bisaya words and phrases
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43 Useful Bisaya Words & Phrases to Learn for Travelers

Traveling to Cebu or the Visayas region soon? Before you land at Mactan-Cebu International Airport and explore the top Cebu tourist spots, be sure to arm yourself with these useful Cebuano or Bisaya words and phrases. Cebuano locals like us will greatly appreciate the effort of learning our very own language while exploring our hometown.

And, did you know that the Cebuano language, often called Bisaya or Binisaya, is one of the top languages in the Philippines? It is mainly spoken in Central Visayas like Cebu, Bohol, Siquijor, Eastern Negros, Western Leyte, and some parts of Mindanao like Cagayan de Oro, Camiguin, Bukidnon, Davao, and a portion of the Zamboanga Peninsula.

Give yourself a pat on the back for attempting to learn a major language aside from Filipino in our diverse country of over 7,000 islands.

Now let’s start the basic Bisaya / Cebuano Language 101, shall we?

Tip: Exploring Cebu soon? Sign up for this 3-Day Cebu Highlights Tour and put your Cebuano language skills to the test as you interact with the locals along the way. Have fun!

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Bisaya words and phrases for introductions and greetings

Beach in Tabuelan, Cebu
Beach in Tabuelan, Cebu | Photo credit: Josh Roland

1. “Maayong adlaw!” = “Good day!”

You say “Maayong adlaw!” as a general greeting. If you want to be more specific, here’s what to say depending on the time of the day:

  • Maayong buntag – Good morning
  • Maayong udto – Good noon
  • Maayong hapon – Good afternoon
  • Maayong gabii – Good evening

2. “Kumusta?” = “How are you?”

This is what you ask if you want to check in on someone.

3. “Maayo ra / Okay ra” = “I’m fine”

This is your reply to “Kumusta?”. If you’re not really fine, you can say “Dili maayo” or “Dili ko okay”.

4. “Unsa imong ngalan?” = “What is your name?”

This is how you ask someone’s name.

5. “Ako si <name>.” = “I’m <name>.”

Say this when introducing yourself. E.g. “Ako si Ben.”

6. “Taga asa ka?” = “Where are you from?”

Use this Cebuano phrase when you ask where someone is from. Another variation is “Asa ka nagpuyo?” (Where do you live?), for which you can answer like this, “Taga Manila ko.”

7. “Oo” = “Yes”

Or you can simply say “O” as a shorter version.

8. “Dili” = “No”

Use “dili” if you want to say no or reject something. You can add “lang” to make it more polite, especially when someone approaches you to sell something. You can reject politely by saying, “Dili lang”.

Cebuano words and phrases for social etiquette

use bisaya words and phrases when exploring cebu's historical landmarks
Sto. Niño Church | Photo credit: Hitoshi Namura

9. “Salamat!” = “Thank you!”

You may also add “daghan” as in “Daghang salamat” to mean “Thank you very much!”.

10. “Walay sapayan!” = “You’re welcome!”

This is your reply to someone who thanks you.

11. “Palihug” = “Please”

Don’t forget to use this Bisaya word if you are asking a favor. It shows your respect and courtesy.

12. “Amping! / Ayo-ayo!” = “Take care!”

You can make it more thoughtful by adding “pirmi” or “kanunay” as in “Amping pirmi!” or “Amping kanunay!” (Take care always!).

13. “Kita ta puhon!” = “See you soon!”

There is no exact Cebuano counterpart for goodbye so you can use “Magkita ta puhon!” if you wish to see someone again in the future.

14. “Pasayloa ko!” = “I’m sorry!”

Say this when you’ve done something wrong or when you feel you’ve offended someone by your behavior.

15. “Ikaw lay bahala!” = “It’s up to you!”

This is what you say when you leave the decision to the person.

Bisaya phrases and terms for travel and exploration

Mactan-Cebu International Airport Terminal 2
Mactan-Cebu International Airport Terminal 2 | © Chill and Travel

16. “Asa dapit?” = “Where exactly?”

“Asa” means “where” so use this Cebuano phrase when asking for the exact location of a place. You can also use this when asking where a certain thing is found.

17. “Unsaon pag adto sa <place>?” = “How to go to <place>?”

This is what you use when asking for directions on how to go to a specific place.

18. “Asa ko munaog?” = “Where should I get off?”

You usually use this phrase when you want to know where to stop and get off, especially when riding a public transport.

19. “Asa ni padulong?” = “Where is this going?”

When you commute, this is what you say when you ask for the route or destination.

20. “Asa ka padung / Asa ka muadto?” = “Where are you going?”

And if you want to know where someone is going, use the Bisaya phrases, “Asa ka padung?” or “Asa ka muadto?”.

21. “Para / Diri lang” = “I’ll get off / I’ll stop here”

When riding the jeep or bus, this is what you tell the driver when you reach your destination and you want to get off.

22. “Muadto na ko / Muuna usa ko” = “I’ll get going” / “I’ll go ahead”

As mentioned earlier, there is no Cebuano term for goodbye, so you may also use the Cebuano phrases “Muadto na ko” (I’ll get going) or “Muuna sa ko” (I’ll go ahead).

23. “Muuli na ko” = “I’m going home”

You can use this if you want to go home. See sample conversation below:

“Asa ka padung?” (Where are you going?)
“Muuli na ko.” (I’m going home.)

24. “Tagpila ang pliti?” = “How much is the fare?”

Ask this if you don’t know how much to pay for the fare.

25. “Wala ko kabalo!” = “I don’t know!”

If you are being asked and you don’t know the answer, this is what you say.

Bisaya words and phrases for shopping and buying

cebu pasalubong

26. “Ayo!” = “Hello!”

This is not the usual hello when you greet someone. It is specifically used when you call the attention of the store attendant, especially when nobody is around.

27. “Papalita ko / Mupalit ko” = “I’ll buy”

When someone is already there, you can say this if you want to buy something. You may add the item you are buying like this: “Mupalit ko ug tubig” (I’ll buy water).

28. “Unsa ni? / Unsa na?” = “What’s this? / What’s that?”

“Unsa” means “what”, and you add “ni” when you refer to “this”, and “na” for “that”.

29. “Tagpila?” = “How much?”

Use this Bisaya word when you want to know the price of something.

30. “Pila tanan?” = “How much is the total bill?”

If you want to know the total price or bill, you say this Cebuano phrase.

31. “Mubayad ko” = “I’ll pay”

And when you already paid, you can change “mu” to “ni” as in “Nibayad na ko!” (I already paid!).

32. “Pwede muhangyo?” = “Can you give me a discount? / Can I ask for a favor?”

Say this when you want to haggle in the market. You can also use these Bisaya words when you ask a favor from someone.

33. “Kuha lang” = “Just get it”

“Kuha” or “kuhaa” means to get or take. Sometimes, when you buy from a store, the attendant will inform you to grab or get the item yourself.

Cebuano words and phrases for food and eating

Cebuano words and phrases for eating
Our feast at House of Lechon | © Chill and Travel

34. “Mangaon ta!” = “Let’s eat!”

When the food is ready, you usually make this Cebuano remark to invite the people around you to eat. It’s a sign of courtesy even though they will most likely refuse.

35. “Gutom na ko!” = “I’m already hungry!”

Need we say more? Just don’t be “hangry” when saying this Cebuano phrase.

36. “Gusto na ko mukaon!” = “I want to eat!”

When you’re feeling hungry, you say this when you want to eat already.

37. “Kalami / Lami!” = “Delicious!”

You may also add “kaayo” (very) and make it “lami kaayo” (very delicious). 

Example: “Lami kaayo ang Cebu delicacies, labi na ang lechon!” (The Cebu delicacies are very delicious, most especially lechon!)

38. “Kaon pa!” = “Eat more!”

Use this phrase when you offer more food to your guests or food buddies.

39. “Busog na ko!” = “I’m already full!”

If you don’t want to eat anymore, this is what you use to refuse the offer.

40. “Dili na ko!” = “I don’t want anymore”

This is another way to say you’ve already had enough food. Be sure to utter “salamat (thank you) after.

41. “Wala na koy gana” = “I lost appetite / interest”

This does not only apply to food. You also say this when you lose interest in a certain activity.

42. “Mag-ampo ta!” = “Let’s pray!”

It is a custom here to pray before meals.

43. “Asa ko mulingkod?” = “Where do I sit?”

You ask this if you don’t know where to sit, especially when there’s a gathering or feast.

So, which of these Cebuano or Bisaya words and phrases are easy to remember?

As you interact more with the locals, you’ll discover deep Bisaya words and phrases that will surely come in handy.

Traveling to other parts of the Philippines? You might want to learn Filipino, Hiligaynon, and Waray, too!

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