Important Concepts in Filipino Culture

Mahahalagang Konsepto sa Kulturang Pilipino


pagtitiwala sa Panginoon
trust in God

pagiging magalang
being respectful, especially to older people

perseverance, forbearance

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Bahala Na!

Bahala Na! is a Tagalog expression that perfectly encapsulates the typical Filipino attitude towards life. Continue reading “Bahala Na!”


pagkamapilit, pagpupumilit; pagtitiyaga, pagtataman; pananatili, pamamalagi; sigasig, sigsa

stubbornness, peskiness

Ang kulit niya!
He/She just keeps nagging me, bothering me.


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Usog is a Filipino superstition that attributes an illness to the greeting of a stranger. It is believed that young children are susceptible to usog.

If after encountering a stranger, a child develops a fever, the stranger is sought out and asked to wipe his or her saliva on the child’s forehead, chest or abdomen.

Filipino parents worry when they catch a stranger expressing fondness for their child or even just looking fondly at their child. If the stranger senses this, the stranger will sometimes say Pwera usog… (“excluding usog“) meaning he/she understands that the parents are worried of usog.

If parents get really anxious, they will ask the stranger to lawayan ang bata (place saliva on the child) para hindi mausog (in order not to be victim of usog).


Ang pasalubong ay isang alaala o “souvenir” na ibinigay ng bagong dating na galing sa paglalakbay sa ibang pook o bansa.

root word: salubong (to welcome)

homecoming treat, souvenir

When Filipinos go on a trip or live overseas, they are expected to bring back gifts on their return.  That’s pasalubong!

It’s a big deal. If you don’t bring pasalubong to people who welcome you, they’ll think you never thought of them while you were away.

Peanut Kisses & Peanut Fingers
Pasalubong from Bohol: Peanut Kisses & Peanut Fingers

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root word: yabang

boastful, proud

Ang yabang mo naman.
My, you’re so boastful.

is being boastful

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An adjective used to describe women who are contemptuous in speech.

root word: taray, meaning arrogance or snobbishness

Ang taray niya!
My, she’s so sassy!

The Tagalog word mataray is used to describe women who answer you back in a sharp, snappy way.

Filipino women are socially expected to be nice and modest. Any woman who answers back bluntly or brusquely is given the label mataray and is associated with pretentiousness and bitchiness.

A Filipina actress who has iconically managed to use her mataray image as an asset is Maricel Soriano.

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Babae: Filipino Woman


Filipina women seem to have acquired negative stereotypes in certain parts of the world. They are seen by many either as mail-order brides or domestic help. It would serve to be reminded that the Philippines has had two female presidents: Corazon Aquino and Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. Although most Filipinas look forward to having a family, they can also be found in all corners of Philippine society working as engineers and as teachers and in many other careers.

True, the poverty in the country has forced an inordinate number of young women to work as prostitutes and go overseas to be maids or wives of foreign men. But even these Filipinas deserve respect. Next time you meet a Filipina, don’t quickly assume she’s dying to be your sex slave, she just might have a PhD in economics! She might be a nurse at the local hospital or the owner of a small business! She could be a chemist.

The Tagalog word for ‘woman’ is babae and for ‘Filipina’ is Pilipina. Filipinos also use the slang Pinay, a word without negative connotation. It’s the female equivalent of Pinoy.
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