The Filipino Tooto Way

When people say “toto” in Filipino, they really mean “teardrop” or “a round ball, sometimes described as a triangle.” In English, however, the word is more likely to be rendered as “teardrop.” The origin of the term, meanwhile, is obscure. But whatever the translation, one thing is clear: Almost every Polynesian word that has an English translation has been derived from toto.


In Filipino, toto means “on the ground,” “nearly done,” or “finished.” In toto thus means “with exception” or “by exception.” In Tahitian, toto means “down, exhausted, etc.” In Borneo, toto is used to describe the sound of water: “The water flows slowly but steadily down the mountains.” In Hawaii, toto is used to describe the sound of ocean waves: ” Heard the surf from here today?-in the mornings.”

In addition to these exceptions, toto can also mean “eat up,” “done,” “finished,” and “tender.” It can also mean “not finished.” Some examples are “Tento ba yung? Where’s the beef now?” In some places, toto also means “give (food) to theorphan monkeys.”

While toto is rarely found in written records before centuries ago, it was common in early Filipino culture. Early Filipino grammarians such as Alaminos Montessori and Fray Barra are known to have used toto as a standard. Montessori introduced a concept of the negativism or idealism of the language which, according to him, only through language could the real human essence be expressed. Barra, meanwhile, thought that toto was nothing more than a convenient way of saying “no.” Both school systems, however, agreed that toto should not be used to express desires or negative thoughts.

Tango, a variation of the toto that is played with hands, was developed by deaf people who learned to move their hands in clapping movements in order to call different bells or other sounds. It is believed to be the first flute. A variation on the toto is the gameno. Gameno, like toto, involves an exchanging of bells. This form of toto is most common in Baguio and is usually learned in schools.

There are many more dialects of toto, the most common ones being Balinese, Chinese, Japanese, Korean, and Tagalog. In some areas, particularly parts of Manila and Southern Thailand, the dialect of toto is considered a second language. A third dialect, Chinese Indonesian dialect, is also spoken in Baguio City and parts of the Visayas. The dialect of toto is becoming very popular in the United States, especially in the rural south and central parts of the south. American television shows, particularly talk shows on the cable network Logo, are being targeted as being for people from all walks of life, including people of many different ethnicities and nationalities, making it a very diverse language to learn.