15 Filipino Terms and Phrases Foreigners Should Know When Working With Filipinos

Categories: Advice for Doing Business in the Philippines
15 Filipino Terms and Phrases Foreigners Should Know When Working With Filipinos

The Philippines is one of the top service-outsourcing countries in the world. Filipinos are hardworking, loyal, and have an excellent grasp of English. But despite their English fluency, they hold on dearly to their mother tongue—Filipino. 

Building rapport is crucial to the success of your business. And once you employ the help of Filipinos, learning their language by adding several terms and phrases to your workplace vocabulary would help. Plus, it will show that you are willing to collaborate and make them feel you are working with them, not merely letting them work for you. 

This way of adjustment is a form of pakikisamawhich means harmoniously adapting with other people you are not usually familiar with. 

Handa ka na bang makisama (Are you ready to join us)? Keep reading to learn about the common Filipino terms and phrases in the workplace.  

8 Terms Filipino Employees Use in the Workplace

You don’t need to know the entire Filipino language. Although that would be lovely, learning these words and phrases will give you a leg up with your Filipino colleagues.

  1. Po and Opo

These two words are honorifics younger Filipinos use when talking to their elders. Opo is a polite version of Oo or Yes. Po does not have a direct English translation but is added at the end of sentences to convey respect and deference.

  1. Kumusta?

The Philippines was a former Spanish colony, and the word Kumusta came from the Spanish phrase “Como Esta?” which also means” How are you?” 

Instead of starting your weekly alignment calls with “How is everyone?” you can say, “Kumusta kayo?” or “Kumusta ang lahat?” For singular use, you can say “Kamusta ka?” instead.

  1. Saglit or Sandali lang

Is someone rushing you with a deadline? Try saying “Saglit!” or “Sandali lang!” To “Saglit!” is to “Wait!” and “Sandali lang” is to “Hold on,” “Give me a minute.” or “Just a moment.”

  1. Trabaho, Opisina, and Kumpanya

It’s also important to know some basic workplace nouns and verbs to know what people talk about when they speak during work hours.

Trabaho means work in both its noun and verb form. Here are their past, present, and future forms for your reference:

  • worked = nagtrabaho
  • working = nagtatrabaho
  • will work = magtatrabaho

The next two terms are pretty easy to understand because they sound close to their English translations. Opisina means an office, while kumpanya is company.

  1. Tara

You might hear “Tara” when your employees plan to do something or go somewhere. It’s a term Filipinos use when inviting someone. The closest translation is “Let’s go!” in English. 

  1. Pakiulit or Ano ulit?

Internet connection issues are a universal struggle. Sometimes, words are misheard or just outrightly missed due to internet hiccups. Saying, “Sorry, I didn’t catch that. Please repeat it.” is too lengthy. Instead, just say “Pakiulit.”

This term is a contraction of the words paki or please and ulit, which means again or repeat. Saying “Pakiulit” can be directly translated to “Please repeat.”

  1. Paano?

Workplaces must be places for inclusive growth. There may be instances when you or your employees may need some things explained to you. Instead of asking “How?” you may use “Paano?”

  1. Salamat!

Expressing gratitude is not only valued in the Philippines but in many other countries as well. Just say “Salamat!” every time you need to say “Thank you,” and it will make a difference. If you feel extra grateful, you may say “Maraming salamat!” which means “Thank you very much.”

7 Filipino Phrases Commonly Used in the Workplace

  1. Ano sa tingin mo? or Ano sa palagay mo?

Great teams are open to collaborating on good insights. When asking your Filipino team for their opinion, use the sentences “Ano sa tingin mo?” or “Ano sa palagay mo?” which means “What do you think?” 

  1. Pwede mo ba akong tulungan?

There will be times when team members will need help from their colleagues. In that case, you may encounter the phrase “Pwede mo ba akong tulungan?” which translates to “Can you help me?” Feel free to use it next time you need to ask for their help! 

  1. May mga katanungan ba? or Pwede bang magtanong?

Asking and encouraging your team to ask questions ensures effective communication to complete tasks, deadlines, and other concerns. Next time you ask for queries or permission to ask a question, you may use these two terms.

“May mga katanungan ba?“ or “May mga tanong ba?“ translates directly to “Do you have any questions?” Meanwhile, “Pwede bang magtanong? “or “Pwedeng magtanong? “is a polite way to butt in before asking questions to your team. 

  1. May suggestion ka ba? or Pwede bang mag-suggest?

Make your employees feel heard by asking them what they think. Conversely, make yourself comfortable with opening suggestions. To ask your employees what their recommendations are, say, “May suggestion ka ba?” or “Do you have a suggestion?” And to ask to make a suggestion, say, “Pwede bang mag-suggest?” or “May I suggest something?”

On a side note, Filipinos have a penchant for code switching; hence, you might encounter more eclectic mixtures of English and Filipino words used in a cohesive sentence.

  1. Kain tayo! or Mag-break muna tayo

All work and no breaks make employees a cranky bunch. When you’re hungry and wish to invite company, you may say “Kain tayo,” translating to “Let’s eat!” When taking a quick break, say “Mag-break muna tayo” or “Let’s take a break first.”

  1. Sigurado ka na ba diyan?

Before making decisions as a group, it’s best to ask your team members about their certainty. Saying “Sigurado ka na ba diyan?” is the same as saying “Are you sure about that?” in English. 

  1. Mauna na po ako

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

Here’s a bonus: If you wish to speak like a real Filipino local, you may use “Ingat ka!” or “Ingat kayo!” before ending an online meeting. 

The direct translation of this phrase is “Take care!” Filipinos are just very thoughtful people who will wish for others’ safety before parting with them. Saying “Ingat ka!” (singular) or “Ingat kayo!” (plural) expresses how you care for and wish them well until you meet again. 

Manage Filipino Teams More Effectively

Language constitutes realities. And with these thoughtful phrases, one can easily draw that the Filipino reality is thoughtful, respectful, and kind. Learning these terms is not merely memorizing and using a bunch of foreign-sounding words. It can also help you relate to your Filipino staff and build deeper, meaningful relationships with them. 

If you need help finding and managing remote and offshore Filipino workers, you may reach out to Manila Recruitment, a top recruitment agency in the Philippines today. Maraming salamat at ingat kayo!