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Texas ISD School Guide
Texas ISD School Guide

Travel in the Philippines

Saying Hi in Tagalog
By:T F Andrews

There are many dialects spoken in the Philippines region but Filipino (Tagalog) has been chosen as the national language. The Tagalog language has been in existence for a long time and many Spanish words and English words have been incorporated over the years.

My grandmother tells us of past events. She told us how her grandparents fell in love and got married. Her grandfather was Spanish and he fell in love with her grandmother when she was eighteen. They settled in Luzon and decided to start a family there. My grandmother learned to count in Spanish and still uses many of those words today.

"Kumusta" (hi / hello) originates from the Spanish phrase "como esta" which is used as a traditional form of greeting, and means "How are you?" A greeting in Tagalog that might be used by an air-hostess to greet the passengers or by an assistant at a help desk is "Mahubay" which is probably the closest word that could mean "Hi." Between friends, we shorten it even further to "musta". The normal response to this is "Mabuti naman ako" (I am fine!).

My friend from overseas came to visit us for a few days. I taught him how to use the general salutations and it did not take him long to learn the phonetics. He said it was easy although the phrases he learned were several words in length. Once he learned how to translate the words "morning, noon and night" to "umaga, hapon and gabi, he would go up to my grandmother and cheerily wish her, "Magandang Umaga" or "Magandan gabi"! which means "Good Morning "or "Good evening." It made him smile when my grandmother promptly asked him if he had eaten anything. I told him that this was the traditional response to a customary greeting. My grandmother always asked us if we had eaten and if so, also asks, what we had eaten, every time we returned home. She would make sure there was food on the table for us. We would sit and chat for hours and I would translate, for both my grandmother and my friend, so that they could understand each other.

When he left after a few days, we felt his absence as we had such fun together. My grandmother was pleasantly surprised when my friend called her and greeted her saying "Kumusta po kayo" which is the correct way of addressing elders by hooking the word "po" or "opo" to "Kumusta.". My grandmother smiled and she understood what he was saying. She later commented that his Tagalog had improved. I told her that he was trying to learn more words; as he had made plans to visit us again in the near future.

My friend and I text message each other frequently. I teach him new words and when we chat he shows me that he remembers what he learned by mentioning and using the words; time and time again. I think this is good and I encourage him to continue learning. His next trip is right around the corner. Perhaps he will feel more confident being around me and my friends and even join our Tagalog conversations.


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