For those who don’t know, the Philippines was once a U.S. territory back before any of you (most probably) were born.

Since gaining independence from the U.S., the American culture is still alive and strong even up to this day, as Queen Pia would say. This is very much evident in the music played on the radio station (hello sappy 80s music love songs!), movies, lifestyle (brunch and yoga are a thing here too, and coming soon: kale chips), are all very much American.

One thing the country also takes pride in is that (most) everyone pretty much speaks English very well. I mean, how could you not after listening to Whitney Houston’s greatest hits or Chance the Rapper spittin’ rhymes while on that 3-hour traffic jam.

But just like any other English speaking country, the Philippines have their own quirky English words or expressions that are very much unique to the country.

You may even see many of these quirky English terms on posts sponsored on Instagram.

Below are some of the trending Filipino-isms that might come in handy if you are traveling to the Philippines soon:

1. Comfort Room (also referred to as: CR)

What it means: Toilet/bathroom/Washroom (US, Canada); the loo/the dunny (U.K, Australia)

Some people take a shower, bath, #1 or #2 in the “toilet.” The Philippines, on the other hand, levels up with taking comfort in the room.

photo courtesy: @nepalesruben

2. If ever

What it means: If at any time; if at all. Basically, just “if.”

You can’t just say “if”, otherwise your phrase will be incomplete. “Ever” just adds a nice touch, and gives a pretty clear indication to not expect too much cuz it won’t likely happen.

Think of it as salt and pepper or Romy and Michelle – “if” and “ever” complete one another.

3. In fairness

What it means: To be fair; In (all) fairness.

In fairness, it’s a standard English expression across the board. But it’s an expression in the Philippines that you will hear thrown out left, right, and center.

4. Bill out

What it means: Bill/check please!

If there’s a bill out, is there also a bill in?

5. Fired out

What it means: Somebody getting canned/let go.

Again, if there’s a fired out, is there a fired in?


For a while (you might also hear, “in a while”)

What it means: Wait a moment

Brilliant Filipinoism to keep the suspense of the waiting game.


7. Hi sir/Hi Ma’am

What it means: Hello

“Hi sir/Hi Ma’am” it’s me. I was wondering if (ever) after all these years you’d like to meet…

8. Raised eyebrows

What it means: Yes, I agree

TIP: Pay attention to the eyebrow movement if you didn’t get a verbal answer to your question. Rest assured that you are not being ignored.

9. Point lips

What it means: Over there

You will learn in the Philippines that there are other ways to point directions other than your fingers.

TIP: The longer they hold the pout, the longer the distance of your destination. #OberDer

10. Jokes!

What it means: I’m Kidding

Must be in plural form. Otherwise, it won’t make sense.


11. Seeeaaacreeeeeettttt (Secret)

What it means: I know you are dying for gossip and maybe I’ll tell you later.

Must be said with emphasis on the e’s to really get them thirsty for that juicy info. (warning: can get slightly annoying)

12. Nose bleed

What it means: I don’t feel like speaking in English. Too much effort – not today.

Sometimes you really see that the struggle is real.
(But why the term nose bleed?)

13. Game!

What it means: I’m in! Let’s do it!

Shows real commitment. Example:

“…Will you marry me?”


14. Besh/Beshie

What it means: Bestie (your homegirl)

Just because ‘Bestie’ is not endearing enough.

15. Idol (also referred to as LODI)

What it means: you are basically like Beyoncé

Post a shirtless or bikini pic and watch your comments flood with … IDOL!!! (proven and tested)

16. How to be you (po)

What it means: I admire you and would like to emulate you.

Don’t forget to name your ego after you get this message.

17. Netizens

What it means: Those people who leave comments on social media (see also: bashers)

Citizens of the Internet… get it?? How do I apply for this citizenship?

18. Booking

What it means: A hookup

Now you know if somebody ask you if you had a booking last night.

TIP: Best use with #11: Seeeeeaaaacreeeeettttt!!!

19. Haggard

What it means: you look tired AF

Haggard this, haggard that. Mostly said just to say the word…’haggard’

20. Overacting (also referred to as: O.A.)

What it means: You are being dramatic (stop it!)

It’s never O.K. to be O.A.

21. Fall in line

What it means: Wait in line.

Fall in line, for a while.
(But seriously…why fall, tho?)

22. Bad trip

What it means: turn off/disappointing/downer

Bad trip if you can relate above but you don’t share this!

(See what I did there?)


Hello fellow trotters! My name is Mick Salas, Filipino-American travel blogger based in Chicago. I was born in the Philippines, grew up in Chicago, studied in San Diego, and worked for a French organization for six years. And now I’m traveling full-time!

Read more about my my most memorable travel experiences, favorite destinations, and other fun travel facts here!