Philippines: Basic Tagalog Survival Phrases



You won’t have a hard time communicating with anyone here because almost everyone can understand English, even cab drivers.


If you really want to learn, buy an English Filipino dictionary in bookstores, there’s lots here.


Virtually everyone in the Philippines can speak English though, since schools including public schools are only taught in English.


The only thing is some terms are different, ie. the restroom is actually a “comfort room” or “C.R.” for short

if you’re having stomach problems you tell them you have “L.B.M” (Lower Bowel Movement) and they’ll understand you better.


The only thing you may encounter since you’re not fluent (which I experienced and is virtually unavoidable) is that people try to upsell you if you are trying to purchase goods from a vendor, ie. at the Greenhills Mall in Manila <–BEST shopping in the Metro Manila area


Whatever price they tell you, DON’T agree to it. HAGGLE!

Or just threaten or actually visit another kiosk/store.


I looked at a dozen kiosks and compared prices/quality before settling on a purchase and even then I haggled 😉


Most people speak taglish here and basic ones are in english like we usually say Thank you instead of salamat.


To ask for bill we either motion our hand or say bill please.

We say hi and theres no tagalog for that.


*** You pretty much don’t need to learn Tagalog because 90% of the people here understands english(you need to speak slowly though for people who only reached elementary or secondary education).


However, we would appreciate if you, at least, learn a few words and try to speak tagalog.




You need to use “po” at the end of your sentence to show respect to older people, i.e. Kamusta po.



If you want to try riding a jeepney say “bayad po” — Here’s my payment.

“Para po!” — and the driver will pull off.


Ma’, para! (to stop and get down from jeepney)




Kamusta  – How are you?

Kamusta Ka – (more formal) How are you?


Salamat (Sa-la-mat) – Thank you

Salamat (po) – thank you. Po is for respect


Tulong (two-long) – HELP


CR (short for comfort room) – restroom


Mabuti- good.


Magkano?         – How much?

Magkano yan?  – How much is that?


Mahal – expensive but is also the same way we say love


Saan – where


Masarap – delicious


kanan- right

kaliwa- left


OO- yes

Opo – Yes. A must that you use Opo to older people, again for respect


Hindi – no

Hindi po (It means no. To refuse an offer with a smile)


Mura- cheap


Kuya (male) / ate (female) – recently popular to address strangers like taxi drivers, waiters etc. Not to be used in fancy/posh places tho 🙂


Ano – What


Kailan – When


Everyone speaks English but if ever, tang Ina literally means chingga tu madre but we kinda use it like “fuck”. It goes with everything. But some words you might need to know:


Psssst – that’s how we call people


Manong – what you call an older stranger that’s a guy to be respectful. Like “sir”


Manang – same as above but for women. Like “ma’am”


Babababa – are you going down?


Bababa – yes I’m going down.


sorry- patawad or pasensiya na


Good Morning- Magandang Umaga, Good evening- Magandang gabi


Ayaw ko. = I don’t want. / I don’t like. / I don’t want to.

This Tagalog phrases is often shortened to one word: Ayoko.


Gusto ko ‘to. = I like this. / I want this.

The Tagalog word gusto can mean ‘want’ or ‘ like.’


Sandali lang. = Just a moment. (Wait. Hold on a sec.)


Ingat ka. = Take care.


Aalis na ako.-I’m leaving now. (A phrase Filipinos use when they’d like to say goodbye.)



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