Teaching Americans Tagalog 101

Posted: 06/06/2009 in The Philippines

Okay so I’ve noticed that most of my readers are Americans and Europeans, so for today I’m going to give them a special treat. I will teach them some romantic Tagalog (Philippine language) phrases and also how to court a local Pinay (Filipina girl) or how Pinoys court women. So here we go:

Top 10 Romantic Tagalog Phrases for Filipinas

Want to impress your Filipina girlfriend or wife?
Make an effort to learn a few romantic words and phrases in Tagalog!

1. Mahal kita. = I love you.

This is the most common way of saying ‘I Love You.’ This phrase can be used with anyone, from your grandfather (Mahal kita, Lolo) to your child (Mahal kita, Anak).

2. Iniibig kita. = I love you.

This is a very dramatic way of declaring your love for someone. A bit old-fashioned, but it’s the sort of phrase you use with an object of romantic affections.

3. Miss kita. = I miss you.

Filipinos have incorporated a lot of English words into their vocabulary, including the verb for missing someone’s presence. If you really, really miss someone, you can say either one of the following sentences:

Miss na miss kita. = I really miss you.
Miss kita talaga. = I really miss you.

4. Ingat ka. = Take care.

This is a very sweet thing to say in Tagalog. It sounds so much better than the English translation. Variations include:

Mag-ingat ka. = Do take care.
Lagi kang mag-ingat. = Always take care.
Ingat ka lagi. = Always take care. (Used in letters more than in conversation.)

5. May gusto ako sa iyo. = I have a crush on you.

As a noun, the Tagalog word gusto means an infatuation with someone.

6. Gusto kita. = I like you.

As a verb, the word gusto means “to want” and “to like”.

Gusto kitang makita. = I want to see you.
Gusto kitang tawagan. = I want to call you.

7. Iniisip kita. = I’m thinking of you.

Lagi kitang iniisip. = I always think of you.
Iniisip kita lagi. = I always think of you.

8. Hihintayin kita. = I’ll wait for you.

Nothing melts a Filipina’s heart like this expression of patience. Whether it’s waiting for her to finish getting ready or waiting for her to say yes to your proposal, it simply is an endearing phrase. She doesn’t want to be rushed and it’s a sign of your thoughtfulness that you’re willing to wait for her however long it takes.

9. Huwag kang mag-alala. Akong bahala.
= Don’t worry. I’ll take care of it.

The combination of these two phrases is music to a Filipina’s ears. Don’t stress her out with your own difficulty in finding parking. Don’t insist she pick a wine when it wasn’t her idea to come to such a fancy restaurant. Don’t make her share in your anxiety over how much to tip the server.

Whether a small matter or a big one, tell her you’ll take care of it and do! Let her sit back and relax.

10. Ikaw ang lahat sa akin. = You are everything to me.
Tell her how much she means to you.

Have Fun and Good Luck! 🙂

‘Forgive Me’ in Tagalog

The Tagalog word for ‘forgiveness’ is patawad.
In casual situations, Filipinos use the English expression ‘I’m sorry.’

Sorry. (in the formal sense of ‘Excuse me’ and NOT matters of love!)

Patawarin mo ako.
Forgive me.

Nagkamali ako.
I made a mistake.

Humihingi ako ng patawad.
I’m asking for forgiveness.

Gusto kong patawarin mo ako.
I want you to forgive me.

Kailangan ko ng patawad mo.
I need your forgiveness.

Mapapatawad mo ba ako?
Will you be able to forgive me?

Bigyan mo ako ng isa pang pagkakataon.
Give me one more chance.

Gusto kong patunayan na mahal kita.
I want to prove that I love you.

The traditional dalagang Pilipina (Filipina maiden) is shy and secretive about her real feelings for a suitor and denies it even though she is really in love with the man.

Tuksuhan lang (just teasing) is the usual term associated with pairing off potential couples in Filipino culture.  This is common among teenagers and young adults.  It is a way of matching people who may have mutual admiration or affection for each other.  It may end up in a romance or avoidance of each other if the situation becomes embarrassing for both individuals.

Tuksuhan (teasing–and a girl’s reaction to it) is a means for ‘feeling out’ a woman’s attitude about an admirer or suitor.  If the denial is vehement and the girl starts avoiding the boy, then he gets the message that his desire to pursue her is hopeless.  The advantage of this is that he does not get embarrassed because he has not started courting the girl in earnest.  As in most Asian cultures, Filipinos avoid losing face. Basted (from English busted) is the Tagalog slang for someone who fails to reach ‘first base’ in courting a girl because she does not have any feelings for him to begin with.

Panliligaw or ligawan are the Tagalog terms for courtship, which in some parts of the Tagalog-speaking regions is synonymous with pandidiga or digahan (from Spanish diga, ‘to say, express’).  Manliligaw is the one who courts a girl; nililigawan is the one who is being courted.

In Philippine culture, courtship is far more subdued and indirect unlike in some Western societies.  A man who is interested in courting a woman has to be discreet and friendly at first, in order not to be seen as too presko or mayabang (aggressive or too presumptuous).  Friendly dates are often the starting point, often with a group of other friends.  Later, couples may go out on their own, but this is still to be done discreetly.  If the couple has decided to come out in the open about their romance, they will tell their family and friends as well.

In the Philippines, if a  man wants to be taken seriously by a woman, he has to visit the latter’s family and introduce himself formally to the parents of the girl.  It is rather inappropriate to court a woman and formalize the relationship without informing the parents of the girl.  It is always expected that the guy must show his face to the girl’s family.  And if a guy wants to be acceptable to the girl’s family, he has to give pasalubong (gifts) every time he drops by her family’s house.   It is said that in the Philippines, courting a Filipina means courting her family as well.

In courting a Filipina, the metaphor often used is that of playing baseball.  The man is said to reach ‘first base’ if the girl accepts his proposal to go out on a date for the first time.  Thereafter, going out on several dates is like reaching the second and third bases.  A ‘home-run’ is one where the girl formally accepts the man’s love, and they become magkasintahan (from sinta, love), a term for boyfriend-girlfriend.

During the old times and in the rural areas of the Philippines, Filipino men would make harana (serenade) the women  at night and sing songs of love and affection.  This is basically a Spanish influence.  The man is usually accompanied by his close friends who provide moral support for the guy, apart from singing with him.

Filipino women are expected to be pakipot (playing hard to get) because it is seen as an appropriate behavior in a courtship dance.   By being pakipot, the girl tells the man that he has to work hard to win her love.  It is also one way by which the Filipina will be able to measure the sincerity of her admirer.  Some courtships could last years before the woman accepts the man’s love.

A traditional dalagang Pilipina (Filipinpa maiden) is someone who is mahinhin (modest, shy, with good upbringing, well-mannered) and does not show her admirer that she is also in love with him immediately.  She is also not supposed to go out on a date with several men.  The opposite of mahinhin is malandi (flirt), which is taboo in Filipino culture as far as courtship is concerned.

After a long courtship, if the couple later decide to get married, there is the Filipino tradition of pamamanhikan (from panik, to go up the stairs of the house), where the man and his parents visit the woman’s family and ask for her parents blessings to marry their daughter.  It is also an occasion for the parents of the woman to get to know the parents of the man.

During pamamanhikan, the man and his parents bring some pasalubong (gifts).  It is also at this time that the wedding date is formally set, and the couple become engaged to get married.

However, if the girl ‘encourages’ her suitor (either by being nice to him or not getting angry with the ‘teasers’), then the man can court in earnest and the tuksuhan eventually ends.  The courtship then has entered a ‘serious’ stage, and the romance begins.

A man who is unable to express his affection to a woman (who may have the same feelings for him) is called a torpe (stupid), dungo (extremely shy), or simply duwag (coward).  To call a man torpe means he does not know how to court a girl, is playing innocent, or does not know she also has an affection for him.

If a man is torpe, he needs a tulay (bridge)–anyone who is a mutual friend of him and the girl he loves–who then conveys to the girl his affection for her.   It is also a way of ‘testing the waters’ so to speak.  If the boy realizes that the girl does not have feelings for him, he will then not push through with the courtship, thus saving face.

Some guys are afraid of their love being turned down by the girl.  In Tagalog, a guy whose love  has been turned down by the girl is called sawi (romantically sad), basted (busted), or simply labless (loveless).

The Tagalog term tampo has no English equivalent.  Magtampo is usually translated as ‘to sulk’, but it does not quite mean that.  ‘Sulk’ seems to have a negative meaning which is not expressed in magtampo.   It is a way of withdrawing, of expressing hurt feelings in a culture where outright expression of anger is discouraged.  For example, if a child who feels hurt or neglected may show tampo by withdrawing from the group, refusing to eat, and resisting expressions of affection such as touching or kissing by the members of the family.  A woman may also show tampo if she feels jealous or neglected by her beloved.  Tampuhan is basically a lovers’ quarrel, often manifested in total silent treatment or not speaking to each other.The person who is nagtatampo expects to be aamuin or cajoled out of the feeling of being unhappy or left out.  Parents usually let a child give way to tampo before he/she is cajoled to stop feeling hurt.

Usually, tampo in Filipino culture is manifested in non-verbal ways, such as not talking to other people, keeping to one’s self, being unusually quiet, not joining friends in group activities, not joining family outing, or simply locking one’s self in his or her room.

Ibig connotes desire, wanting, even an impulse to possess the other. Its highest statement, though, is love of country — pag-ibig sa tinubuang lupa which carries a hint of self-immolation.

Mahal implies valuation, therefore, the other is prized, valued highly. It’s root meaning has to do with the monetary cost of goods as in Mahal ang mga bilihin ngayon (Goods are costly now).

While manuyo (from suyo) and manligaw are active, they are traditionally a man’s action toward a woman. A one-sided wooing, a pursuit of the woman’s heart.

Ibig and mahal are feelings. They express the content of the heart that pursues. The words are focused on what the wooer feels for the wooed. There are three words which have become poetic because, I think, they are old expressions. Irog is fondness or affection for another. When there’s a hint of yearning it becomes giliw. When there is reciprocity it becomes sinta. And thus sweethearts or lovers or magkasintahan. And when one introduces the other the term of reference is kasintahan. If it’s friendship it’s ka-ibig-an; a friendship which has a latent possibility for desire. Kasintahan is closer to affection.

Purely physical desire is of another category altogether: pagnanais. The root word nais implies focused desire; focused on an object or objection, that is. While that which is desirable is kanais-nais, its opposite, di-kanais-nais, is not only not nice but unpleasant.

In contrast to pagnanais the words which refer to love or loving (suyo, ligaw, ibig, mahal, irog, giliw, sinta) contain a lightness — fondness, affection, yearning. There’s no obsessiveness, no imprisoning. There’s the lightness of flowing air, the grace of morning’s tropical sunlight.

No possessiveness. Perhaps this has to do with man’s regard for woman, for it is the man who woos. More probably though, it has to do with the completion of the self with, in, and through one other person (the kita relationship in Tagalog) as only one aspect of the I — personhood: there’s also ako (just the self and no other), tayo (relationship with two or more persons, including the person directly addressed) and kami (also with two or more persons, but excluding the person directly addressed).

The completion of the self in kita cannot possibly deny tayo and kami. While one desires, one wants, too, to yield. There can be and there is passion, physical, but it dissolves in tenderness, in affection, in fondness. Softness wins out in Pinoy loving: it’s only in yielding the self that one becomes complete.

Loving is the dialectic dialogue between desire and affection. And love brings us to a new realm — beyond desire, beyond tenderness, beyond body: the penetration of a new world!


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