You will notice after talking with your Filipina friend that she mostly likely has a large family. There will be discussions of her parents of course, but there will also be talk of her grandmother, grandfather, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, godparents, and cousins. Oh my, there will be a lot of cousins. If you begin to count, there may be as many as 200 to 1,500 cousins.

Compare that number to about 5 cousins that a typical American has, and chances are your head will spin. Does this mean that each Filipino family has a lot of kids? The short answer is twice as many as a US family. The average Filipino family household size is 4.4 according to the government census in 2015. The US family household size was 2.5 in 2015. Don’t tell that to my mom and dad though. They had 10 of us!

Since the household size doesn’t account for the huge difference in the number of cousins that Filipinos have, there is another explanation for the large number of cousins. Filipinos count the number of 3rd and 4th cousins as their “cousins”.  Since Filipinos have extended families this makes sense. We actually know and keep in regular contact with our cousins, distant aunts and uncles.

All this is to say that family is very important to your Filipina. She shows them respect in the way she talks about them and in the way she talks to them.  You will hear terms like “ate”, “po”, “tito”, and other forms of polite address.  In order to endear yourself to your Filipina and to her family, try and understand the way Filipinos address family members and close friends.

Here is a table to help you navigate how to address her family.

English Tagalog
Grandfather Lolo
Grandmother Lola
Grandparent Lolo at Lola
Father Papa or Tatay
Mother Mama or Nanay
Parent Magulang
Uncle Tito or tiyo
Aunt Tita or Tiya
Elder Brother Kuya
Younger Brother Toto
Elder Sister Ate
Younger Sister Nene
Youngest Sibling Bunso
Sibling Kapatid
Son Anak na lalaki
Daughter Anak na babae
Child Anak
Grandson Apo
Granddaughter Apong babae
Grandchild Apo
Nephew Pamangking lalake
Niece Pamangking babae
Godfather Ninong
Godmother Ninang
Husband Asawa
Wife Asawa
Spouse Asawa
Father-in-law Biyenan na lalaki
Mother-in-law Biyenan na babae
Brother-in-law Bayaw
Sister-in-law Hipag
Cousin Pinsan
I Ako


About Maria

Maria Peña is people connector. She created Real Pinay to connect foreigners with authentic Filipinas for friendship, romance, and perhaps even marriage.





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