June 1, 2020

Basic information about the Philippines

“The Secret Languages in the Philippines you don’t know about!”

Hi everyone, this is Ahmed from Yemen. Today I will share with you something interesting about the Filipino languages. What did I do when I was in quarantine for the Coronavirus in Cebu? I scouted through my memories, of how did I come to Cebu, how I met everyone I know today and you know.. nostalgic things people do when they have free time on their hands. Then, I remembered a story about the languages in the Philippines. Before I came to the Philippines I used to think that Filipinos speak only one language which is the Filipino – I bet you think the same (If you are not a Filipino). Don’t you? But I couldn’t be more wrong! There is no one language as Filipino. Instead, it’s made up of many languages spoken by different ethnicity in this country. So what are the languages that make up for the language called – Filipino? Let’s take a look.

One day in 3D after class…

It was one fine day in 3D Academy, Cebu, Philippines. I just completed my first week of English lessons and started to know my teachers from the Philippines better. I noticed they always talked in a language I never heard of among each other after the class… I assumed they were speaking Filipino. Out of curiosity, I asked my teacher, Lionel to teach me some of the Filipino words. Instead, he gave me an unexpected answers (questions)…

Me: Hey teacher, can you teach me a few simple words in Filipino so I can sound like locals when I go out?

Lionel: What Filipino language do you want to learn?

Me: Why this question? You don’t know your Filipino language hahaha?

Lionel (laughing too): No, I know my language very well. But I asked you because there is more than one language in the Philippines. The Philippines consists of 7,641 individual islands and there are many languages in the Philippines. For example, here in Cebu, people speak Visaya or Cebuano. And in the capital, Manila, people speak Tagalog. In my home town where I live, people speak Waray-Waray and there are many other languages in this country…

Me: You mean accents, not languages? In the Middle East, we speak the same language – Arabic but with different accents, right?

Lionel: No, they are languages and for me, I know how to speak three Filipino languages. I’ll give you an example to make it clear for you…

I’ll tell you how to say good morning, good afternoon, good evening in the three languages in the Philippines:-

Greetings In Tagalog (Used in Manila)

Good Morning – (Magandang Umaga)

Good Noon- (Magandang Tanghali)

Good Afternoon- (Magandang Hapon)

Good Evening-  (Magandang Gabi)

Greetings In Visaya (Used in Central Visayas region, including Cebu)

Good Morning – (Maayong Buntag)

Good Noon-( Maayong Udto)

Good Afternoon- (Maayong  Hapon)

Good Evening-  (Maayong Gabi-i)

Greetings In Waray-Waray language (Used in Eastern Visayas region, around Samar Island)

Good Morning – (Maupay Nga Aga)

Good Noon- (Maupay Nga Udto)

Good Afternoon- (Maupay Nga Kulop)

Good Evening- (Maupay Nga Gab-i)

How do Filipinos communicate with each others?

Me: …. So with all these different languages, how do you guys Filipinos from other Islands communicate with each other? Since you told me there are many languages and many Islands in the Philippines?

Lionel(with a smile): that’s a good question… the answer is we can communicate with each other easily because we have two official languages in the Philippines. All Filipinos have to speak one of the official languages besides their own language.

Me: Ahhh, I noticed that with my other local friends! One of them comes from Manila and the other lives here in Cebu. They were speaking in English all the time. Is English one of the official languages?

Lionel: Yes, English is the second official language here. Our first official language is vaguely called Filipino, which is derived mainly from Tagalog. However, not everyone in Cebu knows how to speak Tagalog, hence you heard the Cebuano speaking in English with the people from Manila, which is more comfortable for them.

More Filipino Languages

Me: Can you please tell me more about the languages in the Philippines?

Lionel: Sure…  Filipino and English are the two official languages of the Philippines. In addition to the presence of twenty-one other regional languages, such as picolano, Iloccano, Cebuano, Waray-waray, Tagalog, etc. Filipino is the official national language in the country. It is the language used in print, in the media, cinema, and television. It is also the common language between the country’s population and the Filipino communities in the world. This language consists primarily of Tagalog language mixed with other Filipino languages.

The Filipino languages are languages belonging to the Indonesian section of the Austronesian language. They are composed of 70 to 75 indigenous languages of the inhabitants of the Philippine Islands and are divided into two main sub-groups; the first section is the Mesophilippine section, and the Northern section is the Cordilleran. In addition, other languages outside the two groups form small or unclassified groups. The most important languages in the central languages are: Tagalog, The Cebuano language, and the Ilocano language are from the northern languages.

Me: Wow, that’s great and very informative! I didn’t know there are so many different languages in the Philippines until you told me that

Me (Thinking in my mind): Honestly I cannot distinguish because when I listen to people in the Philippines speaking their language it sounds the same. Haha. It’s no matter. Filipinos are well known for their diversity of culture. Knowing more about their secret languages, I am able to gain friendships with my teachers and other locals and understand them better. We used to hang out together, hunt for good food together, and talk about different topics.


– There are a lot of different languages spoken in 7,641 individual islands of the Philippines

– There are two official languages in the country that the Filipinos have to speak – Filipino (Derived from Tagalog) or English. That’s why around 90% of Filipinos can speak English. Philippines is one of the countries with the highest numbers of English speakers. Every year, hundreds of thousands of students head to the Philippines to study English. This is one of the reasons that make the Philippines ideal for your English study immersion program need.

By the way, I live in Cebu city where the people here speak three languages – Visaya / Cebuano, Filipino / Tagalog and English.

Thank you for reading and I hope you benefited from the blog. See you in my next post.


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