Respect is a big part of the Filipino culture. From the way Filipinos speak to the way they act, there are particular types of behavior that are traditionally expected if you wish to show your respect for someone.
One of these is how Filipinos address other people.
If you’ve ever studied Japanese or Korean, you probably know that they use honorifics to address people on a regular basis. For example, the Japanese has ~san which they append before the last or first name of the people they are addressing in order to show respect and deference. There are also the Koreans who have ~ssi which they also use in the same manner to achieve the same effect.
In the Philippines, we also have something similar. Unlike the Japanese’s ~san and the Koreans’ ~ssi which is not exclusive to any one gender, Tagalog speakers have different titles of respect for males and females, and females that are married and females that are not — something more similar to the way English speakers address unmarried females with “Miss,” married females with “Mistress,” and males (regardless whether they are married or not) with “Mister.”
“Binibini” is a title of respect that Filipinos use to show respect when addressing unmarried females. This is equivalent to the English term “Miss.”
For example, an unmarried female teacher with the last name Reyes will be addressed in Tagalog as “Binibining Reyes.” Another example, the Miss Philippines candidate, is addressed in Tagalog with “Binibining Pilipinas.”
“Binibini” is usually abbreviated to “Bb.” just like how “Miss” is abbreviated to “Ms.” in English. The suffix ~ ng added after “Binibini” is used to describe what kind of “Binibini” the subject is (the “Reyes” kind or an unmarried female who is surnamed “Reyes”).
“Ginang” is a title of respect that Filipinos use to show respect when addressing married females. It’s equivalent to the English term “Mistress.”
For example, a woman married to a man with the last name Santos will be addressed in Tagalog as “Ginang Santos.”
“Ginang” is usually abbreviated to “Gng.” just like how Mistress is usually abbreviated to “Mrs.”
“Ginoo” is a title of respect that Filipinos use to show respect when addressing a male, regardless of whether they are married or not. It’s equivalent to the English term “Mister.”
For example, a man surnamed De la Cruz will be addressed in Tagalog as “Ginoong De la Cruz.”
“Ginoo” is usually abbreviated to “G.” just like how Mister is usually abbreviated to “Mr.” The suffix ~ ng added after “Ginoo” is used to describe what kind of “Ginoo” the subject is (the “De la Cruz” kind or an unmarried male who is surnamed “De la Cruz).
How to Use Tagalog Titles of Respect
Tagalog titles of respect are used pretty much the same way titles of respect from other cultures are used. They’re typically used to address someone older or someone of higher authority, but it’s not particularly rare to use them to address someone younger.
Unlike the Japanese or the Koreans who use ~ san and ~ ssi on a regular basis, “Ginoo,” “Ginang,” and “Binibini” are not as commonly used in daily conversations in Tagalog. You’re more likely to encounter them in formal texts (like textbooks, official documents, or invitation cards) instead.
For daily conversations, Tagalog speakers usually just use “Mr.,” “Ms.,” and “Mrs.” unless the person being addressed specifically prefers to be addressed using the native Tagalog titles of respect.
For example, the names of esteemed Filipino celebrities such as Vilma Santos or Nora Aunor are typically appended with the title, Miss. There is, however, a Filipina director named Joyce Bernal who is always addressed as Binibining Joyce Bernal in official film credits — something that is a rare sight in the Philippines nowadays.