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.

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  • Reply Audrey | That Backpacker December 30, 2012 at 12:58

    Haha, nice! I learned something new today. Never would have thought those were ‘real’ words. 🙂
    Audrey | That Backpacker recently posted..What does Christmas in Korea look like?My Profile

  • Reply John Ramon Reyes September 28, 2012 at 08:33

    ok pa nga to e, sa iba nga sa joke, malala e, nung narinig daw nung kano na may dlwang pinoy na nag uusap, akala daw niya alien e, hehe kulet tlga ng pinoy e, eto kung gusto mo pa ng trippers:
    vblog siya tungkol sa pag cacanvass, nkktwa din e :))

  • Reply icoSnap September 17, 2012 at 17:57

    Nice blog 🙂 The comic is just hilarious – I’ve used the phrase probably a while back when I was in the Philippines and one of the other phrase was – kadelika-delikadesa … sounds like a tongue twister. BTW, added you on my favorite links 🙂
    icoSnap recently posted..Cuteness in Villa Kennedy in FrankfurtMy Profile

  • Reply Count Clement II August 17, 2012 at 16:54


    Greetings from the Philippines!

    It’s good to know that someone is indeed making an article about this statement: “bababa? Bababa” which is actually funny yet has a sens of information, after all.

    Good job for this article! Indeed, it is well informative and delivers the right message. Keep it up!

    Best regards,
    Count Clement II

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