How to Speak Tagalog

Lesson 6 Greetings and Appreciation


Magandang umaga.
Good morning.

Magandang umaga po.
Good morning, sir.
Good morning, ma'm.

Magandang umaga po sa inyong lahat.
Good morning to you all.
Good morning to all of you.

Magandang umaga rin.
Good morning back.
Good morning to you, too.

To demonstrate respect, add "PO" or "HO" to your greeting. Use PO if you are near and easily heard. Use "HO" if you need to shout because of distance. If you need to shout your greeting and you use "PO", instead of HO, you will sound angry or cussing. This is because the most common Tagalog cuss, "Putang ina!" which means "son of a bitch," begins with a loud sound of "PO!". If you are not shouting, the word "PO" sounds sweet to Tagalog speaking people.

Magandang araw.
Good day.
It's a beautiful day.

Magandang araw po.
Magandang araw ho.

Good day, sir.

Magandang araw po sa inyong lahat.
Good day to you all.
Good day to all of you.

Magandang hapon.
Good afternoon.

Magandang hapon po.
Magandang hapon ho.

Good afternoon, sir.

Magandang hapon po sa inyong lahat.
Good afternoon to you all.
Good afternoon to all of you. 

Hapon, when stressed on the first syllable, means afternoon. However, Hapon stressed in the second syllable, means Japanese. This is a favorite joke of Filipinos on foreigners - they teach the wrong accent and enjoy hearing the foreigners say" Good Japanese," instead of "Good afternoon." (Wickedly, I might add.) Now that you know the difference, you can turn the joke on them by pretending you don't know the difference and watch them giggle as you say "Good Japanese to all of you." There is no harm in this error. In fact, you can use this knowledge to quickly win smiles from strangers.

Magandang gabi.
Good evening.
Good night.

Magandang gabi po.
Good evening, sir.
Good night, sir.

Magandang gabi po sa inyo lahat.
Good evening to you all.
Good evening to all of you.
Good night to you all.
Good night to all of you.

A favorite dessert of Filipinos is a root called "gabi". Some call it purple yam. You say it with a stress on the first syllable. The word for evening or night is "gabi", which is stressed on the second syllable. If you hear giggling from children, or see broad smiles from adults, when you say "Magandang gabi", you can guess the reason. Make sure you stress on the second syllable, unless you are praising the dessert. Or go ahead and make everybody smile by making an intentional error.

 You will win friends if you let Filipinos correct your errors. With over 7,000 islands in the country, being a guest in an island where you don't speak the language is a common experience among citizens. Consequently, helping someone speak correctly, or being taught how to speak correctly, is just a way of life among Filipinos. However, this ingrained generosity has a downside - if you're with Filipinos, you always get unsolicited advice, which can be very annoying, even on subjects you are an expert about. 

2. Expressing Appreciation.

That is nice.
It is beautiful.

Ang ganda.
How nice!
That is very lovely!

Good job!

Ang galing!
Great job!

Excellent job!

Ang galing mo.
You are good!
You did good!

Ang ganda mo!
You are beautiful!

Ang ganda ng damit mo.
Your dress is lovely.

When praising someone's personal item like dress, it is best to simply say "Maganda," which literally means "Beautiful." Do not make it very specific, as in saying "Your dress is beautiful." Filipinos share dresses for many reasons. The dress you appreciate may actually belong to a sister, or mother, or aunt. By being specific, you'll make the person say, "Oh, it is not mine, it belongs to my sister." Embarrassing. However, by simply saying "Maganda," that lady can go home and say to her sister, "He admired the dress I wore. Thank you for lending to me."

Filipinos are very careful not to say "your dress", "your necklace" or "your shoes" to avoid any embarrassment in case it belongs to someone else. Everyone avoids possessive pronouns. If a speaking person wants to be specific, he simply points to the beautiful object while saying "Maganda".

For best effect, instead of pointing with your finger, you simply look at the object (the dress, the necklace, or the ring), make a Mona Lisa smile to show you're pleased, then look at the person wearing it and say "Maganda". Be careful not to grin. If you grin, instead of making a Mona Lisa smile, you just lost a couple of friends. There's something wrong with the dress and she'll tell her sister.

3. Saying Thank You

Thank you.

Salamat po.
Thank you, sir.

Walang anuman.
It's nothing.
You're welcome.

Salamat at narito kayo.
Thank you for being here.

Balik kayo.
Please come again.
This is what you say to encourage people to keep on eating, to get more drinks, or to come visit you again.

Salamat ulit.
Thanks again.

Pagpalain kayo ng Diyos.
May God bless you.

Maraming salamat.
Many thanks.
A million thanks.

Ang bait ninyo naman.
You are very kind.

Sana suwertihin kayo.
May you have good fortune.

Utang muna.
I owe you one.

Utang ulit.
I owe you again.
I owe you another one.

Marami na akong utang.
I owe you a lot already.

Marami na akong pagpapala.
I am very blessed.

Sana makaganti rin ako.
I hope someday I can pay you back.
I hope I can return your kindness.

Ay, Bahala na.
Let the Lord take care of it.  
This is an ancient expression which was shortened from "Bath Allah na ang mag-aayos anuman ang mangyari," which literally means "The Living God handles the outcome whatever happens." Tagalog people used this expression as a final blessing to difficult decisions, transactions, or final farewell. That was until American missionaries wrongly translated it into "Come what may" and "educated" Filipinos avoided using it.  After all, like the King of Siam, who wants to sound unscientific? Outside the cities, however, Tagalog people still use this beautiful expression of faith. Use this expression after you promise to visit your friends again. If they ask, "Sigurado ka?" meaning, "Are you sure?" your answer should be "Ay, Bahala na." This was explained to me by very old people in Mindoro and Bulacan.


In general, Filipinos still believe in sacrificial love for community. When a typhoon, flood, landslide, or drought strikes an island, usually all families are affected, especially in small islands. In the earlier days, after a disaster, Filipino neighbors banded together to rebuild each other's homes and farms. When forests were still available, groups of men would band together to haul logs to make lumber. They'd make enough boards to build a house for each household. Today, this process is pretty much taken over by individual bank loans. However, relatives and friends still help each other by lending their property title to be used as loan collateral.  

The practice of banding together to accomplish big projects is called BAYANIHAN. Some explain BAYANIHAN as coming from the word BAYANI, which means hero. As this "modern" explanation goes, everyone becomes a hero by helping each other. It's a cute explanation, but it's actually wrong. The root word for BAYANIHAN is "bayan" which means village or people. Bayanihan means village work. The idea of a hero in village work does not exist.

In the town where I was born, there was a long irrigation canal that watered many rice fields. I asked the old people, "Who built the magnificent canal?" They said hundreds of people built it. No tractor or grader, just picks and shovels and the people worked on it for many days. It was the biggest and longest work party the town had ever done. Everyday men were digging, women were cooking, and children distributed food and water. No one spent, no one got paid, but the whole town gained. "Ay Bayanihan!" the old people said. 

About Ray Colorado

Ray Colorado was born in the island of Mindoro, Philippines, where people speak different Filipino languages. Tagalog was his first language. He also speaks Ilocano, Bicol, English and Spanish. He learned these languages because of his father's job - Methodist Evangelist and Pastor. They moved every two years, living in places where people spoke differently. He had to learn each local language in order to survive and win new friends. He also formally studied English and Pilipino, the national language, in elementary, high school, and the University of the Philippines. He started creating Web-based Tagalog lessons in 1999. He moved to United States in 1984. He lives in Fort Worth, Texas, with his wife, former Lura Eden Alampay, and their three sons Marc Dexter, Maxwell Lucas, and Hexel James. He may be reached at