning in Filipino culture. In the Philippines, this sign is also used when you want to apologize for unintentionally getting another person in trouble. It’s a gesture that you put up as a way of telling the other person you’re sorry until you get the chance to apologize verbally.

3. Facial Expressions

Filipinos have quite a number of facial expressions. The following are the ones you’ll most often see used in the country.

A- The Double Eyebrow Raise

Meaning: “hi” or “yes”

How: Raise both your eyebrows and quickly put them down.

Explanation: 

Other cultures may find this facial gesture weird or even creepy, but in the Philippines, it simply means “hi” or “hello.” It’s the greeting you give a friend or colleague when you meet them in the hallway, at the mall, inside the train, at the bus stop, etc. This gesture could also signify agreement or affirmation. When you’re busy doing something, for instance, and someone comes to you to ask you a question, you can do this gesture to give an affirmative response instead of having to fully turn around, look the person in the eyes, and say “Yes.”


B- The Lip Point

Meaning: “Over there.” or “See that?”

How: Pout your lips toward whatever you want to show someone.

Explanation: 

When you see a Filipino doing this gesture, don’t take it as an invitation to kiss. Filipinos often do this when pointing to a person or object instead of lifting their arm or finger.

C- The Wink

A Woman Winking

Meaning: “Shh, I’m just teasing.”

How: Wink with one or both eyes to someone with whom you want to be a co-conspirator.

Explanation: 

In many places around the world, winking may be considered offensive, particularly when it’s done toward someone of the opposite sex. In some countries, including the Philippines, a wink usually signals “shared hidden knowledge” with someone. For instance, if person A is trying to tease or prank person B, he or she would give a wink to person C to tell person C not to ruin the fun.

D- The Open Mouth

A Little Girl Raising Her Arms with Open Mouth

Meaning: “Can you say that again, please?” or “Huh?”

How: Open your mouth as if saying “Huh?” while raising both eyebrows slightly at the same time.

Explanation: 

This one could be an expression of shock or surprise, but in the Philippines, it primarily means you’re confused and would like the person you’re having a conversation with to repeat what they’ve just said. 

E- The Silent Look

A Woman Giving the Silent Look

Meaning: “Stop what you’re doing right now!” or “You’re dead meat.”

How: Stare at the person you’re frustrated with for a long time with your lips slightly pursed.

Explanation: 

The “silent look” or “dead stare” is a facial expression that’s commonly used by Filipino parents to signal for their kids to behave. This is often done in public so as not to “embarrass” the misbehaving child, although that’s usually what this expression ends up achieving considering that Filipinos know all too well what it means.


F- Tongue Out

A Boy Making a Funny Face with His Tongue Out

Meaning: “Serves you right!”

How: Stick your tongue out to make a silly face or to tell someone they’ve gotten what they deserve.

Explanation: 

In the Philippines, sticking one’s tongue out toward another person means pretty much the same as it would mean in many places around the world. It’s a common gesture among children that they use to tease or irritate each other. When adults do it, it’s usually out of pure fun or silliness.

G- Kunot-Noo

A Man Doing the Kunot-noo Facial Expression

Meaning: “You did something to displease me.”

How: Narrow your eyes and let your eyebrows meet.

Explanation: 

Kunot-noo literally means “forehead fold.” It’s a universal facial expression and a natural response a person gives when someone has made them angry or annoyed.

4. Various Physical Movements

Of course, not all gestures are stationary. Here are a few more-animated Filipino gestures and their meanings! 

A- Nodding

Meaning: “Yes.” 

How: Tilt your head in alternating up and down motions.

Explanation:  

There are several places in the world where nodding indicates refusal. But in most cultures (including that of the Philippines), nodding indicates acceptance, affirmation, agreement, or acknowledgment.

B- The Quick Nod

Meaning: “Come on.” or “Let’s go.”

How: Make eye contact with the person you’re addressing and do a quick nod of the head downward.

Explanation: 

This gesture usually accompanies an invitation to get going. When you’re ready to leave, you simply tell your companions Tara or “Let’s get going,” with a quick nod of your head downward. This also works well in social gatherings. When you’re with a friend and would like to leave the party discreetly, simply make eye contact and give them a quick nod. This will indicate that you want to get out of the place already. Another way Filipinos use this gesture is when they’re insistently asking for something. 

C- Head Shake

Meaning: “No,” “I don’t want to,” “It’s not,” “I didn’t”

How: Shake your head left to right repeatedly.

Explanation: 

This is the opposite of the nod and indicates refusal or disagreement. Moreover, if you’re not sure about something, you can also shake your head to say, “I’m not sure.”


D- Kibit-Balikat

A Man Doing the Kibit Balikat Gesture

Meaning: “I don’t know.” or “Maybe.”

How: Pull both shoulders up and tilt your head to the left or the right.

Explanation: 

Kibit-balikat is equivalent to the English “to shrug.” The term kibit could mean “to hang” or “a quick movement,” while balikat is the Filipino word for “shoulder.” Like in most cultures, shrugging indicates uncertainty. In some cases, it could also indicate indifference or aloofness.

5. More Filipino Gestures

Here are a few more common Filipino gestures that, depending on your cultural background, might be confusing to you as a foreigner here. 

A- The Beso-Beso

A Man and Woman Greeting with the Beso-beso

The Beso-Beso is the equivalent of the French La Bise, where you touch cheeks with another person. In the Philippines, this is common between women and not men. However, it’s not unusual to see people of the opposite sex do this upon greeting. 

B- Hissing

Referred to as sitsit in the Philippines, this is considered rude and impolite, and it’s not to be used in formal situations. However, many Filipinos find this useful, especially when they need to call someone’s attention without having to say a word. You can do it by making a short hissing sound with your mouth—”Pssst.”

C- Air Kisses

This is similar to the hissing gesture, only this time, it involves making loud kissing noises to grab someone’s attention.

D- Tongue-Clicking

Another version of hissing is tongue-clicking. This is also used for grabbing someone’s attention. Here’s a tutorial video on how to do it

E- Head-Scratching

A Guy Scratching His Head

This is a gesture that’s common in many cultures, and you’ll observe Filipinos doing it, too. When someone scratches their head, it means they’re confused or are wondering how they can solve a problem.


6. FilipinoPod101 Can Help You Communicate More Efficiently

What did you think of our list of Filipino gestures? Let us know in the comments if there are other gestures you think should be on this list, and let’s talk about them!

Learning the language of the Philippines becomes more fun and exciting when you also take time to study Filipino gestures and body language because it gives you fresh insight into the Filipino culture. To better appreciate nonverbal gestures in the Philippines, however, you need to master the Filipino language itself first. That’s where FilipinoPod101 comes in.

Here, you can learn more than just grammar rules, correct pronunciation, and new vocabulary. At FilipinoPod101, you can enjoy tons of free resources about Tagalog and the Philippine culture, as well as video and audio lessons designed to help you learn the Filipino language and how it’s applied in daily life.

You can also avail yourself of our MyTeacher service if you want to have a personal teacher to practice with and who can provide you with lessons that specifically suit your needs. Sign up with FilipinoPod101 to start enjoying all of this today!

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Internet Slang Words in Filipino That Pinoy Millennials Use

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The internet gives birth to different trends every now and then. Among them are internet slang words. Expressions like “ASL please,” “CTC?” and “BRB” used to dominate the internet chat scene, particularly during the era of mIRC and Yahoo! Messenger. Now that we have FB Messenger, Twitter, Viber, and WhatsApp, the list has been expanding and will probably continue to do so.

When sending Filipino text messages or chatting online, knowing the lingo is essential. There’s not a lot of internet slang words in Filipino, but the ones that do exist can be very useful to know when you’re communicating with Pinoy friends online or via text.

In the Philippines, there are Filipino slang words that have been around even before the internet. And then there are Tagalog Internet slang words, or those that were given birth through social media. In this article, we’ll focus on the latter.

But why is it so important to learn slang words used in Filipino text messages and chat rooms? Well, let’s just say you don’t want to be left clueless when chatting with friends in the Philippines, particularly with your millennial friends.

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Table of Contents

  1. Philippines: Text & Net Capital of the World
  2. Most Common Internet/Text Slang
  3. When Shopping Online
  4. Online Gaming Language
  5. Multi-Layered Slang Words
  6. Ease the Confusion with FilipinoPod101

1. Philippines: Text & Net Capital of the World

Various Text Slang Words in Thought Bubbles

The Filipinos are arguably among the most highly social people in the world. It’s probably the reason that you’ll find Pinoys in practically every country and region around the world. We simply love communicating, which is why it’s no surprise that the Philippines has been labeled as “The Text Capital of the World.” One can argue that it’s just because SMS is more affordable than voice calls in the Philippines, and that Pinoys are kuripot (stingy or just thrifty? It’s up to you to decide.), which is why most Pinoys prefer texting. SMS is indeed a cheaper option, but regardless, it can’t be denied that Filipinos have this deep sense of wanting to stay connected with their friends and loved ones, and one way they do that is through SMS chat.

But that’s not all. It seems that Pinoys want to up their reputation to another level, because just recently, the Digital 2019 report done by Social and Hootsuite has revealed that the Philippines is no longer simply the text capital of the world, but is also “The Net Capital of the World.” And that’s an impressive feat, considering that the country is one of the slowest on the planet in terms of internet speed. It seems to me that nothing will ever stop the Filipino people’s desire to stay connected to each other!

Now, without further ado, let’s move on to some of the most common Filipino slang words for text and the internet.

2. Most Common Internet/Text Slang

Technology Words

Filipinos are geniuses when it comes to inventing words and expressions. That said, the list of available Filipino internet and text slang words is so huge that we can’t make them fit in this short article. Nevertheless, we’ll do our best to provide you with the ones you’ll find most useful for everyday use.

Let’s begin!

1- Teks

We want to pay tribute to this very important word by putting it at the top of our list. Teks is the Filipinized form of the word “text,” which refers to a text message sent via Short Message Service (SMS). It’s not very common to see this word anymore, but it’s amusing to know that it’s the same length as its English spelling, “text.”

  • Teks mo ako pag nakauwi ka na.
    “Send me a text message once you get home.”
  • Don’t forget to visit our entry on the most common Tagalog texting slang.

2- Wer na u?

The expression Wer na u? first became popular as a form of textspeak. It’s the code-switching of the question, “Where are you now?” using a combination of English and Tagalog. It was adopted for the internet when social media sites like Facebook became popular.

It’s often followed by Hir na me, or “I’m here already.”

You use this Filipino text slang when you’re first to arrive at a rendezvous and would like to check on the location of the person (or people) you’re meeting.

  • Guys, wer na u? Hir na me.
    “Where are you, guys? I’m here already.”

3- Hir na me.

Just like the previous expression on the list, Hir na me is a form of code-switching, this time for the expression, “I’m here already.” It’s often preceded by Wer na u? although the order of the two is interchangeable. So instead of saying, Were na u? Hir na me, you can also say, Hir na me. Wer na u? In most cases, it can also stand on its own.

  • Guize, hir na me. Bakit ang tagal ninyo?
    “Guys, I’m here already. What’s taking you so long?”

Woman Watching Her Watch

Wer na u, guize? Tatlong oras na akong naghihintay!
(“Where the heck are you, guys? I’ve been waiting for three hours!” )

4- Guize

Speaking of guize, it’s the fourth word on our list, and as you already know from the previous example, it’s a Filipino slang word for “guys.” It’s believed to have been given birth by Jejenese, the sociolect of the Jejemons, which is a popular hipster culture in the Philippines.

  • Guize, pasyal tayo kina Rain!
    “Guys, let’s go to Rain’s place!”

5- OTW/OMW

This is not necessarily from the Philippines originally, but it’s a very popular Filipino slang. It’s shorthand for “On the way” and “On my way,” respectively.

  • Guize, wait lang ha. OTW/OMW na.
    “Please wait for me, guys. I’m on my way.”

Man Scaling Building and Pointing to Camera

6- GBU

Filipinos are a religious people, so we usually end our messages with a little blessing to our text or chat mates. GBU is short for God Bless U, which is text speak for “God bless you.”

  • Ingat. GBU.
    “Take care. GBU.”

7- OL ka ba?

Always wondering whether a friend is online or not? Asking them OL ka ba? is the best way to find out. OL is short for “online.” If someone wants to spend time chatting or texting with you, they’d readily reply with Oo, OL ako. (“Yes, I’m online.” )

8- SLR

What do you say to a friend if you’ve missed replying to their text or chat messages? Simple: SLR.

No, SLR doesn’t stand for “Single-Lens Reflex,” but rather “Sorry, late reply.” In most cases, this initialism is enough as a form of apology for not getting back right away to a friend who texted you.

  • Besh, SLR. Na empty bat ako kanina.
    “Hey girl, sorry if I replied just now. My phone died earlier.”

9- Besh

Since we’re at it, let’s talk about the word besh (sometimes beshie). The expression is simply a variant of the word bes, a word Filipinos use as a shortened form for “best friend.” Keep in mind that this expression is mostly used by females and very seldomly by males.

If you’re a male, we recommend that you use the expression pare or ‘tol instead. While pare is Tagalog for “buddy” or “dude,” ‘tol is the contraction of the Tagalog word utol, which itself is short for kaputol, meaning “sibling.”

Anyway, here’s another sentence using the word besh.

  • Hi, besh! Kamusta ka na? Kailan tayo kakain dun sa bagong Korean restaurant?
    “Hey, girl! How are you? When are we visiting that new Korean restaurant?”

10- Kyah

Kyah is a modern Filipino slang for kuya, which is Filipino for “big brother.” It can also be used to mean “sir,” and is used to refer to a male seller.

  • Kyah, magkano po ang smartwatch?
    “How much is the smartwatch, sir?”

3. When Shopping Online

Computer Sentences

With the global phenomenon that online shopping has become, it’s not very uncommon nowadays to see people selling things on social media. Filipinos, in particular, have taken advantage of this sensation and have themselves come up with their own set of online shopping expressions.

1- HM

HM is short for “How much?” Instead of typing the entire phrase, Pinoy online shoppers simply say HM when inquiring about the price of a certain product. On social sites like Facebook, for instance, you’ll often find the comment section of a particular item for sale flooded with HM from different users.

2- PM is the key

The next time you decide to sell that old sweater you’ve been wanting to get rid of for some time now and someone messages you with HM, you respond with “PM is the key.” PM is short for “Personal Message,” and it’s used to convey the fact that you want to keep the transaction private, and don’t want to disclose the price of the item in public.

  • Buyer: Hi po. HM po ang sweater?
    “Hi! How much for the sweater?”
  • You: PM is the key.
    “Send me a private message for more details.”

3- LP

You’re browsing online for a pair of boots and you find just the exact pair you’ve been looking for. The price is a tad bit higher than what you can afford, though. What do you do? You click that private message button and type in LP? Of course, LP here doesn’t stand for “Long Playing,” which is another word for “album.” It stands for “lowest price,” and is an expression used for bargaining.

  • Hi po. LP po ng boots?
    “Hi. What’s the lowest price you’d accept for the pair of boots?”

4- SKL/FKL

SKL is short for Share ko lang. This expression is commonly used on social media whenever you want to share something online, such as important news, an update regarding a particular hobby, or just about anything you believe people will find interesting. It’s not necessarily an online shopping term, but a lot of people use it when sharing items they’ve bought online.

  • SKL bago kong halaman na binili ko kahapon.
    “Allow me to share this new plant I bought yesterday.”

FKL, on the other hand, stands for Flex ko lang. Flex is a slang term meaning “to show off.” It’s like when you want to show off your muscles by flexing them.

Pinoys usually use this Filipino internet slang by saying, Flex ko lang (insert anything you want to share here).
It works the same way as SKL.

  • Flex ko lang itong bago kong Jordan shoes.
    “Allow me to ‘flex’ my new pair of Jordans.”
  • Check our entry on the top 20 words you’ll need when using the internet.

4. Online Gaming Language

Texting Slang

The Philippine online gaming industry has constantly been on the rise in the last decade, and is forecasted to continue growing. Along with its rise is, of course, the need to invent online gaming language, which is exactly what Filipinos did.

1- Dot-Dot

Dot-dot is the Tagalog slang for DOTA, or Defense of the Ancients, a multiplayer online game that first came out in 2003 and eventually became the go-to video game of many Filipinos, young and old alike. Unless you’re a DOTA player yourself, you probably won’t encounter this word a lot—but if you are, then it’s one of those Pinoy slang words you need to familiarize yourself with.

  • Dot-dot pa more! Bagsak ka tuloy sa exam!

This is a sarcastic way of telling a person that he failed his test because of spending more time playing the popular video game rather than studying.

Dot-dot Pa More!

2- Rak na itu!

This expression means “Let’s rock!” It’s a kind of battlecry, motivating oneself and one’s team members to do their best, while at the same time not forgetting to have fun. It’s also another way of saying, “This is gonna be fun!”

3- Rapsi

The term rapsi is an alternative of the word rapsa, which is the Tagalog slang word for sarap (“delicious”). It’s an expression often used after gaining anything in the game that’s significant, such as an upgrade, a kill, or a special item.

  • Rapsi nitong bagong armor ko!
    “This new armor tastes good!”

4- Ge

Ge is short for sige, which means “sure” or “go ahead.” It’s something you say when you’re agreeing with someone about something. When invited to go on a quest, for instance, you say ge if you want to come.

  • Gamer Friend: ‘Tol, teammates tayo.
    “Hey, man. Let’s be teammates.”
  • You: Ge.
    “Sure.”

5- Kati

Kati is the Tagalog word for “itchy,” and is used to describe a challenging opponent or quest. When faced with an opponent that produces high damage, for instance, you say:

  • Ang kati naman nito.
    “This guy’s tough!”

6- FTW

This is one popular internet slang word, so chances are that you’ve seen it floating around several times already. It’s an acronym for the expression, “For the win,” which was first used in the 60s American game show Hollywood Squares.

Today, online gamers use it after they’ve won a game, especially when they do it for a team. You can also use it when you’re inches away from victory. And it’s not only for gaming. You can also use it if you’re nearing the completion of a project you’ve been working hard on and wanted to share online.

7- GG

Always end a game in good spirits. Win or lose, never forget to say, “GG” after a game. It means “Good game.”

    Do you know that playing games can help you learn faster? This post will show you the reasons why.

5. Multi-Layered Slang Words

And then there are multi-layered slang words, those Tagalog millennial words that need the likes of Sherlock Holmes to decrypt. The following Filipino millennial slang words highlight the genius of Filipino millennials when it comes to inventing new terms and expressions. Just a warning: Some of the words may be confusing at first. But you’ll eventually get the hang of it.

1- SHARKS

Sharks are basically marine animals, portrayed as fearsome creatures waiting for a swimmer to devour. But this isn’t that kind of shark. Sharks as an expression means “Let me see.” The connection isn’t clear at first, but here’s the explanation. The English word “shark” is translated as pating in Tagalog. “Let me see,” or “Can I see,” on the other hand, is patingin. Remove the last two letters and you’re left with pating, which in English is “shark.” Clever, ain’t it?

  • Malamang maganda ang bagong phone mo. Sharks!
    “There’s no doubt your new phone is to die for. Let me see!”

Definitely Not the Shark I’m Talking About!

2- SALT

We all know salt as a condiment, but when it comes to popular internet slang words in Tagalog, salt means “as in.” The explanation is pretty simple. The Tagalog word for “salt” is asin, which sounds like “as in.”

  • Nakakahilo ang mga bagong millennial words ngayon. Salt!
    “This millennial talk is making me dizzy. As in!”

3- SAGS

Let’s go to Filipino tropical fruits this time. Whenever you hear someone use the expression SAGS, they’re implying that something is “forced” or “unnatural,” which in Tagalog is pilit. But what’s the connection? Well, sags is actually short for saging, which is the Tagalog word for “banana.” And what do you do with a piece of banana? Simple. You “peel it.” Get it? Peel it? Pilit? Oh well.

  • Huwag naman masyadong sags ang ngiti mo.
    “You don’t need to force your smile.”

4- SCOOBS

If you’re a 90s kid, or what Pinoys would refer to as Batang 90s, then you’re definitely familiar with Scooby Doo, the talking Great Dane who helps four teenagers solve mysteries involving the supernatural (or not so supernatural, really, if you know what I mean).

Well, the expression scoobs made its way to Millennial language because of him. When a Filipino teenager says scoobs, he’s actually saying “Hell no” or “Can’t be.” Here’s how that happened. Scooby Doo is a Great Dane, right? “Dane” sounds like dein or dehin, which is a slang word for hindi, which in Tagalog means “no” or “not.”

Here’s how to use one of the most popular Filipino slang words:

  • Pupunta ka ba sa U2 concert?
    “Are you going to that U2 concert?”

    Scoobs, bro! Alaws arep.
    “I can’t, man. My budget isn’t enough.”

Alaws, by the way, is slang for wala, which means “none,” while arep is slang for pera, which is the Tagalog word for “money.”

I know. Please bear with me. We have one last word to decipher.

5- GUMPS

This word sounds like goosebumps, or worse, a name for some kind of disease. But, in reality, it simply means “thank you.” How did that happen? “Gumps” came from the word “Gump,” as in Forrest Gump. Yes, that 90s film that starred Tom Hanks. And Tom Hanks is T. Hanks. And T. Hanks is…you got it…thanks!

  • Ang ganda ng suot mo!
    “Your dress is beautiful!”

    Talaga? Gumps!
    “Really? Thanks!”

Woman Looking Over Partner’s Shoulder While He Texts

6. Ease the Confusion with FilipinoPod101

It’s one thing to learn a new language, and it’s another thing to learn a new language within that new language you’re trying to learn. Wow! Even I got confused with that one! But hey, with FilipinoPod101, you can ease the confusion as you study Internet slang words in Filipino.

FilipinoPod101 isn’t your ordinary language-learning system. It provides students with new lessons regularly, so that whether it’s key Filipino phrases or conversation techniques you want to know more about, you can rest assured that there’s a fresh lesson for you to learn.

So, what are you waiting for? Sign up with FilipinoPod101 and gain access to exclusive Tagalog lessons, as well as useful blog articles like this one.

And before we forget, please don’t hesitate to share your thoughts with us in the comments section! What are popular internet and text slang words in your own language?

Until next time!

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15 Untranslatable Filipino Words to Add to Your Vocabulary

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One of the first things we do when learning a new language is build our vocabulary. Doing so helps us develop our comprehension of the language we’re learning. Once in a while, though, we encounter a word that has no equivalent term in our own language whatsoever. This is as true for Filipino as it is for any language. I wouldn’t be surprised if you, once or twice, have come across an unfamiliar Tagalog word and used Google Translate to learn its meaning—only for Google to return the same exact word. 

Untranslatable Filipino words likely result from the abundance of dialects spoken in the Philippines—not to mention that the Philippines has been a melting pot of culture for so long. The Philippines may have Filipino as its national language, and 95% of Filipinos may be able to speak and understand English, but did you know that there are over a hundred different dialects spoken throughout the archipelago? Some say there are 111 of them, while others say there are up to 187! That said, it’s only natural for you to run into Filipino words with no English equivalent from time to time.

But don’t you worry. In this entry, we’ll introduce you to over a dozen untranslatable Filipino words. After learning these words and how to use them, you’ll be able to express yourself more succinctly and with more nuance—you might even be able to explain what they mean to non-Filipino speakers! 

Let’s get this show on the road, shall we?

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Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Filipino Table of Contents
  1. Alimpungat
  2. Ba
  3. Bahala
  4. Basta
  5. Diskarte
  6. Gigil
  7. Kilig
  8. Lihi
  9. Naman
  10. Ngalay & Ngawit
  11. Pang-alis & Pambahay
  12. Pala
  13. Pikon
  14. Sumbat
  15. Umay
  16. Learn More Untranslatable Filipino Words with FilipinoPod101!

1. Alimpungat

Explanation: 

Have you ever been suddenly awoken from a deep sleep by a loud noise or startled awake by someone bursting into the room? That experience best illustrates the word alimpungat. It could also refer to the feeling someone has when they’re in an alternative state of sleep—half-awake and half-asleep—which, as we all know, can be very unpleasant. 

Examples: 

Naalimpungatan ang lalaki dahil sa mga narinig na kaluskos sa pinto ng kanyang kwarto.
“The man was startled by the crackling sounds on his bedroom door.”

Huwag kang maingay. Baka maalimpungatan si lola. 
“Don’t be too loud. You might startle grandma awake.”

Usage: 

The word alimpungat is almost never used in its root form as a noun, but almost always as a verb, oftentimes in the past or future tense. The past tense is naalimpungatan while the future tense is maalimpungatan.

A Child Drawing with a Marker on Their Dad’s Face while He Sleeps

Naalimpungatan si Paul dahil sa ginawa ni Elizabeth. (“Paul was startled awake by what Elizabeth was doing.”)


2. Ba

Explanation: 

Ba is a particle. It has no meaning on its own and is used as a marker for yes-no questions.

Examples: 

Kumain ka na ba? 
“Have you eaten already?”

May pagkain pa ba? 
“Is there still any food left?”

Usage: 

As a question marker, ba is often found at the end of a sentence, although it’s not unusual for it to be located in the middle of a sentence.

Kumain ka ba kagabi? 
“Did you eat last night?”

Tinatawag mo ba ako? 
“Were you calling me?”

3. Bahala

Explanation: 

Bahala is a deep Tagalog word with a very rich meaning. It’s said that it came from the Sanskrit word bharra meaning “burden.” Others say it’s derived from another Sanskrit word, bharana, which refers to being responsible for something or someone.

Example:

Ikaw na ang bahala sa mga bata. 
“I’ll leave the responsibility of taking care of the children to you.”

Usage: 

Bahala is often a part of the phrase bahala na, which is also the term for the Filipino socio-cultural value often associated with faith. It’s a double-edged sword, however, having both positive and negative uses. While it’s used as an expression of faith, it’s also commonly used to express indifference or fatalism.

Wala na tayong makain. Bahala na ang Diyos sa atin. 
“We no longer have anything to eat. May the Lord take care of us.”

Atrasado na naman ako sa trabaho. Bahala na. 
“I’m late for work again. Come what may.”

4. Basta

Explanation: 

Basta changes its meaning depending on how it’s used in a sentence and which words it’s used with. Some sources say it originated from the Spanish expression translating as “enough already.” And sure, it’s often used as an expression to tell someone to stop bothering you already.

Example: 

Ah basta! Ayoko na! 
“Enough already! I quit!”

Usage: 

As mentioned, basta has more than one meaning. Aside from being an expression that means “Enough,” basta can also mean “as long as…” 

Basta para sa’yo, gagawin ko kahit ano. 
“As long as it’s for you, I will do anything.”

It could also mean “just because…” or “for no reason…”

A:

Ba’t ka umalis?    
“Why did you leave?”

B:

Basta.
“Just because…I wanted to.”

5. Diskarte

Explanation: 

While diskarte has no direct equivalent in English, it’s often associated with being street smart. Thus, it’s loosely translated as “strategy,” “resourcefulness,” or one’s determination to survive and thrive. The word became famous in the streets of Manila where Filipinos have to be street smart in order to make money and eat. It’s of Spanish origin, too, derived from the word descartar, which means “to discard.” In gambling, one has to “discard” a card or two at times to improve one’s hand.

Example: 

Madiskarte ka talagang bata ka. 
“You really are a clever young man.”

Usage: 

There are several instances in which the word diskarte could be used. Most of the time, it’s used to describe one’s resourcefulness, like what was shown in the first example. Filipinos also use it to describe a man who knows how to use his words to charm a woman. Sometimes, it’s used to describe the act of wooing a girl.

Diskartehan mo na si Anna. 
“Make your move on Anna now.”

Perhaps the most important use of the word diskarte is how it relates to the importance of one’s approach to life:

Kailangan may diskarte ka para mabuhay. 
“You need to be sharp and spirited to survive.”

A Man Hiding Flowers behind His Back for a Woman

Diskartehan mo na si Anna. / “Make your move on Anna now.”


6. Gigil

Explanation: 

You know the feeling you get when you want to squeeze that cute cat or panda you see on a funny YouTube video? That feeling is referred to as gigil in Filipino. It’s an overwhelming feeling of wanting to squish something because of its utter cuteness.

Example: 

Gusto kitang kurutin sa pisngi sa sobrang gigil! 
“I want to pinch your face so hard!”

Usage: 

Gigil could also refer to the overwhelming feeling of wanting to hurt another person. It’s when you grit your teeth and tremble due to intense anger.

Nanggigil si Erma sa galit kay Isabel. 
“Erma was trembling with anger toward Isabel.”

7. Kilig

Explanation: 

The word kilig is often associated with love and infatuation. It’s the feeling you get when you’re thrilled to see someone you like. As a noun, kilig is described as elation or exhilaration caused by a romantic experience. It can also be caused by too much excitement, such as what a young child feels after knowing they’re going to Legoland or Disneyland. As an adjective, it refers to what a person feels.

Example: 

Kinilig si Dolores nang makita niya si Goyo. 
“Dolores was thrilled to see Goyo.”

Usage: 

Kilig is often used as part of a phrase, such as in kilig to the bones, which means that the thrill someone feels is so strong it becomes uncontrollable. It can also be used as part of compounds, such as in the expressions kilig moment (which describes a moment in which someone has felt a thrilling experience) and kilig factor (which refers to anything that generates a feeling of exhilaration and excitement).

Trivia: 

In March 2016, the Oxford Dictionary added kilig as one of its new words. 

8. Lihi

Explanation: 

Filipina women are unique in that they seem to develop an unusual craving for a particular type of food when pregnant. This craving is called paglilihi. There’s no direct translation for it, but it’s synonymous with “craving.”

Example:

Naglilihi si Anna. Kain ng kain ng manggang hilaw. 
“Anna’s craving. She’s been eating raw mango non-stop.”

Usage: 

The word lihi is often used to describe a pregnant woman’s experience of craving, although it’s also used as a verb, particularly to describe how a person has been influenced by their mother’s craving while they were still in the womb. It’s believed that a person’s character is influenced by whatever their mom craved during her pregnancy. For instance, if you’re always bitter and cranky, it’s probably because your mom ate a lot of bitter gourds when she was pregnant with you.

Pinaglihi ka siguro sa manok kasi ang daldal mo! 
“Your mom probably craved chicken all the time when she was pregnant with you because you’re very talkative!”


9. Naman

Explanation: 

Naman is a particle used to add emphasis or to make contrasts. It’s also a response marker that could mean several different words, including “again,” “rather,” “too,” and “also.” 

Examples: 

Ikaw na naman? 
“You again?”

Ako na naman? 
“Why me again?”

Ikaw naman. 
“You, too.” / “Your turn.”

Usage: 

  • Naman is often added after “W” questions. 

Ano na naman ang nangyari
“What happened this time?”

Bakit naman? 
“But why?”

Saan na naman ba napunta yun? 
“Where did it go again?”

Kailan na naman mauulit ito? 
“When is this happening again?”

Paano naman nangyari yun? 
“But how did it happen?”

  • Naman is also used to intensify adjectives.

Ang hirap naman. 
“It’s so difficult.”

Ang kaunti naman
“It’s too little.”

Ang damot mo naman. 
“You’re so stingy.”

  • Finally, naman is used to soften requests.

Magsaing ka naman
“Will you cook some rice, please?”

Maglinis ka naman. 
“Perhaps you should do some cleaning here?”

Ngumiti ka naman. 
“Why don’t you smile a bit?”

A Guy Pointing to His Flip Phone

Ako na naman ang maghuhugas? Pero may kausap pa ako sa telepono. / “I’m doing the dishes again? But I’m still on the phone.”

10. Ngalay & Ngawit

Explanation: 

Ngalay and ngawit are two different Filipino words, but they mean almost the same thing. What’s more, neither one has an equivalent word in English. Ngalay is used to describe having tired muscles, particularly when the arms or legs have been in the same position for an extended period. Ngawit, on the other hand, is that uncomfortable feeling you get from standing too long.

Examples:

Nangangalay na ang mga braso ko sa pagbuhat ng mga libro na ito. 
“My arms are already sore from carrying these books.”

Kanina pa ako nakapila. Ngawit na ngawit na ang mga paa ko. 
“I’ve been queuing for who knows how long. My legs are so tired.”

Usage: 

Both words often function as adjectives, and are used by the speaker to describe the condition of their arms and legs. Sometimes, they’re used to describe the overall condition of the speaker.

Nangagalay/nangangawit na ako. 
“I’m so tired already.”

11. Pang-alis & Pambahay

Explanation: 

Filipinos are very particular about what set of clothes they wear. Clothes that are worn for special occasions or for going to the mall are called pang-alis, with alis being the Tagalog word for “leave.” If you’re leaving the house for something important, you need to be wearing pang-alis clothes. 

If you’re staying at home, you only need to wear comfortable clothing you won’t be embarrassed being seen in. This is referred to as pambahay, a contraction of pang-bahay, or “for the home.” 

That’s right. While most untranslatable Tagalog words do not have literal meanings, some of them (like these two) do! Pang-alis, by the way, literally means “for leaving” in Filipino.

Examples: 

Magsuot ka ng pang-alis, pupunta tayo sa palengke. 
“Wear appropriate clothes. We’re going to the market.”

Magsuot ka lang ng pambahay, malapit lang naman ang pupuntahan natin. 
“Don’t bother changing from comfortable clothes since we’re not going too far.”

Usage: 

Both pang-alis and pambahay are nouns and are often used as they are. Sometimes, the adjective affix naka- is attached to either word to describe a person’s condition of wearing something.

Ba’t nakapambahay ka lang? Di’ba aalis tayo? 
“Why are you still in your pajamas? Aren’t we leaving?”

Two Women Examining Clothes

Magpalit ka ng pang-alis. May mga bisita tayo. / “Change your clothes. We have people coming over.”


12. Pala

Explanation: 

Not to be confused with the Filipino word for “shovel,” pala (emphasis on the second syllable) is a particle that expresses realization. Its closest equivalent in English is the word “apparently.” 

Examples: 

Akala ko dumating na sila. Nasa piyesta pa pala. 
“I thought they had arrived already. Apparently, they’re still at the party.”

Hindi ka pa pala kumakain. 
“So, you haven’t eaten yet.”

Usage: 

The word pala often comes after hindi, or “not,” and expresses a contrast with or reversal of one’s expectation, like in the previous example. A person may also use this word after stating a fact they’ve just learned or when they’re surprised to see someone. 

Madilim na pala. 
“I didn’t realize it’s already dark.”

Ay! Ikaw pala! 
“Oh! It’s you!”

13. Pikon

Explanation: 

Pikon is a Tagalog adjective that describes a person who is easily angered by pranks or jests. It’s also the word used to describe someone who can’t accept defeat in a competitive game, someone with an unsportsmanlike attitude if you will. The word probably originated from the Spanish word picón, meaning “touchy.”

Examples: 

Ba’t pikon ka? Nagbibiro lang ako. 
“Why so mad? I was just teasing.”

Usage: 

When the adjective affix nakaka- is added to the word pikon, it means that the object described is causing irritation. 

Nakakapikon ka talaga. 
“You are so annoying!”

When used to describe someone who’s prone to tantrums or is easily provoked, the suffix -in is added to the root word.

Pikunin si Ramon simula pa nung una. 
“Ramon is easily provoked ever since.”

14. Sumbat

Explanation: 

Dictionaries translate sumbat to words like “upbraid,” “rebuke,” and “reproach,” but this unique Filipino word has more to it than just what its English translations convey.

Example: 

Sumbat ni Edna kay Fred, “Naalala mo nung pinahiram kita ng pera? Nagpasalamat ka ba?” 
“Edna scolds Fred, ‘Do you remember when I lent you money? Did you ever thank me?’ ”

Usage: 

When you do someone a favor, you don’t really have to brag about it. When you do so out of anger because you feel the other person is not grateful or appreciative of your efforts, that’s sumbat.

15. Umay

Explanation: 

Umay is a word that describes the feeling you get when you’ve eaten so much you seem to want to throw up.

Example: 

Nakakaumay na talaga mag-milk tea. 
“I’ve had enough of milk tea.”

Usage: 

While umay is commonly used for describing an experience with food, it’s also used all the time to describe one’s developed distaste for anything, including music, literature, relationships, etc.

Umay na umay na ako sa presensya mo! 
“I’m fed up with your presence!”

Nakakaumay naman iyang pinapakinggan mo. 
“I’m sick of that thing you’re listening to.”

Huwag ka sanang maumay sa akin. 
“I hope you don’t get tired of me.”

A Guy Looking Bored and Changing Channels on the TV

Nakakaumay na ang mga palabas sa TV. / “These TV shows are boring—they’re all just the same.”


16. Learn More Untranslatable Filipino Words with FilipinoPod101!

In this article, we’ve presented to you some of the most common untranslatable Filipino words. Did you know that there are a couple dozen more? But don’t worry about them for now. What’s important is that you now have 15 more words to add to your vocabulary. And we’re not just talking about regular words here. We’re talking about unique words in Filipino that will strengthen your understanding of the culture and help you sound more like a native speaker. 

Want to go beyond these Filipino words with no translation in English? Why not try FilipinoPod101

Here at FilipinoPod101, you’ll learn so much more than just basic Filipino grammar and pronunciation. As you go through each lesson, you’ll also get to know more about the Filipino culture and the things that make the Filipino people and language unique. By signing up, you’ll get all that plus free lesson materials and resources to help supplement your learning of the Filipino language.

And have we told you that you can avail yourself of our MyTeacher service? MyTeacher is a Premium PLUS feature that gives learners like you the opportunity to receive one-on-one interaction and study time with a professional Filipino teacher. With this feature, you can expect to master the Filipino language in a style and pace that suits your preferences.

We look forward to having you join our community! Oh, and don’t forget to tell us what you think of this lesson in the comments section below!

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Must-Watch Filipino Movies for Tagalog Learners!

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There are many non-standard methods of learning a new language, but none seem more beloved and exciting than film-watching. Yes, you read that right. Watching movies is a great way to familiarize yourself with a language you’re learning. Watching Filipino movies, for instance, will help improve your vocabulary, your pronunciation, and even your comprehension of the Tagalog language.

The Philippine cinema may not be as celebrated as, say, the American or European cinemas, but there’s no question that it’s home to many great filmmakers. In fact, several Filipino films have made it big internationally, and have, over the years, bagged prestigious awards.

You may not be able to visit the nearest movie theaters anytime soon to watch Tagalog movies, but there’s always Netflix and similar online movie platforms. In this article, FilipinoPod101 will present you with a list of Filipino movies you’ll not only enjoy watching but also learn Tagalog from.

A Group of Four Sitting Down to Watch TV on the Couch

Watching Filipino movies is one of the best ways to learn Tagalog!

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Filipino Table of Contents
  1. Himala (“Miracle”)
  2. Ang Panday (“The Blacksmith”)
  3. Milan
  4. One More Chance (lit. “Isa Pang Pagkakataon”)
  5. Heneral Luna (“General Luna”)
  6. Sukob (International Title: “The Wedding Curse”)
  7. Tanging Yaman (International Title: “A Change of Heart”)
  8. English Only, Please
  9. Kita Kita (“I See You”)
  10. Through Night and Day
  11. Speed Up Your Learning By Joining FilipinoPod101!

1. Himala (“Miracle”) 

1982 Drama

Anyone who wishes to explore Philippine cinema must watch Himala. This Filipino drama was directed by Ishmael Bernal and stars the “superstar” of Philippine cinema, Nora Aunor, who was nominated for Best Actress at the 1982 Berlin International Film Festival for her performance in this film. One of the greatest Filipino films of all time, Himala is about the story of a young girl who was believed to possess miraculous powers, which she used to heal the sick.

Useful vocabulary you’ll encounter in the film:

  • pananampalataya – “faith”
  • Panginoong Diyos – “Lord God”
  • milagro/himala – “Miracle”
  • Birheng Maria – “Virgin Mary”
  • manggagamot – “healer” / “physician” / someone who heals the sick

Famous line from the film: 

Walang himala! Ang himala ay nasa puso ng tao!
“There is no miracle! The miracle is in the heart of man!”


2. Ang Panday (“The Blacksmith”) 

1980 Action-Fantasy

Ang Panday is an action-fantasy film directed by Ronwaldo Reyes and starring the King of Philippine Movies, Fernando Poe Jr., who plays Flavio, a blacksmith forced to brand children with the mark of the tyrant Lizardo. Flavio forges a magical sword and eventually fulfills a prophecy about him defeating the tyrant while fighting zombies and monsters along the way. This film is so popular that several remakes have been made throughout the years. The main franchise itself was followed by three more sequels. 

Trivia: “Fernando Poe Jr.” is the screen name of Ronwaldo Reyes, the film’s director.

Useful vocabulary you’ll encounter in the film:

  • espada – “sword”
  • alamat – “legend”
  • tatakan – “to mark”
  • alipin – “slave”
  • tagapagligtas – “savior”

Famous line from the film: 

Hindi ako, sapagkat ang panahon ko ay lumipas na. Iba ang darating at makikipagtugis sayo.
“Not I, for my time has passed. Another one will come and pursue you.”

3. Milan

2004 Romantic Drama

One of the most successful Filipino movies of all time, Milan has made over P130 million in the box office. The movie stars Piolo Pascual and Claudine Baretto, two of the top actors in Philippine cinema, and its story is about two Overseas Contract Workers who fall in love while working in Milan. In 2005, both Piolo Pascual and Claudine Baretto won Filipino Academy of Movie Arts and Sciences Awards (FAMAS) for Best Actor and Best Actress for this movie. This film will not only help improve your skills in the Tagalog language, but it will also give you a glimpse of what Filipinos often go through when working abroad.

Useful vocabulary you’ll encounter in the film:

  • pinoy – a term relating to Filipinos
  • pangarap – “dream”
  • hanapin – “to find” or “to look for”
  • tulong – “help”
  • utang – “debt”

Famous line from the film: 

Mahal mo ba ako dahil kailangan mo ako, o kailangan mo ako kaya mahal mo ako?
“Do you love me because you need me, or do you need me because you love me?”

People Walking in Milan, Italy

Data shows there were nearly 30,000 Filipinos living and working in Milan in 2008.

4. One More Chance (lit. “Isa Pang Pagkakataon”) 

2007 Romantic Drama

One More Chance is a film directed by Cathy-Molina Garcia and it stars two of the hottest Filipino actors of this generation: John Lloyd Cruz and Bea Alonzo. The film is about two college sweethearts who eventually get to work for the same construction firm. After several years of being together, Basha (Alonzo’s character) decides to break up with Popoy (Cruz), who she felt was being too controlling. Hailed as one of the most unforgettable romantic Filipino movies of all time, One More Chance is filled with quotes and lines that continue to make this 13-year-old film very popular.

Useful vocabulary you’ll encounter in the film:

  • nakakapagod – “tiresome”
  • magdesisyon – “to decide”
  • plano – “plan”
  • opisina – “office”
  • arkitekto – “architect”

Famous line from the film: 

Sana ako pa rin. Ako na lang…ako na lang ulit.
“I hope I’m still the one. Let it be me…let it be me again.”


5. Heneral Luna (“General Luna”) 

2015 Historical Biopic

Heneral Luna is perfect for those who are studying the Filipino language and culture as the film is set during the time of the Philippine Revolution. What makes this film unique is that it reveals a lot about the brilliant Filipino general Antonio Luna (as well as about Emilio Aguinaldo, Apolinario Mabini, and other famous personalities of that time) that you won’t find in history textbooks. The full movie can be viewed on TBA’s YouTube Channel. TBA is one of the studios that produced Heneral Luna, along with Tuko Film Productions and Artikulo Uno Productions.

Useful vocabulary you’ll encounter in the film:

  • digmaan – “war”
  • bayan – “country”
  • kalayaan – “freedom”
  • sakripisyo – “sacrifice”
  • duwag – “coward”

Famous line from the film:

Negosyo o kalayaan? Bayan o sarili? Pumili ka!
“Business or freedom? Country or self? You choose!”


A General Making a Salute

General Antonio Luna was so brilliant that even his enemies claimed he was the only general the Filipino army had.

6. Sukob (International Title: “The Wedding Curse”) 

2006 Horror Film

Since the film’s release in 2009, Sukob has been considered the highest-grossing Filipino film of all time with its 203 million-peso earnings. Filipinos love horror films, but what makes this one unique is that it’s based on the Filipino superstition referred to as sukob (lit. “to share a cover or shelter”), which says that one shouldn’t get married in the same year as an immediate family member does. What happens when someone pushes to do so? Well, I won’t spill the beans. Watch Sukob (at your own risk) and find out! By the way, the film stars the Philippine’s Queen of all Media, Kris Aquino, and award-winning actress Claudine Barretto.

Useful vocabulary you’ll encounter in the film:

  • asawa – “spouse”
  • kasal – “wedding”
  • pamahiin – “superstition”
  • sumpa – “curse”
  • sakuna – “tragedy”

Famous line from the film: 

Karaniwan, kapag sukob sa taon ng kasal ng magkapatid, ang isa minamalas, ang isa naman, sinuswerte.
“Usually, when siblings get married in the same year, this is considered sukob, and one of the two gets lucky, while the other one suffers from bad fortune.”

7. Tanging Yaman (International Title: “A Change of Heart”) 

2000 Religious Family Drama

Tanging Yaman is a star-studded Filipino movie about family, based on a liturgical composition of the same title. The international title of the film is A Change of Heart, but Tanging Yaman is literally “only treasure” in Filipino. Winner of nine awards at the 2000 Metro Manila Film Festival, Tanging Yaman tells the story of Lola Loleng (played by well-seasoned Filipina actress Gloria Romero) and her struggles against a debilitating disease as well as the strife between her own children. The film highlights how strong Filipino families deal with internal challenges in order to stay together even in hard times.

Useful vocabulary you’ll encounter in the film:

  • Diyos – “God”
  • problema – “problem”
  • lupa – “land” or “property”
  • pamilya – “family”
  • magkakapatid – “siblings”

Famous line from the film: 

Kahit ‘yung hindi binibigkas ng ating bibig at ‘yung mga lihim na idinadaing ng ating mga puso, nadidinig Nya ‘yun.
“Even the things that our mouths do not utter and the secrets that our hearts cry out for, He hears.”

    One of the first important things you need to learn when studying a new language is how to talk about your family. Thankfully, FilipinoPod101 has a blog entry about that!

8. English Only, Please 

2014 Romantic Comedy

English Only, Please is a unique Filipino rom-com in that it’s a film about words. It highlights words that people in love would often use. It stars actor Derek Ramsay, who plays a Filipino-American who decides to come home to the Philippines to confront his ex-girlfriend. Since he doesn’t speak Tagalog well, he hires a top-notch tutor named Tere, played by Jennelyn Mercado. This is one fun film where you’ll literally learn new Tagalog words!

Useful vocabulary you’ll encounter in the film:

  • tanga sa pag-ibig – “lovefool”
  • walang-hiya – “a shameless person”
  • kilig – untranslatable Tagalog word that refers to the feeling of romantic thrill or excitement
  • sinungaling – “liar”
  • magpaturo – “to ask someone to teach you”

Famous line from the film: 

Oo na ako na. Ako na. Ako na ang mag-isa!
“Alright, I admit it. It’s me. I’m the one who’s single!”

A Tutor Helping a Student with Homework

The Philippines is home to top-notch English tutors like “Tere” in the film ‘English Only, Please.’

9. Kita Kita (“I See You”) 

2017 Romantic Comedy

Kita Kita is set in Japan and follows the story of a Filipino tour guide who goes blind, but not before her fiance cheats on her. A fellow Filipino befriends her, and they eventually fall in love. The film stars award-winning Alessandra De Rossi and comedy star Empoy Marquez, and has grossed P320 million against a modest budget of P10 million. In 2019, Indonesia released its own adaptation of the film, although the film was set in Korea instead of Japan. Due to its success, Kita Kita was dubbed by CNN Philippines as “one of the best romantic comedy films in the last 25 years.” Watch Kita Kita in full at YouTube movies.

Useful vocabulary you’ll encounter in the film:

  • bulag – “blind”
  • mata – “eyes”
  • kinikilig – “thrilled”
  • nakakakita – “able to see”
  • pogi – “handsome”

Famous line from the film: 

Noong nakakakita ka, ‘di mo ako nakita. Nang mabulag ka, doon mo lang ako nakita.
“You didn’t notice me when you still had your sight. When you lost your sight, that’s the only time you were able to see me.”

10. Through Night and Day

2018 Romantic Drama

Through Night and Day became the most-viewed film in the Philippines in 2020. It was ranked by Google as the number-one Most Searched Movie when it released its top search queries list on December 10, 2020. It was also named the 2020 Most Popular Filipino Title on Netflix Philippines. The film stars Alessandra De Rossi (yes, the same actress in the hit Kita Kita) who plays Jen and Paolo Contis who plays Ben, a soon-to-be-married couple whose relationship is torn apart after a tour to Iceland. 

Full of twists and turns, this is one movie that is best described by the saying, “Expect the unexpected.” Be prepared to laugh at the exchanges between Jen and Ben, cry at heartbreaking scenes, and be awed at the stunning sceneries shot in Iceland. All of this and more make this one of the best Filipino movies on Netflix—even if it didn’t become popular until two years after its release! 

Fun fact: Through Night and Day had a poor opening day when it premiered in Cinemas on November 14, 2018. In his YouTube vlog last August, actor Paolo Contis thanked his fans for making the film a Netflix favorite. When asked by his wife why he was only thanking his fans now, he jokingly replied that it’s because they were only watching the film two years later. 

Useful vocabulary you’ll encounter in the film:

  • pabigat – “burden”
  • magkadikit – “always together” literally “stuck together”
  • bakasyon – “vacation”
  • magpapakasal – “getting married”
  • kaligayahan – “happiness”

Famous line from the film: 

Kung mabubuhay man akong muli, ikaw pa rin ang pipiliin kong mahalin.
“If I should live again, you will still be the one I will choose to love.”

    You’re surely going to want to share your experiences with your friends after watching these wonderful Filipino movies online. Before you do that, make sure you check out this lesson on talking about movies in Filipino!

Filipino-Italian actress Alessandra De Rossi starred in two of the most critically acclaimed Filipino films in the last three years.

11. Speed Up Your Learning By Joining FilipinoPod101!

Top Verbs

Watching Tagalog movies is no doubt one of the best ways to become more familiar with the Filipino language. In particular, this activity can help familiarize you with the correct pronunciation of words, as well as the right situations to use certain words. 

Which of these films do you plan on watching first, and why? Are there any good ones we missed? Let us know in the comments! 

Did you know that there’s another way for you to learn Filipino that’s just as fun and exciting as watching Filipino movies on Netflix and other places online? It’s by joining FilipinoPod101!

FilipinoPod101 is full of free resources to facilitate your learning of the Filipino language. This is in addition to an extensive library of lessons, lists of useful vocabulary, and a blog page where you’ll find great entries like this one.

If you want to accelerate your learning, there’s the MyTeacher service that allows our Premium PLUS members to study and learn Tagalog with a real teacher. No learning approach is more innovative than what FilipinoPod101 has to offer. So, what are you waiting for? Join FilipinoPod101 today!

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How to Find a Job in the Philippines as a Foreigner

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The Philippines is one of the most awesome countries in Southeast Asia. It’s a country with a very rich culture and breathtaking scenery. More importantly, it’s a place filled with kind and hospitable people. That’s why, despite the country’s imperfections, the Philippines never runs out of tourists and people who wish they could live here permanently.

Being able to temporarily live in the country is also on the bucket list of many foreigners studying the Filipino language. One of the most common concerns for these individuals is where to find jobs in the Philippines. After all, there’s no better way to master a new language than to immerse oneself in the culture of the people who natively speak that language.

If you’re wondering how to find a job in the Philippines, this guide is for you. Finding a job in the Philippines might be difficult for foreigners due to the country’s high unemployment rate—but the good news is that it’s not impossible. In this article, we’ll show you which cities in the country you’ll have a higher probability of getting a job, as well as which websites you can check to look for career opportunities. We’ll also give you some tips on what kind of jobs to look for and what permits or other requirements you might need.

Six People Dressed in Different Types of Work Clothes

Finding a job in the Philippines might be difficult for foreigners, but it’s not impossible.

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Business Words and Phrases in Filipino Table of Contents
  1. Where to Find Jobs in the Philippines
  2. Language Teaching Jobs
  3. Blue-Collar Jobs
  4. Office Jobs
  5. Jobs Related to Health, Science, and Technology
  6. Freelancing Gigs
  7. Increase Your Chances of Getting Hired by Learning Filipino!

1. Where to Find Jobs in the Philippines

Knowing exactly where to find jobs in the Philippines can be quite tricky considering that the country is an archipelago composed of over seven thousand islands. One thing you need to know, however, is that the country is divided into three major islands with each island having at least one major city. Luzon, being the most populated of the three, is home to the National Capital Region (NCR), which comprises a total of 16 cities, including Makati City and Quezon City. In the Visayas, you have Cebu City on Cebu Island and Iloilo City on Panay Island. If you go south to Mindanao, you have Davao City and General Santos City. 

1 – Major Cities to Consider When Looking for Jobs in the Philippines

Jobs are available countrywide, but you’ll have a higher chance of landing one if you consider these cities:

  • Makati City
  • Quezon City
  • Cebu City
  • Iloilo City
  • Davao City

To figure out where to find the best job to suit your preferences and skills, you’ll need to consider the industry you’re entering. For instance, multinational companies and BPOs are mostly based in large cities like Metro Manila, Cebu, and Iloilo. New sectors are also gradually rising in places like Baguio and Dumaguete. When it comes to the healthcare industry, most of the activity is concentrated in the National Capital Region, but it’s quite saturated there already so you might have a better chance in rural areas or smaller cities.

If you’re interested in tourism jobs in the Philippines, each province or city in the country has its own attraction, so you should be able to find something in whichever region you choose. In terms of manufacturing jobs, areas around Metro Manila are great candidates. These include Batangas, Cavite, Pampanga, and Bulacan.


A Map of Different Cities in the Philippines Near Manila

Multinational companies and BPOs are mostly based in large cities like Metro Manila.

2 – What Jobs Can Foreigners Apply for in the Philippines?

The Philippines allows foreigners to become employees in the country, provided their job of choice falls within the 15 categories set by the government in 2019:

  1. Professional athletes, coaches, trainers, and assistants
  2. International performers with exceptional abilities
  3. Artists, performers, and their staff who perform for a fee
  4. Service suppliers who will perform temporary services and will not be receiving a salary from a Philippine source
  5. Treasure hunters authorized by the government to look for hidden treasures
  6. Movie and TV crew authorized to film in the country
  7. Journalists practicing their profession
  8. Trainees assigned to government agencies and private entities
  9. Lecturers, researchers, and others pursuing academic work
  10. Religious missionaries and preachers
  11. Commercial models
  12. Chefs
  13. Consultants
  14. Professionals

This list may appear comprehensive, but it’s implicative in nature. If you can show that your intention to work in the country falls within the confines of qualified activities and warrants the approval of related government agencies, then you may be granted a Special Working Permit (SWP). 

Don’t worry if you’re not fluent in Tagalog yet. English is the primary means of communication in the Philippine corporate world, which means being fluent in Tagalog is not a requirement when looking for a job.


3 – Working Permits and Visa

If you want to work in the Philippines as a foreigner, you need to find a company that will be willing to give you the paperwork to apply for a working permit. You specifically need to obtain an Alien Employment Permit (AEP) from the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE). The AEP is required of any foreign national seeking admission to the country for employment. 

Foreign nationals seeking short-term work are only required to secure a Special Work Permit (SWP). This allows expatriates to work under a Tourist Visa (9A), provided that the contract does not go beyond three months. Nevertheless, the visa is extendable for a maximum of three months.

Speaking of visas, the most common type of work visa is the 9 (G) visa. Also known as the Pre-Arranged Employment Visa, the 9 (G) allows foreign employers in the country to employ foreign nationals. This gives the holder the freedom to enter and exit the country while working for a company licensed to do business under Philippine laws.

A Visa and Passport

The Pre-Arranged Employment Visa allows foreign employers in the Philippines to employ foreign nationals.

2. Language Teaching Jobs

Foreigners are allowed to work as teachers in the Philippines. However, neither private nor public universities hire foreigners as full-time faculty members at the time of this writing. 

You have a few options if you want a teaching job here. First off, you need to understand that there are already a lot of competent English teachers in the country working in English Tutorial Centers. If you’re fluent in a language other than English, then you may have a higher chance of getting a job as a language teacher. For instance, there are Japanese- and Korean-language tutorial centers all over Metro Manila. You can also find private tutorial jobs for other languages like Thai and Russian.

The most common requirement for language teaching jobs in the Philippines is a language proficiency test certificate. If you’re going to teach English, you’ll need to possess a Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) certificate. If you’re going to teach Japanese, then you’ll need one for passing the Japanese Language Proficiency Test (JLPT).

Here are the top websites to help you find available language teaching jobs in the Philippines:


3. Blue-Collar Jobs

Beginning in February of 2019, the Philippine government decided to cease issuing permits to foreign nationals who want to be employed in blue-collar jobs in the country. There are only two conditions under which you can work in this industry. The first one is that you possess special skills that no other Filipino does. The second one is that a certain company has hired you personally to work for them.

Here are the best job finder websites in the Philippines to help you find available blue-collar jobs:



People Working in a Factory

The Philippine government has ceased issuing permits to foreign nationals who want to be employed in blue-collar jobs.

4. Office Jobs

Foreigners can get office jobs in the Philippines, as long as they can find a company that will be willing to give them the paperwork to get a work visa. Possible options for office jobs for foreigners in the Philippines include the following:

  • Call center jobs
  • Secretarial jobs
  • Business analyst jobs
  • Receptionist jobs
  • Interpreter jobs
  • Sales consultant jobs

Here are the top websites to help you find office jobs in the Philippines:


5. Jobs Related to Health, Science, and Technology

Jobs in this field are specialized, so as long as you have the skills required for such jobs, you won’t have a hard time getting hired. Whether there are jobs available for you is the question, however. Philippine companies in this field will always prioritize Filipinos, but if you have skills that Filipino applicants don’t already possess, you’ll have a huge chance of getting hired. That said, there are private companies in this field that only hire foreigners for certain positions. Possible positions that may be available for this field include the following:

  • Lecturer
  • Research specialist
  • Technical assistant
  • Laboratory analyst
  • Machine technician
  • Chemist
  • Environmental scientist

The following are some websites you can check for available jobs in this sector:



6. Freelancing Gigs

There are no specific websites for part-time jobs. If you wish to find one, you can use any of the websites mentioned above. However, some websites might increase your chances of finding a freelancing gig. If you’re particularly concerned about where to find online jobs in the Philippines, then you have websites like Onlinejobs PH. This website is dedicated to providing online-based jobs to Filipinos, but foreigners can apply here too.

Indeed.com is another great site you can use to look for part-time jobs. If you can write well, you can find part-time or freelance writing jobs via these websites. Keep in mind, though, that most employees hiring through these sites are foreigners, too, which means your salary won’t be sourced from the Philippines. That would be an advantage because there really aren’t a lot of restrictions for foreigners working online-based jobs with salaries coming outside of the country. If you’re a foreigner visiting the country for a few months, finding freelance remote jobs in the Philippines this way would be the best option for you in terms of having an extra source of income.


Someone Writing at a Laptop

Freelance writing is one of the most lucrative jobs you can do as a foreigner in the Philippines.

Increase Your Chances of Getting Hired by Learning Filipino!

Whether you’re looking for a job in the Philippines to learn the language or vice-versa, one thing is for sure: FilipinoPod101 can help you pick up speed in your journey of learning Filipino or Tagalog.

FilipinoPod101 can provide you with free resources that will make it easier for you to study the Filipino language. This includes a comprehensive list of lessons on vocabulary, grammar, and pronunciation. If you’re looking for more guides like this one, you’ll find them on the site’s blog page.

What separates FilipinoPod101, though, is our innovative approach to language learning—not to mention our MyTeacher service, designed to accelerate your progress toward your learning goals! With MyTeacher, you can have a real professional Filipino teacher guide you and give you constant feedback as you move ahead in your lessons.

We hope that you found our guide on how and where to find jobs in the Philippines valuable! If you believe we missed any detail, please let us know in the comments and we’ll do our best to answer any questions you may have.

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Introducing Our Brand New Dashboard!

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