10 Filipino Phrases Foreign Tourists Should Know

Welcome to the Philippines, dear traveler!  Visiting this beautiful country is one of the best travel decisions you can make.

Survival in any foreign country entails that you must have a working vocabulary of at least 10 words or expressions in the local language. This will not only be useful for communicating your needs, but will also gain respect and goodwill from the locals.

While about 56.63% of Filipinos are able to communicate in English in some way (speak, read, write and think), it would still be convenient for you to express some words in Filipino to make your message clearer.

Here are 10 of the most important Filipino phrases you should learn before venturing out:

  1. Magandang araw (Good day) — By nature a courteous people, Filipinos usually begin conversations with this greeting even among themselves, whether they are speaking to strangers or not. You can also say these greetings based on the time of day Magandang Umaga (Good Morning), Magandang Hapon (Good Afternoon) or Magandang Gabi (Good Evening).
  2. Kumusta (How are you?) — Here’s another conversation opener almost always used among Filipinos.  It is more casual and can be used any time of the day.
  3. Pwede pong magtanong? (May I ask you something?) — As a traveler, you may not always be able to rely on GPS or guidebooks to get around.  This question is handy for getting or confirming information about various things, from bus stop locations to restaurant entrees.
  4. Salamat (Thank you) — Saying thanks is a universal practice across cultures.  You need to thank people after you request for their services or for information.  This will surely bring cheer and positive feelings, no matter how inconvenient your request may be.
  5. Oo (Yes) — This is much better than just nodding your head.  It shows that you have made the effort to learn the language and will surely elicit admiration from your listener.  If speaking to a person older than you, use the more respectful “Opo.”
  6. Hindi (No) — Just like “Oo”, “hindi” helps you communicate your needs, especially if you are making purchases or dining at a restaurant.  It is used for expressing a refusal or a denial.  If speaking to a person older than you, use the more respectful “Hindi po.”
  7. Magkano? (How much?) –It’s always good to know how to ask for prices in any language.  Being able to say this may even warm you to the other party and can get you a good discount.
  8. Saan ang…? (Where is…?)  — This question phrase usually follows after “Pwede pong magtanong?” You can get information about locations and directions.  The local may even assist you in getting the right transport or show you the place if it’s nearby.  Be sure to say “Salamat” after you reach your destination.
  9. Paalam (Goodbye) — When you’re ready to leave a location and part from friends, this is the appropriate phrase to use. You’ll always be remembered for knowing how to say this (and other Filipino words) and you’ll expect a very warm welcome on your next visit.
  10. Po — This has no English translation.  It is a typically Filipino word used to show respect toward the other party.  It can be used with people your age or older.  (You don’t use it with children.)  You can use it after the other phrases in this list.  Use it often, and everyone will really be nice and accommodating in return.

You’ll be relieved to know that Filipinos are very forgiving and considerate if ever you mispronounced these phrases.  But it will always be good to practice them first with a Filipino friend before trying them on the street in order to avoid getting lost in translation. You can also watch this Youtube that I found so you could practice:

Enjoy your stay, and try learning even more Filipino words as you do!

What other Filipino words do you think foreign tourists should know? Share it to us in the comments.