Languages Of The Philippines
Perhaps one of the most convenient things about traveling to the Philippines is that English is widely spoken pretty much everywhere, making communication much easier for foreigners. Still, if you want to connect with the locals easier, it’s best to learn even a little bit of the local languages of the Philippines. Saying something in the native tongue, no matter how broken it is, is one of the best ways to elicit a genuine smile from a local!
A multitude of languages
Of course, the languages of the Philippines are as diverse as its landscapes. The two official languages are Filipino, which is the Tagalog spoken in Metro Manila (it’s essentially the same as Tagalog, but regional Tagalog is deeper and more hardcore); and English. The lovechild of Filipino and English is called Taglish, and is something you’ll often hear in cities.
Each of the 18 regions in the Philippines will speak maybe one or more of the 19 auxiliary languages. Of these languages, the most common are Cebuano, which is spoken in most parts of Visayas and Mindanao; Tagalog, which is most widely spoken in Luzon; Ilokano, spoken in Northern Luzon; Hiligaynon, spoken in the Panay Island in Western Visayas; and Waray spoken in Eastern Visayas.
Here are a few key phrases and how to say them in some of the different languages of the Philippines:
Tagalog/Filipino – Magandang Umaga
Cebuano – Maayong Buntag
Ilokano – Naimbag a bigat
Hiligaynon – Maayo nga aga
Waray – Maupay nga aga
Tagalog/Filipino – Magandang Gabi
Cebuano – Maayong Gabi
Ilokano – Naimbag a sardam
Hiligaynon – Maayo nga hapon
Waray – Maupay nga gabi-i
Thank you very much!
Tagalog/Filipino – Maraming salamat!
Cebuano – Daghang salamat!
Ilokano – Agyamanak!
Hiligaynon – Madamo nga salamat!
Waray – Damo nga salamat!
How much is this?
Tagalog/Filipino – Magkano ‘to?
Cebuano – Pila ni?
Ilokano – Sagmamano daytoy?
Hiligaynon – Tag-pila?
Waray – Tagpira?
Come, let’s eat!
Tagalog/Filipino – Tara, kain tayo!
Cebuano – Dali, mangaon ta!
Ilokano – Mangantayon!
Hiligaynon – Kaun na ta!
Waray – Kana, pangaon kita!
Tagalog/Filipino – Masarap!
Cebuano – Lami!
Ilokano – Naimas!
Hiligaynon – Namit!
Waray – Marasa!
I love you
Tagalog/Filipino – Mahal kita
Cebuano – Nahigugma ko nimo
Ilokano – Ay-ayaten ka
Hiligaynon – Palangga ta gid ka
Waray – Pina-ura ta ikaw
If you want to level up and really sound like a local, you can also learn some Filipino slang. Granted, it may be a bit of a challenge, as Filipinos come up with new terms almost as often as Kim Kardashian posts naked selfies. Here are five terms you’ll probably be hearing a lot of when you talk to Pinoys.
This term surfaced in 2016, and nobody really knows where it came from, or actually, what it really means. One thing’s for sure, though, you’ll hear this term a lot. Its translation is something to the tune of “Boom, like that!” Although, its usage goes waaaay beyond the definition. It can be used as a filler, to add impact to a particularly funny punchline, or most often for wordplay (for instance—“with great pak comes great ganern”). Use in moderation for maximum impact.
If you’re a foreigner, this is an expression you’re likely to hear quite often. Filipinos often say it when they struggle to speak English to foreigners. If you hear it, don’t be alarmed—Filipinos just love being dramatic. Use occasionally—only when get caught in a situation or conversation you can’t understand.
The ultimate response to humble- and not-so-humblebrags, this term is dripping with condescension and sarcasm. Translated as “then wow,” it’s often used by Filipinos when they’re talking to someone who’s a little too full of himself. Use with caution, for obvious reasons.
Derived from “babe,” it’s a term that was originally meant to be used on one’s significant other, but these days, Filipinos use it for anyone they want to be chummier with. Variations include Besh, Bes, Beshie, or, if you really want to amp up the cheese levels, Beshiecakes—which were all derived from “best friend.” Use liberally and win over everyone you meet!
Literally translated as “to pull out,” it usually refers to overly emotional, often heartbroken sentiments that come from deep, deep within. Use only when necessary, such as when a friend is getting too sentimental, and you need to snap them out of it.
When it comes right down to it, the languages of the Philippines are as diverse as the country itself! Learn as much as you can, and don’t be afraid to use terms in conversing with Filipinos. It is a surefire way to show locals that you are sincerely interested in immersing yourself in our culture!