Thursday, March 11, 2010

Philippines Survival Guide - Part 2: Filipino English VS American English

You really, really, REALLY have to go to the restroom. You are rushing around the mall, asking random workers if they know where the bathroom is, and all you're getting is blank stares. After a few tries, you find a security guard that speaks fluent English. You ask him if he knows where you can find a restroom. To your surprise, you are hit with yet another blank stare. How can this be?

While a large percentage of the Filipino population speaks English either fluently or at least conversationally, there are still some differences between the American and Filipino varieties of the language. What follows is a list that will hopefully help you know WHAT KIND of English to use when you are roaming the streets of Manila.

Thanks to Kuya Warren for helping me out with this post!

Filipino English - American English

Accomplish - (v) to complete a form. Ex) "Please accomplish this form"
Aircon - Air Conditioner/AC
Already — Filipinos use this word to state that they have finished doing something, whether it was before or after a deadline. In the US, one would use "already" when something is done ahead of schedule. Also, Filipinos tend to put "already" at the end of a sentence.
Ex) The statement "I already bought the CD" would be said "I bought the CD already."
Artist/Artista — A movie/television actor/actress.
Batch - Class
Batchmate - Classmate
Barbecue — Grilled meat chopped into pieces and cooked on a stick. In the US, however, barbecue is pretty much anything grilled.
Bedspace — A rented out area of a home that a boarder, known as a "bedspacer," sleeps.
Blowout - to treat to a meal
Bottomless — Free drink refills
Brownout - Blackout/Power-outtage
Buck — a peso, rather than a dollar
Buy one, take one - Buy one, get one free
By and by — Later
Calling card - Business card
Canteen - Cafeteria
Carnapping - Carjacking; car theft. A carnapper is a carjacker or car thief
Chinoy - Chinese-Filipino
Chit - a restaurant bill
Colgate - any brand of toothpaste
Comfort Room/CR — Bathroom/restroom
Cope up with - Cope with
Dine-in - Also means "for here." Even at a food kiosk, the worker will ask you if you want to "dine-in," despite the fact there is nowhere to sit down. You might not even be inside a building!
Double-action bullet - A hollow point, or expanding bullet
Eat-All-You-Can - All-You-Can-Eat
Every now and then - Often
Fill up the form - Fill out the form
For a while - "Please wait." Usually used when talking on the telephone.
Get down/Go down (vehicle) - To "get off"
Gimmick - A night out with friends, especially at a bar or club
Girly Bar - Strip club
Go ahead - Leave in advance. Ex) "I'll go ahead" means that you are going now, before everyone else
Helper - Any combination of a maid, cook, and/or nanny who usually works and lives in their employer's home
If ever - If it happens
Jingle - To urinate
Jogging pants - Sweat pants
KJ - Kill-joy; someone that is a downer and ruins all the fun
Masteral - Master's degree
McDo - McDonalds
Middle Name - Usually, the middle name is the mother's maiden name
Motor - Motorcycle
Officemate - Co-worker
Open/Close the light - Turn on/off the light
Outing- referring to taking a trip out of town, specifically to the beach
Pentel Pen - Any brand of marker
Ref - Refrigerator
Remembrance - Something to remember a person or place by; a souvenir
Revival - Cover version of a song
Rotonda - Roundabout
Rubber shoes - Athletic shoes/sneakers
Salvage - Assassinate
Sari-sari store - a neighborhood convenience store
Simple - Modest, not pretentious
Slang - bad pronunciation or strong accent
Slippers - Flip-flops
Sounds - Music
Take-away - Take-out (food)
The other day - The day before yesterday
Thrice - More commonly used in the Philippines than the phrase "three times"
Tissue Paper - Toilet paper
Traffic - heavy traffic. Ex) "It's so traffic"
Tricycle - A small motorcycle with a sidecar hired for transportation
Village - A gated community
Xerox - Any brand of copy machine, or to make a copy
Yaya - See Helper (above)


  1. I love it! I hope you could make a part 3. :)

  2. Thanks for the feedback ykaterina! Not to fear, a part 3 is coming soon. :-) I am pretty sure it will be on Filipino gestures.

    Also, you should click the "Follow" button on the right side of the blog homepage, so you are updated every time I release a new post.

    Thanks again for showing some love!


  3. Have you encountered the gay speak culture in the Philippines? When I was in UP-Diliman, they considered that as a totally different language group. I only know a few gay speak words, perhaps you've encountered them?

    Chaka - ugly
    Chorva - used as a general pronoun to practically any common or proper noun. Ex: "Let's go to chorva" instead of "Let's go to [insert the mall's name here]/the mall"
    Corrected By - right/correct/yes

    Like I've said, I only know a few LOL.

  4. Yep, I've heard the gay speak over in Manila; its pretty common. They have their own sub-language, its crazy!

  5. What does it mean when they say "only"? They're always like "3500 pesos only, sir" - as if it is a trivial sum of money!!