15 things Filipinos say but don’t really mean
Filipinos are a non-confrontational bunch. For fear of seeming brash and hurting someone’s feelings, we say one thing when we actually mean something else. Choosing to be polite can save us from petty arguments, but dodging confrontation can hold us back, especially at work.
Why do we say yes when we what we really mean is no or maybe?
A study on Filipino cultural traits points out that our non-confrontational attitude stems from four Filipino values: amor propio (self-esteem), hiya (embarrassment), utang na loob (obligation), and pakikisama (getting along together/with others).
Take a look at the following common Filipino expressions that we usually say for the sake of pakikisama.
Used when: You’re digging into your lunch and a friend happens to come over.
What it actually means: We both know I have no desire to share my adobo, but I’m asking you to eat with me because I don’t want you to think I’m a jerk.
“Salamat! Pero busog pa ‘ko.”
Used when: Your friend asks you to sit down and eat with him. Often spoken with gestures: rubbing stomach (I’m still full), checking wristwatch (I’m busy and I have to be somewhere else), fake smile (I appreciate the offer).
What it actually means: That adobo looks delicious and I’m really hungry, but I refuse your offer because I don’t want to seem like a freeloader.
“Tara, sama ka.”
Used when: You’re on your way out, already dressed and raring to go, and you run into someone you know.
What it actually means: I don’t want you to go with me. If you say yes, uhm…please, don’t say yes.
Used when: A friend is leaving.
What it actually means: Take care of yourself even if you have no control over the bad things that may happen to you, like getting mugged on the way home.
“Papunta na ‘ko d’yan.”
Used when: The person you’re about to meet asks where you are. You tell them you’re on the way.
What it actually means: I’m still chilling at home. And no, I haven’t showered yet.
“Sige, game ako d’yan!”
Used when: Someone invites you to an event or a trip that you have absolutely no intention of going to.
What it actually means: I’m saying yes so I don’t have to tell you “No” to your face, and I secretly hope that you don’t invite me again in two weeks.
“One beer lang, early night!”
Used when: You’re trying to convince a friend or colleague to grab drinks with you.
What it actually means: No way you’re going home before 2 a.m.!
“Sunod na lang ako, pramis!”
Used when: You’re trying to dodge an immediate invitation.
What it actually means: I’ll text you that I can’t make it later on because I don’t have a good excuse right now, and I also don’t want to turn you down in front of everyone because then they’ll use peer pressure on me, such as the above-mentioned “One beer lang, early night!”
“‘Di naman masyado!”
Used when: Showing false humility for a compliment received.
What it actually means: Thanks for noticing me! I actually want to say an outright “thank you” but I don’t want to appear overly conceited. I was dying for you to notice my top/hairdo/bag/kicks.
Used when: You’re assessing a so-so performance but you don’t want to hurt the performer’s feelings
What it actually means: I’m shielding you from an honest review of your mediocre performance because I value our friendship.
Also used when: You’re politely reacting to something that you don’t like.
What it actually means: I know that your favorite film is not at par with my totally unique highbrow taste, but I don’t want to sound condescending because I’m not really a film critic, I just read movie reviews on IMDb.
“Hindi pa ‘ko nag-aaral!”
Commonly used by: Highly competitive, grade-conscious students
Used when: You’re asked by another grade-conscious student if you also pulled an all-nighter for the exam.
What it actually means: I actually memorized all the words in that page and I can ace that test. I only want you to think I’m unprepared because COMPETITION. Also, I want you to think I’m awesome without trying too hard.
“Ako na magbabayad.”
Used when: You’re out on a date. The waiter hands you an unexpectedly large bill. You pay for everything because the waiter and your date are looking at you pointedly.
What it actually means: Please stop me! Jusko po, pwede ba KKB na lang tayo!
“Nag-almusal/tanghalian/hapunan ka na?”
Used when: Your friend is going out to eat but he hasn’t invited you to go with him.
What it actually means: Can I come with you? How can you forget the time when I split my mamon in half and gave it you, you ingrate? HOW?
Used when: You see a physically injured person.
What it actually means: It’s obvious that you’re in great pain-duh, crutches-but I don’t know what to say. I don’t want to appear like I don’t care and this rhetorical question is the best I could come up with.
“Okay lang ‘yan, lilipas din ‘yan.”
Used when: You’re comforting a friend who’s going through a rough time.
What it actually means: I want to make you feel better. I don’t know how else to ease your pain, so take the safest, truest words I know.