Talk the talk - Filipino slang

14 Dec 2011

A popular description of Philippine psyche and culture goes this way: “400 years in the convent and 50 years in Hollywood”, referring to the periods when the archipelago was ruled by the Spaniards, followed by the Americans and with Chinese, Arab and Indian migrants also infusing the mix. This explains why the national language, Tagalog ­– or its official name, Pilipino – features influences from all these foreign strains, a situation that has even led to a hybrid language, Taglish, charmingly combining Pilipino and English words.

Here’s a collection of words and phrases that will help the visitor follow the conversation.

Pinoy – colloquial version of the Filipino male (when written as PNoy, refers to current Philippine president Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III)

Pinay – colloquial version of the Filipino female

Boss – used to address or catch the attention of male waitstaff, cabbies, security guards or friends

‘Day – female version of Boss and pronounced as “Die” (originally from Inday, a popular girl’s nickname from the Visayan language of central Philippines)

Tsong – Affectionate address for male friends. Comes from “tiyo”, Spanish for uncle. Pronounced as “chong”.

Tsang the female version. Comes from “tiya”, Spanish for aunt. Pronounced as “chang”.

Tsibog – Let’s eat. Again, this is pronounced “chibog”.

Comfort room – a term that will definitely come in handy after tsibog. It means the washroom/loo. And to really sound like a native, say “CR”.

Kumusta? – As there is no precise word in Pilipino for hello, this suffices. Comes from the Spanish, “Como estas?”

Ok lang – I’m fine (usually said in a casual manner) 

Ay naku! – used in moments of exasperation, panic or crisis, and sometimes, in weariness.

Galing! – A positive term for good, great, marvelous, stupendous and the like.

Hoy! – Hey. Used among peers and friends, and never with persons of authority.

Psst! – To catch the attention of someone who’s a distance away.

Sige – (pronounced with hard “g”) This often-heard word is used to bring a conversation or situation to an end. “Sige, I have to go now.”

Ingat – means to take care and used upon parting.

Babay! (bah-bi) – Good-bye.

This list is by no means exhaustive so feel free to contribute in the comment box below.

Margie T Logarta

Loading comments...

Search Flight

See a whole year of Reward Seat Availability on one page at

Business Traveller UK September 2023 edition
Business Traveller UK September 2023 edition
Be up-to-date
Magazine Subscription
To see our latest subscription offers for Business Traveller editions worldwide, click on the Subscribe & Save link below