Alam Mo Ba Ibig Sabihin Nito?: 10 “Deep” Filipino Words and Their English Translation

Joanna Marie O. Santos
July 13, 2023

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Sometimes, we would encounter Filipino words spoken by our grandparents or written in an old Filipino book that we do not quite know the meaning of. Sadly, a lot of words in the Filipino language have gotten lost in time and do not make it to our colloquial use anymore when we have one of the richest and most beautiful vocabularies in the world. Instead, it’s a mishmash of Taglish slang that will probably make Jose Rizal roll in his grave. 


Language is consistently evolving to fit in with the times, so it’s understandable that some of these words are not so familiar to us anymore, especially to the younger generations. Whether you are simply curious or doing research for a school paper or a poem you want to write, let’s dive deep into some of these Filipino words and learn what they mean.


10 “Deep” Filipino Words and Their Meaning


1. Wangis

Wangis is used to mean “look” or “appearance” or “likeness” of a person. It has been commonly replaced by “hitsura.” A good example is in an episode from Maria Clara at Ibarra, when Ibarra said to his lover:  “Ang iyong wangis ay palagi ko pa ring nakikita sa mga ulap ng bansang aking nararating.” Doesn’t that just sound more romantic?


2. Balakid

When something or an obstacle is hindering your progress or success, like a thorn in your life that you must pull out, you can call it a balakid. In English, it means “hindrance” or “obstruction.” In simpler words, it’s “hadlang” or “sagabal.”


3. Marahuyo

In one of her hit songs, Taylor Swift says “I was enchanted to meet you.” If you’ve ever wondered what could be the direct Filipino translation of “enchanted,” it’s marahuyo. It can be used to show that you are attracted to someone, so you can use this word to your crush if you want. 


4. Pagsamo

In a lot of romantic songs and movies, you can hear this poetic-sounding word, which means “pleading” or “asking or begging for something earnestly or humbly.” The use of pagsamo in a sentence just makes it heavier and puts more emotional weight to the feelings you want to convey.


5. Silakbo

Silakbo is Filipino for “an outburst of emotions that demands to be felt.” It’s a powerful word that you can try to use if you’re looking for an accurate description of strong, overwhelming emotions that feel like a volcano erupting.


6. Ulayaw

Ulayaw is another romantic word that you just don’t hear often anymore. It’s used to describe “an intimate conversation,” usually with an intimate partner or companion. You might’ve encountered this during your high school reading of Noli Me Tangere. If you can recall, there’s a chapter called “Pag-uulayaw sa Asotea.” In that scene, lovers Maria Clara and Chrisostomo Ibarra reminisce about their relationship after being away from each other for years. 


7. Balintataw

You definitely don’t hear this word often these days, and it does not sound like it means what it means, but balintataw is Filipino for “the pupil of the eye.” Sometimes there’s an English word that we think has no direct translation in our language until we look it up. Who could’ve known what balintataw means? 


8. Galimgim

Galimgim is a perfect word used to describe a feeling of “loneliness” or “melancholy.” 


9. Pahimakas

A rare gem in the Filipino language, pahimakas means “the last farewell.” Our national hero’s last poem was called Mi Ultimo Adios or My Last Farewell in English, which Andres Bonifacio translated as Pahimakas in our language. 


10. Alpas

Alpas means “to break free” or “to break loose,” either literally or figuratively. It could mean to escape from one’s confinement or prison or to escape or run away from a difficult situation in your life. 


Embracing and Preserving The Filipino Language


There’s something rich and beautiful and romantic about our language that can’t be replicated in foreign words. Isn’t it more swoon-worthy when your lover calls you “sinta” or “tinatangi”? Or when you read love letters from back then? Somehow, it feels more intimate and special. 


Every August, we celebrate Buwan ng Wika to preserve our native language and cultural identity. There are over 120 unique languages spoken in our country, but Filipino serves to unite our diversity. So much of our nation’s history, traditions, values and beliefs are reflected in our language and preserved in literature, both written and oral. The Filipino language evolves and adapts, but we can’t let it fade into time.