Pinoy Terms of Endearment

Filipinos have different terms of endearment. “Manong” or “Kuya” means “older brother” and “Manang” or “Ate” means “older sister”.

However, even strangers are referred to as “Manong,” “Kuya,” “Manang,” or “Ate”. In Manila, taxi drivers, security guards, janitors, by-standers, salespeople, and others are referred to as Manong, Manang, Kuya, Ate, depending on their gender.

“Ato,” “Toto,” and “Dong” means young boy and “Ine,” “Nene,” and “Dang” means young girl in the family. “Ineng” means little sister or the youngest daughter in the southern Tagalog regions of the Philippines. "Totoy" or "utoy" is the boy counterpart.

Other terms of endearment have been extended to the community like “Tatay” or “Father,” “Nanay” or “Mother.” Say, inside a bus, a conductor may politely speak to passengers according to how they perceive their ages. Thus, he will address a youngish girl as "Nene", a young adult as "Ate," a middle aged woman as "Tita" (aunt) and an elderly mama as "Nanay" (mother). Everywhere, Filipinos have also been addressing each other as  “Bro” or “Brad” (brother) and “Sis” (Sister) which do not always reflect sibling relations. "Pare" (lifetime male friend) and "Mare" (lifetime female friend) are how adults address those who have been there to support them through many years of bonding. But while this endearment carry a heavy load, it is also used to address a man or a woman when trying to establish an amiable connection.

To date, you can also hear terms of endearment, such as "ganda" applied to women vendors or "suki" (patron of a store). Ganda is the root word of “maganda” (beautiful) and often used by vendors to customers they are enticing to buy their stuff, or by sukis to vendors when haggling in order to get a good bargain. But "ganda" is also applied to best friends who are actually beautiful which automatically sets them apart and makes them feel good. Sometimes, this label will stick like a nickname.

While "ganda" is reserved for women, “pogi” (handsome) may be used to  call a good looking, young fellow on the street. Say, a woman may call a young person, "Pogi!" (meaning, "please come here boy") and ask him to do some errand for her. In the ladder of hierarchy, "Bosing" has become the term of endearment to anybody who is a well-liked boss.  

There are also terms of endearment mostly applied to young people. These have become dated, but some have remained in the vernacular because they seem to reflect certain styles. In the 80s, the young teenagers were referred to as "Bagets". Today, "Bagets pa yan," means "He's too young and inexperienced." In the 90s "Guwapings" became the label for the same age-group. Popular media pushed this term to also mean "rebellious." So "guwaping" used to also mean, "young rebel". Both were not used as a  form of castigation or judgment, but as a label of endearment for those young ones. 

Meanwhile, the term “Jologs” used to refer to children from the slums who were trying hard to imitate the style of "hip-hop" artists. In time, jologs became a satirical remark for anybody, regardless of class, who wear low-waist pants and walk in a hip-hopperly manner. Jologs used to be a tease-label for gen-Xers who loved celebrating birthday parties with barbequed isaw (chicken intestine), adidas (chicken legs), helmet (chicken head), and fried kwek-kwek (quail egg). 

Back at home most middle class families will have an “Inday”. Inday is a name common in the Visayas region, and it used to be somewhat synonymous with “helper” or “maid” in many Tagalog households. This is a discriminating way of using this Visayan term of endearment. A maid or somebody who is helping in family chores is more accurately referred to as "kasambahay". They are also housekeepers and yayas or baby sitters at the same time. 

As for couples, there are a number of ways of referring to one's significant other. For starters though, "mahal" is generic (love) and is the sweetest sounding of all.