Bisaya & Cebuano Phrases You Should Know When Visiting Cebu

Bisaya Cebuano Phrases You Should Know When Visiting Cebu

Cebu island is definitely on the go-to lists of destinations for thrill-seeking adventurers. Garnering millions of foreign tourists from all over the world and all over the country. Given that Cebu’s language is distinct from Filipino, the national language, the language barrier between locals and tourists tends to grow taller as more visitors arrive from across the world.

It’s hard to get your message across when you speak to locals and they barely understand a word you say. Luckily, most Cebuanos speak English and Tagalog to cater to tourists. But saying phrases in Cebuano or Binisaya language not only makes your message clearer, it also lets Cebuanos feel the importance of their language and the history it bears.

Greeting in Bisaya

Greeting first is a good ice-breaker for tensed-up locals that are nervous to talk with you when you want to ask them about something. Here are some basic phrases that you can use when interacting as a tourist in Cebu.

English: Good morning!
Bisaya: Maayong buntag!

English: Good noon!
Bisaya: Maayong udto!

English: Good afternoon!
Bisaya: Maayong hapon!

English: Good evening!
Bisaya: Maayong gabii!

English: How are you?
Bisaya: Kumusta man ka?

Cebuanos also have a word when you knock on someone’s door or when you want to buy something from your neighborhood sari-sari store;


It’s an elision of the word Maayo from the Bisaya greeting phrases and is used any time of day when knocking.

Saying Thanks in Bisaya

To let the locals know that you’re grateful for their help, it’s better to say it in their own language. It makes them feel more appreciated.

English: Thank you so much.
Bisaya: Salamat kaayo.

Got Lost, Need Directions?

Traveling in new places, getting lost is not uncommon. When your GPS leads you the wrong way or your phone’s dead and you need to get back to your hotel, asking locals is the best shot in finding your way.

English: I’m lost, can you help me?
Bisaya: Nasaag ko, pwede ko nimo tabangan?

English: Where is SM City Cebu?
Bisaya: Asa ang SM City Cebu?

Cebu has a transport system that follows regular routes via e-jeepneys or e-buses. If you’re on a tight budget or can’t ride a taxi, you can ask locals what to ride when you’re in the city.

English: What can I ride to get to SM City Cebu?
Bisaya: Unsa akong sakyan padung SM City Cebu?

Bisaya directional terms:

English: Left
Bisaya: Wala

English: Right
Bisaya: Tuo

English: Front
Bisaya: Atubangan

English: Behind
Bisaya: Luyo

English: Uphill/Upward
Bisaya: Pasaka

English: Downhill/Downward
Bisaya: Padulhog

How to compliment a Cebuano

Compliments, even the little ones, go a long way. More often than not, it makes someone’s day. Cebubanos appreciate tourists expressing compliments using bisaya, so be  sure to learn a phrase or two.

English: This food is delicious!
Bisaya: Lami kaayo kini’ng pagkaon!

English: You’re handsome.
Bisaya: Gwapo ka.

English: You’re beautiful.
Bisaya: Gwapa ka.

Of course, we won’t forget the magical phrase for our foodie tourists out there.

English: Where’s the best place to eat?
Bisaya: Asa nindot mukaon?

Do not be confused with this words if you speak tagalog

Some bisaya words may sound familiar for tagalog-speaking tourists, but they don’t share the same meaning with their tagalog counterparts. Here are some words that make tagalog-tongued tourists raise their eyebrows when they hear it.


This word is controversial for the people living in the Katagalugan area. Libog means one of the deadly sins tagalog, Lust. But don’t get confused because in bisaya, it means confused.


People speaking in Tagalog might recognize this word as wound. But sugat in bisaya translates to the verb meet.


Tagalog-speaking children love to hear this word because it usually means forgiveness and being friends again. I’m sorry to disappoint but Bati means ugly in bisaya. Unta dili ka maglibog. (I hope you don’t get confused.)

Language helps express our thoughts to another. But sometimes, language is inessential when you share moments with people that share the same goal and desire with yours.

We hope that this article will help you when you set foot in the Queen City of the South. But if it isn’t, just nod and smile. Daghang salamat sa pagbasa!

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