5 Terms I learned from living in Davao

Mindanao is a melting pot of cultures with the majority of people hailing from Cebu. The majority of people from Davao speak Bisaya or Binisaya, the local language of Cebu, as well as the Philippine national languages (Filipino and English). However, Davao Bisaya is different from Cebu Bisaya as I later learned over the course of my stay here.

5 Terms I learned from living in Davao

From growing up in Rizal to suddenly deciding to stay in Davao, I was not ready for this sudden change in my life. Especially with their local language. Thankfully, I made friends who taught me Bisaya terms I could use every day as well as terms that are uniquely from Davao.


Not uniquely from Davao but I hear it so often to mean one thing usually asked within households. Both a brand and material, when someone asks you for cellophane it means they are asking for a single-use plastic bag. Cellophane can mean any single-use plastic from a bag to plastic wrap. However, in Davao, it is plastic for putting things in and/or carrying around. It is also a generic term in other countries.

“Ayusa ka bai!”

Reminiscing with my dad, who grew up in Davao, the last time he visited made me excited to tell him all the new words I learned from my friends. Upon mentioning ayusa though, he admitted that he never knew of the term despite being from Davao himself. Either it came about after he left Davao or it was uncommon back then.

According to my friend, it means cool. Generally, it is said to praise someone. Upon further research, I found that there is a similar term in Hinduism and Indian culture. For them, it is a name and/or a ceremony for prolonging life. Though I suspect that the term might be from the Tagalog word ayos which is similar in usage and meaning (“ayos ka ah!”).


I have never heard of this word until I asked a friend for Bisaya terms I could say. Admittedly, I only ever heard it from him. He explains it to me as Davao Bisaya slang often said when something unfortunate happens. Whether it be getting a failing mark or getting into an accident, they say, “galasgawa uy!

Atchup Boulevard

Atchup is similar to ayusa in that it also means cool in English. Why Atchup Boulevard? It just means that the people from Boulevard are cool. It can also mean that the place itself is cool.

See Also

Davao Conyo

Not the media personality, well, it also is. When I was first struggling to learn Bisaya a friend of mine told me that I can just speak the languages I already know since they also speak the same languages I do.

“…or speak conyo. Everyone here speaks and understands Davao conyo.

Photo Credits | Facebook: Davao Conyo

Davao conyo is the combined usage of Bisaya, English, and Tagalog during conversation. It is a term that became common only recently within the last 8 years. Especially with Philip T. Hernandez gaining popularity as Davao Conyo online, his brand and the term have become a hit among the Filipino people.

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