Oh My Gulay - Filipino Expressions Derived From Fruits to Vegetables

kamote riders
Kamote riders?

Filipino slang is an ever-growing compendium of expressions that dates back since time immemorial. In general, it is an amalgamation of Spanish and English expressions, pop culture-styled street slang and, oddly enough, words of fruits and vegetables which are often used to describe people. Here are a few examples of the latter.


Nangangamote pertains to one who is having difficulty or failing to do well. The word "kamote" is also used to describe somebody who is dim-wit or unintelligent.

Kamote riders

The term describes any driver who has terrible driving behavior. The term is also suggestive of dim-wittedness and the lack of road awareness when driving. The term is popularized in various social media platforms when videos of driver/riders with almost no regards for safety and traffic rules were described as kamote drivers.


The term balimbing came from the balimbing fruit (carambola) which has five angles and faces. The various sides of the fruit have often been compared to people with various faces most especially to politicians who often jump boat from one political party to another.

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When used to describe hands or feet, the term means that one has excessively angular, chunky and/or unattractive hands or feet. 


The term is used to describe people who dish out nonconstructive criticisms, often to troll or as an expression of distaste. The meaning stems from the flavor the fruit bitter gourd has.

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Mala-labanos ang kutis

This expression is used to describe someone’s skin to be like labanos (horse-radish), which is white and smooth.

Nagmumurang kamias

The expression pertains to an old individual who does not behave according to his age. In the English language it is similar to the expression having a "second childhood."

Pulis Patola 

The term is used to describe a good-for-nothing cop. It is widely thought that the term had its origins when the police force once only carried with them a baton which was shaped like a patola fruit "Ribbed loofah". Hence, the term "pulis patola" was coined.

The expression of “sundalong-kanin” also have a similar meaning, a soldier whose only contribution in war is to consume the rice ration.

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The term means to critique or to talk to someone rudely. The word originated from the LGBT community and eventually found its way to pop-culture around the mid-2000s. It was popularized in television and radio. 

Balat sibuyas 

The term is used to describe someone who is sensitive and easily hurt by criticism or when someone is being or acting like a crybaby. 

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