If you ride on a jeepney, a tricycle or a bus in the Philippines you might hear the following conversation: “ano ba? Bababa ka ba?”, “Oo, bababa”, “dito ka ba bababa?”, “oo, dito ako bababa”.
What is this bababa?
Well, in the Tagalog language the word ba is used to turn a statement into a question. For example I can say “doktor siya” (meaning “he is a doctor”) and by simply introducing ba in the sentence I can turn it into a question and the question is: “doktor ba siya?” meaning: “is he a doctor?”
As for the bababa, that is the “contemplated” aspect (basically the future tense) of bumaba meaning “to go down” or, if you are riding on a bus, for example, “to get off” the bus. In Tagalog the “contemplated aspect” is formed by doubling the first syllable, which, in this case, is ba.
That is why in the Philippines you will hear a lot of bababa!
On other occasions you might hear something like: “nasaan ang ano?”, “ano?”, “ang Juan, ano”. That literally means: “where is the what?”, “what?”, “the John, what”.
What is happening here is that, often, when Filipinos talk and they can’t remember a name or a place, they replace it with Juan or ano and, sometimes entire conversations go on with this Juan or ano thing.
For example, someone might ask you to take something from a certain place and tell you to “take the ano that is in the Juan” (“kunin mo ang ano?”, ‘nasaan?”, “nasa Juan, ano“).
Funny isn’t it?
By dealing with Filipinos you will hear entire mono-syllabic conversations as well as conversations where the subject or the object are never mentioned, instead they are just being replaced with a generic ano, Juan.