Philippines Language Tips for Travelers: E-Peace, E-Knit, and Too Big

While traveling abroad, it’s a good idea to be aware of the country’s basic phrases.  Even if your pronunciation isn’t quite right, most host citizens will appreciate or otherwise be entertained by your attempts to use their language.

In the Philippines, there are common phrases like Mabuhay (mah-BOO-hi) and Salamat (sa-LA-maht) for Hello and Thank You, respectively,  but there are also other words that are handy to know:


This does not stand for digital tranquility.  It’s really ‘ipis’ but there are too many ways for an American to screw up the pronunciation.
Be aware: it means cockroach.  As in most hot climates, Filipino cockroaches can grow to be quite large.  And fly.

If a local says “e-peace” and is pointing at you, think fast.

Unless you’ve been behaving very badly, you likely have one crawling on your person.


This happened to me the other day.  A 3-inch cockroach was rapidly making a northbound expedition of my leg.


You will hear this a lot.  Contrary to what you might think, this is not a high tech fabric.


Instead, “init” means HOT.  And it is VERY INIT in the Philippines due to the humidity.

Unless you are a practitioner of Bikram Yoga, be prepared to sweat more than you ever have before while being completely still.

Follow the local’s queues.  Notice that they do not scurry about like ipis, but rather walk at a leisurely pace and keep themselves covered to avoid the blistering heat.



Too Big

A heavyset American woman traveling in the Philippines slugged a Filipino man after the third time he said, “Too big” to her.

Cool glass of waterIf a local fellow says this to you, likely in a querying tone, he is not commenting on your physical attributes.

Instead, he is likely noting your profuse sweat and politely offering to get you some water (tubig) before you collapse.

So, please don’t hit him.

Just smile and say, “yes, salamat!”

Categories: Volunteer


  • Dave says:

    Ha, funny article, you know when I was there in Jan I did not see one ipis, and it was pretty warm only in the high 80’s and I did sweat a lot.
    Hope you are enjoying yourself, see you soon

  • Wendy says:

    Hi Ruth: I love how you think and your sense of humor! Big hugs, Wendy

  • Kevin Kemp says:

    That was an impressive ipis. Salamat for the English translation. I would have totally butcher and probably insulted someone with my attempts.

    With those temperatures when is the best time to work on your projects? Early in the morning? Late in the afternoon? You must be drinking water by the gallon or litre!

    • Ruth says:

      We drink LOTS of water. If work was only conducted when it was less hot (it’s already sweltering first thing in the AM) not a lot could get done. People learn to adapt and take breaks to avoid heat exhaustion, which can sneak up on you if you’re not careful.

  • Janis E McKinstry says:

    Hi Ruth,
    I love this newsletter with the important (and fun) basic translations that we need to know if traveling to the Philippines.

    Many blessings,
    Janis E.

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