When I was a child, my music teacher introduced us to a foreign song about the love for language. This was the very first time I learned how to say the words “I love you” in another language. I was really fascinated. As a 10-year old Filipino, it was one of my dreams to speak another language aside from the ones I have grown up speaking. I sang that song dozens of times. In Filipino, there are three ways to say “I love you” and they are “mahal kita,” “minamahal kita” or “iniibig kita.” These three lovely statements, I can repeat with great feelings of love or “pagmamahal.”

In the Philippines, when referring to “love” in reference to ones feelings, the word “mahal” is used. An example of this is “mahal ko siya” which can mean either: I love him / I love her. But if one is referring to love in the sense of liking something then you could use the word “gusto.” For instance, the phrase “gusto ko ito” would mean “I love this” as in “I like this.”

In the country, courtship (pagliligawan, panliligaw) is still very much observed. A man who is in love may at times go to great lengths for the woman he adores. To express his love or “pagmamahal,” the man customarily visits the woman’s family home and brings her a bouquet of flowers and some form of gift. He will also have to talk to the woman’s parents to show his respect and to lay down his intentions for their daughter. A tradition that is rarely practiced nowadays in my country is the man rendering his services to the family of the woman he wants to marry. This is referred to as “labor of love” and might include such things as doing handyman work for the woman’s family.

When the man proves to the family that he is worthy of marrying their daughter, he can then ask for her hand in marriage. Traditionally this event is called “pamamanhikan,” and is marked by an event before marriage where the future son-in-law’s family and relatives visit the soon to be daughter-in-law’s family. The man and his family often bring a favorite food and delicacies for the bride-to-be. This is also the time where the man and woman’s family socialize and both families get to know each other better.

In the Philippines, in the past, more women stayed home and took care of the children and did the household chores while the man went to work to bring home the bread and butter. However nowadays, for economic reasons or by choice you will find that greater numbers of married women work to help with the family finances.

All over the world, love, marriage and family are highly valued. This is also true in the Philippines. In Tagalog (Filipino) language the word for marriage is “kasal” whereas the word for “love” is “pagmamahal” and the common ways to say I love you include: “mahal kita,” “minamahal kita” or “iniibig kita.”

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Read more about the word for love in Tagalog and also learn Tagalog words

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