Filipino Idioms in Real Time

Listen to some variations of the following when you're in town:

Exact Time is not Required
"Baka"(Maybe) in the conversation below does not really mean "no" but more probably means "yes." Sometimes, it probably means "no."

Andres: Punta ka ba rito ngayong gabi? (Are you coming tonight?)
Pedro: Baka. (Maybe)
Andres: Anong oras? (What time?)
Pedro: Pagkakain ng hapunan (After supper.)
Andres: Okey (Okay)

Exact Time is always Tentative

"Before noon" (bago tumanghali) more probably means before lunchtime.

Maria: Kelan ang uwi mo? (When are you coming home?)
Ana: Sa makalawa (two days after today)
Maria: Susunduin ka ba namin? (Would you like us to fetch you?)
Ana: Wag na lang (No need)
Maria: Nandito ka na kaya bago tumanghali? (Would you be here before noon?)
Ana: Tingnan natin, baka mabagal sa airport (Let's see, it could take long at the airport)

Exact Time Owned by the Speaker

Kagabi (last night), Kahapon (yesterday), Kanina (A while ago) -- Time is measured based on the speaker's perceived distance from the event and is automatically related to his activity closest to that event.

Mamang Pulis: Anong nangyayari dito? (What's happening here?)
Miron: Nagwala po yung asawa ng kapitbahay namin (Our neighbor's husband ran amok)
Mamang Pulis: Mga anong oras nangyari? (What time did it happen?)
Miron: Kagabi pa po.(Last night)
Mamang Pulis: Mga alas --? (At exactly what time?)
Miron: Basta po nakatulog na po kami, nagising na lang kami. (We were already asleep, we were awakened [by this])

People may follow up with questions such as: Kailan kanina? (when a while ago?) or 
Mga anong oras kahapon (what time yesterday?).

Time orientation... not by the clock but by day-division: umaga (morning); tanghali (noontime); hapon (afternoon); gabi (nightime); hatinggabi (midnight); madaling araw (dawn)

  • kani-kanina lang ("a while ago" or kanina is later than this.)
  • mga tanghali (somewhere near noontime)
  • mga bandang hapon (somewhere near late afternoon)
  • basta gabi na noon (surely, it was already late at night)
  • gabing-gabi na (it's so late at night)
  • kaninang madaling araw (a while ago, dawn)
  • bukas pagsikat ng araw (tomorrow when the sun rises)
  • bukas bago lumubog ang araw (tomorrow before the sun sets)

Indefinite time

  • Pag nagkita tayo (when we see each other)
    Punta tayo sa tiangge pag nagkita tayo (Let's go to the tiangge when we see each other)
  • Pag magaling ka na (when you're feeling well)
  • Pag dumating ka (When you arrive)
  • Paggising mo (When you wake up)
  • Bago ka matulog (Before you sleep)
  • Pag natapos na (When it's finished)

Literary transitions (early Tagalog)

  • Di kaginsa-ginsa (all of a sudden)
  • Maya-maya (later on)
  • Pagkaraka (eventually)
  • Samantala (meanwhile)

The next time you ask a Filipino; "What time are you coming?" Don't be shocked if he doesn't give you an exact time, but will say instead, "Tingnan ko, basta bago gumabi." (Ill see, but surely, before night comes.) And if a Filipina answers, "tingnan natin" (We'll see), to the question "Kailan?" (When?) this probably means either a short while from the time it was said or a duration of from now on to kingdom come.

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