Table of Contents





Filipino/Filipina/Filipinx—Person from the Philippines or of Filipino descent; over 100 million Filipinos live in the Philippines proper, while an estimated 10 million Filipinos live in the diaspora as migrants or Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) in countries such as the United States, Canada, Australia, Hong Kong, and Saudi Arabia.

Iowa—Named after Ioway, the French Word for the indigenous Bah-kho-je tribe, a landlocked state with boundaries that include the Mississippi River on the east and the Missouri River on the west; bordered by Wisconsin and Illinois to the east, Missouri to the south, Nebraska and South Dakota to the west, and Minnesota to the north.

Midwestern—Often perceived as General American English, this dialect may or may not be characterized by prevalence of the Northern Cities Vowel Shift; according to RAYGUN, LLC, of or relating to God’s gift to planet earth and the galaxy’s most important region.

Philippines—Named in honor of King Philip II of Spain, an archipelago nation of over 7,000 islands in Southeast Asia situated south of Japan, east of China, and north of Indonesia; the tropical country is divided into three main regions of Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao.

Tagalog—National language of the Philippines, along with English; there are over 150 distinct languages spoken among the various ethnic groups in the Philippines.


The Filipino Family

anak—Tagalog, child, term of endearment.

ate/kuya—Tagalog, elder sister/elder brother.

kababayan— Tagalog, countryman.

lola/lolo—Tagalog, grandmother/grandfather.

mga pamangkin— Tagalog, cousins.

nanay/tatay—Tagalog, mom/dad.

pamilya—Tagalog, family.

tita/tito—Tagalog, aunt/uncle.


Filipino National Icons

adobo—National dish of the Philippines; a stew based on soy sauce and vinegar; from the Spanish adobar, “to marinate.”

carabao—Water buffalo native to the Philippines; national animal of the Philippines.

Ferdinand Marcos (1917-1989)—President of the Philippines from 1965-1986; a corrupt dictator who declared martial law, engaged in extrajudicial killings, and swindled an estimated $5-$10 billion USD from the Philippine National Treasury; was ousted in the peaceful People Power Revolution demonstrations in 1986 and died in exile in Hawaii; however, his wife and children were allowed to return and have been elected to public office and political power.

José Rizal (1861-1896)—Filipino national hero, nationalist during the end of the Spanish colonial period, renowned polymath (political scientist, novelist, poet, sculptor, journalist, linguist, and ophthalmologist), and polyglot conversant in 22 languages (Spanish, French, Latin, Greek, German, Portuguese, Italian, English, Dutch, Japanese, Arabic, Swedish, Russian, Chinese, Greek, Hebrew, and Sanskrit, plus the local languages Malay, Chavacano, Visayan, Ilocano, and Subanun); author of the novels Noli Mi Tangere and El Filibusterismo, he was executed by a Spanish firing squad on December 30, 1896.

Lea Salonga (1971-present)—One of the most famous singers and actresses in the Philippines, first known for originating the lead role of Kim in the musical, Miss Saigon, in 1989; also served as the singing voice for iconic Disney princesses such as Jasmine and Mulan.

lengua de gato—Filipino butter cookie shaped like a cat’s tongue, most famous in the mountain city of Baguio, a former site of Spanish, Japanese, and U.S. military bases.

sampaguitaJasminum sambac; national flower of the Philippines.


Iowa State Icons

Black Hawk County—Founded 1843, a county in northeastern Iowa with a population of 131,090 in the 2010 census with the county seat residing in Waterloo. National Register of Historic Places in Black Hawk County include the Black Hawk Hotel, the Cotton Theater, and two Carnegie Foundation libraries.

Chief Black Hawk (1767-1838)—Born Ma-ka-tai-me-she-kia-kiak, a warrior of the Sauk American Indian tribe, and author of the first Native American autobiography in the U.S. in 1833; an active commander in the War of 1821 and the Black Hawk War in 1832.

eastern goldfinchCarduelis tristis; the official state bird of Iowa.

Hawkeye—Common nickname for the state of Iowa, possibly originating from the eponymous scout, Hawkeye, in James Fenimore Cooper’s The Last of the Mohicans published in 1826.

old rose—Along with black, the school colors of Waterloo West High.

puppy chow—Best-selling bake sale item in Iowa; a sweet concoction of cereal, chocolate, peanut butter, and powdered sugar erroneously named Muddy Buddies in the Chex cereal box recipes.

Wahawk—The official mascot of West High School, a portmanteau of the city and cFounty names of Waterloo and Black Hawk, respectively.

wild roseRosa blanda; the official state flower of Iowa.



barangay—Tagalog, neighborhood, the smallest administrative unit of government in the Philippines, also known as baryo, from the Spanish barrio.

bundok—Taglog, mountain; origin of the English phrase boondock, a rural town considered backward and unsophisticated, derived from conditions of guerilla warfare during the Philippine–American War of 1899-1902.

knee high by the Fourth of July—Midwestern English, what your eighth-grade science teacher says in addition to, “It’s not a summer job, it’s an adventure!” in futile attempts to get you to join his detasseling crew.

Kumusta po?—Tagalog, greeting, “How are you?”

not so bad—Midwestern English, said in response to “How are you?”, conveys to the listener that things are positive, but the speaker does not want to appear boastful in their contentment lest it cause the listener to feel uncomfortable.

not so good—Midwestern English, said in response to “How are you?”, conveys to the listener that the speaker is not at their best, but they do not want to burden the listener with the full details of why they really want to say “terrible.”

piña—Tagalog, finely woven Filipino textile made from leaves of a pineapple plant.

ukay-ukay—Tagalog, secondhand store where items sold are commonly shipped from different countries including the United States. The author once saw a man in the Manilla on the MRT wearing an Iowa 2A basketball shirt prominently featuring the towns of Wapello, Sioux Center, Fort Dodge, and Ottumwa.

RAGBRAI—Acronym for the (Des Moines) Register’s Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa,  founded in 1973; roughly translates to 468 miles of sweat, determination, and the best rhubarb pie you’ll ever eat next to 10,000 of your closest cycling friends.

Melissa Palma is an Iowa-raised daughter of Filipino immigrants. She was privileged to grow up in a multi-generational household with her grandparents, parents, and little sister in Waterloo, Iowa.