Filipino Proverbs

Filipino proverbs or Philippine proverbs are traditional sayings or maxims used by Filipinos based on local culture, wisdom, and philosophies from Filipino life. The word proverb corresponds to the Tagalog words salawikainkasabiha (saying) and sawikain (although the latter may also refer to mottos or idioms), and to the Ilocano word sarsarita. Proverbs originating from the Philippines are described as forceful and poetic expressions and basic forms of euphemisms. If used in everyday conversations, proverbs are utilized to emphasize a point or a thought of reasoning: the Filipino philosophy.

A collection of Filipino proverbs to inspire you. Wise Filipino sayings in the form of proverbs that have been passed down for generations.

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Singkil, a pre-Hispanic dance depicting the Maranao nobility.

A brave man will face a situation no matter how dreadful. – Filipino Proverbs

A broom is sturdy because its strands are tightly bound. – Filipino Proverbs

A clear conscience is far more valuable than money. – Filipino Proverbs

A clear conscience is more valuable than wealth. – Filipino Proverbs

A country without freedom is like a prisoner with shackled hands. – Filipino Proverbs

A desperate person will even hold on to a knife edge. – Filipino Proverbs

A diligent person will soon prosper. – Filipino Proverbs

A fly that lands on a carabao feels itself to be higher than the carabao. – Filipino Proverbs

A friend in need is a friend indeed. – Filipino Proverbs

A good character is more valuable than gold. – Filipino Proverbs

A good character is real beauty that never fades. – Filipino Proverbs

A long voyage begins with just one step. – Filipino Proverbs

A monkey dressed up is still a monkey. – Filipino Proverbs

A person who does not remember where he/she came from will never reach his/her destination. – Filipino Proverbs

A person who is outwardly calm has anger raging inside. – Filipino Proverbs

A sincere invitation is accompanied by a pull. – Filipino Proverbs

A tree that bears fruit is often hurled at. – Filipino Proverbs

A year’s care, a minute’s ruin. – Filipino Proverbs

A young branch can be straightened, a mature one breaks. – Filipino Proverbs

Acts tough but really a wimp. – Filipino Proverbs

Alertness and courage are life’s shield. – Filipino Proverbs

All bark no bite – Filipino Proverbs

An intelligent monkey can still be beaten. – Filipino Proverbs

An intelligent monkey can still be outsmarted. – Filipino Proverbs

As long as there is still life, there still lies hope. – Filipino Proverbs

Avoiding danger is not cowardice. – Filipino Proverbs

Avoiding danger is not cowardice. Courage without discretion is no good. – Filipino Proverbs

Bad grass does not die easily. – Filipino Proverbs

Beauty will fade, but not goodness. – Filipino Proverbs

Boldness is the fruit of hope. – Filipino Proverbs

Borrowed clothes are either too tight or too loose. – Filipino Proverbs

Caution minimizes loss. – Filipino Proverbs

Children who get everything they ask for seldom succeed in life. – Filipino Proverbs

Coincidence defeats a well-laid plan. – Filipino Proverbs

Continues little rain drops, deep river could overflow. – Filipino Proverbs

Courage without discretion is no good. – Filipino Proverbs

Don’t count the chicken until the eggs hatch – Filipino Proverbs

Don’t rush things to get better results. – Filipino Proverbs

Don’t empty the water jar until the rain falls. – Filipino Proverbs

Don’t put your trust in Fortune until you are in heaven. – Filipino Proverbs

Don’t trust in fortune until you are in heaven. – Filipino Proverbs

Even if the truth is buried for centuries, it will eventually come out and thrive. – Filipino Proverbs

Every community has its own customs and traditions. – Filipino Proverbs

Every jungle has a snake – Filipino Proverbs
Meaning – There will always be a traitor anywhere.

Every kind of animal can be tamed, but not the tongue of man. – Filipino Proverbs

Every road leads somewhere. – Filipino Proverbs

He who believes in hearsay does himself a disservice. – Filipino Proverbs

He who boasts of his accomplishments will heap ridicule on himself. – Filipino Proverbs

He who cackled is the guilty party. – Filipino Proverbs

He who does not know to look where he came from will never get to his destination. – Filipino Proverbs

He who does not love their national language is worse than a putrid fish. – Filipino Proverbs

He who gives alms to the poor faces heaven. – Filipino Proverbs

He who quits does not win, he who wins does not quit. – Filipino Proverbs

He who seeks advice seldom errs. – Filipino Proverbs

He who sowed wind, reaps a typhoon. – Filipino Proverbs

He who speaks too much works too little. – Filipino Proverbs

I have returned from where you are going, or the saying been there, done that. – Filipino Proverbs

I love cheese and Pepsi, too. – Filipino Proverbs

If a bamboo tube makes a loud sound, it is empty. – Filipino Proverbs

If it is not for there, it will never be. – Filipino Proverbs

If the horse is already dead more hay will not help it. – Filipino Proverbs

If you are going a long way, go slowly. – Filipino Proverbs

If you buy things you don’t need, you will soon be selling things you do need. – Filipino Proverbs

If you have something saved in the past, you will have something to help you in dire need. – Filipino Proverbs

If you like what you are doing, nothing is too far and no job is too hard. – Filipino Proverbs

If you make a habit of buying things you do not need, you will soon be selling things you do. – Filipino Proverbs

If you persevere, you’ll have stew. – Filipino Proverbs

If you plant, you harvest. – Filipino Proverbs

If you sow arrows, you will reap sorrows. – Filipino Proverbs

If you stash, you have something to withdraw. – Filipino Proverbs

If youre a playing safe person, then you’d sooner or later end up with nothing. – Filipino Proverbs

It is advantageous to follow advice, for you will succeed in life. – Filipino Proverbs

It is easier to dam a river than to stop the flow of gossip. – Filipino Proverbs

It is easier to pick a fruit if you go through the branches – Filipino Proverbs

It is easy to be born, it is difficult to be a human being. – Filipino Proverbs

It is easy to be human. It is hard to be humane. – Filipino Proverbs

It is never too late to offer anything that is good. – Filipino Proverbs

Laziness is the sibling of starvation. – Filipino Proverbs

Lazy people will eventually lose even their trousers. – Filipino Proverbs

Life is like a wheel, sometimes at the top, sometimes at the bottom. – Filipino Proverbs

Loyalty is more valuable than diamonds. – Filipino Proverbs

Man in need, will hold blades. – Filipino Proverbs
Meaning – If you are deprived and needy, you will do anything even if it will cost a life.

Many people count other people’s faults and ignore their own. – Filipino Proverbs

Marriage is not just a porridge that you spit out if it’s too hot. – Filipino Proverbs

Mercy resides in God; deeds are in men. – Filipino Proverbs

No bread is too hard for warm coffee. – Filipino Proverbs

No child was ever born without having been conceived. – Filipino Proverbs

No matter how long the procession, it still ends up in church. – Filipino Proverbs

No matter how much care is taken, someone will always be misled. – Filipino Proverbs

No one looks ugly to an erect penis – Filipino Proverbs
Meaning – There’s no immovable object, to an unstoppable force.

No undertaking is difficult if pursued with perseverance. – Filipino Proverbs

Noisy is the can that contains nothing. – Filipino Proverbs

Not all goodness brings sweetness. – Filipino Proverbs

Not all that is black is charcoal. – Filipino Proverbs

People who do not break things first will never learn to create anything. – Filipino Proverbs

Postpone today’s anger until tomorrow. – Filipino Proverbs

Stones hurled to the sky. Don’t get angry if you get hit. – Filipino Proverbs

Strength is defeated by (a strong) strategy. – Filipino Proverbs

Tell a lie and the truth will come to light. – Filipino Proverbs

Tell me who your father is, and I’ll tell you who you are. – Filipino Proverbs

The bitterness of studying is preferable to the bitterness of ignorance. – Filipino Proverbs

The child who is given everything he asks for usually won’t succeed in life. – Filipino Proverbs

The earth has ears, news (gossip) has wings. – Filipino Proverbs

The fly on the back of a water buffalo thinks that it’s taller than the buffalo. – Filipino Proverbs

The hardest person to wake up is the person who is already awake. – Filipino Proverbs

The higher the bamboo, the more it can be bent. – Filipino Proverbs

The noisiest drum has nothing but air inside. – Filipino Proverbs

The pain of the little finger is felt by the whole body. – Filipino Proverbs

The person who is always criticizing others is usually the one who deserves criticism the most. – Filipino Proverbs

The person who makes an error should be taught, and not made fun of. – Filipino Proverbs

The prepared beats the hardworking person. – Filipino Proverbs

The rattan basket criticizes the palm leaf basket, still both are full of holes. – Filipino Proverbs

The real hero doesn’t say that he is one. – Filipino Proverbs

The voluntary obedience of people depends on who is commanding them. – Filipino Proverbs

The wrongdoings of adults are right in the eyes of children. – Filipino Proverbs

There has never been a person who touched a pot without getting coal on their hands. – Filipino Proverbs

There is no bad food in a famine. – Filipino Proverbs

There is no bitter burnt rice to a hungry person. – Filipino Proverbs

There is no bitter crust to a hungry person. – Filipino Proverbs

There is no earthly bliss not watered by tears. – Filipino Proverbs

There’s a crocodile in every big river. – Filipino Proverbs

There’s no glory without sacrifice. – Filipino Proverbs

Thorns bury shallowly into one who walks slowly. Thorns bury deeply into one who walks fast. – Filipino Proverbs

To a dog a bone has more value than a pearl. – Filipino Proverbs

To a person who has real shame, words are oath. – Filipino Proverbs

To a person who has true humility, words are vows. – Filipino Proverbs
Meaning – One must always be true to their word and keep their promises.

Too much bragging drives away wisdom. – Filipino Proverbs

Truthfulness ensures a lasting relationship. – Filipino Proverbs

Water can wear away even the hardest rock. – Filipino Proverbs

We should always keep in mind that Love, Hope, and Faith in God, will bring us success in life. – Filipino Proverbs
Note: These are the Three P’s of Life.

What good is a palace if it’s inhabited by owls. Better a straw hut inhabited by humans. – Filipino Proverbs

What good is a something big that is still needed to be searched, if there is something small that is in your hands? – Filipino Proverbs

What good is grass when the horse is already dead? – Filipino Proverbs
What good is horse when the grass is already dead? 

What is beauty if brain is empty. – Filipino Proverbs

What is the grass for if the horse is already dead. – Filipino Proverbs

What is the use of a palace if only an OWL lives there; a nipa hut is preferable if a PERSON lives there. – Filipino Proverbs

What one learns in childhood he carries into adulthood. – Filipino Proverbs

What you sow is what you reap. – Filipino Proverbs

Whatever the tree, so is the fruit. – Filipino Proverbs

Whatever you borrowed, return or replace it, so next time they will still lend. – Filipino Proverbs

Whatever you do, think about it seven times. – Filipino Proverbs

When there’s smoke, there’s fire – Filipino Proverbs

Where there is gossip, there will be arguing. – Filipino Proverbs

Wherever the head goes, the tail will follow. – Filipino Proverbs

Wherever you find sugar, you’ll find ants. – Filipino Proverbs

Wherever you go, habit follows. – Filipino Proverbs

While the blanket is short, learn to bend. – Filipino Proverbs

While the blanket is short, learn to curl for you to fit in it. – Filipino Proverbs

You still have to eat more rice. – Filipino Proverbs
Meaning – You still have to learn more to outlast the opponent.

You work for it but others benefited from it. – Filipino Proverbs

Filipino Proverbs

Ilocano Proverbs (Sarsarita)

Aluádam no matupraan met la ta rúpam.
Be careful that you don’t spit on your own face.

Aniánto pay serbí diay rúot no natáyto met diay kabálion?
Of what use is grass when the horse is dead? (said to misers)

Awán kas iti sursúro a sanikuá, ta daytá awán makatákaw kenká.
Knowledge is wealth that can’t be stolen.

Awan lalaki nga natured wenno nabaneg no ti babai ti sanguanan agsainnek.
No man is brave in the presence of a crying woman.

Awan libég a di aglitnáw.
There is no muddy water that doesn’t clear (One can always change one’s ways)

Awán ti ngumáto a dínto bumabá.
What goes up must come down.

Di pay nalúto ti pariá simmagpáw ti karabása.
The bittermelon is not yet cooked and the squash jumped in (who asked you to join in?)

Kugtár ni kabaián, ilot ni kalantangan.
The kick of a female carabao, the massage of the male. (women can’t hurt men physically)

Mabiág ti kalkalsáda, matáy ti koskosína.
Captivating in the street, dead in the kitchen (lady who dresses beyond her means)

Matáy ti agur-úray, mabiág ti paur-úray.
He who waits dies, he who makes others wait lives.

Naim-imbág ti matáy ta malipátanen ngem ti agbiág a maibabaín.
It’s better to be dead and forgotten than to live in shame.

Nalpás ti áni, awán ti garámi.
After the harvest, there’s no hay. (Deeds cannot be undone)

No addá sabsábong, agaarák dagití kulibangbáng.
Where there are flowers there are butterflies (young women attract young men)

No agtúdo, matuduán ámin a táo.
When it rains, everyone gets wet (gifts must be given to all)

No aniá ti imúlam, isú ti apítem.
Whatever you sow, you reap.

No awán ti ánus, awán ti lámot.
If there is no patience, there will be no food.

No sáan nga makaammó nga nangtaliáw ti naggapuánna, saán a makadánon ti papanánna.
He who does not look back to his origins will not reach his destination.

No trabáho, gulpién, no kanén, in-inúten.
If it’s work, do it fast. If it’s food, eat it little by little.

Perdisión bagás, agráman tuyo.
Rice is wasted, even the bran. (said when everything ventured is lost)

Puráwto ti wáken, nangísittó diay kannawyen.
The crow will turn white and the heron black (said to express impossibility)

Saánmo a mapadára ti awán dárana.
You cannot squeeze blood out if there’s none left. (said by a debtor)

Sabali nga ili, sabali nga ugali.
Different towns have different customs.

Sasáor banbannóg no sabáli ti aglamlámot.
Useless labor if someone else eats from it (said if another reaps benefits of your work)

Tay áso nga taol nga taol saán a makakagát ken makadunor.
Barking dogs seldom bite.

Ti agkuták, isú’t nagitlóg.
He who cackles laid the egg (he who talks first is the guilty party).

Ti agmúla, agápit.
He who sows, reaps.

Ti agsíli magasángan, ket ti agiggém ti bánga maugingan.
He who eats chili gets burned and he who touches the pot gets charcoal on his hands.

Ti bassít a káyo nalaká a lintegén, ngem no dakkél narigáten.
A young tree is easy to straighten, but when it’s big it is difficult.

Ti kabálio no bulbuloden, ti ngípenna di kitkitáen.
When a horse is borrowed, don’t look at its teeth (don’t criticize what you borrow)

Ti kamátis, di agbúnga ti manggá.
The tomato plant doesn’t grow mangos. (A good person doesn’t come from a bad family)

Ti kukuá masapúlan ngem ti pintas saán.
Wealth can be acquired but beauty cannot.

Ti madí a pagbagbagaán agturóng ití pagrigátan.
He who refuses advice will end up in hardship.

Ti nalaká ti pannakasápulna, nalaká met ti pannakapúkawna.
What is easily acquired is easily lost.

Ti napíli makapíli ti kuggangí.
He who is choosy often picks the worst.

Ti napudpudno a gayyémmo, am-ammontó no addáka ití pelígro.
A true friend is known in time of need.

Ti táo a manákem, dína makíta ti panagdissó ti sakána ití dagá.
Kitáenna ketdi ti sumarunó a baddekánna.
A wise man doesn’t see his foot on the ground, he watches his next step.

Ti táo nga mannaríta, awán ti ania nga magapuánanna.
A man that talks too much accomplishes little.

Ti ubing nga matungpal amin a kayatna, awan ti nasayaat a banagna. 
A child that is given everything will rarely succeed in life.

Ti útang mabayádan, ngem ti naimbág a nákem saán.
A debt can be paid, but a kind act cannot.

Uray isubsúbomon, mateppáyto láeng.
Even if you put it in your mouth, it can fall out (it is not unconditionally yours)

Uray kukuá a tawíden, no addá la ket naimbág a nákem.
One need not inherit wealth if he inherits good manners.

Uray naáta tay tungo, no maisungród, sumgedtó.
Even if the firewood is green, it will burn when lit (man and women together will eventually be attracted to each other)

Yánud ti danúm ti matmatúrog nga udáng.
A sleeping lobster is carried away by the current.

Filipino Proverbs

English to Tagalog

  • A broom is sturdy because its strands are tightly bound.
    • Matibay ang walis, palibhasa’y magkabigkis.
      People gain strength by standing together.
  • While the blanket is short, learn how to bend.
    • Hangga’t makitid ang kumot, matutong mamaluktot.
      Learn how to adapt to your environment and be satisfied with what you have.
  • It is hard to wake up someone who is pretending to be asleep.
    • Mahirap gisingin ang nagtutulog-tulugan.
      While it is easy to tell people something they do not know, it is much harder if they are willfully choosing not to see what is before them.
  • If you persevere, you will reap the fruits of your labor.
    • Pag may tiyaga, may nilaga.They don’t call them the fruits of labor for nothing. Hard work and perseverance are needed to reach your goals. But if you keep trying, one day you will enjoy the results of your efforts.
  • New king, new character.
    • Bagong hari, bagong ugali.
      New leadership always brings new ways.
  • If you plant, you harvest.
    • Kung may tinanim, may aanihin.
      Your future will be the result of your actions today. Plan ahead.
  • Weeds are difficult to kill.
    • Mahirap mamatay ang masamang damo.
      It can be hard to completely rid yourself of bad things or people.
  • Don’t trust strangers.
    • Huwag kang magtiwala sa di mo kilala.
      This is self-explanatory—you can never be sure that people you don’t know truly have your well-being in mind. Don’t put yourself in their hands.
  • Nothing destroys iron but its own corrosion.
    • Walang naninira sa bakal kundi sariling kalawang.
      Iron is known for its strength, but it can destroy itself when exposed to certain conditions. Similarly, even a strong person can be undone by his or her own actions or habits.
  • Even though the procession is long, it will still end up in church.
    • Pagkahaba-haba man daw ng prusisyon, sa simbahan din ang tuloy.
      Some things are inevitable. This proverb specifically refers to a couple that seems destined to marry, even if it takes a long time.
  • There is no need to cry over spilt milk.
    • Magsisi ka man at huli wala nang mangyayari.
      There is no point in wasting emotion over something that has already happened and can’t be changed.
  • Opportunity only knocks once: Grab it or you’ll lose it.
    • Ang pagkakataon sa buhay ay madalang dumating. Kapag narito na, ating samantalahin.
      This is another proverb that means exactly what it says. Don’t live with regret because you thought the opportunity would come again.
  • What comes from bubbles will disappear in bubbles.
    • Ang kita sa bula,sa bula rin mawawala.
      Easy come, easy go.
  • The early comer is better than the hard worker.
    • Daig ng maagap and masipag.
      The early bird catches the worm.
  • A rolling stone gathers no moss.
    • Batong pagulong-gulong, di kakapitan ng lumot.
      A person who does not settle in one place cannot gather possessions, wealth, status, or commitments.
  • If someone throws stones at you, throw back bread.
    • Kung pukulin ka ng bato, tinapay ang iganti mo.
      Instead of looking for revenge, show love and forgiveness.
  • Don’t count chicks until the eggs are hatched.
    • Huwag magbilang ng sisiw hanggang di pa napipisa ang itlog.
      Eggs are extremely delicate, and not all of them go on to become chickens. Don’t act on the assumption that you have something before actually do.
  • If a stone thrown upward hits you, don’t take offense.
    • Batu-bato sa langit, tamaan huwag magagalit.
      If you perceive criticism in something that was not directed at you, you shouldn’t take offense because you deserve it.
  • A thief hates a fellow thief.
    • Ang magnanakaw ay galit sa kapwa magnanakaw.
      A thief may hate another thief for many reasons. One thief makes life more difficult for the other and also acts as a reminder of his or her own wrongdoing. No matter the explanation, that hatred is hypocritical.
  • Whatever you do, think about it seven times.
    • Anuman ang gagawin, pitong beses iiipin.
      Think before you leap. Often, if you give yourself some time, you can save yourself from making foolhardy decisions.
  • A person who does not remember where he came from will never reach his destination.
    • Ang hindi lumingon sa pinanggalingan, hindi makakarating sa paroroonan.
      It’s important to look back at your roots and show gratitude to those who came before you. It is because of them that you are where you are today.
  • Health is wealth.
    • Ang kalusugan ay kayamanan.
      Health is one of the most valuable possessions. Treasure and protect it.
  • Life is like a wheel: Sometimes you’re up, and sometimes you’re down.
    • Ang buhay ay parang gulong, minsang nasa ibabaw, minsang nasa ilalim.
      You will have good times and bad times.
  • He who does not love his mother tongue is worse than a rotten fish.
    • Ang hindi marunong magmahal sa sariling wika, ay mahigit pa sa mabaho at malansang isda.
      Honor your origins and the language of your ancestors.
  • Poverty is not a hindrance to success.
    • Ang karukhaan ay hindi hadlang sa pagtatagumpay.
      When there’s a will, there’s a way.
  • Imitate the rice stalk: The more grains it bears, the lower it bows.
    • Ang palay ay parisan, habang nagkakalaman ay lalong nagpugpugay.
      The more you acquire, the more humble and respectful you should become.
  • A quitter never wins; a winner never quits.
    • Ang umaayaw ay di nagwawagi, ang nagwawagi ay di umaayaw.
      To be successful, you must try until you reach your goal.
  • Seldom seen, soon forgotten.
    • Bihirang masilayan, agad nakakalimutan.
      Out of sight, out of mind.
  • No pain, no gain.
    • Walang tiyaga, walang nilaga.
      Just as your muscles must become sore before they become strong, sacrifices must be made in order to achieve goals.
  • You cannot pull hair from the bald.
    • Wala kang masasabunot sa kalbo.
      You cannot draw blood from a stone. In other words, you expect a person to give something he or she does not have. This also applies to appealing to an emotion that a person does not have—for example, asking an uncharitable person for money.
  • Even a log soaked in water will burn if it is placed near a fire.
    • Kahoy mang babad sa tubig, kapag nadarang sa apoy sapilitang magdirikit.
      Anyone will react when placed in the correct conditions.
  • United, we stand; divided, we fall.
    • Magsama-sama at malakas, magwatak-watak at babagsak.
      When a group of people work toward the same cause, they have strength. However, if they are not working together, each voice is weakened.
  • The truth hurts.
    • Masakit ang katotohanan.
      Sometimes the truth is not what you wanted to hear.
  • Better late than never.
    • Huli man daw at magaling, naihahabol din.
      Even if you should have already done something in the past, there is value in completing it today.
  • A sleeping shrimp is carried away by the current.
    • Ang tulog na hipon, tinatangay ng agos.
      You snooze, you lose. If you aren’t paying attention, you won’t have any control over the outcome.
  • Marriage is not a joke. It is not like food that you can spit out when it is too hot to chew.
    • Ang pag-aasawa ay hindi biro, ‘di tulad ng kanin, Iluluwa lung mapaso.
      Marriage is a long term commitment. When things become uncomfortable, you have to face the problems instead of running away.
  • You will know a true friend in time of need.
    • Ang matapat na kaibigan, tunay na maaasahan.
      A true friend will stand by you even when you have nothing to offer him or her.
  • Still waters run deep.
    • Kapag and dagat ay tahimik, asahan mo at malalim.
      Babbling brooks and white water rapids show motion on the surface of the water because there are rocks just beneath the surface. In contrast, a deep river will appear to have a more still surface. Similarly, people who appear very calm on the outside may have strong passions beneath the surface.
  • Emulate what is good; ignore what is bad.
    • Pulutin ang mabuti, ang masama ay iwaksi.
      This proverb means exactly what it says—when you see something that’s done in an upstanding and excellent manner, imitate it.
  • Nobody who spits upward does not spit on his face.
    • Walang lumura sa langit na di sa kanyang mukha nagbalik.
      Those who disrespect others disrespect themselves.
  • Of what use is the grass when the horse is already dead.
    • Aanhin pa ang damo kung patay na ang kabayo.
      This is another way of saying that something is too little, too late.
  • A man that talks too much accomplishes little.
    • Maraming salita, kulang sa gawa.
      People who spend their time doing what they say they will have less need to talk about it. Actions are worth more than words.
  • Every pot has a matching lid.
    • Walang palayok na walang kasukat na tungtong.
      Everybody has someone out there who’s a perfect fit for his or her personality. Love just takes time before people meet their match.
  • Easier said than done.
    • Madaling sabihin, mahirap gawain.
      To say that you will do something takes very little energy. Actions are more difficult to accomplish.
  • Spend lavishly and you end up with nothing.
    • Ubos-ubos biyaya, pagkatapos nakatunganga.
      Do not spend frivolously.
  • While there is life, there is hope.
    • Habang may buhay, may pag-asa.
      Never give up. There is always a chance of a recovery until the end.
  • Anything that is heavy can be light if we put our resources together.
    • Ang mabigat ay gumagaan, kung pinagtutulungan.
      Many hands make light work.
  • An empty container makes a lot of noise.
    • Ang lalagyang walang laman ay maingay.
      Which will make more noise: a jar that contains one marble or a one that is packed full with marbles? Similarly, a person who doesn’t know what he or she is talking about will often put on more of a show than someone who relies on facts. Another way to interpret this is that a hollow container makes more noise when struck than a full one.
  • In every forest , there is a snake.
    • Lahat ng gubat ay may ahas.
      Everywhere you go, there will be people who should not be trusted.
  • Before you point out others people’s shortcomings, correct your own first.
    • Bago ka bumati ng sa ibang uling, uling mo muna ang iyong pahirin.
      Don’t criticize people for what you do yourself.
  • He who takes a lot of risks loses more than he can gain.
    • Naghangad ng kagitna, isang salop ang nawala.
      Be cautious when you make decisions with a lot to lose.
  • Stregth is defeated by strategy.
    • Ang lakas ay daig ng paraan.
      Even a strong opponent can be defeated by a strategy that exploits its weaknesses.
  • No crime is left unpunished.
    • Walang salang hindi pinagbabayaran.
      What goes around comes around. In other words, karma will make sure that a wrongdoer gets what’s coming to him or her.
  • Speech is silver but silence is golden.
    • Pananalita’y pilak, ngunit ang katahimikan ‘y ginto.
      While eloquence is impressive, sometimes being a trustworthy person who is silent at the right times is more valuable.
  • The pain of the little finger is felt by the whole body.
    • Ang sakit ng kalingkigan, sakit ng buong katawan.
      The world is connected—an injustice or disservice to one person impact more than just that person.

Filipino Proverbs

Tagalog to English

The Filipino (Tagalog) word for ‘proverb’ or ‘maxim’ is salawikain, with the additional connotation of wisdom being passed down from your ancestors, which is a beautiful way to think of proverbs. The Filipino culture is a very pragmatic and resigned one that assumes hardship – but also assumes ultimate victory once that hardship is survived. Many of their proverbs are concerned with this concept of enduring what must be endured.

  • Ang pag-aanak ay walang kabuluhan, kung ang magiging bunga’y palalabuyin lamang.
  • Kung ano ang gapang ng alimangong matanda, ay siya ring gapang ng alimangong bata.
  • Anak na di paluhain, ina ang patatangisin.
  • Ang marunong na anak ay ligaya ng ama, ang perhuwisyong anak ay pasanin ng ina.
  • Sa inahing mapagkupkop, di man anak sumusukob.
  • Hindi magbubunga ng santol ang mabulo.
  • Kung sino ang minamahal, siyang pinahihirapan.
  • Anak na pinaluluha, kayamanan sa pagtanda.
    A child made to cry is wealth in old age.
    (A disciplined child will serve his parents well in their old age.)

  • Anak na palayawin, ina ang patatangisin.
    A spoiled child will cause his mother anguish.
  • Ang taong nagigipit, sa patalim kumakapit.
    A desperate person will grab the sharp blade of a knife.
  • Ang taong walang kibo, nasa loob ang kulo.
    A quiet person has anger boiling inside.
  • Sa taong walang takot, walang mataas na bakod.
    To a person without fear, there is no such thing as a high fence.
  • Gaya gaya puto maya, ipakain sa buwaya.
    Copycats should be fed to alligators.
  • Taong di marunong sumangguini, may dunong ma’y namamali.
    A person who does not seek advice will make mistakes though wise.
  • Walang mahirap gisingin gaya ng nagtutulog-tulugan.
    No one’s harder to wake up than someone pretending to be asleep.
  • Ang manamit ng hiram, sa daan hinuhubaran.
    If you wear something borrowed, you can be stripped naked in the streets.
  • Kung nagbibigay ma’t mahirap sa loob, ang pinakakain ay di mabubusog.
    Giving grudgingly will not appease the hunger of the one you’re feeding.
  • Kung sino ang unang pumutak, siyang nangitlog.
    Whoever cackles first is the one who laid the egg. (Guilty!)
  • Kung sino pa ang anluwage ay siyang walang itak.
    It is the carpenter who has no bolo knife.
  • Malakas ang loob, mahina ang tuhod.
    Bold of heart, but weak-kneed.
  • Ang pili nang pili, natatama sa bungi.
    The choosy one ends up with the worst.
  • Batong buhay ka man na sakdal ng tigas, sa patak ng tubig lamang naaagnas.
    The hardest stone you may be, but you will only be eroded by drops of water.
  • Nagpapakain ma’t masama sa loob, ang pinakakain hindi nabubusog.

  • Ang tunay na pag-anyaya, dinadamayan ng hila.
    English translation: A sincere invitation is augmented by a pull.
  • Nasa Diyos ang awa, nasa tao ang gawa.
    English translation: God helps those who help themselves.
  • Bago mo sabihin at gawin, makapitong iisipin.
    English translation: Before you say and do, think about it seven times.
  • Kung di ukol, di bubukol.
    English translation: If it isn’t related to the matter at hand, it’s irrelevant.
  • Kung walang tiyaga, walang nilaga.
    English translation: Without perseverance, there is no reward.
  • Habang maikli ang kumot, matutong mamaluktot.
    English translation: When the blanket is short, learn to curl up under it.
  • Kapag apaw na ang takalan, kailangan kalusan.
    English translation: When the pot runs over, you need to level the water off.
  • Kung may isinuksok, may madudukot.
    English translation: If you stash away something, you’ll have something to take out.
  • Habang may buhay, may pag-asa.
    • Meaning: As long as there is still life, there still lies hope.
  • Kapag may usok, may apoy.
    • Translation and English equivalent: When there’s smoke, there’s fire.
    • Meaning: “There is no effect without some cause. or It is supposed that if there is a rumour, there must be some truth behind it.”
  • Ang lumalakad nang mabagal, kung matinik ay mababaw; Ang lumalakad nang matulin, kung matinik ay malalim.
    • English equivalent: More haste, less speed.
    • Meaning: “Progress with discretion. Acting hastily one is likely to forget/overlook something important, leading to grave errors or failure.”
  • Ti bassít a káyo nalaká a lintegén, ngem no dakkél narigáten.
    • A young tree is easy to straighten, but when it’s big it is difficult.
  • Ti táo nga mannaríta, awán ti ania nga magapuánanna.
    • A man that talks too much accomplishes little.
  • Mabiág ti kalkalsáda, matáy ti koskosína.
    • Captivating in the street, dead in the kitchen (lady who dresses beyond her means)
  • Ti napudpudno a gayyémmo, am-ammontó no addáka ití pelígro.
    • A true friend is known in time of need.
  • Tay áso nga taol nga taol saán a makakagát ken makadunor.
    • Barking dogs seldom bite.
  • Awán kas iti sursúro a sanikuá, ta daytá awán makatákaw kenká.
    • Knowledge is wealth that can’t be stolen.
  • No trabáho, gulpién, no kanén, in-inúten.
    • If it’s work, do it fast. If it’s food, eat it little by little.
  • Ti táo a manákem, dína makíta ti panagdissó ti sakána ití dagá. Kitáenna ketdi ti sumarunó a baddekánna.
    • A wise man doesn’t see his foot on the ground, he watches his next step.
  • Ti nalaká ti pannakasápulna, nalaká met ti pannakapúkawna.
    • What is easily acquired is easily lost.
  • Ti kukuá masapúlan ngem ti pintas saán.
    • Wealth can be acquired but beauty cannot.
  • Ti agkuták, isú’t nagitlóg.
    • He who cackles laid the egg (he who talks first is the guilty party).
  • Uray kukuá a tawíden, no addá la ket naimbág a nákem.
    • One need not inherit wealth if he inherits good manners.
  • No addá sabsábong, agaarák dagití kulibangbáng.
    • Where there are flowers there are butterflies (young women attract young men)
  • Kugtár ni kabaián, ilot ni kalantangan.
    • The kick of a female carabao, the massage of the male. (women can’t hurt men physically)
  • Puráwto ti wáken, nangísittó diay kannawyen.
    • The crow will turn white and the heron black (said to express impossibility)
  • Aniánto pay serbí diay rúot no natáyto met diay kabálion?
    • Of what use is grass when the horse is dead? (said to misers)
  • Ti kamátis, di agbúnga ti manggá.
    • The tomato plant doesn’t grow mangos. (A good person doesn’t come from a bad family)
  • Ti útang mabayádan, ngem ti naimbág a nákem saán.
    • A debt can be paid, but a kind act cannot.
  • Ti napíli makapíli ti kuggangí.
    • He who is choosy often picks the worst.
  • Nalpás ti áni, awán ti garámi.
    • After the harvest, there’s no hay. (Deeds cannot be undone)
  • Uray naáta tay tungo, no maisungród, sumgedtó.
    • Even if the firewood is green, it will burn when lit (man and women together will eventually be attracted to each other)
  • Naim-imbág ti matáy ta malipátanen ngem ti agbiág a maibabaín.
    • It’s better to be dead and forgotten than to live in shame.
  • Sasáor banbannóg no sabáli ti aglamlámot.
    • Useless labor if someone else eats from it (said if another reaps benefits of your work)
  • Ti madí a pagbagbagaán agturóng ití pagrigátan.
    • He who refuses advice will end up in hardship.
  • Ti agmúla, agápit.
    • He who sows, reaps.
  • Awan libég a di aglitnáw.
    • There is no muddy water that doesn’t clear (One can always change one’s ways)
  • Di pay nalúto ti pariá simmagpáw ti karabása.
    • The bittermelon is not yet cooked and the squash jumped in (who asked you to join in?)
  • Aluádam no matupraan met la ta rúpam.
    • Be careful that you don’t spit on your own face.
  • Uray isubsúbomon, mateppáyto láeng.
    • Even if you put it in your mouth, it can fall out (it is not unconditionally yours)
  • No agtúdo, matuduán ámin a táo.
    • When it rains, everyone gets wet (gifts must be given to all)
  • Ti kabálio no bulbuloden, ti ngípenna di kitkitáen.
    • When a horse is borrowed, don’t look at its teeth (don’t criticize what you borrow)
  • Ti agsíli magasángan, ket ti agiggém ti bánga maugingan.
    • He who eats chili gets burned and he who touches the pot gets charcoal on his hands.
  • Awán ti ngumáto a dínto bumabá.
    • What goes up must come down.
  • Saánmo a mapadára ti awán dárana.
    • You cannot squeeze blood out if there’s none left. (said by a debtor)
  • No awán ti ánus, awán ti lámot.
  • If there is no patience, there will be no food.
  • Matáy ti agur-úray, mabiág ti paur-úray.
    • He who waits dies, he who makes others wait lives.
  • No sáan nga makaammó nga nangtaliáw ti naggapuánna, saán a makadánon ti papanánna.
    • He who does not look back to his origins will not reach his destination.
  • Yánud ti danúm ti matmatúrog nga udáng.
    • A sleeping lobster is carried away by the current.
  • Perdisión bagás, agráman tuyo.
    • Rice is wasted, even the bran. (said when everything ventured is lost)
  • No aniá ti imúlam, isú ti apítem.
    • Whatever you sow, you reap.
  • Ti ubing nga matungpal amin a kayatna, awan ti nasayaat a banagna.
    • A child that is given everything will rarely succeed in life.
  • Awan lalaki nga natured wenno nabaneg no ti babai ti sanguanan agsainnek.
    • No man is brave in the presence of a crying woman.
  • Sabali nga ili, sabali nga ugali.
    • Different towns have different customs.

Filipino Proverbs

Ang taong walang pilak ay parang ibong walang pakpak.

Literal translation: A person with no silver is like a bird without wings.
Meaning: This is the ugly truth of capitalism and commercialism, they rule lives. We have to accept, I am afraid, that money makes the world go round. We live in a material world and most things cost money. Without money, we are like birds that cannot soar into the blue yonder. Money sets limitation to our way of living, to our movements, even to our idealism to a certain extent. Everywhere you turn would cost money. We all want to make our family happy but it would usually cost money. We are, therefore, constraint in our ability to do what we wish to do by lack of money. My Mother used to say to choose someone to marry who has a good job because no money, no honey. Without food on the table, love flies out of the window! I think that was a sagely advice.

Ang isip ay parang itak, sa hasa tumatalas.

Literal translation: The brain is like a knife; it is by honing that it gets sharpened.
Meaning: The brain should be nurtured by using it, feeding it with words through reading, giving it mental exercises, such as talking, listening, thinking and problem solving. Like a knife, the more the brain is licked into shape, the better functionality it will provide.

Sa taong walang takot, walang mataas na bakod.

Literal translation: To a fearless person no fence is too high.
Meaning: An overly confident person doesn’t take no for an answer. Nothing can’t be overcome! There is nothing to fear than fear itself. Fear is just a word. He has a tunnel vision in getting what he wants. Nothing can stop him to get to where he wanted to be.

Kung ano ang puno, siya rin ang bunga.

Literal Translation: A tree will bear a fruit of its kind.
Meaning: Children are reflection of their parents. It is like saying, if you want to see how your wife or girlfriend in 10 years time, look at her mother! LOL

Kung walang tiyaga, walang nilaga.

Literal translation: If you do not have patience, you do not get to enjoy boiled stew.
Meaning: Nilaga or stew takes time to cook and, therefore, to enjoy it, you need to be prepared to wait. In life there are things that are worth waiting for. You have to have patience to accomplish some things. After all Rome wasn’t built in a day. Good things come to those who wait.

Kung may tinanim, may aanihin

Literal Translation: If you planted, you get to harvest.
Meaning: If you did something, sooner or later you get to benefit from it. You get to harvest the fruit of your labour. Unfortunately is may not always be in a positive way. If you planted something third-rate, you will yield something third-rate as well. This could also mean, if you had done something wrong, one day you will get something from this wrong thing you did. So make sure to plant good things/seeds so to harvest and yield choice fruits and positive karma! 

Ang taong nagigipit, sa patalim kumakapit.

Literal Translation: A person in dire need would grasp at the blade of a knife/sword.
Meaning: A desperate person will do anything if push, even if it may mean harm or death to himself. Sometimes we are forced to make a decision or to do something, even when we obviously know that the road we are taking is a perilous one and could mean injury and even death. We would not hesitate to go ahead because we have run out of side roads to turn to. We have run out of contingency plans. We have run out of options. No more choices but to push on ahead wherever it may lead to and whatever consequences it may bear.

Ang tunay na anyaya, sinasamahan ng hila.

Literal Translation: A true invitation is coupled with a reassuring tug.
Meaning: If you are being invited to a party or other things, you would always know that it is more than lip service when the would be host/hostess would give you a reassuring hug or pull you by the hand. Or even tell you that you are most welcome and you would enjoy the shindig. If you saw a friend who was on a date with boyfriend/girlfriend and they asked you to join them, refuse at once. They are just being polite, don’t be a third wheel in a bicycle (otherwise if would be a tricycle, lol)

Pagkahaba-haba man daw ng prusisyon, sa simbahan din ang tuloy.

Literal translation: However long the procession, it will always lead to the church.
Meaning: If you are meant to be together, then delay and postponement are just mere hitches to the inevitable,which is a wedding in church.
This could also apply to life and death. Man is mortal; one day we all return to the church in a coffin.

Ang batang hindi iyakin, hindi pinakakain.

Translation: A baby who does not cry, does not get fed.
Meaning: You have to make yourself known to get noticed. This is true, gone are the days when waiting quietly in a corner is really productive. You have to bring attention to yourself to get noticed. Stand up for yourself and be counted! Don’t be a wallflower!

Habang may buhay, may pag-asa.

Literal translation: While there is life, there is hope.
Meaning: Never give up! Give a good fight to the end. Don’t let life or anything grind you down!

Nasa Diyos ang awa,nasa tao ang gawa.

Literal Translation: God has mercy to those who help themselves!
Meaning: God will show and help you find your way if you work towards what you are seeking! We cannot just keep wishing and praying for things we want, we have to work for it to get it. God is there to watch over you, not do things for you.

Lahat ng gubat ay may ahas.

Literal translation: All forests have snakes.
Meaning: Where there is good, there is also evil. It is a yin and yang. I believe that heartaches are there for a reason. To be able to feel total joy, you must know pain. Otherwise, you won’t be able to tell joy without anything to compare it with.
This can also mean what Mulder and Scully of X Files have said all along: “Trust No One”! We live in an imperfect world, where good and evil live side by side, ergo, you cannot completely trust anyone, there is always going to be a traitor somewhere who will betray you in a heartbeat.

Aanhin pa ang damo kung patay na ang kabayo!

Literal translation: What would you need the grass for when the horse is already dead!
Meaning: Carpe diem; seize the day, don’t put off till tomorrow what you can do today.
Tell your parents, children, wife, husband girlfriend, friends, etc how much they mean to you before it is too late. Everything in this world has an expiry date, when they are gone, they are gone so remember always do whatever you can to something or someone who needed your attention without delay, before it becomes too late and immaterial in the long run. Remember, you might have attained your goal by being single-minded about it, but you might have lost all those people you care about along the way trying to achieve your goal. Also remember health is wealth but it does not always mean wealth is health.

Pag may hirap, may ginhawa.

Literal Translation: When there is difficulty, there is also relief/prosperity.
Meaning: Life is like a wheel, gulong ng palad, sometimes you are on top and sometimes you are at the bottom or vice versa. This is the yin and yang of life. Never take anything for granted because fate is capricious, you might be sad one moment and absolutely ecstatic the next.
Life is not always one difficulty after another, there are also moments of great relief and total joy. Like in Cinderella’s case, after living a life of drudgery, she became a princess. It is up to us to seize that moment of prosperity and prolong it the best we can against chaos and perdition.

Ang ibinabait ng bata, sa matanda nagmula.

Literal Translation: The goodness of a child, starts from adults.
Meaning: If you want your child to be respectful, loving and tender, then as an adult you should show the child respect, love and tenderness. A child is like a sponge, he soaks up everything he sees, hears and feels from adults around him. Inspire the children to do good and live well by being a role model.

Magbiro ka sa lasing, huwag sa bagong gising.

Literal translation: Joke with a drunk but not with someone who just woken up.
Meaning: No truer word; I am so grumpy when I have just woken up especially from a nap during daytime. My virago personality takes over. Any semblance of sense of humour is absent from a still befuddled brain. Just be warned! LOL

Ang taong walang kibo, nasa loob ang kulo.

Literal translation: A quiet person is seething inside. (This is also a version of still water runs deep.)
Meaning: This is a universal observation, many countries have a version of this saying. Beware of a quiet person, deep down he might be up to something. He might not say something much but deep within he is full of rage until one day when he can’t take it anymore, he’ll go berserk.

Kung anong bukang-bibig ay siyang nilalaman ng dibdib.

Literal translation: What always comes out of the mouth is truly heart-felt.
Meaning: This means that when you talk non-stop about a person, whether he annoys you somewhat, it shows that deep inside you care about that person; you think a lot about that person.
Beware (my advice) when your boyfriend/husband/partner keeps talking about a girl/woman and then suddenly stops mentioning her, it may mean that they have gotten together.

Ang umaayaw ay di nagwawagi, ang nagwawagi ay di umaayaw.

Literal translation: Those who surrender do not win; Winners do not surrender.
Meaning: Only those who stay the course get to yield the prize. Winners do not give up, they try everything to succeed. Winner takes all! Try and try until you succeed.

Ang buhay ay parang gulong, minsang nasa ibabaw, minsang nasa ilalim.

Literal Translation: Life is like a wheel, sometimes you are on top and sometimes you are down below.
Meaning: Life is capricious. Sometimes you are so happy but there are times you are so stressed and sad. Sometimes you are doing well and yet there are also times that it feels like the end of the world. Sometimes you have more than enough money and then sometimes you can’t even afford to buy a can of Pepsi. Just make sure the wheel keeps moving and never stagnate especially when you are on a downward spiral.

Ang mabigat ay gumagaaan, kung pinagtutulungan.

Literal Translation: What is heavy ligthens when shared.
Meaning: It means that a heavy load becomes bearably lighter when other people are there to help. This could also be applicable to a problem or just something on your mind. A problem shared is a problem halved.

Mahirap gisingin ang nagtutulog-tulugan.

Literal Translation: It is hard to wake someone who pretends to be asleep.
Meaning: the literal translation is as good as any meaning.

Huwag kang magtiwala sa di mo kakilala.

Literal Translation: Do not trust those who you do not know.
Meaning: It is literal really, we can not really rely on the integrity of a stranger, someone we hardly know or just met. No matter how winsome a stranger is, you can’t give her/him your total confidence until you know them further. Everyone has a hidden agenda.

Ang pili ng pili, natatapat sa bungi.

Literal Translation: The person who is too choosy with a prospective partner often end up with the toothless.
Meaning: This means that a person who is fussy and fastidious when it comes to choosing a life partner could possibly end up with what or who is left and he/she may not be the top of the crop.
However, it is not bad to be choosy as long as you know what you want and going for it. Don’t settle for less than what you want. But if you have found what you are looking for but wanted more and more, then this is when the trouble begins.

Ang di-marunong mag-ipon walang hinayang magtapon

Literal translation: One who does not know how to save, often doesn’t care how he spends his money.
Meaning: Those who do not know how to save are those who cannot manage their money. Saving is putting some money for rainy days.

Sinimulang gawain ay tapusin mo bago gumawa ng panibago.

Literal translation: Finish what you started before commencing a new one.
Meaning: You should always concentrate on finishing what has been started before going to the next project, otherwise you will never finish anything and will come up with nothing worth talking about!

Aanhin pa ang kagandahan kung, ang utak ay walang laman.

Literal translation: What is the use of beauty if brain is empty.
Meaning: This proverb is rather old-fashioned. In today’s world, beauty is everything. You only have to look at Hollywood or even the Philippines. Rhinoplasty is now just like changing your hair-colour. Some would rather pick a new lipstick rather than a book! This is acceptable when younger, but beauty fades, therefore, sooner or later you have to rely on your brain to continue to be scintillating! Feed that brain. Read, read, read, think, think, think!

Huwag magbilang ng manok hangga’t hindi napipisa ang itlog.

Literal Translation: Don’t count your chicken until the eggs are hatched!
Meaning: Do not be too sure. Anything could affect the certainty of even the most innocuous thing! It is better to wait for the result before celebrating or stressing and worrying about a perceived problem that has not occurred or may not occur.

Ang kalusugan ay kayamanan

Literal translation: Health is wealth
Meaning: Self-explanatory really. Your health really is everything. Sometimes even good health can’t be bought by money! So look after yourself and be healthy! Eat well, exercise and do not engage in any death-defying activities. Do not smoke, do not do drugs and certainly no driving under the influence of alcohol.

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