27 Filipino Words and Phrases You Should Know When Working with Filipinos

Last updated Jan 20, 2023

The Philippines is excellent at service outsourcing and have a tight hold on the English language. Despite this, they continue to speak Filipino as their main form of communication.

To build successful business relationships with Filipinos, it is key that you learn some of their languages. This shows that you are willing to collaborate and make them feel like part of the team rather than just another employee – which will go a long way in building rapport.

In this article, we’ll learn at least 27 Filipino words and phrases you can use!

10 Terms Filipino Employees Use in the Workplace

Tagalog or Filipino (as popularly known globally) is one of the most widely spoken languages in the Philippines, and many Filipinos use it daily when communicating. To ensure a good working relationship with your Filipino partners, here are some Tagalog terms and phrases you should know.

1. Kumusta? – This is a friendly greeting, similar to “How are you?” in English.

2. Salamat – This phrase means “thank you” in Tagalog and can express gratitude for any situation or favor.

3. Po/Opo – This is a polite form of “Yes” in Tagalog, usually used when addressing someone older than you.

4. Hindi po – This is the polite way to say “No” in Tagalog, usually when addressing someone older than you.

5. Paki – This is the Tagalog word for “please” and can be used to request a favor or ask a question.

6. Sige – This term is similar to “okay” in English and can be used to agree to something or give permission.

7. Sorry/Paumanhin – This is the Tagalog word for “sorry” and can be used to apologize or express regret.

8. O, sige – This phrase combines both “okay” and “yes” in Tagalog, so it can be used to indicate agreement with something or give permission.

9. Mabuti – This is the Tagalog word for “good” and can be used to describe something positive or express approval of an idea.

10. Ingat (Be careful) – A phrase of caution, often used when making an important decision or taking risks.

13 Filipino Phrases Commonly Used in the Workplace

A quick note on code-switching: Filipinos are not uncommon to effortlessly alternate between English and Filipino words in a sentence.

So, you’ll encounter a lot of foreign languages mixed with Tagalog.

Magandang araw (Good day)

It is polite to greet someone with this phrase instead of ‘hello’. 

“Maganda” or “Magandang” literally means “good” in this context.

So, if you’d like to be a bit more specific with your greetings, you can say “magandang umaga” for “good morning”, “magandang hapon” for “good afternoon”, or “magandang gabi” for “good evening,”.

Subukan natin (Let’s try)

This phrase encourages people to take on difficult tasks or when attempting something new.

So when faced with a challenge at work, you can use this to rally your Filipino team to try and overcome the challenge.

Pag-uusapan natin mamaya (Let’s talk about it later)

This is an expression of agreement that shows your willingness to cooperate and be flexible. 

Magkakasama tayo (We’re in this together)

This is a phrase used to show solidarity and community between colleagues. When faced with a daunting task, this is the perfect phrase to help you assure your team that you got their backs!

Naiintindihan mo ba? (Do you understand?)

This is a polite way of asking someone if they understand what is being discussed instead of assuming.

How you deliver this phrase, however, matters. A more informal or colloquial version of this phrase is “Gets mo ba?” which roughly means the same but could be roughly translated as “did you get what I said?”.

Ganon ba? (Is that so?)

This phrase shows interest and understanding in what someone is saying before moving on with the conversation.

In some contexts, this could also indicate an expression of disbelief over something surprising.

A more colloquial version of this is “Ganern?”.

Good vibes lang! (Just be positive!)

This is a phrase used to encourage someone to remain positive despite the current situation or challenge. 

Kaya mo yan! (You can do it!)

This phrase of encouragement is usually used to motivate someone feeling down or struggling with something.

Saying this to your co-worker is a fantastic way of showing support. You may even combine this with a phrase you learned earlier: “Magkakasama tayo” (we’re all in this together)

Chill lang (Just relax)

This is a way of telling someone to take a break and not stress out over something, especially at work, where things can get extra hectic or challenging fast.

If you combine this phrase with “Good vibes lang!”, then you’re on your way to becoming a great cheerleader.

Wag kang mag-alala (Don’t worry)

This phrase is used to comfort or reassure someone feeling anxious. 

Pakikinggan mo ako (Listen to me)

A polite way of requesting someone’s attention instead of raising your voice.

Pwede mo ba akong tulungan? (Can you help me?)

If you find yourself in a difficult situation at work and need help from a coworker, don’t be afraid to ask for their help by saying, “Pwede mo ba akong tulungan?”

In English, this would translate to “Can you help me?”.

May mga katanungan ba? (Do you have any questions?)

If you’re looking for ideas from colleagues, this is the ideal phrase to use during meetings or brainstorming sessions.

Conversely, a polite way to ask permission before asking questions would be “Pwede bang magtanong?” or “Pwedeng magtanong?”.

May suggestion ka ba? (Do you have a suggestion?)

If you want your employees to feel like they can speak up, ask them for their suggestions. If you are willing to listen to their suggestions, let them know before you ask.

You can ask your employees for their suggestions by saying “May suggestion ka ba?” or “Do you have a suggestion?”. This will allow you to hear some great ideas!

Ano sa tingin mo? (What do you think?)

This is another way of inviting your colleagues to voice their thoughts or criticisms on a previous idea or to solicit novel ideas from the group.

The next time you’re trying to come up with an idea during a meeting or brainstorming session, use this phrase to get your Filipino colleagues’ input.

Kain tayo! (Let’s eat!)

If you’re ever feeling hangry at work and want to invite your colleagues out to eat, in Filipino you would say “Kain tayo,” which translates to “Let’s eat!”

Mauna na po ako (I’ll go ahead)

After you’ve had a productive work day and it’s time to leave, you may say in Filipino, “Mauna na po ako,” which translates to “I’ll go ahead.”

Final Thoughts

Learning these Filipino words and phrases can help you build successful relationships with Filipino colleagues. It also shows that you are willing to take the time to learn their language and culture, which is a great way to show respect and appreciation.

When in doubt, remember: Magkakasama tayo! (We’re in this together!)

Good luck!

By: Curran Daly + Associates


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