Filipino Brooms

There are two words in the dictionary that can serve as translations for the English “broom.”

The simple noun that is widely used is walis.

Up until a few decades ago, the word pamalis (pangwalis) was also common, and if you use it today, it can still be understood, because it is a conjugation of the verb walis and it literally means “something used for sweeping.”

Brooms of the Philippines

There are two types of native brooms used in the Philippines — the walis tingting for outdoors and the walis tambo for smooth floors indoors and perhaps on the patio.

Walis-tingting is a broom made from the thin midribs of palm leaves. The stiff ribs are tied up on one end. It is usually paired with a simply constructed dustpan, as you can see in the picture. The can used for the dustpan is usually a cutout of an aluminum can of cooking oil.

Walis Tingting at Daspan

walis tingting at daspan
broom and “dustpan”

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TABO

The ubiquitous Philippine cultural artifact found in almost every Filipino household’s bathroom.

tabò
water dipper

tabo
dipper used for scooping up water


tabuin 
to scoop (water)

Tabuin ang tubig.
To scoop the water.


Tinabo ko.
Used a dipper (to scoop up water).

ang tinabong tubig
the scooped-up water


Tabo is also the name of the steamer mentioned in the opening sentence of Jose Rizal’s second novel El Filibusterismo (1891).

One morning in December the steamer Tabo was laboriously ascending the tortuous course of the Pasig, carrying a large crowd of passengers toward the province of La Laguna. She was a heavily built steamer, almost round, like the tabú from which she derived her name, quite dirty in spite of her pretensions to whiteness, majestic and grave from her leisurely motion.


In the United States, you can special-order online a tabo from the Fil Am Store in L.A.

KUDKURAN

root word: kudkód

kudkuran
grater

kudkuran ng niyog
coconut grater

This is a native traditional implement used for scraping the tough coconut flesh off its shell. The blade is attached to the end of a wooden bench on which the person doing the grating sits.

Kudkuran: Coconut Grater

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Traditional Cooking Implements

A simple list of the more common kitchen implements used in traditional Filipino cooking:

tacho
copper skillet

palayok
clay pot

kalan
clay stove

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BUNOT

This word has different meanings depending on which syllable is accented.

Bunót (accented on the second syllable) refers to a coconut husk commonly used to polish floors. You place your foot on it and use your leg power to move in such a way as to scrub the floor.

Bunot of the Philippines

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SUYOD

The word suyod is likely Chinese in origin.

suyod
fine-toothed comb used to remove lice

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PAMAYPAY

root word: paypay

pamaypay
something used as a fan

Filipino fans

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BILAO

A bilao is a flat round-shaped rice winnower, a traditional implement in the Philippines. It is usually made from woven wood.

To winnow is to free grain from the lighter particles of chaff, dirt, small stones, etc., especially by throwing it into the air and perhaps allowing the wind to blow away impurities.

Up until a few decades ago, you would see a bilao hanging in the back of the house by the kitchen. And you’d see women using a bilao to adroitly “turn” (toss) white rice grains on it for the purpose of removing unwanted particles, like small stones.

Suman on Bilao
Suman on Bilao

These days, you’re more likely to see the bilao used as a food container. So now, you’re most likely to see it lined with banana leaves on top of which a lot of food is arranged.

Click here to learn a few related Tagalog words.