Filipino words adapted to English language

UNTV News & Rescue   •   August 18, 2016

Filipino is the official national language of the Philippines as stated in 1987 Constitution, Article XIV Sections 6. This law provides the commitment of the government to sustain and enrich the vernacular by using Filipino language as the official medium of communication and instruction of our educational system.


The Philippines is more linguistically diverse compared to more than 190 countries according to 2010 Philippine Census. There are nearly 200 languages spoken by ethnolinguistic groups all over the 7,107 islands of the country. Multilingualism is evident mostly in Mindanao provinces; Saranggani, being the most language-diverse place in the country has more speakers of Maguindano or T’boli than Tagalog-based speakers. Succeeded by North Cotabato, wherein Hilagaynon, Maguindanao and Cebuano are heard in most conversations. The emergence of these unique languages reflects the richness of our nationality.


Filipino language is also amplified beyond the borders of the country. In United States, Filipino is the 3rd fastest growing language. American Community Survey 2014 report disclosed that there are approximately 1.6 million Filipino speakers among American households. A similar result shows a significant number of Filipino-based speakers in Canada as compatriot immigrants still prefer using their mother tongue when they interact with their families and even teach their friends some Pinoy terms.


The gradual widening landscape of Filipino usage attained recognition from lexicographers and found its way to contribute to the evolution of the English language. Here are some of the English words derived from Filipino terms:


Boondocks (bundok)- rough country filled with dense brush, a rural area


Yo-yo – a toy consisting of a circular object that can be made to roll down and up a string that is tied to your hand if you spin the object and move your hand quickly at the same time.


Cooties(kuto)- a type of small insect that lives in people’s hair


Ylang-ylang (ilang-ilang) – an aromatic Asian tree, Cananga odorata (or Canangium odoratum), with fragrant greenish-yellow flowers yielding a volatile oil: family Annonaceae


Adobo – a Philippine dish of fish or meat usually marinated in a sauce containing vinegar and garlic, browned in fat, and simmered in the marinade


Banca (bangka) – a small boat found in Pacific waters especially around the Philippines; usually : a dugout canoe often provided with outriggers and a roof of bamboo


Dugong – a large sea animal, similar to a manatee, that is found mainly in theIndian and Pacific oceans. It has thick skin, a divided fin at the back end of its body, and two flippers (= flat parts for swimming) at the front.


Salacot(salakot) – a broad-brimmed Philippine hat woven from strips of cane or from palm leaves


In June 2015, Oxford English Dictionary, recognized 40 Filipino words for the first time and included the “largest number of added new words” to their lexicon, now called as Philippine English.


Mabuhay – An exclamation of salutation or greeting: long live


Photo by: Photoville International

Photo by: Photoville International


Halo-halo – A dessert made of mixed fruits, sweet beans, milk, and shaved ice, typically topped with purple yam, crème caramel, and ice cream.


Photo by: Photoville International

Photo by: Photoville International


Pan de sal – A yeast-raised bread roll made of flour, eggs, sugar and salt, widely consumed in the Philippines, especially for breakfast.


Photo by: Photoville International

Photo by: Photoville International

Sinigang – In Filipino cookery: a type of soup made with meat, shrimp, or fish and flavoured with a sour ingredient such as tamarind or guava.
Sinigang na Liempo sa Gata at Sili

Baon – Money, food, or other provisions taken to school, work, or on a journey.


Photo by: Photoville International

Photo by: Photoville International

Bahala na – Expressing an attitude of optimistic acceptance or fatalistic resignation, especially in acknowledging that the outcome of an uncertain or difficult situation is beyond one’s control or is preordained; ‘que sera sera’. Hence also as noun: an approach to life characterized by this attitude.


Photo by: Photoville International

Photo by: Photoville International

Suki – A buyer or seller involved in an arrangement whereby a customer regularly purchases products or services from the same provider in exchange for favourable treatment.
Sa Palengke ng Buhi


Utang na loob – A sense of obligation to return a favour owed to someone.


KKB – ‘Kaniya-kaniyang bayad’, lit. ‘each one pays their own’, used especially to indicate that the cost of a meal is to be shared.




Kikay – A flirtatious girl or woman; Belonging to or characteristic of a kikay. Of a girl or woman: interested in beauty products and fashion; stylishly feminine.




Balikbayan – A Filipino visiting or returning to the Philippines after a period of living in another country.




Buko – The gelatinous flesh of an unripe (green-husked) coconut.


Sari-sari store – A small neighbourhood store selling a variety of goods.


Filipino words adapted to English language - Sari sari store (Photo by: Photoville International)


Pasalubong – A gift or souvenir given to a friend or relative by a person who has returned from a trip or arrived for a visit.
Iriga Pili nut at pasalubong store WTR


Barong Tagalog – A lightweight, embroidered shirt for men, worn untucked and traditionally made of piña or a similar vegetable fibre.



For a long time, we’ve been adapting to articulate foreign words to cope with the international community. It denotes higher stance in the society when you are abreast with foreign languages.


Now, it is time for the rest of the world to appreciate and understand our language and tag some Filipino words in their vocabularies.


Let’s celebrate the beauty and richness of our mother tongue. Mabuhay! to all Filipino speakers!

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