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5 Things Every Filipino Mom Says and What They Actually Mean

The most common expressions and phrases we hear from our Filipino moms



There is never a one-size-fits-all structure for families, but for most of us, it’s safe to say that mothers remain among the most influential people in our lives. Just ask Andoy, whose mother’s cooking helped teach him some of the most valuable lessons of adulthood. One way or another, our moms leave traces of their love and care in us, ones we carry with us for the rest of our lives.


Speaking of growing up, most kids who spent their childhood in a Filipino household would have memories of our moms throwing the most amusing lines—ones that we can now look back on and laugh about. Most of them may have been delivered as a part of a long-winding (but probably well-deserved) sermon, while others may have Mom’s humble attempt at instilling wisdom in us.


Mothers can be a little confusing: they may say one thing, but mean something else. But hey, at the end of the day, they just want the best for us. Here are the common expressions or phrases we commonly hear from our Filipino moms. Brace yourself, these might just set off a wave of all too vivid memories from childhood!


The full name card

You have to admit, this was easily one of Mom’s strongest attacks. Back when you were enjoying yourself a little too much or making more noise than socially acceptable, you’d be quick to drop the act when she so much as whispered your full name. Kill switch activated.


“Manang mana ka sa tatay mo!”

Every time you messed up, the outcome was plain to see: you were bound to go through a good scolding that involved your mother waxing poetically about all your mistakes. Oftentimes, she’d use it as an opportunity to liken you to your father. Nothing like washing your hands clean of the problem, right?


“Aba, marunong ka nang sumagot ngayon?”

Getting on your Mom’s bad side is part and parcel of growing up, even if it isn’t your intention to tick her off. Case in point: those moments we’d try a little too hard to explain our side of the story while being told off. Oops. Lesson learned: any attempt to speak over Mom is no better than fanning the flames of fury.


“Isa… dalawa…”

No less daunting than the space shuttle countdown, Mom’s countdown is one of the most effective scare tactics on the face of the earth. Casting that same ripple of fear as when she calls you by your full name, the counting signals that whatever it is you’re doing needs to stop, no exceptions. Although in hindsight, did anything ever really happen when she got to three?


“Papunta ka pa lang, pabalik na ‘ko.”

Ah, to be young and impulsive. Sometimes, diving head-first into the world of adulthood is no easier than trial and error. While we may think we have the hang of things, we never really know until we look back in hindsight. At the end of it all, there’s Mom: ever the beacon of wisdom, ready to help pick ourselves up when we stumble.



In retrospect, all of Mom’s quips and sermon sessions actually made sense. Thinking about the lessons our moms instilled in us over time is proof that they have indeed left a mark on us, shaping us into who we are today. She may have been stern back then, but all these (admittedly funny) one-liners came from a place of love anyway.


Suddenly missing your mom? Give her a call and remind her how much she means to you. Register to one of Globe’s Prepaid promos to enjoy unli-calls with nanay!



Author: Cessi Treñas

Art: Alex Lara

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