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You know you're Ilokano if...

updated 03-Aug-1998

  1. No attempt will be made to translate Ilokano terms in the list.
  2. Any similarities to Ilokanos living or dead is purely intentional.
  3. Tongue-in-cheek attitude strongly encouraged. Yes, I know these are not true of ALL Ilokanos.
  4. This is NOT that dreaded "Are you really Filipino?" list. Go elsewhere for it.

This is a light-hearted survey of traits and idiosyncrasies of the Ilokano demographic in the Philippines and of Filipino-Americans of Ilokano descent.

Most of this list is intended for fellow Ilokanos to sit back and grin, evoking a "Hey, I do that!" or "Yeah, that's so true!" -type response that is much in line with the largely Filipino trait of being able to laugh at ourselves.

For those not in the know, the Ilokano-speaking regions are predominantly located in the northern section of Luzon, and consist of several provinces including:
  • Abra
  • Benguet (Baguio vicinity)
  • Cagayan
  • Ilocos Norte (home of Ferdinand Marcos)
  • Ilocos Sur (my dad's home)
  • Isabela
  • La Union
  • Mountain Province
  • Nueva Vizcaya
  • Pangasinan (northern section)
  • Tarlac (my mom's home)
A request for entries to this list was submitted by yours truly to the soc.culture.filipino newsgroup, and I have received enough replies from other self-professed Ilokanos to jump-start this list.

Thanks to those who have contributed so far. If you would like to add another Ilokano trait to the list, or suggestions to improve the quality of this list, please send them to me, Noel F. Tamayo, or use the form at the bottom of this page. Don't forget to check out other Ilokano-related websites listed below.

So enough babbling; here's what we've got so far.....

Physical Appearance

  1. Large eyes
  2. Flat nose
  3. Dark skin
  4. The noses are not all flat, nor broad, but flaring to catch the most out of a smell...We do have tisoys in ilocos you know...
  5. You can be identified immediately because nangisit ti siko ni manong.


  1. You like eating your guava with sukang iloco.
  2. Your favorite expression is mangan tayon!
  3. You go to a party (wedding, baby shower, birthday, etc...) at a restaurant, and you see a big aluminum container of calding. Naimas!
  4. Your favorite dish is pinakbet. (na-imas!)
  5. Caldareta isn't caldareta if it isn't made out of goat.
  6. You know that Alcala candy is made from cabarao milk.
  7. You eat with a fork or spoon, but not both.
  8. "Black dog" refers more to dinner than as a pet.
  9. Your favorite sodas are COKES.
  10. You sawsaw your bread in your coffee.
  11. Your yard has at least one tarong or paria plant in it.
  12. You're favorite is bagoong in your pinakbet.
  13. You return from Hawaii with coolers of marunggai and/or pickled mango.
  14. Your favorite dish is bisukol or dinardaraan.
  15. You call a donut dangken (dunken).
  16. You're favorite cocktail is basi (sugar wine).
  17. Your favorite snack is kilab-ban.
  18. You prefer your goat torched rather than skinned and use the pes pes as papait rather than the apro for your kilawen.
  19. If you don't want to use a fork and spoon you say Kamet!
  20. You take along the entire rice cooker to Reno.
  21. Your house is burning and the first thing you would save is bagoong.
  22. Patis is more common in your household than mustard.
  23. You serve lumpia to a Caucasian, knowing they will pay any amount for more.
  24. Your favorite leaves are saluyot and kalunay.
  25. Your mom's dinardaraan is dry and not soupy.
  26. You have a garden that takes up half the back yard, and you usually grow the same items found in the Asian grocery store
    8 blocks away.
  27. You have a refrigerator in the garage for the overflow from the one in the kitchen -- nothing is discarded until it's
    time for burial.
  28. You let the kids come up and take the food from your hand that you are eating. If they don't take the food, you give it
    to them anyway.
  29. You try to figure out some way to take home the empty soda can you drank from at a friend's party (to add to your
  30. Your refrigerator shelves are full of inverted bottles, determined to get the last ounce of ketchup or lechon sauce from them.
  31. You eat with one of your legs propped up and your elbow rested on top of it.


  1. You're a spendthrift; frugal
  2. You deny being Ilokano by saying Tagalog-ac.
  3. Your personalized plates say Anak ti Batac.
  4. When they use a fan, they place the open fan right in front of their noses and then move their heads to and fro,or back and forth, (sayang the movement of the fan!)
  5. When you walk, your shoes go "tok tok tok".
  6. You insist someone's thinking about you at the same time you accidentally bite your tongue.
  7. You're expecting a female (male) visitor when a spoon (fork) drops on the floor.
  8. You're late for something and the next thing you hear is Apay ngay nagBAYAG kan?
  9. A true ilokano lakay carries his cigarrillo pack tucked in on top of his shoulder sleeve or rolled up in his arm sleeve........
  10. Your fund raising activity is the "social box."
  11. You carry a knife on you at all times.
  12. You always ask the vendor, "Is that your fixed price?"
  13. You ask your friend to snap a picture of you by saying Kodaken nak man lakay.
  14. You claim your nationality, "Ilokano" and not Filipino.
  15. You fail to pray before meals.
  16. You blow your nose by standing on the side of the road, holding one nostril, and blow out through the other.
  17. When meeting someone anywhere you hear the usual questions Naggapuam? or Papanam?
  18. You're at a party and you throw your plastic fork and spoon in the sink instead of the garbage can.
  19. You go to a party and listen to the background chatter to see if you can hear anyone else speaking Ilokano.
  20. When someone does something embarrasing or wrong, you respond by saying kaba bain.


  1. You address your fellows as lakay.
  2. You finish a sentence with "ngarud" as in "It's a beautiful day ngarud!"
  3. When you're broke you say Awan ti cuarta!
  4. When you get upset you yell Anya ki din aya!
  5. When you refer to second-hand information you say cung cunana or cunana met.
  6. When they speak Tagalog, they say their words ending with vowels without the maragsa mama (sir), para (stop) nga...all said with a soft ending...
  7. A quintessential phrase Ubet mo! ... and the response: Ubet mo met!
  8. You say eye-sos over 10 times a day.
  9. If you say "Okinada" for the national anthem of Canada...."OH CANADA"
  10. You describe a heavy traffic condition as "bumpuhrr to bumpuhrr."
  11. You preface every other sentence with Nga or Apay.
  12. Your father always scolds you with, Pa pispisan ka, hala!
  13. You pronounce "people" and "simple" as "pee-pell" and "seem-pell" respectively.
  14. You summon someone with a Umay ka 'toy! attached to the standard "Hoy...pssssst!"
  15. You live in the SF Bay Area, where sometimes it is very hot and humid, and you're used to the cool/cold wind, and you hear your parents say: Ay, nagpudot ditoyen! Kasla Pilipinas ditoy!
  16. You make a comment on somebody's statement by saying sinabim as in sinabi mo if you are trying to be a tagalog-ac.
  17. When you want something done, right away or fast an ilokano would yell out, Darasum!! or Napaspas!!
  18. You're playing basketball, and when you make the shot in front of an opponent's face, you say Rupam!
  19. In response to being surprised, shocked, or faking astonishment, you say Masda awan ak! …. And when someone is in agreement they say Masda awan ak met!
  20. Maturog kan!! is heard at least 5 times from both parents before the child actually goes to bed.
  21. You've visited Sea World in San Jaygo and Pike Place in Shuttel.


  1. All your elders are referred to as apo.
  2. You have relatives in Hawaii.
  3. Your family gathering includes an inevitable game of Pepito/Pusoy.
  4. Your father cannot finish a whole sentence without "eeeeh, you know daaaaaaa kine." (Hawaii)
  5. Your mother and grandmother smoke their "cigarillo" with the lit end in the mouth.
  6. When you were young (and hyperactive), your (strict) grandfather always scolded you by saying Dekay-man agsal-salawasaw!
  7. You thought that "Bastos" was your parents' original name for you.
  8. You sniff-kiss your balasang or balong.
  9. You collect the coins from the husband's pockets and then give them to the kids.
  10. At night, you can catch a rooster perched on a langka tree without your uncle noticing.
  11. Your palayaw or somebody else's in your family ends with -ing, -ang, or -ong, e.g. Esteling, Pedring, Dinong, Mayyang, Timoting.


  1. Your car sound system consists of all tweeters: Psssst!!!! Psssstttt!!!
  2. Your house is carpeted and it has plastic runners on it.
  3. You meet a fellow ilocano and you say anya ngay.
  4. Your favorite song is Dungdunguen Kanto or Naraniag a Bulan.
  5. You have one copy of the Last Supper in tapestry or in a metal relief wall hanging.
  6. Your idea of Scotchgarding your living room furniture is wrapping it in plastic.
  7. You have a 3 foot high wooden fork and spoon hanging up in your house.
  8. Your curtains match your prom dress.
  9. Your tsinelas (slippers) are fair game for anyone in the house (unless you hide them).
  10. You have read Dr. Jose Rizal's excellent literary work, Saandak A Sagiden.
  11. Your rosary is prominently displayed around your rear view mirror.
  12. You could ride across a flooded river standing up on your carabao.
  13. You think that every balete (balliti) tree is a ghost's house.
  14. You like daing.
  15. You read Bannauag.

Additions/suggestions to the Ilokano List:

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Ilokano-related Sites…

Thanks to some of our net-gayyem for contributing to this list:

Wynette Barut, Eric Cardenas, Tony Bacay, Fred Amores, Ka Doroz, Robert Colpitts, Rosauro Galicia, Alfred Dandoy Jr., Hector Santos, Jojo Gumayagay, Rodel Garcia, Peggy Lope, Dennis Domingo, Imelda Lammawin Fuster, Derrick Rufo, Jake (from Laredo, TX), Bob Lunsford, Jonel Pentecostes, Dennis-Ana-LJ