Filipino and Spanish Words: Homonyms

Scanning the Filipino dictionary shows a lot of words borrowed from Spanish. In fact, there’s more than 4,000 of them still being used in everyday conversation by the Filipinos. Most of these words have exact meaning in Spanish, with the spelling and pronunciation adopted in most cases.

However, there a few Filipino-Spanish pairs that we might have thought as “twinning”: words that seemingly look alike, and in fact spelled exactly the same, but aren’t synonyms nor related in any way.

Take a look at the list of homonyms in Filipino and Spanish:

In Spanish, lupa means “magnifying glass” that refers any object to make something look bigger, such that of binoculars, microscopes, and Sherlock Homes’ gear for mystery cases. In computer terminology, it’s also the term used for the search icon usually found in search bar or field.

In Filipino, however, it’s totally different. Lupa means “soil” or “a piece of land.” Actually, its pronunciation is a bit different from the Spanish. It’s rather pronounced as lu-pà, which is pronounced in malumi way, a type of pronunciation in Filipino language with a stress on the second syllable.

Also read: Filipino Phrases Borrowed from Spanish that You May Find Amusing

Puso is perhaps one of the most used words in the lyrics of any Filipino love song. It’s a strong powerful word with emotional value as it means “heart.” It’s so valuable that the national team’s tagline goes like “Laban Pilipinas! Puso!” which can be translated to “Philippines, flight! Fight with a heart!”

Theoretically, it’s pronounced as pu-sô, which is in maragsa way: a rapid pronunciation with a circumflex (^) on the second syllable.

Meanwhile, puso in Spanish is a simple past tense translated as “placed” or “put.” Its infinitive verb poner is conjugated irregularly.

Aside from being the capital of Peru, lima has several meanings in Spanish. It may refer to a “nail file” or a “lime.” In the Americas such as in Mexico, lima may also refer to “lemon.” This, however, isn’t widely used in Spain because they’d rather stick to limón for “lemon.”

In Filipino, lima simply means number 5. It’s pronounced as li-má, which is pronounced in a fast way with an accent on the second syllable (a type of pronunciation called mabilis).

Also read: Why Filipinos Should Also Learn Spanish Aside from English

In Spanish, pito is commonly known as “whistle,” an instrument for signaling or calling attention. It’s that tool used in sports, or by policemen, or even by Flo Rida (“Blow my whistle baby!” LOL).

Although pito may also mean “whistle” in Filipino, it has another different meaning: the number 7. It’s pronounced in a faster manner (mabilis type) as pi-tó with the stress on the second syllable.

Now that’s how you call the lucky number in Filipino!

Being a nation with hundreds of festivals, pista is a word that connotes a happy vibe for the Filipinos. It means “celebration” or “feast.” Actually, it’s a loaned word from the Spanish’ fiesta.

Feasts are commonly celebrated in towns and provinces in the Philippines. In most towns, the feast day is usually dictated by the feast day of the town’s patron saint. Aside from church-related events, a pista consists of colorful parades, street dancing, and band music.

Meanwhile, the Spanish homonym pista has a lot of meanings yet not of them are close to the meaning in Filipino. In a guessing game, one usually say: ¡Dame una pista! (Give me a clue!) as pista means “clue” in Spanish.

Do you know any other homonyms in Filipino and Spanish? Comment below!

Shelly C. Dimaculangan is a language translator in the Philippines. She finished AB Journalism at University of Santo Tomas in Manila where she took her first Spanish classes. After college, she continued learning Spanish at Instituto Cervantes de Manila. 

When in India: Jaipur

Coming off a 4-hour drive from New Delhi, I was warmly welcomed in Jaipur, the capital of the state of Rajhastan in northern India. It’s easy to fall in love with this old city, and in fact, it has to be my favorite among all those I visited in India. It used to be a walled city back then, and yet up to now it's still evident among its well-preserved walls painted in terracotta that truly makes the city very vibrant and rich in history.

Hawa Mahal
At first, I thought this was some entrance wall to a palace, but when I looked for the door, there was none. Instead, it's the back part of Hawa Mahal (Palace of the Breeze) that served as viewing balcony of the women from the royal family. Back in the day, they were not allowed to mingle with the common people, nor be seen in public. This facade served as their peepholes to view the streets especially during festivals and public events.
Looking at Hawa Mahal up close, it resembles to a honeycomb. It’s a 5-storey wall standing 50 feet with several small windows.

Entrance fee: INR 50 to enter the palace, but viewing the back area along Hawal Mahal Road is free
Open hours: 9:00AM to 4:30PM

How to get there: Hawa Mahal is in the city center. Taking an auto rickshaw (tuktuk) is very common. For short distance, it costs INR 20-50 per ride.

Amer Fort (Amber Fort)
Seeing Amer Fort’s yellow walls reminded me so much of Aladdin. Whether true or not that Aladdin was adapted in India, this fort truly gave me the majestic feel. Located on top of a hill, Amer Fort is actually a fort and a palace. It's divided into 4 sections, with each having a courtyard.

Though it may take 10-15-minute walk to ascend to the main entrance of Amer Fort, it promises a breathtaking view and there's a lot of interesting areas to check out. For a more unique experience of going up, an elephant ride is available that costs INR 500 per person.

Entrance fee: INR 500
Open hours: 8:00AM to 5:30PM

How to get there: Getting a taxi is the most convenient way to get to Amer Fort. As mentioned, since it's on top of a hill, it takes around 10 minutes to get there from the city center. Fare is around INR 200. Also, if you don't want to climb from the base nor ride an elephant, the taxi may drop you off at the Amer Fort gate.

City Palace
Located in the heart of Jaipur, the City Palace is a complex of public halls, courtyards, and temples. Museums were also added containing mostly lavishing clothing worn by the royal family and different types of firearms.
This is called the Mubarak Mahal (Welcome Palace or Auspicious Palace), which serves as the first courtyard of the City Palace. It used to be a receiving area for foreign dignitaries. It got converted into a museum with different textiles especially the clothes worn by Sawai Madhosingh II who interestingly was as heavy as 250 kg and 1.2 meters wide. He is the son of the king of Jaipur Jai Singh II.
This is the Diwan-I-Khas, or known as the Hall of Private Audience. Its color is different from other sections of the City Palace with a vivid terracotta shade.
Another notable area is called Pitam Niwas Chowk, an inner courtyard that's painted with detailed patterns and symbols. These four gates, for instance, represent the four seasons: Rose gate for winter, Green gate for spring, Lotus gate for summer, and Peacock gate for fall / autumn.

Entrance fee: INR 500
Open hours: 9:00AM to 5:00PM
Closed on Sundays and public holidays

How to get there: The City Palace is in the city center. It's very accessible by either auto rickshaw, bus, or taxi. Some drivers tend to overprice, so make sure you know the acceptable rate from your point of origin to the City Palace.

Tip: Taking photos inside the museums is not allowed.

Jantar Mantar
This observatory is truly one of a kind. Jantar Mantar is a collection of 20 life-size astronomical instruments that only require the naked eye to tell the time, locate the stars, predict solar and lunar eclipse, etc. They're so amazing to think that it was created in early 18th century.
This stone sundial is the largest in the world. It was named a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.
There are descriptions depicted on every instrument, but it's best to get a guide who can demonstrate its usage and explain it further.

Entrance fee: INR 200
Open hours: 9:00AM to 4:30PM

Tip: Jantar Mantar is near City Palace, so it can serve as side trip after going to the palace.

When in the Philippines: How to Maximize a Day in Manila

"Boring. Skip it. Not worth it" are just some of the words I hear from travelers sharing a piece of advice to co-travelers about Manila.

From a local's standpoint though, there's s actually more than what Manila has on paper.
For one, Intramuros exemplifies the long-standing history of the past. It's perhaps one of the few remaining historical places in the ever-growing city. Literally means “within the walls” in Spanish, Intramuros refers to 16th century walled city in Manila constructed during Spanish occupation in the Philippines. It was primarily built to protect the city from foreign invasion.

To maximize the day in Manila, or in Intramuros in particular, here's a suggested route to highlight important areas and points of this walled city:

Fort Santiago

Begin the Intramuros tour by entering Fort Santiago, which, back in the day,  was the military headquarters of Spanish colonial government. Many Filipinos were held in prison in the fortresses, including the national hero Jose Rizal.
The Fort Santiago main gate is a point of interest. After passing by the moat, look closely at the carvings of the gate, which is actually similar to the official flag of Spanish autonomous community Castilla y León. 

After the main gate, Plaza de Armas welcomes next that served as a public square in Intramuros. 
Meanwhile, going west leads to Rizal Shrine, where Rizal spent his last night before he got executed. In this place, he wrote his last literary piece titled Mi Ultimo Adios (My Last Farewell).

Now, it's a small museum containing numerous items used by Rizal including 2 of the most important novels written by Rizal, the Noli Me Tangere and El Filibusterismo.

After the Rizal Shrine, head to Pintong Postigo (Postigo Gate) where Rizal walked through coming off his prison  to Bagumbayan where he was shot. 

Manila Cathedral
The Manila Cathedral is one of the important churches in Manila that serves as the see of the Archbishop of Manila. This is also where all departed Manila archbishops are buried.

Interestingly, it was reconstructed 7 times due to series of typhoons and earthquake. In fact, the recent renovation took 2-3 years to get done and has proven to become resilient in the test of time.

Across Manila Cathedral is Plaza de Roma, a public square and formerly known as the Plaza Mayor of Manila. The statue of King Charles IV can be found here. Near the plaza is the Palacio del Gobernador that used to be the residence of governor-general. It's now used as the office of the Commission of Elections (COMELEC).

San Agustin Church
The grand and sophisticated San Agustin Church is considered as one of the oldest churches in Asia with a tropical baroque architecture. It was named a  World Heritage Site by UNESCO along with other 5 churches in the Philippines.

A notable area of the church is the Tomb of Miguel Lopez de Legazpi located at the left wing of the altar. De Legazpi was a Spanish navigator who led 5 ships heading the Spice Islands in the Pacific Ocean. By accident, his expedition ended up in Samar and eventually he became the first governor-general of the Philippines. He was also behind naming Manila as the capital of the country.
Another point of interest inside the church is the San Agustin Museum. Formerly a monastery, it got turned into a museum in the 1970s. This museum mostly contain religious items including huge statues of saints and the Virgin Mary. Entrance costs 200 PHP.
The Tomb of Juan Luna, a famous painter and political activist during Spanish era, can also be found inside the San Agustin Church.

Casa Manila
Nearby is Casa Manila, a typical bahay na bato (house of stone) in the Chinese parian of Manila. It's a 19th century replica house owned by a rich Chinese merchant.

Inside the house are several antique items that have been kept through the years. Entrance costs 75 PHP for adults and 50 PHP for children. It's open from 9AM-6PM daily, but closed on Mondays. 

Lunch at Ilustrado Restaurant

Cap off the day tour, Ilustrado Restaurant offers scrumptious closely authentic Spanish cuisine. They generally serve Spanish dishes where a lot of Filipino food originated and derived from. It's a mid-range restaurant with a rustic vibe located at Calle del Real Palacio in Intramuros. 

How I Went Backpacking in Laos for 5 Days with Only PHP 15K+ on Hand

Laos or Lao People's Democratic Republic is a small country in Southeast Asia. Although often overshadowed by its bordering countries Cambodia, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam, it now has a rising popularity among tourists for its rich natural resources and backpacker-friendly environment.

It may be unheard of to me some Filipinos, since at the moment, there's no direct flight from the Philippines to Laos. Nevertheless, it's country with a potential to attract Filipino adventure-goers. Aside from being visa-fee to Philippine passport holders, Laos is very safe especially to solo female travelers like me. It's also a haven for backpackers as everything is cheap and budget friendly.

I spent 5 days and 4 nights in Laos where I was able to cover two cities, Vientiane and Luang Prabang. Here's a rundown of what I did and the recommended places:

Day 1: Vientiane
Going around Vientiane, the capital of Laos, is very easy. For one, the street signs are very reliable and Lao people are also very friendly. Although some of them can't speak English, they always try their best to give directions. As general tip, Lan Xang Avenue serves as a good reference point in the city center. It's where most tourist attractions are at.

Patuxai Monument
This Europe-feel Patuxai Monument is a memorial for all the heroes of war during the French colonial period. Its architecture is notable as it resembles the Arc de Triomphe in Paris.

Entrance fee: 3,000 kip (PHP 18) if you want to climb the monument to get a 360-degree view of the city.

Presidential Palace
At the other end of Lan Xang Avenue is the Presidential Palace, which holds all important ceremonies and events of the government. Although not open to public, the exterior is a sure standout. It's a good stop for taking photos.

Entrance fee: Free

Sisaket Temple
The Wat Si Saket or Sisaket Temple is one of the oldest temples in Vientiane. It's distinctly known for the striking and yellowish color of the pillars. Several bronze and stone Buddhas can be seen around. Most locals go here in the morning to pray.

Entrance fee: 5,000 kip (PHP 30)

Day 2: Vientiane

Pha That Luang

Seeing Pha That Luang was the highlight of my short trip to Vientiane. Also known as the Great Sacred Stupa, it's the main religious monument in the capital. Buddhists believe that it contains relics (a breastbone) of Buddha. Pha That Luang is also a national symbol of Laos. In fact, an image of it is depicted in their banknotes.

Entrance fee: 5,000 kip (PHP 30)

Mekong River
What's good about Vientiane is that despite being a city, the riverside provides a relaxing suburb feel. If you've been around Southeast Asia, you probably heard of Mekong River already, a long river that flows through the Indochina peninsula. The side of Mekong River in Vientiane is a perfect spot to catch the sunset or staying until nighttime at the riverside bars and restaurants.

Entrance fee: Free

Chao Anouvong Park
Next to Mekong River is this small park featuring a huge bronze statue of Chao Anouvong, Laos’ last king from the Lan Xang Kingdom. A short stop here is nice for taking photos and marveling at the size of the statue.

Entrance fee: Free

Day 3: Luang Prabang
Luang Prabang is a province in Laos located north of the capital. It's a UNESCO Heritage Site for its rich cultural heritage. On the third day, I traveled to Luang Prabang by taking a VIP sleeper bus that left Vientiane at 8:30PM and arrived on the next day. Although it was a long 11-hour ride, I just slept the entire time. It was a safe and comfortable ride.

Mount Phousi

In the middle of downtown Luang Prabang is a 150-meter hill that they call as Mount Phousi seated between two rivers, the Mekong River and Khan River. Going up may require a 20-30-minute leg work for the 335 steps but the view from the top is breathtaking. It is a good place to catch the sunrise or sunset.

Entrance fee: 20,000 kip (PHP 122)

Luang Prabang Night Market
Starting at 6:00PM, the stretch of Sisavangvong Road gets closed for the Luang Prabang night market. Vendors slowly pull out and spread their different products that are mostly for souvenirs. Similar to night markets in Asia, it is street smart to haggle for the price. Cheap and delicious local food are also in the night market. (The Lao baguette is a must-try!)

Entrance fee: Free
* Prices of items at the night market vary. Make sure to bargain. Fridge magnets, for example, usually start at 30,000 kip (PHP183) but I was able to bring the price down to 15,000 kip (PHP 91).

Day 4: Luang Prabang

Kuang Si Falls
As said, a trip to Luang Prabang won’t be complete without seeing the natural gem Kuang Si Falls, a huge 150-meter waterfall with 3 tiers of strong and rapid water. Looking at it is like a painting that came to life, which is truly a gift from nature. A 30-minute trek to the top can let visitors swim in the mini pools located at the peak (Tip: Two trails are available. The easier trail is at the left when facing the waterfalls)

Kuang Si Falls is far from downtown Luang Prabang, so a cheap way to get there is by joining a half day group tour that's usually composed of 12-15 participants. This tour is convenient since an air-conditioned van fetches you from your accommodation. The rate usually starts at 50,000 kip (PHP 305). Another way is to get a group of 6 travelers and negotiate a two-way ride with a tuktuk driver.

Entrance fee: 20,000 kip (PHP 122)

Day 5: Luang Prabang

Old Quarter

The Old Quarter is a long street of ancestral buildings preserved through the years. Looking at this street is like traveling back in time. It's a cool place to meet backpackers as most of the restaurants, bars, and guest houses are in the area.

Entrance fee: Free

As mentioned, there's no direct flight from the Philippines to Laos yet. With that, I booked 2 flights: Manila to Kuala Lumpur and Kuala Lumpur to Vientiane. On the way back, instead of returning to Vientiane, I departed in Luang Prabang to save time and money.

I managed to spend only PHP15,000+ for this Laos trip including air fare, airport taxes, accommodations, food, transportation, and other basics. Overall, I can say that Laos is cheap especially the food. Here's a breakdown of the expenses:

Expense Details
PHP 1620
Philippine Airport Tax
PHP 700
Manila to Kuala Lumpur flight (promo fare)
PHP 2990
Kuala Lumpur to Vientiane flight (promo fare)
PHP 3300
Luang Prabang to Kuala Lumpur flight (promo fare)
PHP 1125
Kuala Lumpur to Manila flight (promo fare)
207,000 kip (PHP 1258)
Transportation in Vientiane for 2 days
105,000 kip (PHP 638)
Accommodation in Vientiane for 1 day
13,000 kip (PHP 79)
Entrance fees to attractions in Vientiane
100,500 kip (PHP 611)
Food expenses in Vientiane for 2 days
150,000 kip (PHP 912)
VIP sleeper bus to Vientiane
60,000 kip (PHP 365)
Transportation in Luang Prabang for 3 days
163,645 kip (PHP 995)
Accommodation in Luang Prabang for 3 days
50,000 kip (PHP 304)
Kuang Si Falls half day tour
40,000 kip (PHP 243)
Entrance fees to attractions in Luang Prabang
189,000 kip (PHP 1152)
Food expenses in Luang Prabang for 3 days
65,000 kip (PHP 395)

TOTAL: PHP 16,687

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