Tag Along For Tagalog

Posted by at 14:00

This is my second visit to the Philippines. Last time, I took a look at the country’s ingenious modes of transport, ranging from brightly decorated jeepneys and horse-drawn carts to an endless variety of engine-driven rickshaws. This time I’d like to take a closer look at the language of the Philippines, guided by Liarnie, who kindly responded when I called on readers to post their favourite sight, sound, scent and taste in their home town or country.

Before I attempt to decipher her preferences, I’d like to defuse the vicious rumours that I cheat when playing this game. I only resort to Google Translate once I have exhausted all other options to work out what the hell people are saying. And even then GT coughs up absurd and meaningless phrases like “Of sleep and six.”

Because none of the Filipino words below ring any bells – except perhaps “bato” and “batanes”, which may refer to “boat(s)” – I’ll apply the method I used for Mandarin. This involves submitting words or phrases to Google Images, a method reminiscent of our earliest reading experiences, when we are presented with word-picture pairs. The main difference being that nowadays the word “apple” mainly generates many millions of pictures of high-tech gadgets.

Before I begin deciphering Liarnie’s favourites, I’d also like to mention that while both names are used to refer to the language of the Philippines, Filipino is the official name for Tagalog. It’s also interesting (and comforting for a blogger on a quest!) to note that English is the second official language of the Philippines.

And so, without further ado, I now invite you to tag along as I tackle Tagalog. (Always use your weakest joke as the title)

Sight: “Mga bahay na bato sa Batanes” – My first guess was wrong: “Bato” and “Batanes” have nothing to do with boats. A “bahay na bato” is a stone house dating from colonial times, and “Batanes” is the most northern province of the Philippines. When I submitted “mga” to Google, I got thousands of photos of classic MG sports cars. So perhaps Liarnie is referring to this “old stone house in Batanes”.

Philippines

Fundacion Pacita in Batanes by Oggie Ramos

 Sound: “Paghampas ng alon sa dalampasigan” – The word “pag(ha)hampas” seems to be a reference to a religious procession celebrating Easter. And could “dalampasigan” mean beach? Could Liarnie be referring to the procession of waves breaking on the beach?

Scent: “Halimuyak ng Sampaguita” – The “sampaguita” (Jasminum sambac) is the spectacular national flower of the Philippines. The images relating to “halimuyak” were unclear, but I later discovered that it means “scent” or “fragrance”.

Taste: “Ensaymada” – Only after checking the images did I realise that this word closely resembles the Spanish “empanada”, which is a savoury pastry. The ensaymada looks equally delicious, but is probably sweet, although I also saw some topped with what looked like grated cheese.

My previous blog attracted some intriguing comments about the history, culture, cuisine and language of Romania. I challenge Filipino readers to tell us even more about their own country. Perhaps you can start by explaining what Liarnie do’s and don’ts mean:

What you SHOULD say: “Magaganda ang ngiti ng mga tao.”
What you SHOULD NOT say: “Madumi at madaming basura sa paligid ng Manila.”

(Thanks to Liarnie for showing us around. You can visit her website. You can see more of Oggie Ramos’ fabulous photos here. And if you really have nothing better to do, you can see my photo-blog of the Philippines.

Richard de Nooy

62 Responses to Tag Along For Tagalog

  1. jays122185

    Magaganda ang ngiti ng mga tao – people have a beautiful smile
    Madumi at madaming basura sa paligid ng Manila. – Manila is dirty and surrounded with plenty of garbage.

    • Richard

      Thank you, Jays!

      • Mayan

        Hi, I love how you are trying to work out our language in the way that you’re doing. Anyway, to answer your question about the link, “hampas” is a verb which has a variety of meanings from “hit”, “strike”, “crash”, “slam”, “slap”, etc. Its actual meaning depends on the subject doing it. In the case of waves, “crash” is the most appropriate translation. But in relation to the picture you saw, “paghahampas” also means the act of self-flagellation which is a practice done by penitents during Holy Week. It is their way of experiencing the Passion of Christ. It is also called “penitensya” or penitence. ^_^

        • Richard

          Thanks for the (graphic) clarification!

  2. jays122185

    Magaganda ang ngiti ng mga tao – people have a beautiful smile
    Madumi at madaming basura sa paligid ng Manila. – Manila is dirty and surrounded with plenty of garbage.

    • Richard

      Thank you, Jays!

      • Mayan

        Hi, I love how you are trying to work out our language in the way that you’re doing. Anyway, to answer your question about the link, “hampas” is a verb which has a variety of meanings from “hit”, “strike”, “crash”, “slam”, “slap”, etc. Its actual meaning depends on the subject doing it. In the case of waves, “crash” is the most appropriate translation. But in relation to the picture you saw, “paghahampas” also means the act of self-flagellation which is a practice done by penitents during Holy Week. It is their way of experiencing the Passion of Christ. It is also called “penitensya” or penitence. ^_^

        • Richard

          Thanks for the (graphic) clarification!

  3. Tsubakilaza

     “Paghampas ng alon sa dalampasigan…means when the waves plung to the beach…paghampas means plung….alon means wave…dalampasigan means…beach

    • Richard

      Thanks! So, is “paghahampas” something entirely different?

      • Tsubakilaza

        yup PAGHAHAMPAS will mean  hitting somebody or something…for example,
        Masakit ang paghahampas ng lubid…which means “It hurt hitting the rope…”

        • Richard

          Thanks! See my question/link above.

      • Jjanncandance

        my grammar’s not great because i grew up in the US and my tagalog is purely conversational (i never studied textbook), but extra infixes (ha) do change the tense/use of verb like hampas, which i’ve always mentally translated as something strong like “smack” or “strike.” native speakers and students can correct me, but my impression is that using paghampas in the phrase referring to a sound means “smack/strike of the waves”, while paghahampas means “as the waves smack/strike” or “each time the waves smack/strike.”

        ensaymada is a danish-like pastry, always sweet, with butter and grated cheese on top. cheese is not a stranger to desserts as you’ll find it in corn and cheese ice cream and sprinkled on other sweet treats like cassava cake. filipinos also eat empanadas which are savory just like the spanish ones and can be fried or baked.

        enjoy your visit!

        • Richard

          Thanks! See my question/link above.

      • adchvez

        the repetition of the first syllable of the rootword (particularly if it’s an action word) — in this case, the rootword is “hampas” — denotes the present tense or present participle. So paghampas could refer to the crashing of the waves along the shore , that has already taken place. versus paghahampas that tells you of the continuous crashing of the waves on the beach.

          • flipside of a memory

            Hello Richard, that picture seems to be a part of procession depicting the Scourging at the Pillar so yes it’s definitely in reference to Flagellation.

            edit: oops I saw it was answered already, sorry! :)

  4. Tsubakilaza

     “Paghampas ng alon sa dalampasigan…means when the waves plung to the beach…paghampas means plung….alon means wave…dalampasigan means…beach

    • Richard

      Thanks! So, is “paghahampas” something entirely different?

      • Tsubakilaza

        yup PAGHAHAMPAS will mean  hitting somebody or something…for example,
        Masakit ang paghahampas ng lubid…which means “It hurt hitting the rope…”

        • Richard

          Thanks! See my question/link above.

      • Jjanncandance

        my grammar’s not great because i grew up in the US and my tagalog is purely conversational (i never studied textbook), but extra infixes (ha) do change the tense/use of verb like hampas, which i’ve always mentally translated as something strong like “smack” or “strike.” native speakers and students can correct me, but my impression is that using paghampas in the phrase referring to a sound means “smack/strike of the waves”, while paghahampas means “as the waves smack/strike” or “each time the waves smack/strike.”

        ensaymada is a danish-like pastry, always sweet, with butter and grated cheese on top. cheese is not a stranger to desserts as you’ll find it in corn and cheese ice cream and sprinkled on other sweet treats like cassava cake. filipinos also eat empanadas which are savory just like the spanish ones and can be fried or baked.

        enjoy your visit!

        • Richard

          Thanks! See my question/link above.

      • adchvez

        the repetition of the first syllable of the rootword (particularly if it’s an action word) — in this case, the rootword is “hampas” — denotes the present tense or present participle. So paghampas could refer to the crashing of the waves along the shore , that has already taken place. versus paghahampas that tells you of the continuous crashing of the waves on the beach.

          • flipside of amemory

            Hello Richard, that picture seems to be a part of procession depicting the Scourging at the Pillar so yes it’s definitely in reference to Flagellation.

            edit: oops I saw it was answered already, sorry! :)

  5. Annie

    “Mga” is an article used to make nouns plural. “Mga bahay” = houses / “Mga bahay na bato” = stone houses

    Paghampas ng alon sa dalampasigan = lapping of the waves on the shore (“mga” is not used in conjunction with “alon” but it doesn’t make sense to say “lapping of a wave on the shore” which is the literal meaning of the phrase)

    Magaganda ang ngiti ng mga tao = literally, beautiful smile of the people (the people have a beautiful smile)

    Madumi at madaming basura sa paligid ng Manila = dirty and a lot of rubbish in the surroundings of Manila (it’s dirty and there’s a lot of rubbish in Manila)

    :D 

    • Richard

      Aha. I noticed the word “mga” is used quite frequently. Thanks for explaing why!

  6. Annie

    “Mga” is an article used to make nouns plural. “Mga bahay” = houses / “Mga bahay na bato” = stone houses

    Paghampas ng alon sa dalampasigan = lapping of the waves on the shore (“mga” is not used in conjunction with “alon” but it doesn’t make sense to say “lapping of a wave on the shore” which is the literal meaning of the phrase)

    Magaganda ang ngiti ng mga tao = literally, beautiful smile of the people (the people have a beautiful smile)

    Madumi at madaming basura sa paligid ng Manila = dirty and a lot of rubbish in the surroundings of Manila (it’s dirty and there’s a lot of rubbish in Manila)

    :D 

    • Richard

      Aha. I noticed the word “mga” is used quite frequently. Thanks for explaing why!

  7. Tsubakilaza

    how to say YES in Tagalog….OPO is the respectful way to say yes….OO is the casual way to say yes….HINDI PO is the respectful way to say no…HINDI is the casual way to say no…we call elder sisters ATE…and elder brothers KUYA….Mothers are called NANAY but to some places we use INAY seems to be funny way for Japanese because it means GONE to Japan and we call fathers TATAY but to some places we use ITAY also means in Japanese OUCH! IT HURTS!….just few familiar and easy words that might help you on your next trip….

    • Richard

      Very helpful indeed! Thanks.

  8. Tsubakilaza

    how to say YES in Tagalog….OPO is the respectful way to say yes….OO is the casual way to say yes….HINDI PO is the respectful way to say no…HINDI is the casual way to say no…we call elder sisters ATE…and elder brothers KUYA….Mothers are called NANAY but to some places we use INAY seems to be funny way for Japanese because it means GONE to Japan and we call fathers TATAY but to some places we use ITAY also means in Japanese OUCH! IT HURTS!….just few familiar and easy words that might help you on your next trip….

    • Richard

      Very helpful indeed! Thanks.

  9. cheesy

    what to say: “Magaganda ang ngiti ng mga tao.” — it somehow means, people have beautiful smiles / beautiful smiles of the people.
    what NOT to say: “Madumi at madaming basura sa paligid ng Manila.” — meaning, dirty and lots of trashes on the surroundings of Manila.

    useful sentences
    sight: maganda ang tanawinsound: kumakanta ang mga ibon
    scent: ang mga rosas ay mabango
    taste: matamis na mangga

    :-)

    • Richard

      Thanks! Now I have to start all over again! Hopefully someone will be kind enough to lend a hand…

  10. cheesy

    what to say: “Magaganda ang ngiti ng mga tao.” — it somehow means, people have beautiful smiles / beautiful smiles of the people.
    what NOT to say: “Madumi at madaming basura sa paligid ng Manila.” — meaning, dirty and lots of trashes on the surroundings of Manila.

    useful sentences
    sight: maganda ang tanawinsound: kumakanta ang mga ibon
    scent: ang mga rosas ay mabango
    taste: matamis na mangga

    :-)

    • Richard

      Thanks! Now I have to start all over again! Hopefully someone will be kind enough to lend a hand…

  11. Tsubakilaza

    Ensaymada is a kind of bread with sugar on the topping…it is usually eaten during the 3 pm snack time with coffee…

  12. Tsubakilaza

    Ensaymada is a kind of bread with sugar on the topping…it is usually eaten during the 3 pm snack time with coffee…

  13. Tsubakilaza

    I can also suggest to you when you visit again to try PUTO…it’s a steamed bread sometimes with cheese or shredded coconut meat that gives you another flavor ot it…

  14. Tsubakilaza

    I can also suggest to you when you visit again to try PUTO…it’s a steamed bread sometimes with cheese or shredded coconut meat that gives you another flavor ot it…

  15. RBO

    Note: there’s also a Filipino empanada – it’s delicious! 

  16. RBO

    Note: there’s also a Filipino empanada – it’s delicious! 

  17. Donna Mul

    “Mga bahay na bato sa Batanes” –  indeed houses in Batanes “Mga” denotes the plural form of house…

    “Paghampas ng alon sa dalampasigan” -this is a bit poetic,  “Paghampas
    ng alon” suggests the form and motion of a wave in the seashore…

    “Halimuyak ng Sampaguita” refers to sweet scent of Jasmin, but it goes
    differ than that… in Filipino folklore, it’s a story of beautiful,
    young, lovely lady who lost love and die. In her graveyard – shrubs grew
    and bear flowers – the scent of the flower best describe like the
    character of the young lady – sweet, beautiful and lovely.

    • Richard

      Thanks for sharing that lovely piece of folklore, Donna! Do you have a link to a longer version of this story, in English?

  18. Donna Mul

    “Mga bahay na bato sa Batanes” –  indeed houses in Batanes “Mga” denotes the plural form of house…

    “Paghampas ng alon sa dalampasigan” -this is a bit poetic,  “Paghampas
    ng alon” suggests the form and motion of a wave in the seashore…

    “Halimuyak ng Sampaguita” refers to sweet scent of Jasmin, but it goes
    differ than that… in Filipino folklore, it’s a story of beautiful,
    young, lovely lady who lost love and die. In her graveyard – shrubs grew
    and bear flowers – the scent of the flower best describe like the
    character of the young lady – sweet, beautiful and lovely.

    • Richard

      Thanks for sharing that lovely piece of folklore, Donna! Do you have a link to a longer version of this story, in English?

  19. Richard

    Wow! Thanks for all your wonderful comments. Hope to reply more specifically sometime soon!

  20. Richard

    Wow! Thanks for all your wonderful comments. Hope to reply more specifically sometime soon!

  21. Nonnapn

    Hi Richard! “Mga” means these or those so it refers to the plural. If you want a singular, it would be “ang”. I guess you came up with “paghahampas” in reference to Easter because during Lent, there are some who practice flagellation, which is hitting oneself with reeds or ropes, in penance for sins and yes, itbis referred to as “paghahampas” which is literally, hitting. You’re right about the fragrance of sampaguita, a small jasmine like flower with a mild, sweet scent. An “ensaymada” is really the local version of a brioche but sprinkled with grated cheese and sugar. Hope you enjoy your 3rd visit to the Philippines. We are called Filipinos and Pilipino is the national language.

  22. Nonnapn

    Hi Richard! “Mga” means these or those so it refers to the plural. If you want a singular, it would be “ang”. I guess you came up with “paghahampas” in reference to Easter because during Lent, there are some who practice flagellation, which is hitting oneself with reeds or ropes, in penance for sins and yes, itbis referred to as “paghahampas” which is literally, hitting. You’re right about the fragrance of sampaguita, a small jasmine like flower with a mild, sweet scent. An “ensaymada” is really the local version of a brioche but sprinkled with grated cheese and sugar. Hope you enjoy your 3rd visit to the Philippines. We are called Filipinos and Pilipino is the national language.

  23. Nevillanu

    “Mga bahay na bato sa Batanes” = Stone houses in Batanes

    “Paghampas ng alon sa dalampasigan” = waves of the water in the
    seashore

    “Halimuyak ng Sampaguita” = Scent of Sampaguita

    Ensaymada = I must say that it’s a local version of croissant. Usually
    with grated cheese and sprinkled sugar on top. Sometimes they put butter on top
    instead of cheese or sometimes both.

     “Magaganda ang ngiti ng mga tao.”
    – You can say Lovely or Beautiful smile of the people
     “Madumi at
    madaming basura sa paligid ng Manila.”  – its dirty and a lot of garbage around Manila. Saying this kind of words would be advisable as Filipino by nature are a bit sensitive. I guess it is also unethical to say it as well while you are consider as a visitor only :P

    • Richard

      Thanks for the warning!

  24. Nevillanu

    “Mga bahay na bato sa Batanes” = Stone houses in Batanes

    “Paghampas ng alon sa dalampasigan” = waves of the water in the
    seashore

    “Halimuyak ng Sampaguita” = Scent of Sampaguita

    Ensaymada = I must say that it’s a local version of croissant. Usually
    with grated cheese and sprinkled sugar on top. Sometimes they put butter on top
    instead of cheese or sometimes both.

     “Magaganda ang ngiti ng mga tao.”
    – You can say Lovely or Beautiful smile of the people
     “Madumi at
    madaming basura sa paligid ng Manila.”  – its dirty and a lot of garbage around Manila. Saying this kind of words would be advisable as Filipino by nature are a bit sensitive. I guess it is also unethical to say it as well while you are consider as a visitor only :P

    • Richard

      Thanks for the warning!

  25. Lagalog

    SIGHT – “Mga bahay na bato sa Batanes” translates to “The stone houses in Batanes”,

    SOUND – “Paghampas ng alon sa dalampasigan” literally translates to “crashing of waves on the shore”.  It is very descriptive of strong waves breaking on the shore, different from just “waves lapping the shore” (rumble vs. constant sound that can lull one to sleep).

    SMELL – You were right about “halimuyak” which translates to scent or fragrance.  It is more poetic than just saying “bango” which also means smell/scent because it can connote “heady, overpowering scent” like that of a beautiful woman.

    TASTE – Our ensaimada or ensaymada is a pastry made from flour, eggs, water, sugar and cheese.  You’re correct in your observation that it is sweet (there’s a generous sprinkling of white sugar on top of the bread along with grated cheddar cheese).  Some bakers also lavish the top with butter so one can taste the mingling of butterfat, saltiness from the cheese and sweetness from the sugar in one bite.

    Liarnie was probably egging you to look at the positive things in our country when she told you to say “Magaganda ang mga ngiti ng mga tao” which can translate to “The people’s smiles are warm and beautiful” instead of just focusing on the mounting trash in “Madumi at madaming basura sa Manila” (Metro Manila is dirty and littered with so much trash).

    • Richard

      Thanks again for you wonderful photo, Oggie, and for the explanation!

      (You can see more Oggie’s fabulous photos here: http://lagalog.com/)

  26. Lagalog

    SIGHT – “Mga bahay na bato sa Batanes” translates to “The stone houses in Batanes”,

    SOUND – “Paghampas ng alon sa dalampasigan” literally translates to “crashing of waves on the shore”.  It is very descriptive of strong waves breaking on the shore, different from just “waves lapping the shore” (rumble vs. constant sound that can lull one to sleep).

    SMELL – You were right about “halimuyak” which translates to scent or fragrance.  It is more poetic than just saying “bango” which also means smell/scent because it can connote “heady, overpowering scent” like that of a beautiful woman.

    TASTE – Our ensaimada or ensaymada is a pastry made from flour, eggs, water, sugar and cheese.  You’re correct in your observation that it is sweet (there’s a generous sprinkling of white sugar on top of the bread along with grated cheddar cheese).  Some bakers also lavish the top with butter so one can taste the mingling of butterfat, saltiness from the cheese and sweetness from the sugar in one bite.

    Liarnie was probably egging you to look at the positive things in our country when she told you to say “Magaganda ang mga ngiti ng mga tao” which can translate to “The people’s smiles are warm and beautiful” instead of just focusing on the mounting trash in “Madumi at madaming basura sa Manila” (Metro Manila is dirty and littered with so much trash).

    • Richard

      Thanks again for you wonderful photo, Oggie, and for the explanation!

      (You can see more Oggie’s fabulous photos here: http://lagalog.com/)

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