Speaking like a local Filipino is not just about using the correct terms or curse words. Sometimes you have to level up your words to set a more authentic form of communication. With this being said, if there’s a set of words that can reflect a lot about the Philippines’ diverse culture, then that would be its unique variety of Filipino curse words.
Filipino curses may come in different dialects since the country comprises many local languages. Curses may go in Tagalog, the local dialect, English, and others even have a Spanish origin. These words are usually used daily to express intense emotions, whether happiness, sadness, or anger.
If you are a foreigner going to the Philippines for the first time, these are the Filipino curse words you should know because you may hear this everywhere, and hey, who does not like learning the cuss words in every language. I have gathered details to check for more information regarding the Filipino curses.
Another impact of Spanish colonization is the demonization of their indigenous beliefs. According to UP Diksiyonaryong, “Yawa” is used as a blasphemous word because it is the Filipino word “demon or devil.” Yawa, however, comes from Malitong Yawa. It is actually a female character in the Panay epic poem Hinilawod that follows the hero Humadapnon. According to Edgar Calabia Samar’s book, Humadapnon gets introduced to Malitong Yawa.
During a turbulent journey, Malitong Yawa saves Humadapnon from the sea’s dangers and eventually gets married. But a man named Amurutha attempts to get his hands on the bride, so Humadapnon battles with him and lasts for about seven years. Finally, Lansing, goddess of the heavens, intrudes and reveals that the two warriors are truly brothers.
She divides Malitong Yawa into two, who become the respective brides of Amurutha and Humadapnon. Demonizing Malitong Yawa or Yawa was part of the colonizers’ move to convert Filipinos into Christianity by eliminating their indigenous mythologies. Eventually, “Yawa” became part of their colorful curse word.
Letse or Leche
“Letse or Leche” comes from the Spanish word “leche,” which means milk. According to the UP Diksiyonaryong Filipino also has another entry for “letse,” which is “alipusta para sa tanga; ibig sabihin, pasusuhin pa.” So it’s like saying that the person on the receiving end of your curse is immature or a baby who still needs to be breastfed.
In English, there’s “son of a bitch,” “”bitch”, or “twat.” In Spanish-speaking countries, curse words are taken further by demeaning mothers. There’s “jode su madre“, “hijo de puta,” and “tu puta madre me la chupa“. In a document called Profanity, Obscenity, and Abuse, author Michael A. Estrada assumes that the insults are addressed to the mother “because no one likes their mother to be insulted.” The Philippines, being a Spanish colonized country for about three centuries, has also inherited this into the Filipino curse phrase “putang ina,” which means your mother is a whore.
Susmayosep is actually a combination of the shortened names of the Holy Trinity, which are Jesus, Mary, and Joseph. It is an abrupt reaction you will most likely hear from Filipino adults who have just learned or heard some big or maybe shocking news.
The term refers to someone who is out of their mind but was previously used to describe a ferocious dog. Another variation is Ulul, which is how most Filipino people will use it nowadays, usually prolonging the sound of the vowels. You can also use “Kaululan” which means ‘craziness’ when translated into English.
Bwisit or Bwiset
We all get angry at times where cursing is just a way to express our frustration. Pronounced bwi-sit. Best means nuisance. The spelling also differs from bwiset, buset, and buwisit. Used to express annoyance over a frustrating situation or just about anything that ruins the day or someone’s mood. Saying ‘Bwisit ka!’, however, to someone means they are a nuisance.
It actually means you are an idiot or stupid in Filipino. Tanga is one of the most used Filipino curse words to express frustration or annoyance. The slang “engot” or the common word ‘tanga,’ still holds the same meaning, stupid or an idiot.
Another curse word from Spanish, punyeta, comes from “puño”, which also means to do something with a fist. Frequently used to express disappointment or agitation.
When someone calls you this curse word, it means you’re stupid or you’ve done something foolish. However, before the meaning evolved, the term referred to someone who is a neurotic wreck. Can you believe that you are going to be cussed out for stuttering under extreme pressure? Its other variations are Gagi, Ogag, which is spelled backward, Gaga – a female version of the term, and Kagaguhan relating to actions of foolishness.
But do not get too pumped up when you hear this term used, let’s say by a friend. It could be utilized utterly as a word with a touch of fondness and concern from someone you are close with. One example here is your go-to friendwhenever you have a fight with your partner.
No matter how bad you get treated by your spouse, you are always ready to forgive and forget about it right away and always willing to give more chances. Pouring your genuine poor heart out between sobs as your friend listens to your drama, your friend will somehow say while comforting you, ‘Gaga ka talaga.’ It does not mean you are being cussed, but she indicated that it is stupid of you to keep allowing yourself to be in the same situation.
Boba or Bobo
‘Bobo’ is explicitly used for the men. ‘Boba’ is for the women. These two both mean unintelligent, being less intelligent than the rest or very slow to understand, dull-witted. The English counterpart of these is dimwit.
Hayop is another Filipino curse word, referring to someone acting like an animal. Hayop can actually be used on its own as well, as in, mga hayop kayo! meaning, “you animals!”
This may refer to someone who is very foolish. “Taranta” also means confusion or panic in Tagalog.
Conclusion | Final Thoughts
That does not necessarily mean that Filipino people are always hot-headed. That means they know when to stand up for the right thing. If you have been to the Philippines, you will agree that the majority of Filipino people are very hospitable, warm, and gentle.
Of course, they also do get angry, but who doesn’t? Right? And speaking of furious, you actually learned how to express anger in Filipino grammar and become more familiar with some curse words.