Browsing Tag


Travel Blog

Filipino Friday : Bababa ba? Bababa

August 17, 2012
Pinoy sign

Welcome back to Filipino Fridays, a weekly session on my blog where I talk something about my home country, the Philippines.

This week, it’s all about making conversations in the Philippines. Look at the image below showing a common conversation:

Photo credits from Jay Cabrera

(*photo credits from Jay Cabrera on Facebook. )

Person 1: Bababa ba?
Person 2: Bababa.

Do you notice anything interesting about the phrase?

First of all, this is an actual conversation. Despite only using one syllable, it actually means a complete thought.

Well just to give you a bit of background, the conversation is in Filipino, the national language of the Philippines. The country’s official language is Filipino and English, with regional languages  such as Cebuano, Ilokano, Bicolano, Hiligaynon and Waray-waray as auxiliary languages. In total, the Philippines has more than 170 regional languages.

And together with 400 years of Spanish, Arabic, Chinese and American influence, our language had evolved into a melting pot of words. As an example of this influence, to say “How are you?”  is “Kamusta ka?” a derivation of the Spanish “Como esta?” and to say thank you is “Salamat” which is similar to Bahasa’s use of “Selamat”.

The Filipino language evolved into something unique – albeit weird in some cases. But don’t worry, we don’t babble monosyllabic phrases all the time. 🙂

The etymology of the words in this conversation is unknown. But to translate:

Person 1: Bababa ba? = is it (elevator) going down? 
Person 2: Bababa = it’s going down

Baba actually means down.

Here are some other “strange”  words:

  • Lalala (to worsen as like to being sick)
  • Bobobo (to become more stupid)
  • Nganganga (open someone’s mouth)
  • Kakasa (to nudge a gun)

For some real phrases:

  • You are pretty! –  Ang ganda mo!
  • I love you – Mahal kita
  • How much? – Magkano?
  •  Goodbye – Paalam

Well, the next time you meet a Filipino in an elevator – be sure to mention bababa ba

What other quirky words / phrases in your own language. Share them below!


About Filipino Friday: Every Friday, I’m going to showcase something unique about my home country , the Philippines. It can be a place, food, experience, custom or tradition that highlights what we our 7,107 islands can offer. I hope that through these posts – I can help bring awareness about the Philippines,  it’s beauty, hidden sites, quirkiness and diversity.

Are you a travel blogger? I’m inviting you to take part of Filipino Friday with me. All you need to do is post something about the Philippines every Friday. Contact me if you’re interested.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...