Davao Dialect: What Does The Word ‘Gani’ Really Mean?

Some words in the English vocabulary have several meanings. According to the Guinness World Records, the English word with the most number of meanings is “set”.

Our country is also rich in language and vocabulary, what with dozens of dialects throughout the archipelago. I know there’s no such thing as Davao Dialect, but our way of conversing in an apparent hybrid of Bisaya / Cebuano and Tagalog speaks much about the richness of the Davao culture. In as much as we can identify Ilonggos based on the way their verbal intonation moves like ocean waves, Dabawenyos can be characterized by a unique play on existing dialects and languages.

And then, there are words which mean nothing to other parts of the Philippines but are heavily used in Davao. To top it all off, there’s one word that has become a conundrum because it can be used in different ways, much like how “set” has lots of definitions…


It’s really difficult to pinpoint the exact meaning of the term “gani“. Part of that is because many of us don’t know the origin of that word (and Google wasn’t able to help either). On the other hand, Dabawenyos use it in many ways depending on the situation, some of which include the following:


1. To convince someone

Usually in a passionate or sarcastic tone, this particular usage of the word is effective if you want to convince someone about what you’re saying.

Meron gani akong pera!
(I do have money!)

Hindi gani kita maintindihan.
(I told you, I don’t understand you.)

2. To agree with someone

By itself, you can use “gani” to express agreement or confirmation.

Person 1: Dili man dapat bawasan ang greenspace sa Davao!
(The greenspace in Davao should not be reduced!)

Person 2: Gani!
(I agree!)

3. To say “I told you so”

You can also use the word to paint a sarcastic tone over your response to a person’s realization.

Person 1: Dapat siya ang atong giboto.
(We should have voted for him.)

Person 2: Gani!
(I told you so!)

4. To emphasize a point

The word may also be used as an exaggeration, similar to the English word “very”.

Kung mahirap na gani, tawag ka lang sa akin.
(If it’s really difficult, just call me.)

Hindi gani siya nagbayad. Manlibre pa kaya ng meryenda?
(He didn’t even pay. Will he ever treat us for snacks?)

Alternatively, “gani” can also be used to repeat a thought.

Ano gani yung bagong kainan sa Ilustre?
(What is that new eatery in Ilustre again?)

Did I miss any “gani” usage?

If you know of other uses of the word, feel free to post in the comments below. I’ll include your entries in this article, and give you proper attribution. 🙂

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  1. I would translate “gani” as “exactly” which I think also meets the 4 uses identified. 😀

  2. “Mao” is common in davao and has different meaning too.

  3. “gani” means “exactly” and also “you’re right”

    as far as I have learned from our family who speak the native Dabawenyo language.

  4. Sometimes, we Dabawenyos put “man” after “gani” – “Gani man”


    PERSON 1: Dapat siya lagi unta na daog ba!

    PERSON 2: Gani man.

  5. Kanang example nga Tagalog nga pina lamaw lain kaayo basahun. Lamu-lamo ewwwww lol

  6. the closest tagalog translation would be “nga”.

    Meron gani akong pera! = Meron nga akong pera!

    Hindi gani kita maintindihan. = Hindi nga kita maintindihan.

    Kung mahirap na gani, tawag ka lang sa akin. = Kung mahirap na nga, tawag ka lang sa akin.

    Ano gani yung bagong kainan sa Ilustre? = Ano nga yung bagong kainan sa Ilustre?

  7. Gani = nga.
    And this kind of speak is not only prevalent in Davao. You’ll hear the same all over South Cotabato and beyond.

  8. Kaya gani. Yan gani gina sabi ko sayo. 🙂 hhehehe

    Nice post. Good you posted this. There was none you can find the meaning of this Dabawenyo word on the Internet.

  9. To add to that I would like to say that:

    ‘Gani’ is the same in Tagalog as ‘Nga.’

    Tagalog: Kaya nga eh. Yun nga yung sinasabi ko sa yo.
    Dabawenyo: Kaya gani. Yan gani gina sabi ko sayo.

    Hope that helps.

  10. Gani is a shortened ” Mao gani..” similarly used as in ” That is why” in English or “Kaya nga ” in Filipino. “Mao gani nga pagmata ug sayo”, That is why you wake up early, Kaya nga maaga kang bumangon.

  11. Gani means “nga” or “kaya nga”

  12. It seems from your examples that it is similar to the Tagalog particle “nga” except that “nga” cannot be used as a standalone word unlike “gani”.

  13. It is like the tagalog word “NGA”

  14. Gani is a Hiligaynon word incorporated in Davaoeno, I guess. As we all know, Davaoeno is a mish-mash of several languages especially Tagalog, Bisaya, Cebuano, and Hiligaynon.

  15. Michael Caesar Tubal

    I think “gani” is a loan word from Hiligaynon and Kinaray-a.

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