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.