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55 Examples of
Filipino Proverbs
Updated on August 31, 2015

MM Del Rosario 
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Famous salawikain, or Filipino sayings | Source

Salawikain: Famous Sayings From the


Philippines
Filipino proverbs, or salawikain, echo the values of the
Philippines. Though they have been retold and passed down
from one generation to another, and the values and lessons
they impart to us still hold true to this day.
Here are 20 examples of Filipino proverbs with literal
translations or analgous English sayings.

Examples of Filipino (or Tagalong) Proverbs


With the English Translation
A broom is sturdy because its strands are tightly bound. —Filipino
proverb
1. A broom is sturdy because its strands are tightly bound.
Matibay ang walis, palibhasa'y magkabigkis.
People gain strength by standing together.
2. While the blanket is short, learn how to bend.
Hangga't makitid ang kumot, matutong mamaluktot.
If your blanket is too short to cover you completely with your
legs straight, bend them so that you fit. In other words, learn
how to adapt to your environment and be satisfied with what
you have. If you have less in life, learn to be frugal until you
come to the point when you can spare some money for a little
bit of luxury.
3. 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.
4. 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.
5. New king, new character.
Bagong hari, bagong ugali.
New leadership always brings new ways.

If you plant, you harvest. —Filipino proverb


6. If you plant, you harvest.
Kung may tinanim, may aanihin.
Your future will be the result of your actions today. Plan ahead.
7. Weeds are difficult to kill.
Mahirap mamatay ang masamang damo.
It can be hard to completely rid yourself of bad things or people.
8. 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.
9. 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.
10. 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. —Filipino proverb
11. 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.
12. 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.
13. What comes from bubbles will disappear in bubbles.
Ang kita sa bula,sa bula rin mawawala.
Easy come, easy go.
14. The early comer is better than the hard worker.
Daig ng maagap and masipag.
The early bird catches the worm.
15. 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. —Filipino proverb


16. 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.
17. 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.
18. 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.
19. 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.
20. 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. –Filipino pro verb
21. 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.
22. Health is wealth.
Ang kalusugan ay kayamanan.
Health is one of the most valuable possessions. Treasure and
protect it.
23. 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.
24. 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. —Filipino proverb
25. Poverty is not a hindrance to success.
Ang karukhaan ay hindi hadlang sa pagtatagumpay.
When there's a will, there's a way.
26. 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.
27. 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.
28. Seldom seen, soon forgotten.
Bihirang masilayan, agad nakakalimutan.
Out of sight, out of mind.
29. 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. —Filipino proverb


30. 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.
31. 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.
32. 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.
33. The truth hurts.
Masakit ang katotohanan.
Sometimes the truth is not what you wanted to hear.

Better late than never. —Filipino proverb


34. 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.
35. 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.
36. 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 longterm commitment. When things become
uncomfortable, you have to face the problems instead of
running away.
37. 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.

PHILIPPINE PROVERBS
What are Proverbs? Tagalog Proverbs Ilocano Proverbs
 

What are Proverbs? (Source: Philippine Literature On line)

Proverbs are called salawikain or sawikain in Tagalog or sarsarita in Ilocano. Like most proverbs
the world over, Philippine proverbs contain sayings which prescribes norms, imparts a lesson or
simply reflects standard norms, traditions and beliefs in the community. Professor Damiana
Eugenio classifies Philippine proverbs into six groups according to subject matter. These are:

(1) proverbs expressing a general attitude towards life and the laws that govern life;

(2) ethical proverbs recommending certain virtues and condemning certain vices;

(3) proverbs expressing a system of values;

(4) proverbs expressing general truths and observations about life and human nature;

(5) humorous proverbs and

(6) miscellaneous proverbs.

From her study, Eugenio observes that it is possible to formulate a fairly comprehensive
philosophy of life of the Filipino. The following proverb for instance, which is one of the most
popular, signifies the importance of looking back at one’s roots and origins. In a way, this
proverb also echoes the Filipino value of "utang na loob" or one’s debt of gratitude to those who
have contributed to his or her success.

Top
Tagalog Proverbs

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

Don't empty the water jar until the rain falls.

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

He who gives alms to the poor faces heaven.

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

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

Top
Ilocano Proverbs (Sarsarita)

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 custom
Still waters run deep. —Filipino proverbs
38. 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.
39. 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.
40. 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.
41. 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.
42. 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. —Filipino proverb


43. 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.
44. 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.
45. Spend lavishly and you end up with nothing.
Ubos-ubos biyaya, pagkatapos nakatunganga.
Do not spend frivolously.
46. 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.
47. 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. —Filipino proverb
48. 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.
49. 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.
50. 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.
51. 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.

Strength is defeated by strategy. —Filipino proverb


52. Strength is defeated by strategy.
Ang lakas ay daig ng paraan.
Even a strong opponent can be defeated by a strategy that
exploits its weaknesses.
53. 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.
54. 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.
55. 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 or Philippine proverbs are


[1] 

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 salawikain,
kasabihan (saying) and sawikain (although the latter may also
[2] [3]  [2]  [3] 

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. One notable and
[1] 

locally popular example of a Filipino proverb is this: A person who does


not remember where he (she) came from will never reach his (her)
destination. Of Tagalog origin, it conveys and urges one person to
give "importance in looking back at one’s roots and origins." The
maxim also exemplifies a Filipino value known as the "utang na loob",
one’s "debt of gratitude" to the persons who have contributed to an
individual’s success. Damiana L. Eugenio, a professor from
[1] 

the University of the Philippines, author of Philippine Proverb Lore


(1975), and who is also referred to as the "Mother of Philippine
Folklore" grouped Filipino proverbs into six categories based on the
topic expressed, namely: ethical proverbs (those that express a
general attitude towards life and the laws that govern life itself),
proverbs that recommend virtues and condemn vices, proverbs that
express a system of values, proverbs that express general truths and
observations about life and human nature, humorous proverbs, and
miscellaneous proverbs.
Usage
Philippine proverbs are further illustrated to be ornaments to language,
words of ancestors handed down from one generation to another, and
as wisdom gained from experience, which can be quoted to express a
sentiment, a statement, or an opinion. Apart from this, Filipino
proverbs are also used to prevent offending other individuals. This is
one example of such a proverb: Bato-bato sa langit, 'pag tinamaan
huwag magagalit, meaning "a stone thrown heavenward, if you get hit
on its way down, don't get mad." Equipped with the appropriate and
timely proverb, a Filipino can communicate empathy, and might be
able to convince another person leading to the closure of
an argument. Some Filipino proverbs are also intended to provide a
warning, a lecture, an advice, and as a supporting statement for a
particular viewpoint or issue.
References

1. Philippine Proverbs, What are Proverbs?, Seasite and Philippine


Literature On-line,
2. De Guzman, Maria Odulio (2005) [1968]. "Salawikain, proverbs,
kasabihan, proverb". The New Filipino-English / English-Filipino
Dictionary. National Bookstore (Mandaluyong
City). ISBN 9710817760.
3. "Proverb, maxim, saying, Salawikain, wikain, kasabihan,
sawikain". English, Leo James. Tagalog-English Dictionary. 1990.

External links
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