Advice for ExpatsTravel to The Philippines

The Most Important Tagalog Phrases for Foreigners in The Philippines

Are you thinking of coming to The Philippines to live or retire? Then you will need to know some funny tagalog phrases and words as it’s the national language of The Philippines. Do keep in mind, however, there are various dialects and languages throughout the nation. So, depending upon where you are you’ll need to learn some additional local phrases.

For those of us in Manila and surrounding areas, fortunately, Tagalog and English are sufficient to get on quite well here. If you’re not sure why you should bother to learn the language then kindly read my article on why you should learn some Tagalog.

Tagalog Pronunciation

Before we go into the important phrases you need to know some basics of the Tagalog language. If you are serious about communicating with your neighbors more effectively check out get this excellent expat guide by Philippines Insider.

It is useful to note that unlike English, Tagalog words are pronounced exactly as they are spelled which is a good thing! Each vowel represents one separate syllable.  Just as “papaya” is pronounced “pa-pa-ya,” the word “marunong” is pronounced “ma-ru-nong”, the word “magsalita” is pronounced “mag-sa-li-ta”.

Pronunciation guide for Tagalog vowels:

A – short “A” sound as in “Papa” or “Tart”

E – short “E” as in “Bed”

I – a long “ee” sound as in “Tweet”

O – as in the “au” sound in “Pauper”

U – a long “oo” sound as in “Pool”

Important Words and Phrases

Here are some important words and phrases that you should know before you get here or at least right after you arrive.

Wala Akong Pera (Waa la a kong pe ra)- You’ll need to learn this phrase as soon as you step off the plane! It means, I don’t have any money.

Putang ina (pooh tang ina) – This phrase is an accurate way to describe the guy who tries to charge you double the normal price for his goods or services. It roughly translates to, son of a bitch.

Puta (pooh ta) – This word is borrowed from Spanish and will describe most of the girls that approach you when you first come here. It means, whore.

Tarantado (tar ran tah do) – This word describes most of the foreigners who believe that 18 year old girl that he just started chatting with the other day actually loves him. It means, foolish.

Pucha (pooh cha) – The closest translation for this word is ‘dammit’. As in “Pucha ang daming magnanakaw!” Dammit another hooker stole my jewelry!

Ulol (ooh lol) – Originally used to refer to rabid dogs this word describes another type of girl you are likely to date, a crazy girl. Ayan na naman ‘yung kabit mong ulol! Here goes your crazy mistress again!

Leche (let che) – Another borrowed Spanish word. More likely than not you’ll be pushing out a lot of this stuff while you’re here. It literally means ‘milk‘ but it’s the slang term for cum. It also means fuck off!

Gago (gaa go)- A good word to describe a lot of the sexpats here. It’s a borrowed word from Portuguese meaning ‘stupid’ or ‘foolish’. Gago ka, you’re an idiot.

Sarap (sar raap) – Hopefully, you will hear this word if your performance as a man is good. You may also hear it if she knows you have a lot of money. It literally means ‘tasty‘ but it’s also used to express pleasure. Masarap ba? You like it baby?

Pakshet (paak sheat) – This is a portmanteau of the English words ‘fuck‘ and ‘shit‘. It’s mostly used as an interjection when someone is angry.  Pakshet ka or Fuck you is a common usage of the word.

Puñeta (Poon yet a) – A good interjection to use once you realize you got talked into making a bad ‘investment’ with a local. It roughly translates to ‘fuck‘ or ‘dammit‘.  Sinabi nya sa akin na magandang investment ‘yan, puñeta! He told me that was a good investment! 

Words You Never Want to Hear a Filipina Say

Yak (yaa ck)- Just like the English word yuck. If you hear your girl say Yak nakakalbo na sya! Yuck he is balding! on the phone with her friend, you’re in trouble.  Stop male pattern baldness with Provillus.

Kadiri (ca dee ree)- The Tagalog word for disgusting. Kadiri talaga siya! He’s so gross!

Tagaktak (ta ga k tac)- Like most words this word has multiple meanings. It’s a food item for one but it also means to be sweaty or greasy.  Yak tagaktak ang pawis nya sa kama, yuck he always sweats in bed!

See: How to Catch a Filipina in a Lie Every Time

Ang pinaka hindi mahal na resort ay pagmamay ari ng tao na diretcho sa karagatan ng Borakay / Cheap resort owners letting shit flow directly into the ocean at Boracay

Describing Sex

An-an (an an) – Use this word if you are a freak and like to go in the back door. Gusto mo ba mag-an-an? Do you like anal?

Tsupa (Choo pa) – Hopefully you’ll hear ‘Pwede ba kitang tsupain?’ Can I suck your dick? , at least once during your time here.

See: Improve Your Stamina and Relive Your Youth

Kantot (caan taat)– You’ll see this a lot in the .ph section of pornhub. It simply means to fuck. Other variations include kadyot and kantati

Puki (pooh ki) – If you shower everyday there’s no reason you shouldn’t be getting a lot of this here. It just means vagina or pussy. Other words include pekpek or kiki.

See: Best Sites to Meet Filipinas

The Importance of Respect

As discussed in my article “How to Behave in The Philippines” respect is paramount here in The Philippines. Therefore if you are using the above phrases with someone you just met it’s best to use the word ‘po’ at the end. The closest translation being ‘sir’ or ‘ma’am’.

For example, if you are at the immigration office in lapu-lapu and they are being strict or giving misinformation yet again please don’t say ‘Pakshet ka!’. It’s better to say ‘Pakyu po!’ meaning, fuck you, sir orLecheng gago po!’ meaning, you’re a fucking idiot sir or ma’am.

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