Different Ways We Say I Love You As Filipinos

Different Ways We Say I Love You As Filipinos

Save these for the times when “I love you” isn't enough



There seems to be an open acknowledgment that anything said in Filipino hits harder. Whether it may be angry tirades or love confessions and affection verbalized, there’s a heavier weight in each word expressed. It’s not because “Mahal kita,” rolls off the tongue smoother than “I love you.” But rather, we see that our language holds more emotion than its English translation. There’s just a deeper intention and meaning when you say things in Filipino. 


But instead of focusing on why expletives sound better in Filipino, let’s focus on something a little more optimistic: love. As much as we’re conservative, Filipinos also have different ways of expressing our fondness and emotions to our loved ones. Peel back our layers and you find out that we love love; if our favorite Filipino romcoms and abundance of love teams are any indication. So while it’s still Buwan Ng Wika, let me list the different ways we say “mahal kita” as Filipinos.

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Like I said earlier, terms in Filipino hold a lot more weight than their English translations. This fact also applies to the nicknames and pet names we give each other too. Case in point: the name “sinta.” Call it old-fashioned, but it’s one name that still gets you kilig when it comes from the right person. Perhaps that’s also why IV of Spades’ Mundo was a hit: tender lyrics laced coupled with one of the most affectionate nicknames ever. We can also take note from our August cover stars, Ben&Ben, who once sung about their mahiwaga and even call their fans “Liwanag.”


Other soft (and sometimes cheesy) nicknames are “pangga” in Ilonggo, “giliw,” and the classic “mahal.”



The concept of lambing is inherent to us Filipinos. We previously defined it as “a term that combines affection, sweetness and tenderness.” Lambing can vary from amping up your charm and going above and beyond to get on your parents’ good sides to smothering your S.O. with affection, depending on your love language. And while English might be able to put names and tons of adjectives in describing the way we physically show our love, there’s nothing like soft lambing that puts smiles on our faces.


“Mahal kita.”

Well, nothing hits the hardest than saying it like it is. That’s probably the most beautiful thing about the languages in the Philippines, because we can express our love and verbalize it in different ways. Sure, we’ve got the casual but equally affectionate “labyu.” But for the more passionate and quiet moments, we use the straightforward “mahal kita” with many equally weighty translations. You can say “ay-ayaten ka” in Ilocano, “kaluguran da ka” in Kapamangan, “inaro ta ka” in Pangasinense or “gihigugma tika” in Bisaya.


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While we’re still trying to navigate the sometimes harrowing bleakness of lockdown and quarantine, let’s check on our friends and family. Don’t forget to tell them you love them in whatever way you can. It can either be sending a care package or just dropping by to say, “Ay-ayaten ka.”


Did we miss other ways we Filipinos express love in different languages? Sound off below!


Art Matthew Ian Fetalver

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