Posted by: annpeace | December 13, 2008


So what is Kumusta?

Kumusta is a Filipino greeting which means “How are you?”  For the Tagalogs, it comes with a “po”Kumusta po or Kumusta po kayo. In Cebuano, we usually say it Kumusta na ka while in some dialects, kamusta. It is used to start a conversation, or to say something when there is nothing else to say, or well, to greet.  As for me, it is the most difficult greeting to reply to.

I don’t usually like it when somebody asks me or tells me Kumusta, especially when it goes alone and when it does not seem to be addressed to me – “Hi, kumusta?”(That so sounds like you’re talking to an anonymous text mate!). Much more if it’s coming from someone who actually knows me anyway. Send to all?

For one thing, it is becoming mechanical making it sound untrue (it’s like asking just for the heck of it) and for another, the one who asks it surely knows the answer is “OK ra”.

I myself do not like asking people how they are unless I do mean to ask a person how she or he is.  But it does make a difference when one says though, “Hello ___, kumusta man ang work (How’s work)? Kumusta ang blah blah blah”. To include the name and to ask how specific aspects in your life go lessen the robotic sound of the greeting.  Does that sound demanding?

Bottom line is, a greeting, even how passé, will mean something with sincerity and personal “touch”.  So maybe we could just forgive Kumusta after all.

If I may borrow KC Concepcion’s line in For the First Time (trailer): “Kailangan mo munang magmukhang sorry, bago kita makausap ulit. (You have to look sorry first before I would talk to you again)” 😉

Telling kumusta to acquaintances or new found friends is a totally different story.  Kumusta is still the best Filipino greeting in general.

More about Cebuano and Filipino Culture here.

Just some new thoughts on this:

In an attempt to study about discourse analysis, I have found a more not layman’s explanation of language usage.  Greetings like kumusta among others are examples of interactional language which are used not to convey information but primarily to build and maintain social relationships.  In contrast is the transactional language. This explains why when you are asked kumusta, you don’t really need to say everything about how you really are…just a great way to start good conversations. 😉



  1. […] Don’t English Me, I’m not School muses on the usage of the word kumusta, a Filipino greeting which means “How are you?” Posted by Karlo Mongaya  Print version Share This […]

  2. I agree, much people just use kumusta as a means of greeting, but not really wanting to know how that person is. As sometimes I have replied with more than “I’m OK” and I get a puzzled look of “what? too much information dude…”

    I rather that people just say hello and nod their head up or raise their eyebrow if they only want to say hello rather than using kumusta.

  3. Why does it bother you when people extend informal greetings (like Kumusta? Ça va? How are you? How ya doin’? Como esta? O genki desu ka? Yak spravi? Kiddaan? Jak leci? Wha’hapin in? Ti kaneis?)?

    While it may be true that folks who extend such greetings don’t really want to know how you are feeling that very moment, they are, assuredly, just being nice and acknowledging your presence. Social convention suggests that you respond just as nicely and decently.

    Since some of you would prefer a mere “hello” as infomal greeting, can any of you kindly translate this word in Filipino (or even Tagalog)?

    I bet you can not. Oh, by the way…..


    • To quote, “Bottom line is, a greeting, even how passé, will mean something with sincerity and personal ‘touch’. So maybe we could just forgive Kumusta.”

      it’s a matter of context. And i’m fine thank you – in Cebuano, “Maayo man, salamat!” 🙂

  4. Hi Ann. I’m visiting your site!
    But really, that weird feeling goes with me too with or without the next phrases. It’d more of pisses me off. Nyahaha! But I think it’s more of my personality than psyching people whether they truly mean to get an answer or not. Then, I normally just say nothing.

    I’m the freak, remember?

    In case you don’t know me….uhmm…you know me.

    • thanks for dropping by “eve”! well, yeah of course, i know you then i don’t then i do… 😉 one sure thing, you’re a good writer. hehehe… peace.

  5. nakahuna huna sab ko kabahin anang “kumusta” para nako, kaning “kumusta” wala ni sya niangay sa atong culture. Kun makatagbo ta og amigo, ang instinct nato kay, “oi, mag-unsa mo?” o “asa mo paingon?” dili man jud mangumusta. Nakuha ra man ni na nato sa mga spaniards. I bet pag.ari nila na.shock sila nga wala tay word para mangumusta.

    Direct to the point atong style. kun interesado jud ka mahibalo sa kahimtang sa imong higala, mangutana jud ko kun mag-unsa o asa padulong (for the western world intrusive kaayo ni apan sa ato kay natural lang) There must be a reason why our sentence structure begins with the verb and not the subject. (juan is eating – NAGKAON si Juan). we are verb oriented people (i hope wa ko nagpataka og yawit lol)

    I think ingon ana ta because our ancestors were warriors, diretsoay ba. wa juy liko-liko. how are you-im fine is bullshit. maybe thats why when we speak, isog sab ta paminawon. well,theory ra ni nako kay usahay hyper akong imagination. maybe im that desperate to know more of our past kay atong official history nagsugod ni magellan.

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