What should I call him?

Here in the Philippines, names are not used much of the time when addressing people.  Or, if a name is used, it will often have a “prefix” code word affixed ahead of it.  As an example, our Vice Mayor here in Davao City is Sara Duterte, the daughter of Mayor Rodrigo Duterte.  But, people don’t call her “Sara” or “Vice Mayor Duterte.”  No, she is most commonly known as “Inday Sara” to the people.  This is just an example of how a “code name” is used with people.  But, the problem for us foreigners is… how do we know what “code name” to use with different people?  Well, you can never know for sure, except by hearing what others are calling a certain person.  But, this article is meant as a sort of guide of what kinds of things you might expect to call people.  The names in this article are sort of the “standard” names that are used in most cases, but they are not universal, just the most common.  Also, keep in mind that while some of these names may apply in various parts of the country, these names are the names commonly used in Bisaya areas of the Philippines, in other words in the Visayas Region and Mindanao.  Names in other regions may be the same, or may differ.

So, what do I call them?

IndayA younger lady is often called “Inday” or just “Day” for short.  You pronounce that like “IN – DIE” or the short version would be pronounced “DIE”.  This name is mainly used as a term used for a younger sister in most cases, but the use has expanded, and is now used for any younger girl.  It is not used for any woman older than yourself, unless that is really their name (which does happen sometimes).  When you go somewhere and you see a young lady, or even a young girl, if you do not know her name, it is perfectly acceptable to just call her “Day” or “Inday” when you want to talk to her.  It is, after all, used as a term of endearment.  I have been told that up in Manila, the term “Day” can have a slightly negative connotation, in that it is a Bisayan term, and the people up north sometimes equate it with a lady being a maid.  However, I don’t know for sure how accurate that is today.  Within the family, Feyma has always been called “Inday” because she is the youngest girl in the family.  Even some of our younger nieces and nephews call her “Day” or “Inday” because the name is so strongly connected with Feyma within the family.  Alternatively, if you want to use a less endearing, slightly politer form of address for a young lady, you can also call her “Miss,” but “Day” is much more widely used.  It is a term that I use all the time myself.

DodongA young man, younger than yourself can appropriately be addressed as “Dong” or “Dodong.”  This is very similar to the use of the term “Day” except it is used for a male instead of a female.  The term “Dong” is again a term of endearment, often reserved for a younger brother, cousin or nephew.  However, it is also appropriate to use the term “Dong” for any male that is younger than you, if you do not know their name.  For example, if you are in a restaurant, or a store, and you want to address a clerk or waiter, giving a little shout… “Dong…” is perfectly acceptable and appropriate in addressing a male member of the staff.  Many of my nephews are always called Dodong.  Also, just like with the term “Day,” if the male is older than you are,  you should never call him “Dodong” or “Dong” unless that really is his name, or a nickname that he is called.  If it is just a matter of not knowing his name and he is your age or older, do not call him “Dong” that would be disrespectful.

ManongIf you are going to address an older lady you can call her Manang, particularly if she is quite senior to you in age.  Manang is a term for an older lady and a way to show respect to such a lady.  If you are not sure of the lady’s age, do not call her Manang if she may be younger than you are, as that would be an insult to her.  If it is an older male that you are addressing, the term is similar, just changing one letter – Manong.  Again, never call a man younger than you Manong, as that would be an insult to him.  Be sure to be clear in pronouncing these two – Manang or Manong – emphasize that last vowel – ong or aaang.  You don’t want to call a lady Manong, or a man Manang, that would be disrespectful to do.  By using these terms, if you do not know their names, you are showing respect for the person.  If you do know their names, you can still show respect by attaching this prefix to the name.  For example, let’s say there is a man named “Rey” and you respect him, you would call him “Manong Rey” to show both respect, and a certain familiarity.  Same would be the case by using something like “Manang Shirley.”  By the way, a way of using these terms, but also making them slightly less formal and more endearing is shortening them to either “Nong” or “Nang.”

KuyaNow, if you have a person who is close to you, but slightly older than you are (maybe within 10 years or less, I’d say) there are different names for them.  For the male, you would call them “Kuya.”  You can just say “Kuya” or you could call him “Kuya Rey.”  If it is a lady that we are talking about, who is a bit older than you are, instead of Kuya, you would call her “Ate” (pronounced Ah-tee).  You can call her just “Ate” or you can say “Ate Bebe” for example.  So, to keep it friendly, but still give a bit of respect, Kuya or Ate are very appropriate.  Again, do not use the terms “Ate” or “Kuya” if the person is younger than you are, it would again be insulting to do so.

BayHow about a friend?  Well, there are a number of terms you can use.  If you are a male, and you have a male friend of a similar age range to yourself, you can call him “Bay” which is pronounced “Buy” (like you are going to buy something).  Now, keep in mind, this term is used only among males. If you are female, you would not use the term Bay, or if you have a female friend, you would not call her Bay.  Another term you can call a male friend (whether you are male or female) is Amigo or just migo.  If you have a female friend, you can call her Amiga or miga.  All of these are very common.  Remember, though, among male friends, a term showing a very close friendship is Bay!  If you call somebody bay, he will know that you really consider him a good friend.

A term that as a foreigner we probably will not use, but many Filipinos use is “Bossing.”  A term of endearment for a boss or employer is Bossing.  A head of household would also be called Bossing.  If you are a foreigner, plenty of Filipinos might call you Bossing, although in practice, I doubt you will call many people Bossing, I know that I never personally use the term.

KumpadreFinally, let’s look at a few terms that can get very complicated, and indicate a more familial relationship.  I am relating to the Kumpadre system, which is part of the whole SIR system of the Philippine society.  Through marriage or godparenting, you gain familial relationships with others through this Kumpadre system.  For example, last year I served as a Godparent for Cedric, the son of Cathy and Milper (LiP readers!) who live in GenSan.  Now, because of the fact that I am Cedric’s “Ninong,” Cathy is my Kumare (or also just called Mare) and Milper is my Kumpare (also just called Pare).  It is a sort of loose family connection that we have now.  We are more than just friends, we are family now because of our connection through their son, Cedric.  In addition, the other people who served as Godparents, for example, Carol, is also connected with me.  Carol is my Kumare as well, because we are both Godparents to Cedric.  This Kumpare relationship can keep expanding too.  When Cedric is old enough to marry it is possible that I would play some role in his wedding, further widening my Kumpare relationship with others that also serve as Godparents in the wedding.  It can create quite a large circle of family.  So, anyway, whenever I see Cathy or Carol, it would be perfectly normal for me to address either of them as “Mare” (pronounced like Mar-aye) or for me to address Milper as Pare (Par-aye).  We are family after all, right Mare Cathy?

Anyway, I hope that this look at “what you should call them” has been enlightening and helpful to you.  This is real life stuff, not some classroom things.  These are names that you will use everyday if you live in the Philippines or just come for a visit.

A while back, when I talked about the possibility that LiP may introduce a Premium Subscription service, some people asked me to give examples of what Premium articles would be like.  This article, for example, would be an article reserved for Premium Subscribers, should I elect to go in such a direction in the future.  I believe that this article contains information that is useful for anybody who chooses to live in or visit the Philippines.

Post Author: MindanaoBob (1345 Posts)

Bob Martin is the Publisher & Editor in Chief of the Live in the Philippines Web Magazine. Bob is an Internet Entrepreneur who is based in Davao. Bob is an American who has lived permanently in Mindanao since May 2000. Here in Mindanao, Bob has resided in General Santos City, and now in Davao City. Bob is the owner of this website and many others.

Live in the Philippines Consulting


  1. Henry says

    Hi Bob – Very good article, sir! As I become more used to life in Davao during my travels, this is one area that always confused me. At the restaurant hearing my girlfriend call the waiter "Dong" kind of tickled me. And then when I am referred to as "Kuya Henry" or "Uncle" still sends me in a tizzy! Just deciphering these code names makes me want a San Miguel. Maybe then after a few beverages will I understand it.

  2. Paul says

    Hi Bob – Of course, there are so many more codenames, dependent on dialect, region, etc. But, no matter where you (or I) go, it's, "Hi, Joe!"

    Happy Independence Day! 😉

  3. Neal in RI says

    That is way confusing but I guess sometime I will have to learn it, as I tend to use "psst" or"hoy" but the Wife tells me this is rude.
    I do have the Eye gesture for "yes" down pretty good as well as the persed lips used for telling how far something is away.

  4. Ron R says

    Hi Bob- Very interesting subject. I always learn something from you. My fiances son is named Dario but she will call him Jun Jun or Dong and her daughters name is Brigette but she will call her Inday or Day for short. Her children call me Tito Ron. I have heard the word Ate used in conversation but mistaking thought they were saying Auntie.

  5. says

    Bob, In Iloilo, there are names, like Nonoy or Noy for short, Neneng or Neng for short, Palangga Or Pangga for short. The last name means beloved in Ilonggo. Here in California, I called my youngest granddaughter, Pangga. Boy , boboy, dindo, dongdong are also used. Very confusing for a newcomer. Indeed!

  6. queeniebee says

    Hi Brod Bob, I think that this is another case where regional influences come into play. In Cebu, if you used Ate or Kuya which are Tagalog words, you would be considered "OA". Dodong or dong and Inday and day are the same in Cebu as you say, for children and younger people. Also though, Inday can go with your name if you're using it as a playful adult name, which I use in front of my name. Lately though, in the past few years in Cebu, I've observed that people seem to be dropping manong and manang unless you're addressing someone much older than them..Maybe it's a move to follow a more "westernized" style?
    I've found that if I think that the person is the same age as me or a little younger or older, I just use their regular name or if it's a woman I'll use day, as to not insult them one way or the other. It can all be very confusing to us foreigners, even if you've been here for a long time, but it is important as you say, and culturally sensitive to do so. I think that if you're a foreigner and you only know this name aspect of the language, you will still impress and touch local people with your sensitivity to their culture.

  7. says

    bai, i told my wife about this piece & that she qualifies as "Inday". as expected, she wasn't too happy :p
    in some circles, that nickname doesn't pass. it's kinda tough to explain.

    also on the "hoy" comment above. regarding it being rude. it actually can be. it's practically like "hey" in english. in some cases (like with friends) it's cool while in others, it's rude (like "how dare you" or "hey you!!").

  8. Hudson says

    Hi Bob,
    My fiancee is called Inday by her family. So I would call her brother Dong? What do I call her mom who is a couple of years younger than me?

  9. Danny says

    Kamusta ka Bob,

    Another great article explaining this part of the culture there, I knew a little bit about this, but you have explained a lot more for me.
    Roses younger friends and family, call me "Kuya Dan". Chesca calls my room mates little daughter Rachel who is 9 years old now, and Chesca is 7 years old, Ate Rachel.
    I like it, because it takes us back to the time when young people gave the respect to elders and adults, here in the USA. Not sure how you grew up Bob, but we were always suppose to respond to adults with "yes sir/maam, no sir/maam", and address them as "Mr. Doe/Mrs. Doe.

    Thanks Bob,
    Danny H. :)

  10. says

    I guess Pagsure oi is really originated here in the South in the radio stations joke. I hear that phrase here in Davao and GenSan. My gosh the kids are really into it.

    I thought at first that it originated from the radio drama from Cebu, but I guess its not.

  11. maria says

    my oldest brother is a junior and he is called dodong or dong. my younger brother and i address him as mano dodong.


  12. says

    Now this is a great article. Great info on the Filipino culture of names and respect.Worthy of a subscription for content like this to beginners in the Philippines. I myself am building a website of my own called EZPHILIPPINES.COM

    It is a work in progress and will no doubt have some minor changes in the next few weeks but I think it's great! :)

  13. says

    Hi Kuya Bob,

    Pagsure oi! Just heard it from my relatives in Davao and Bohol. It's kinda new to me…

    Ate and Kuya, Manong and Manang are widely use in our family.

  14. says

    Hi Pareng Bob! it's a really interesting topic when it's about language isn't it? Even among filipinos, this is a bestseller.

    I agree with Roy that people from luzon or manila at least don't like being called "inday" bec that's what they usually call maids. (I haven't gotten over that even after living for six years in gensan). In Ilocano, young single girls are called basang or balasang and young single boys are balong. For older people, we use manong or manang. But it Manila, it's usually Nanay, tatay, aling or mang. In Bulacan, they even have terms for different siblings, ate, ditse, sangko, kuya, diko. In pangasinense, older women are called tiya or atse and older men tiyo attached to the name. Crazy!

  15. Rey says

    Hi Bob, 'pag sure uy' is more like "c'mon, are you sure about it?" and the one that is really, really sure is "as in!" 😀 I know because i got 3 teenage kids now, and i always try to keep up with how teens try to create new code phrases just as when i was there age.

    Regarding the "Hoy" thing, it is downright rude as you use it only if you condescend somebody by calling him/her "hoy" instead of the proper name or title.

    In Cebu it's quite alright calling someone 'Dong' or 'Day' to people i don't know but everywhere else i avoid it and prefer a more neutral one like "Miss" in case of females and "P're", "'tol", "Bro or Brod" for men.

    "Pang-ga" not "Panga" is an endearment and you only use it to someone close to you or care about like in kids, it doesn't matter if girl or boy but never ever call someone "pang-ga" an adult male! If you call out an adult male like that, he'll surely have some doubts with your sexual orientation, and if you use it with an adult female you hardly know, it would be flirting…for disater if boyfriend is around! :)

    With regard to very unusual nicks like "kang-kang" for chesca, well it's how some of our parents or those older than us tries to mangle our name either playfully or endearly but then gets stuck forever or until you get into your teen-age years. It usually dissapear once you become a teen as you can assert to anyone already how you prefer to be called, thus the letter "H" you usually notice in "Bhoy", "Jhun", "Indhay", etc..:D

  16. Vicente Calibo de Je says

    Very interesting, Bob, and quite perceptive; the exchange, engrossing.

    My father was from Nueva Ecija and was a transplant to Butuan, northern Mindanao. He was viewed by true-blue Butuanons as a Manileno. And his progenies were seen as neither native nor Manileno, we were strangers in an alien country. No one called us pare, bay, manong, dong, dodong, or whatever from post-WWII until forever.

    The symbol of acceptance or endearment by natives was for progenies of my father's kumpare (through baptism, confirmation, wedding, incldg. extended kinship) to call us IGSO. The oldies who were Butuanons or Bisaya seldom if ever would address us by those names you listed…dodong, noy, manong, etc. etc. Manilenos (those coming from Luzon except Ilocanos) would call us "Totoy" or "hijo" which are terms of endearment identical to Dong, Dodong.

    Today, however, with the influx of non-Butuanons, the dominance of the Bisaya from Cebu and other Cebuano-speaking places and other "aliens", and the persistence of Tagalog on TV, radio, movies, all those subtle boundaries between natives and "aliens" have been shattered.

    It's a free-for-all which is what you've discussed.

    Now, as for "Bossing", given that "meanings are in people", I sense a certain subtle depreciative undertone behind it. The term consists of a begrudging acceptance of a higher status, between individuals who do not have a formal employee-employer relationship, which is whittled down by the suffix "sing." It is a way of cutting you down to size.

  17. Mitch says

    Hi Danny, being raised in Leyte, i know exactly the meaning of Ikang or Kang-Kang, Bob was right, it's also related to the name. So since her name is Chesca, it could be kang, or ikang, just to shortened the name. People in leyte are always doing like that and i dont know why. ^.^ …. Even my parents are calling my name in different way, Since my name is Michelle, and they're calling me, EL or EL-EL. You see, it is far different from my name. ^^… And btw, Im here In combado Maasin too, Maybe Rose is just near at my place…
    Hope i help you…

  18. wildcat75 says

    HI! Bob,
    Once again, this is an interesting topic so pls. allow me to contribute mine, I'm pure tagalog speaking person but being a Batanguenos, we are the only one who have a very deep tagalog language that other tagalog speaking doesn't even know the meaning and it depends on what town you came from, IN BATANGAS CITY, we used ineng or neneng in a little girl or even in our young niece and totoy/ utoy in out nephews or other young boy even not related to us as a way of aknowledging or endearment to our family members. kuya/ate like what you explained, tiya / tiyo for auntie/ uncle. ate/ kuya for our older sister/ brother. inay/itay for father / mother but nowadays alot of people used mama/papa,or mommy/ daddy for their parents in our province….and in Taal Batangas, they used "TAGAY" for a little gitl and "TAKING" for a little boy as endearment, in BATANGAS CITY "tagay" means offering your friend a glass of beer or wine, iho or iha (a spanish term) means son/daughter.

  19. says

    Hi Bob – fair point. And you're probably right.

    But i don't really think much of the spelling since "Bai/Bay" is never really used in writing.

    I actually had it spelled "bay" in my head until I saw a few guys spell it with an "i" (there's also a place in Cebu with that spelling) . So, it's all just playing with the spelling for me.

    It's like the word "Choy", which guys playfully call each other too. I, and a few friends, spell it "Chuy". I use it a lot in emails with playful banter (mostly to Dabawenyos).

    There really is no consequence with spelling those words differently because of it's informal nature. So, it's fun to play with it. In a way, it personalizes the word for you.

  20. Em says

    Hi, Kuya Bob. Love this article. I'm from Cebu and I'm one of those who just reads but never comments. So this is my first comment. Yey!

    Anyway, "Day" and "Dong", "Noy" (or Nong) and Nang", "Pre", "Tol", "Bai", etc. are used here the way they are used in Davao. We also use "Ga" (short for "Pang-ga") to those much younger (like kids). In Leyte, where I was raised, we call the much older ones "Tiyo" and "Tiya".

    And I think "Pag-sure oi!" originated in Cebu coz I first heard that from kids here about 3 years ago. Now, here in Cebu "Pag-sure oi" has evolved into "Chur oi!".

  21. john.j. says

    Hi Bob,talking of pronouncing words.I was talking to my dearest the other day about a lizard,who was sitting there looking at me,like they do lol,and she could not understand what I was talking about.So after about five frustrating mins of trying to explain it, turned out that the English way of pronouncing lizard the R is not pronounced,so eventually I found out I should say lizaRd.So another lesson learned.

  22. Boss says

    Great article Sir BoB. A very handy guide to keep and memorise.
    Everything applies as written here in Iligan. Except in our case we have a couple very old Mama Indays in their eighties lol.
    The reason I changed my name from Pete to Boss a few months ago is because I realised not many if any people here knew or even remembered my name, they never called me Pete, just called me Boss lol.
    Welcome to the Pines.

  23. Rovineye says

    Around our house in Iligan, wife seems to address all the neighborhood ladies/girls as Inday. One time my wife left me a note when she went to town, asking me to deliver something or other to Inday. I was at a total loss. I asked our niece which Inday, and she said not to worry, that she would deliver it. Puzzled me even more. How does she know which one? Finally our housekeeper was able to explain that there is only one neighbor with the name of Inday. Now I know when that term is used for someone not actually being addressed, it is her! Sometimes I call her Day Inday for a laugh now.

  24. Mike K. says

    Kuya (or should I say) Bossing Bob,

    Doy or Dodoy meaning young male…

    Bohol uses a lot of Bisaya and Tagalog when addressing each other. Ha-ha so is Hoy…

    As for someone calling out to you with "Hey, Joe" Simply, respond to "Hoy, Juan" (that will get a good laugh outa them)

  25. Phil R. says

    Gooed going Bob..I found out the haed way hee hee..the first time i was here in the philippines jes's brothers and cousins would call me kuya, so i thought that was was norm,so I caaled my brother-in-law kuya Jo-Jo WOW that went over like a lead ballon ..My wife looked at me an got mad she say I was never to call any one kuya ..So I don't now ..the only person older then me is her dad and I call hin dad and everyone calls me philip – pronouned fee-lip, kids call me dad and Jess calls me anything she want to :) wifes proagative I think,slowly learning the ways of the filipinos ..Phil n Jess

  26. says

    Hi Bob,
    Interesting article and I would like to contribute my Cebuano's worth.
    Inday as you know is a term of endearment, a term of respect just like Sir, Ms., Mr., Mdme, Señor, Señora, etc. So when the Cebuano maids/menservant first arrived in Manila they trained their Bosings to call them Inday or Dodong. So it is the same as their Masters calling them Sir, Madame, Mr, Ms., Sr., Sra. LOL.

    Cebuanos do not use Ate or Kuya until recently it used to be Manang & Manoy pronounced Mah-nang & Mah-noy. For respect to the older people it is Manang & Manong. If now you call somebody Mah-noy it is like "Maru" or Marunong or a wily, scheming SOB.

    Children of your close relatives and close family friends would call you Tito Bob and your wife Tita. Tiyo and Tiya would be for the older uncles and aunts.

    "Pag sure uy" was first coined in one of the radio soap operas in Cebu.

    The kakang, kokong, junjun, tintin, dandan are terms of endearment derived usually from the first or last syllable of the child's name. So Chesca is Kakang, Francisco is either kokong or cocoy, Junjun is given not only to juniors but usually to first born son not name junior because of the belief that he would compete with the father.

    You can call a close friend "Pre" even if you are not a sponsor to anything. "Pareng Bob" would be music to the ears of the recepient.

    "Ga", "Migo", "Miga" is used in carenderias, small stores, depressed areas, etc.

    To be safe when in the city and not in the countriside, just call him/her by the first name or nickname if you know it, or call Miss or Brod and if a bit older "Sir" and "Maam", outside the city it is the Manoy, Manang, Manong.

  27. Marie Shaw says

    Hi Bob,

    I recently hired a 25 year old Filipina to be our nanny. She calls me "Maam" and my husband "Sir". I feel this is a bit formal, but not sure if there are any other terms she can use? Is this common for younger helpers to call their older employers? We are 36 and 42 years old.


  28. says

    Hi Neal in RI – Ah, it's not all that confusing, just a month or so and you'll have it down!

    Actually, I am surprised that your wife said that "pssst" or "hoy" is rude… I don't think those are rude at all, at least not in my area. That's just how people communicate!

  29. says

    Hi Ron – I'm glad that you found this article helpful. Yes, many Americans confuse "Ate" and "Auntie" I hear that all the time. But, they are two different things! 😆

  30. Henry says

    Hi Bob – Yes, indeed! Gotta love that San Miguel!

    Hi Roy – I'll be in your neighborhood next weekend. Want to meet at Uni-Mart?

  31. roy says

    Hi Henry! I was just there this afternoon. If that's Fri/Sat around 5 pm would be great. I'm planning to walk & pass by there on my way to work. Sun is ok too, no plans Sun late afternoons.

  32. says

    Hi queenie – Yeah, regional differences are the spice of life! 😆 Ate and Kuya are very strong down south, I can assure you. I didn't realize that they are not used in Cebu, though! You are so correct in your last line about a foreigner being well loved if he would use these kind of words!

  33. Danny says


    My friend Janice who was born and raised in Cebu, and is a very proud Cebuano, uses the word "Ate" for her elder female friends. So not sure if all Cebuano's don't use that word or not, as for "Kuya", I am not sure.

    My two cents again,
    Danny :)

  34. queeniebee says

    Also, Bob, I don't know if in Cebu people are a little more loose or jolly, because mistakes are made when people call someone the wrong title sometimes when age is involved and it makes for a good laugh all around! Like someone will say, "why are you calling me Manong? I was your classmate in grade three!"

  35. says

    Hi queeniebee – Ah, we have that kind of joking here too, among friends. But, when I say that it would be disrespectful to call somebody by one name or another, I am talking more among people who don't know each other. For instance, most who read here would not go to the market and know a bunch of people there, so it's best to use the proper name, to keep from having any mis-understanding. 😀

  36. says

    Hi David – We don't have some of your names here, like Palangga or Panga, at least I haven't heard them. For us, if you mention Panga, you are talking about Tuna Jaw, which is delicious! 😆 Always interesting to learn a new one!

  37. Danny says

    Hello to all in this conversation,

    Let me throw this one out to you, and this comes from Southern Leyte area, but Rose's father calls Chesca, his grand daughter "ikang" or "kang kang", and Rose really couldn't translate it for me. Anyone ever heard this name given to a grand daughter?

    Danny :)

  38. queeniebee says

    You're right Bob, That would only be done among friends and relatives and people that you were quite familiar with.

  39. says

    Ha ha.. that saying is kind of used mostly by the younger people here, and very widely used. It just means like "that's really for sure." Ha ha… My 5 year old niece taught me! 😆

  40. roy says

    Hi Queeniebee, nope.."pagsure oi" is not used in tagalog. If that's used in Cebu, that should stay in Cebu ha ha ha. Terms of endearment are really regional even among tagalog speaking regions. & Bob is correct in saying that borrowed forms of addressing do not necessarily translate its original meaning. As he pointed out, "Inday", a visayan term which means little sister but in Manila it is used to address the maid. When abbreviated to 'Day', it means 'girl' among gays. Of course, the use of tagalog terms "ate/kuya" in Cebu is considered OA. It's borrowed from a region they are not exactly fond of.

    Bob, among tagalogs, we always use liberally "Nanay" (mother) to anyone we are talking to in informal way, e.g. in the market, the vendor is about the same of our mothers, we say "Nanay, dagdag naman po" (mother, pls give me some for free). If our close friends, call their mother "Nanay, Inay, Mama or Mommy", it almost follows that that's how we should address them as well.
    Then, there's the "Aling/Mang" that we affixed to the names from the people around in our neighborhood.

    Of course, here in the states. I always mispronounce "Ma'am" in "Yes, MOM, can I help you w/ anything?" A crabby patient would say "I'm not your mother." I then decided to drop from my vocabulary the use of that word w/c I cannot pronounce anyway. :-)

  41. queeniebee says

    David and Bob, in Cebu we would say pinanga for a favorite or special person, so I guess that's like beloved too.

  42. says

    Hi queenie – You are active today, girl! 😉 I never heard it used that way, but maybe in some areas. For us here, if you are a Junior, they usually call you Jun or Jun Jun.

  43. says

    Ha ha… did you notice the picture of that ugly guy I used for "Bay"? Ha ha… just kidding…

    If you call me Kuya, I will start calling you my "Coffee Kuya." 😉

  44. says

    Hoy! I just remembered… you can call me many names….

    Sangay, because we share the same first name.
    Kuya, since I am slightly older than you are.
    Bay, since we are good friends.

    But, don't forget….

    Pare, because you are my son's Godfather too! 😀

  45. Jong says

    In Negros Or. "Hoy" is also considered rude. The few times I've used it the reply is usually "Unsa man?!" (what?!) in an angry tone, or "Naa ko'y ngalan, hoy!" (Hey! I have a name!). "Pssst" on the other hand all depends on the situation; sometimes it's rude, normal, or a cloak & dagger/secretive way of gaining someone's attention 😀

  46. says

    Hi macky – Yeah, I understand that in some social circles, "day" is not appropriate, though! No doubt there. On the "hoy" thing, I guess it comes down to how it is used. I can see that it could be used in a "mean" way with a certain tone.

  47. says

    Hey, Macky, or Bay…

    For me though… friend, between males is not really "Bai" though, rather it is "Bay" because Bai is also a name used among Muslim Women…

    what do you think?

  48. says

    Hi Hudson – It depends on the age of the brother… If he is significantly younger than you, sure you can call him Dong. Maybe "bro" or "bay" would do?

    For your Mother-in-law who is younger than you… I'd call her "Mama" or whatever name your fiancee calls her.

  49. says

    Hi Danny – I'm glad you picked up a thing or two from today's article! I agree that there is some respect involved, and it is refreshing! No doubt.

    Yeah, when we grew up, Danny, it was always "Mr. Smith" or "Mrs. Jones" none of this "Chuck" or "Nancy" stuff! Things have sure changed!

  50. says

    Hi Danny – I am certainly no expert on Letye, but my 5 year old niece, Nicole is sometimes called "Kong Kong" or "Kong" it is just kind of a take off on the "cole" part of her name, niCOLE. Not exactly sure on Chesca, though.

  51. says

    Hi Danny – My experience is that it is used pretty universally, but I also do believe that Kuya and Ate originated with Tagalog. Funny how these things mix and take on a life of their own!

  52. Danny says

    Hi Bob,

    Yeah, I understand that, but I do know, that it is not a "shortening" of the name Chesca. It is suppose to mean something like "grand daughter or daughter..I guess. Maybe someone here will know..but is ok ..I will surely later on learn where this came from.

    Danny :)

  53. says

    Magandang gabi po, maayong gabii, maupay nga gab-i.

    Just wanted to share that in eastern part of Leyte they also use idoy for dodong and iday for inday, for short it is doy and day. :)

  54. says

    Hi Mareng Cathy – Nice to see you yesterday, Feyma and I always enjoy seeing you, even briefly.

    Yep, I always like to talk about language too! It does seem to be a bestseller here on LiP.

    Well, here in the southland.. a single young girl is a dalaga and a single young man is an ulitawo. Is that the same as the words you used, basang and balong? I mean, same usage?

  55. says

    Hi Rey – Ha ha.. Sure enough on the "pag sure uy" – that's how I understand it too. I try to use it fairly frequently, especially with kids!

    Here in Davao, Day or Dong is no problem at all it is widely used!

    On the "hoy" thing… my thinking is more using it not as a name, but like "hoy, I forgot my cellphone" or something like that.

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Rey!

  56. says

    Hi Manong Vicente – Thank you very much for adding to the discussion, I really enjoyed reading your perspective. Very interesting, and very thought provoking to hear about the level of acceptance that you got in Butuan some years ago. It is quite eye-opening. It was almost as if you were a foreigner, although, in some respects it may have been worse, because most Filipinos are very accepting and even forgiving of foreigners who "don't understand" their ways. It sounds as if you were not that accepted, and certainly not treated in a "forgiving" way when your understanding of Butuanon ways was similar to that of a foreigner. Interesting indeed.

    On the Bossing thing… my experience is a bit different from what you describe. For instance, one of my former employees, who was actually the manager of my business, often called me Bossing. And, she and I were, and still are very close to each other.

    Anyway, thank you again, and I hope that you will visit the site again, and that you will participate in our discussions here!

  57. Danny says

    Hello Michelle/Bob,

    Bob you were right..again..lol. Thanks so much for sharing that and WOW, this is great that somebody participating on LiP is from Maasin!!!! :).
    Rose lives in Barangay Combado too, she lives right next to where the new high school was just built. Her family has lived there many years now, and seemed to be well known in the area.
    Please email me at [email protected] , would love to hear from you some time…salamat.

    Salamat kaayo,
    Danny :)

  58. says

    Hi macky – Yeah, no doubt about it that there is a certain playfulness with words and spellings in the Philippines. I kind of like it when I see signs with unique ways of spelling or using a word or phrase! Keeps life interesting!

  59. says

    Hi Em – Thanks for finally commenting! I've been waiting! 😉 Just kidding…

    As far as I know, we don't have "Ga" or "Pang-ga" here in Davao, at least I never heard it before. Certainly it is not common if used at all.

    Ah, the Pag-sure oi… I really wonder where it started! I wasn't sure at all, but there seems to be some controversy about the origin! It's kind of a cute saying from the kids, though. I have to learn that stuff to keep up with my little niece!

  60. says

    Hi john.j. – Nice to hear from you, my friend. It's been a while! I hope you are doing well.

    Learning something new is a good thing, don't you think? It makes living here an adventure every day. Or, should I say several times every day?

  61. says

    Hi Rovineye – Ha ha.. I have often joked about the same thing. With all the "Days" and "Dongs" around how do you tell them apart? 😆 Imagine if a mother poked her head out the door and calls "Inday, supper is ready!" I wonder how many people show up to eat? 😯

  62. says

    Hi Marie – That is very normal. Don't expect that to change, no matter how long she works for you.

    I used to have a young lady work for me in my company. She started out as a part time employee, when she was a teenager. She worked for me for 7 years. To me, she was like a daughter to me. She always called me Sir. Finally, after working for me for so long, she left, because she married a fellow in the States. I still talk to her on the phone or online pretty regularly. She addresses me less formally now… now she calls me "Boss"! Ha ha…

  63. Marie Shaw says

    Hi Bob,

    Thanks for clarifying. I live here in the States and our nanny has come over as part of an au pair exchange program for 1 year. I don't have access to much cultural information, so this is a helpful site.

    Thanks again,

  64. jonathan says

    Kuya, ate, ditse, sangko, are basically tagalog terms from a different source – it’s from the Chinese! We have adapted and Filipinized it. I guess it adds to the confusion Bob! LOL!

    And yes, terms of endearment for the sons/daughters usually ends up with with nick names like junjun, ginging, songsong, kongkong, iking, kiko etc etc etc etc and so on and so forth…hahah

  65. Katrina says

    Philippine languages can mean different things.

    In the Tagalog sense, it would be very insulting to a CEO to be called “manong”. However, in Ilocano is a very respectful and affectionate term that calling a CEO manong is not disrespectful. Manong in Ilocano is “Kuya” in Tagalog. In Tagalog, it is reserved for the “working class”

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