What You Shouldn’t Say To Filipino People: #1 Best Guide

Are you scared about going to the Philippines because you might not feel welcomed? Are you afraid of saying something which might hurt the feelings of the native people? It is important to get to know the country’s culture that you are going to. In this article, you will learn the top key points guiding you about what you shouldn’t say to the Filipino people in Tagalog. So, let’s get started!

What You Shouldn’t Say To Filipinos

A lot of words should be avoided while talking to most Filipinos; those include Angry imperatives, disrespectful phrases, etc. All are described below.

Angry Imperatives

What You Shouldn't Say To Filipino

Tumahimik Ka

This Tagalog phrase has an English translation of “shut up.” It is used to show your irritation and annoyance, or when you are fed up listening to another person, especially if that person is being offensive.

Let’s say you are in a business meeting with a partner where you are not getting the concept of their ideas. Don’t use this word, keep the situation calm and try empathising with them.


This phrase is used to express your frustration. Tama means enough, and it can be used when you do not want to talk to another person.

If you are talking to a Filipino person, try not to use this word because it might make them angry.

Not all Filipinos are hot-headed, but you do not know much about the other person’s nature, so it is better to avoid it.

Insightful And Empathetic

Filipinos are famous for their timid nature. They do not enjoy being in confrontational situations. Consider a situation where you are conversing with a Filipino and want to say something bold or blunt. 

You can apply the approach of Pakikiramdam there.

With this approach, you imagine the other person’s feelings in your thoughts before you say anything. 

Ang Nanay Mo ay Isang Karaniwang Kusinera (Your Mom Is A Mediocre Cook)

Filipinos love their family members as they live in extended families. They would hate it if you said anything negative about them.

They are hospitable and mostly invite guests over to their houses. So if you ever visit there, always try to appreciate their cooking, and be aware that you don’t give any negative feedback.

So always remember not to say “Oh, your mum makes terrible food” to them. 

Hindi ganoon kagaling si Manny Pacquiao (Manny Pacquiao is not that good)

Filipinos look up to people who have made their country proud.

Take the example of Manny Pacquiao, who is a popular boxer. People are die-hard fans of him. He was a senator and was named “The People’s Champ.”

Whenever you talk about famous people like him, be careful and try to appreciate them. Filipinos would like this; otherwise, the circumstances could shift.


What You Shouldn't Say To Filipino

Filipinos are generally not in favor of making bad jokes. They do not bear verbal attacks from anyone, even in the form of jokes.

Try being careful about the words you use to complement them because if they do not like it, you will have to face a lot of criticism on social media or even in real life.

One of the more famous incidents happened on social media when a person called Filipinos “pignoys,” meaning “stupid creatures,” and was deported. The right word to use is pinoy so never confuse these or else you’d have to face the music.

Kumakain ba kayo ng iyong mga alagang hayop? (Do you guys eat your pets?)

There is a misconception about Filipinos that they eat their pets (animals). They love them, so asking whether they eat them or not might be offensive.

Ikaw ay isang third-world na Bansa (You are a third-world Country)

You should know that the Philippines is a developing country with great potential.

-Bansa- ay mas mahusay kaysa sa Pilipinas (-Country- is better than the Philippines)

Filipinos do not like when they are compared to any other nation. They like their ways of living, religion, culture, art, etc.

So if you are in conversation with a Filipino and you just had a bad day or something, then you might say that your country (Canada) has immense beauty, Niagara Falls steals the heart, and the Philippines lacks all that. They might get annoyed by this, so ensure you only highlight their positive points and show appreciation for them.

Magkano ang kinikita mo? (How Much do you earn?)

Filipinos are highly-valued, hospitable, and warm-hearted people. They invite foreigners to their houses on special or even normal days.

So if you are not their friend and you do not have an idea about their nature and their choices, it’s better that you do not ask them anything so personal. Like their gender preferences, their religion, which political party they follow, etc.

They are known for their mysterious nature and do not feel free to open up to people they do not know well.

Paano ba naman May Mixed Race ka (How come You Are Mixed Race)

There is a general conception about the people of the Philippines: they have fair skin and a specific shape of their eyes, etc. Yet this concept is not true because Filipinos are multiracial. Their personalities and looks are a mix of Asian and European Groups.

Most people have migrated from other countries, and there has been Spanish Rule for 300 years, which has also left its marks on Filipinos. So asking if they’re mixed race might annoy them.

Check out our blog post about Filipino American History for more information about this topic.

Ang Iyong Kultura ay Medyo Hindi Kumportable Para sa mga Dayuhan (Your Culture Is A Bit Uncomfortable For Foreigners)

As we all know, the Philippines is enriched with things like literature, music, art, language, dance, etc. They enjoy inviting foreigners to visit this beautiful country. If you go there and meet those fabulous people, they will surely offer you a trip to their areas.

And after this, they expect good compliments and appreciation in return. It is advisable to always give quality feedback to make them happy. Unless you have an awful experience like getting mugged/robbed, try to leave considerate remarks. Even in unfortunate situations, being nice to Filipinos will always motivate them to help you more. 

Pwede ko bang halikan ang baby mo? (Can I kiss your baby?)

Many Filipinos have this myth that if other people, i.e., foreigners or people outside of their families, play and show physical affection towards their children, it could be the root of an ailment for their kids.

It is human nature to get attracted to children and unknowingly fall in love with them. But older people consider it problematic. So whenever you meet their kids, don’t forget to be cautious of proximity and show your love by giving them gifts like chocolates, cookies, toys, baby clothes, etc.

Hindi ka dapat manalangin kapag oras na para magtrabaho (You shouldn’t pray when it’s the time to work)

What You Shouldn't Say To Filipino

Filipinos are quite religious, and you should respect that. You should avoid getting into any argument with them because it might displease them and will upset the situation.

Respecting their religion also counts in respecting them and their boundaries.

Iyon ay Isang Masamang Joke (That Was A Bad Joke)

Filipinos love cracking jokes, but they have unique humor which might be annoying to other people. Consider you meet a Filipino, and they laugh at your accent, take it lightly. They are not laughing AT your accent. Most probably, they consider it to be cute. They are being friendly, and if a Filipino is cracking a joke with you, they might be able to take it too.

Kung gusto mong tumanggi, sabihin mo! (If you want to say no, say so!)

By now we have got the notion that Filipinos are quite reserved, and especially when it comes to foreigners, they take time to open up in front of them.

One good idea to make friends with them is to understand their body language. If they agree to something, they would raise their head upwards, and disapproval will be signified with the head going downwards. Moreover, if they quickly flash their eyebrows upward, they are greeting you, etc.

Try to understand their gestures and it will make you more likable to them.

Masyado mo akong sinisingil (You are overcharging me)

Suppose you go out on a trip to Manila. You would travel on the Metro Manila, or use taxis. If they ask you to pay more than you expected or what was decided before the ride, try not to get annoyed.

Similarly, if you go shopping and the shopkeepers charge you more than the actual price, calm yourself down, show good manners, and walk away rather than being rude or offensive. You can either leave the product or pay the price that they are asking you.

Apelyido Ng Kanilang Nakatatanda (Last Names Of Their Elders)

The Filipino community has great respect for elders. They do not call their first names and do not like it if a foreigner addresses the senior with their first names.

Several words are used to call the elders like Ate is used for elder sister, Kuya is for senior brother, Tita and Tito is for aunt and uncle respectively, and Lola is for grandmother. In contrast, Lolo is used called grandfather.

Things Not To Say To Filipinos While Eating

What You Shouldn't Say To Filipino

Food is one of the most important elements determining a country’s tradition. Talking about the Philippines, its food is one of the best-known cuisines worldwide, making its tradition worthy of attention.

Bakit Hindi Mo Naiisip na Kumain ng Anuman Bukod sa Kanin? (Why Don’t You Ever Think Of Eating Anything Besides Rice?)

In any Asian country, rice is considered one of the most important staples, and the Filipinos have taken this up. According to them, a meal without rice is pointless.

If you have a meal with Filipinos, never ask them for a reason behind their love for rice; it’s just a fact.

Bakit Ka Nag-iimbak ng Pagkain? (Why Are You Hoarding Food?)

Filipinos save food from being wasted. So, if you ever see such things around you in the Philippines, you should not say any offensive words or stare at them for their actions and not make them uncomfortable in the moment. 

Itigil ang Pag-amoy ng Pagkain. Ito ay kakaiba! (Stop Smelling The Food. It’s Weird!) 

If you have a Filipino guest or friend, you will get to know that they will most likely inhale the aroma of your food before eating it. They have this habit at their home too.

Bakit Gumagamit Ka ng Ganun Karaming Gravy? Ito ay Hindi Kanais-nais (Why Are You Using That Much Gravy? It’s Unpleasant) 

Although rice is the priority for Filipinos in meals, using gravies and sauces adds extra flavor to food and uses a lot of spices.

Never ask Filipinos about their excess devotion towards gravies or criticize them over their choices. Your words can hurt them. 

Bakit Ka May Labis na Dagdag na Pagkain Sa Isang Fiesta Meal? (Why Do You Have Extra Food In A Fiesta Meal?)

Like their thoroughly filled and covered stores, their plates are also tremendously filled with food in fiesta meals. In the Philippines, if you are invited to such parties, you will have to expect a plate full of food.

Tapusin ang labis na paggamit ng mga plastik na bote, ito ay kahiya-hiya (Put An End To Extreme Use Of Plastic Bottles, It’s Disgraceful)

The bulk use of plastic is not environmentally friendly. So one might get the urge to enlighten the Filipino people about this chaos because the environment should be the first concern above everything. But try to teach them courteously, not in a blunt manner that might hurt their sentiments. 

You might run a campaign but stopping everyone can be a hard task.

Itigil ang pagiging hindi sa oras sa mga party. Ito ay Uncanny (Stop Being Unpunctual At Parties. It’s Uncanny)

Filipinos arrive late at parties. You might think it’s weird to delay, but according to them, you will be called an impatient person. 

Make a habit of having a little delay of almost 30 mins, and you shouldn’t ask them reasons for such things, they could find it offensive, so accept their traditions and follow them.

Some Acts To Be Avoided With Filipinos

What You Shouldn't Say To Filipino

Actions speak louder than words; therefore, you should also learn about some actions to avoid having a better connection with the natives.

Gifting A Wallet Without Money

Regarding superstitions and myths, Filipinos follow a myth that whenever they give wallets to anyone, they always include money in it. It is considered a sign of good luck. And they give money because they are giving blessings to the receiver to have financial success in life.

They include money, but it is unnecessary to give lots of money. Just some coins are considered enough.

Gifting A Pair Of Shoes

Giving someone a pair of shoes represents bad luck for you. That pair of shoes tells the person you are giving them to that they will either walk away from your life or ditch you.

If you have liked a pair of shoes and eagerly want to give them to your Filipina friend, there is also a solution to avoid bad luck in your life. Your friend can give an amount of money to you so that it won’t affect your relationship with her.

Furthermore, giving a belt as a gift is considered a sign of good luck and to tighten the relationship. Why gift shoes when you can give flowers? Cool right? Keep reading for more.

Pointing Your Fingers At Trees At Night

Pointing your fingers at trees, especially in the dark, is considered bad manners. Their forefathers believed that trees have essence and pneuma, so pointing fingers could bring bad luck your way. You have to munch your fingers to avoid a series of misfortunes if you have pointed one out mistakenly.

Opening An Umbrella Indoors

This myth has a fun little history. Their ancestors believed that opening umbrellas inside the houses brings a bad spirit. Because there are many good spirits in our houses and opening an umbrella means you are using it as a veil to keep yourself away from those good spirits. 

Sweeping At Night

Sweeping your floor at night is considered a sign of bad luck. It was believed by the ancestors and taught to Filipinos at a very early age that sweeping the floor of your house sweeps all the good fortune outside the house. So never sweep your floor at night to invite good luck and avoid bad luck.

Arriving On Time

This superstition is followed in most parts of the country. “Filipino time” is a term used for this, and it refers to the delay of 15 minutes to an hour on gatherings like events, business meetings, etc.

Due to this tradition, events start late, and that is perfectly fine for them. Yet many people are trying to get rid of this and be punctual.

Wrapping Up

What You Shouldn't Say To Filipino

That was just a glimpse of Filipino life. If you wish to learn more about this incredible culture, you should think about their native language, which will provide you with a first-hand experience, and for that, nothing can be better than Ling.

Ling App is straightforward to access. You don’t have to go the extra mile for this by going through several registration procedures. Just install it from your play store. After that, choose the language and start getting the classes. 

You make your way through our lessons, all of which were designed by native-speaking experts. With Ling, you’ll progress from starter to intermediate to advanced. Plus if you decide to learn a language other than Tagalog, you have access to 60 other languages.

So if you want to speak more languages and eagerly want to learn, install the Ling App from Google Playstore or App Store and start learning Tagalog right now. 

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