English in the Philippines is one of the great attractions about the Philippines for expats and is one of the official languages of the country. It is not only nurses and other medical professionals, domestic helpers, laborers, entertainers and engineers that are OFWs. The USA also recruits licensed teachers from the Philippines and China recruits English teachers from the Philippines.
Personally, over the past 28 years, I have witnessed a decline in the percentage of Filipinos who have excellent English skills, however, a big factor in that is due to English in the Philippines being removed as the teaching median in the classroom, some years ago. Nevertheless, I don't have any problems communicating daily with Filipinos in the Bacolod Area. No, I do not speak Ilonggo, the local language! For me personally, I love Philippine English and with every passing second that I live here, I use it more and more and more!
English in the Philippines Can Be Fun!
“I hope you can salvage your relationship.” Those were the words of advise I once gave a Filipino friend in Manila when he was moaning and groaning about girlfriend problems. “No, no, no! I love her. I don't want to kill her!” In the Philippines, “salvage” means to execute! Or to torture and kill. I learned that a long time ago, so I am very careful how I use the word here.
“Would you like to buy a MTV?” I used to be asked this a lot by street vendors. A MTV is a music video, which I refer to as such or as a DVD.
If you are shopping in the Philippines and ask for assistance from a sales clerk, concerning a product that is not visible, or if you are talking on the telephone to someone at a business establishment, without failure, you will be told, “For a while.” That means wait or hold on!
It does not matter which is your brand of toothpaste, it is going to be referred to as Colgate. BTW, Pepsodent Toothpaste is popular in the Philippines, yet it is still referred to as Colgate!
“Off the TV and on the outside lights before you come to bed.” Yes, no problem, honey babe. I will turn off the TV and I will turn on the outside lights before I go to bed.”
“Sir, is your order dine in or take out?” “It's to go?” “Excuse me?” “Take out.” This is a common conversation you will run into when ordering at a fast food restaurant. It makes sense to me!
The air conditioner is known as the air con and the refrigerator is known as the ref. Yes, I use these same terms everyday. The Philippines is my home. When you are in Rome, don't be a lion!
Watch Out For Those Acronyms Too
There are probably tens of thousands acronyms used in English the Philippines in all walks of life. From Government agencies to everyday conversations. BI is Bureau of Immigration, yet some foreigners want to refer to it as BOI. Wrong! BOI in the Philippines is the Board of Investments. TNT is used to refer to a Filipino who is basically a fugitive in another country as being an undocumented alien. I have been walking in malls and heard Filipinas referring to a DOM, but not about me, of course! My wife told me that is in reference to “Dirty Old Man!” Yep, seen a few of those walking around and they are not all expats!
He is often used to refer to she and she is often used when referring to he! Just figure it out! I once met a taxi driver who was married to a man, he is his wife. Their children were transgender, he/she and his boss was she, Mr Mendoza. Geez!
The letters P and F are often interchangeable! Filipino and Pilipino are both used. Now, this is where the real fun begins. I have heard this for so many years, I have actually even heard myself do it! I have to be very, very careful! Especially when talking about a part or a hockey puck!! English in the Philippines can be a tricky thing so pay attention and take note.
A Little Bit Helps A Lot
Even though I have not learned Ilonggo in Bacolod, I still remember much of my Tagalog. I enjoy speaking a little Taglish from time to time. I can pepper my English conversation with Tagalog words, diba? No problem. Everyone who studied knows Tagalog, even though it is not widely spoken in the Vasayas. When I speak Taglish, it always cracks up Filipinos. “How you know that? Actually, to be accurate, Tagalog is now known as “Filipino.” But it will always be Tagalog in my heart!
Don't forget, when using your English in the Philippines, use the word “actually” in your conversations with Filipinos, as often as you can! The locals do and it has the same meaning, so do not be afraid!
Have you had any funny things happen to you because of English language differences in the Philippines? Leave a comment or open up a thread on our forum and let us know.