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Lesson Transcript


Alisha: How does formal Filipino work?
Danilo: And when is it used?
Alisha: At FilipinoPod101.com, we hear these questions often. In this scenario, Felix Flores, a high-school student, meets the mother of his neighbor friend, Karen Lee. He says, "How are you, Mrs. Lee?"
Felix Flores: Kumusta po kayo, Ginang Lee?
Felix Flores: Kumusta po kayo, Ginang Lee?
Karen Lee: Mabuti, salamat. Ikaw, kumusta?
Alisha: Once more with the English translation.
Felix Flores: Kumusta po kayo, Ginang Lee?
Alisha: "How are you, Mrs. Lee?"
Karen Lee: Mabuti, salamat. Ikaw, kumusta?
Alisha: "Fine, thanks. How are you?"

Lesson focus

Alisha: In this lesson, we will be learning about formal Filipino and when it is used.
Formal Filipino can be used whenever you are in a formal environment such as, for instance, a workplace or a business meeting. It can also be used when meeting someone for the first time. You should use it whenever you are addressing someone who has seniority, or someone you don't know very well. Respect, or
Danilo: respeto,
Alisha: is a key concept in the Philippines, and the way you present yourself and address others is a reflection on you, and also your family within Philippine culture.
There are two easy words that are often used to show respect. These words do not have a literal English meaning but are equivalent to "yes." They can be added to regular sentences in order to indicate formality and respect.
The first of these two words is
Danilo: po.
Alisha: It is often added at the end of what is being said when speaking to an older person. In these instances, it is like an honorific: a term used to show respect. Let's hear this in an example.
If you say "Thank you" to a friend, you would just say
Danilo: Salamat.
Alisha: However, if you are speaking to an elder, you would add
Danilo: po.
Alisha: The final sentence would then be
Danilo: Salamat po
Alisha: which still means "thank you," but it is the more respectful term. It could be seen as meaning "Thank you, sir" or "thank you, ma'am." As you can see, it is gender-neutral.
Another way that this word can be used is when responding to an elder. For example, if an elder is calling your name to attract your attention, you should respond with
Danilo: Po?
Alisha: This is like saying "Yes?" but with respect. Another example would be if an elder asks you a question such as "Have you seen your sister?"
Danilo: Nakita mo ba ang ate mo?
Alisha: If you want to say that you haven't seen her, then you should say
Danilo: Hindi po
Alisha: which means "No" but respectfully.
If you recall, I told you that there were two easy words to learn that are used to indicate respect. The second word is
Danilo: opo.
Alisha: This word is used to respond to questions about actions taken or not taken. For example, if an elder asks you
Danilo: Nakarating na ba kayo sa Chocolate Hills ng Bohol?
Alisha: which means "Have you been to the Chocolate Hills of Bohol?" you would respond with
Danilo: opo.
Alisha: This is the respectful way to say that "yes" you have.
Now, let's move on to how to address older people. When addressing a man older than you, or of a higher rank at work, or of higher social status, you should address him as
Danilo: ginoo
Alisha: which means "Mr" or "sir," and then use their first or last or full name. For example, if the person you are talking to is named Roberto, you would address him as
Danilo: Ginoong Roberto.
If the man you are talking to is a little older than you, you can use
Danilo: kuya
Alisha: to address them. This means "older brother" and can be used for your real older brother, or for someone you are not related to.
When addressing an older woman or a woman of higher status, it is respectful to follow this same formula of title and then name. Of course, instead of saying "sir," one would say "Madame" or "Ma'am." In Filipino, this is
Danilo: ginang
Alisha: or Mrs. for married a woman and
Danilo: binibini
Alisha: or Miss for an unmarried woman.
Alisha: If the woman's name is Maria, one would then address her as
Danilo: Ginang Maria o Binibining Maria.
Alisha: You could also address her as
Danilo: ate
Alisha: which means "older sister." Take note that this can be used to address any older woman and not only a literal older sister.
Practice Section
Alisha: Let's review what we learned in this lesson. I will say the target sentence in English, then you should respond by saying the sentence out loud in Filipino. Danilo will then model the correct answer. Listen to him carefully, with the focus on pronunciation, and then repeat.
The first sentence is "How are you, Mrs. Lee?"
[Beep. Pause 5 seconds.]
Danilo: Kumusta po kayo, Ginang Lee?
Alisha: Did you get it right? Listen to Danilo again, and repeat.
Danilo: Kumusta po kayo, Ginang Lee?
[Beep. Pause 5 seconds.]
Danilo: Kumusta po kayo, Ginang Lee?
Alisha: The second sentence is "Fine, thanks. How are you?"
[Beep. Pause 5 seconds.]
Danilo: Mabuti, salamat. Ikaw, kumusta?
Alisha: How did you do this time? Again, listen to Danilo and repeat.
Danilo: Mabuti, salamat. Ikaw, kumusta?
[Beep. Pause 5 seconds.]
Danilo: Mabuti, salamat. Ikaw, kumusta?
Cultural Insight
Alisha: In the Philippines, there is a formal Filipino custom called
Danilo: pagmamano
Alisha: or just
Danilo: mano.
Alisha: It is a custom used to honor elders and is used especially when greeting grandparents—for instance, if you are seeing them for the first time that day or if you meet them at a gathering. You can also use this gesture to show respect when entering someone's home. The words that accompany this customary greeting are
Danilo: Mano, po
Alisha: which translates to "Your hand, please." The custom is to then show respect by lowering one's forehead to the back of the elder's extended hand.
There are some Filipinos who instead, in recent times, use a cheek-to-cheek kiss or
Danilo: beso-beso
Alisha: which translates to "kisses."
Other physical greetings are also used. Between men, handshakes are very common, and they are often accompanied by a warm smile. Women usually smile and wave. Close female friends will sometimes kiss and hug.
Let's now look at how Filipinos address each other respectfully within their families.
The English word "Dad" is often used in Philippine households; however, the respectful Filipino terms for "father" take three different forms in Filipino. These are:
Danilo: itay, [pause] tatay, [pause] papa.
Alisha: If the father in the household is a step-father, one simply uses these words as a title and adds the name afterward. For example, if his name is Manny, then he would be addressed as
Danilo: Tatay Manny.
Alisha: Similarly, the English words "mom" and "mommy" are often used in Philippine households, but the respectful terms for "mother" or "mom" are as follows:
Danilo: nay, nanay, mama.
Alisha: If the mother in the household is a stepmother, then, just as with stepfathers, one uses these terms as a title before the person's name. For example, if the stepmother's name is Julie, then she would be addressed as
Danilo: Mama Julie.
Alisha: For an uncle, children will often use the English word "uncle." However, if the age gap is smaller between the child and the uncle, the child may use the respectful term
Danilo: tito
Alisha: instead. Again, the title precedes the name as in
Danilo: Tito Fhil
Alisha: An aunt is called "auntie," or
Danilo: tita
Alisha: and sometimes children will also use this term for their stepmothers.
Grandparents each have only one title. For "grandfather," it is
Danilo: Lolo
Alisha: and for grandmother it is
Danilo: Lola.


Alisha: Do you have any more questions? We're here to answer them!
Danilo: Paalam.
Alisha: See you soon!