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The phrase carries various meanings including "may you live", "cheers", "welcome", and "hurrah". It is thus analogous to the Romance language expression “Vive, Viva”, the Hindustani suffix Zindabad, and the Japanese exclamation Banzai.
The expression is mostly used for toasts during gatherings and parties, and is used as a cry of adulation towards individuals or concepts at rallies and political conferences. A more modern appropriation of the greeting is its use in the local hospitality industry to welcome guests—a practice rooted in a 1993 campaign launched by restaurateur Rod Ongpauco to more uniquely welcome foreign visitors to the Philippines.
- "Mabuhay ang Pilipinas! Mabuhay ang Repúblika!"
("Long live the Philippines! Long live the Republic!")
- "Mabuhay ang Pangulo!"
("Long live the president!")
- "Mabuhay ang bagong kasál!"
("Long live/cheers for the newlyweds!")
Alternatively, the Spanish equivalent Viva is used in almost exclusively religious contexts, specifically in shouts of praise directed at a patron saint or to God during fiestas and assemblies (e.g., "¡Viva Señor Santo Niño!")