How to Say “Slow” in the Philippines: A Comprehensive Guide

When traveling to the Philippines or conversing with Filipinos, it’s always helpful to know how to express the concept of “slow” in the Filipino language. Whether you’re seeking a formal or informal way to convey this notion, this guide will equip you with the knowledge you need. Furthermore, we’ll touch upon regional variations as necessary, so you can navigate different parts of the archipelago. Let’s dive in!

Formal Ways to Say “Slow”

When engaging in formal conversations or addressing individuals with respect, you can use the following phrases to express slowness:

1. Bagal

“Bagal” is the most common and straightforward term for “slow” in formal Filipino settings. It is widely understood across different regions of the Philippines.


“Ang pagsusulat niya ay may bagal.” (His writing is slow.)

2. Kabagalan

“Kabagalan” is a noun form derived from “bagal.” It is usually used to refer to the overall slowness of a particular action or process.


“Ang kabagalan ng serbisyo sa kainan ay hindi kanais-nais.” (The slowness of service in the restaurant is not satisfactory.)

Informal Ways to Say “Slow”

In casual or informal situations where you want to express slowness among friends or in friendly banter, you can use these expressions:

1. Mabagal

“Mabagal” is the informal equivalent of “bagal.” It is commonly used among peers and is understood in various regions of the Philippines.


“Ang paglakad mo ay mabagal!” (You walk slowly!)

2. Bagal-bagal

“Bagal-bagal” is an intensified form of “mabagal” and is used to emphasize extreme slowness playfully.


“Ang pagtigil mo ngayon sa project na ‘yan ay bagal-bagal!” (Your progress on that project is extremely slow!)

Regional Variations

The Filipino language has numerous regional languages and dialects, and while the above terms are widely understood, it’s worth mentioning some regional variations:

1. Visayan Regions

In the Visayan regions, particularly in Cebuano-speaking areas, “bagal” can be replaced with “hinghilawas” to mean “slow.” This term is not as commonly used outside of those regions.


“Ang palitaw sa imuha hinghilawas kaayo.” (Your response is very slow.)

2. Ilocos Region

In the Ilocos region, the Ilocano term “bagbagot” is often used to denote slowness in a somewhat comical manner.


“Mabain a tarabay ti bagbagot mo idiay ado mu.” (You are really slow in doing your chores.)

Additional Tips

Here are some general tips to keep in mind when using these phrases:

  • Nonverbal cues: Pay attention to nonverbal cues such as gestures or facial expressions, as they can shape the meaning of your words.
  • Tone and context: Consider the context in which you’re using these phrases and adjust your tone accordingly to avoid any unintended offense.


Now armed with a variety of phrases for expressing slowness in the Philippines, both formally and informally, you can confidently communicate with Filipinos in a manner that suits the situation. Remember to adapt to regional variations when necessary, paying attention to local languages and dialects. By embracing cultural diversity, you’ll enhance your interactions and ensure a warm, respectful exchange.

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