Lesson 1: Meeting a Filipino for the First Time


See VIDEO below…

Aim:  This lesson aims to give you some Tagalog translations and the basic culture of meeting a Filipino for the first time.  Useful phrases are translated to Tagalog.

Filipinos are hospitable and very friendly to foreigners.  It is always interesting for them to see people from a different nation.  You may find some who are shy and very reserved but, you can always have a good conversation with them if you do your best to be friendly as well.  They may see foreigners as very interesting, but they will try to observe themselves and discuss how things were in your meetings or dealings with them.

>>> Read more stories about the Filipino Culture while you learn the basics of the Filipino Language.

Useful phrases when meeting with Filipinos

When you meet a Filipino person for the first time, it is best if you introduce yourself with your name to show your sincerity.  He or she may see you as interesting for the first time and approaching him or her for small talk will be more successful if you show such a great attitude of sincerity and politeness.


* You want to get to know a person for the first time.

Hi, how are you?

Tagalog: Hi, kumusta ka?

My name is Anna (or I’m Anna).  I am from the United States.

Tagalog: Ang pangalan ko ay Anna (or Ako si Anna).  Taga United States ako.

What is your name?

Tagalog: Ano ang pangalan mo?

* You need help from someone. – In situations where you need help and you are in a big city, it is not necessary to tell your name.  The only time it becomes necessary is when you are in a small town where it is important for people to know specifically who they are talking with.  Small communities are called Barangays.  The people who live in a Barangay outside Manila pretty much know each other.  Though, in Manila, Barangay is not a well-known word for some people (they use more the street name and the city where they live), everyone is aware that he or she belongs to a Barangay.

Scenario # 1. (Looking for a restroom)-

Excuse me, Do you know where the restroom is?

Tagalog: Mawalang galang po, alam mo ba kung saan ang restroom?

Scenario #2. (Lost and needs to know where the right way is)

Excuse me,  I am lost. Where is the post office?

Tagalog: Mawalang galang po, nawawala ako, saan ba ang post office?

 Scenario #3. (Need to know where to buy something)

Excuse me, I need something to drink. Where can I buy?

Tagalog: Mawalang galang po, kailangan ko ng maiinom, saan ako makakabili?

*  Indirect Approaches

  1. May I borrow your bicycle?

Tagalog: Pahiram naman ang bisikleta mo? (It can be said, “Pahiram ang bisikleta mo”)  – The word “naman” conveys more politeness. (May I borrow – Pahiram, your bicycle – bisikleta mo)

  1. Would you happen to know a good hotel?

Tagalog: Mayroon ka bang alam na magandang hotel?  In Tagalog this is only the way how to translate the question above which literally means “Do you know a good  hotel?”.   (Do you know- Mayroon ka bang alam, good hotel – magandang hotel)

  1. Sorry to bother you, but is this seat taken?

Tagalog: Mawalang galang po, mayroon po bang nakaupo dito?  ( Sorry – Mawalang galang PO,  is this seat taken – meron PO bang nakaupo dito)

               Mayroon is usually pronounced as “Meron”

               PO – it is optional  (to convey more politeness to a stranger or an older person)

  1. Would you mind telling me where you got that?

Tagalog:  Puwede po bang malaman kung saan mo nakuha iyan? (Would you tell me (mind is not necessary)   – puwede po bang malaman; where you got that – saan mo nakuha iyan?)

  1. Could you please change my dollar money to peso?

Tagalog:  Puwede po bang pakipalitan ang  dolyar ko sa peso? (could you please change – puwede po bang pakipalitan, my  dollar – ang dolyar ko)

Please – Paki (it is usually a prefix of a verb)

Examples:  Pakitulungan  – Please help; Pakikarga – Please carry; Pakisamahan – Please accompany;  Pakidala – Please bring; Pakigawa – Please do; Pakitawagan – Please call; Pakiabot – Please pass

  1. Would you happen to know if there is grocery store near here?

Tagalog: Meron ka bang alam na  tindahan na malapit dito? (Would you happen to know – meron ka bang alam;  grocery store – tindahan;  near here – malapit dito)

*  Direct Approaches

  1. This is a great hotel, isn’t it?

Tagalog:  Maganda itong hotel, hindi ba?

  1. I can’t believe how busy the streets are.

Tagalog:  Hindi ako makapaniwala, sobrang ma-traffic ang mga daan.

  1. Nice day, isn’t it?

Tagalog:  Maganda ang araw ngayon, hindi ba?

  1. Isn’t a great day to go around?

Tagalog:  Hindi ba maganda ang araw na ito para maglibang?

Don’t forget to say:

Thank you.

Tagalog: Salamat  / Salamat po. (po emphasizes a more polite way of saying thank you.)

Talking About Yourself

Hello, how are you?  My name is Bob.  I am from the United States

Tagalog: Hello, Kumusta, Ako si Bob. Taga United States ako.  (typically this is the normal approach if you would like a small talk with someone you don’t know)

If the person is in the mood to continue speaking with you, most likely he or she will be interested in finding out more about you.  And if you are interested to know him or her more, it is important for you to tell a more detailed introduction of yourself and what your intentions are.  A person may be aloof if you don’t tell a more detailed description of yourself.

I am single.  I am a writer and I am very interested in writing about the Filipinos that’s why I am here to stay for a while.

Tagalog:  Wala akong asawa.  Manunulat ako  at interesado akong isulat ang mga bagay     tungkol sa mga Pilipino kaya mananatili muna ako dito.

The first things you can tell about yourself are your name, place, status, your hobbies and interests,   interest in Filipino or your purpose for visiting the Philippines.

When you meet a Filipino, it is not common for them to ask a lot from a foreigner.  They may be hospitable, and some may be good at conversation,  but most are very reserved and won’t initiate to talk about anything with a foreigner.  It is fine to speak to them in English (they will understand you),  but they will be more engaged in talking with you if you speak to them in Tagalog or in the dialect that they understand and speak better.  They won’t observe the grammar, but it is about communicating an attitude of your interest in Filipino which helps them to be more confident in talking with you.

If in the United States, we can start a conversation about the weather in a day to day basis (for Filipinos, it becomes a topic when a typhoon or a flood had just happened), it is not something that people do in the Philippines.  It is not common for Filipinos to ask a person directly about what he/she does for a living as we do in the United States (it is someone’s preference if he or she will initiate to tell what he/she does for a living).

If the conversation continues, some of the things you can talk about would be everyday subjects that the person you are talking with and yourself are familiar with, such as:

  • personal interests and hobbies
  • your environment (hotel, airport, roads, beach, etc.)
  • if there was a typhoon or a flood that had just happened that you both know, it is fine to discuss it.
  • your location, city, school, workplace (it is fine to initiate talking about what you do or where you work and ask them afterwards)
  • current happenings such as cultural events (Filipinos are fond of festivals)
  • Basketball (the men are into this topic more than the women)
  • Beauty Pageants (Most Filipinos are rooting for beauty pageants – most Barangays have their own beauty pageant.  Sometimes kids have their own pageant as well.)
  • Movies – many Filipinos are fond of watching Foreign movies.

Even though for some other nations, it may be too intimate to talk about marital status, age, religion, or politics; most Filipinos are open about these topics, even during your first time conversation with them.

Showing Interest

You’re kidding!

Tagalog:  Nagbibiro ka lang!


Tagalog:  Nakakatuwa naman!

Is that so? Really!

Tagalog: Talaga?!

That must be very exciting to do!

Tagalog: Masaya yatang gawin ‘yan!

Very interesting, fantastic!

Tagalog: Ang galing naman!

Some expressions are the same in English and Tagalog like; Wow!, U-huh

Staying in Touch

It’s been great talking to you.

Tagalog:  Natutuwa ako na nakausap kita.

We’ll have to stay in touch. / We should get together again.

Tagalog:  Sana magkita ulit tayo.

Give me a call or I will give you a call.

Tagalog: Tawagan kita o tawagan mo ako.

Send me an email or I will send you an email.

Tagalog: Email mo ako o Email kita.

>>> Read more stories about the Filipino Culture while you learn the basics of the Filipino Language.

Other Lessons: Learn Tagalog; Tagalog Video Lessons

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