Babae: Filipino Woman


Filipina women seem to have acquired negative stereotypes in certain parts of the world. They are seen by many either as mail-order brides or domestic help. It would serve to be reminded that the Philippines has had two female presidents: Corazon Aquino and Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. Although most Filipinas look forward to having a family, they can also be found in all corners of Philippine society working as engineers and as teachers and in many other careers.

True, the poverty in the country has forced an inordinate number of young women to work as prostitutes and go overseas to be maids or wives of foreign men. But even these Filipinas deserve respect. Next time you meet a Filipina, don’t quickly assume she’s dying to be your sex slave, she just might have a PhD in economics! She might be a nurse at the local hospital or the owner of a small business! She could be a chemist.

The Tagalog word for ‘woman’ is babae and for ‘Filipina’ is Pilipina. Filipinos also use the slang Pinay, a word without negative connotation. It’s the female equivalent of Pinoy.

Pinay ka ba?
Are you Filipina?
Pilipina ka ba?
Are you Filipina?

Don’t assume that every Filipina is fluent in Tagalog. Although Tagalog is the basis of the Philippine national language and is taught in schools, the majority of Filipinos speak another language at home. Your Filipina friend could be Cebuana, meaning she’s more comfortable speaking Cebuano and can express herself better in it. She can converse in Tagalog, but don’t overlook her pride in her being Cebuana or an Ilocana or a member of the many other ethnic groups in the Philippines.

Cebuana ka ba?
Are you Cebuana?

Bisaya ka ba?
Are you Visayan?

Taga-saan ka?
Where are you from?

Tagasaan ka sa Pilipinas?
Where are you from in the Philippines?