Rice terraces of the Philippines.

Learn Filipino (Tagalog)

By S R Hartley
8th September 2015
Interests Learn Filipino
Questions - Basic

What Is Filipino?

Filipino is the official language of the Philippines. It's derived from Tagalog, the most widely spoken language in a country which has many regional languages.

Whilst Tagalog originates from Manila, Marinduque and southern Luzon areas of the Philippines, if you travel around this country you will find most of the population (96%) understands Tagalog (Filipino) .

Due to a widespread understanding of Tagalog, Filipino as a national language is comprised mainly of Tagalog vocabulary. In practice, whilst most Filipinos understand Tagalog, they may speak with each other in their regional dialect. For example, in the Visayas, a central region of the Philippines, people speak Cebuano, although they will understand Tagalog.

The Filipino vocabulary has a strong Spanish influence and some of the words and phrases are very similar to Spanish. The Philippines have been occupied by the Spanish several times throughout its history.

Within these pages I often mention Filipino and Tagalog interchangeably or alongside each other. Filipino is seen by some as the politically correct term for Tagalog, encouraging people from non Tagalog speaking areas to adopt this national language. In schools, children attend classes in 'Filipino' not Tagalog.

Why I am Learning Filipino

My wife, Khristine, is a Filipina who lives with me and our baby boy in the UK.

Although her English is good, and we don't plan on moving to the Philippines anytime soon, I am still taking time to learn some of her language.

I mention the word 'some' as I don't plan to become fluent. I want to learn enough to get by. As I won't be using Filipino in depth on a daily basis it will be easier for me to retain the basics of this language if I learn choice words and phrases.

Learning Filipino will help me when conversing with her Filipino friends here in the UK and with her extended family back home. Knowing some Filipino is also useful when travelling around the country.

An added bonus with knowing Filipino, is that when necessary, we can keep the conversations between my wife and I private when we are around non-Filipino speakers - we have our own special language.

Why You Should Learn Filipino / Tagalog

If your partner, close friend or relative is a native speaker of this language then there are obvious benefits to learning Filipino.

However, even if you are just visiting the Philippines for a vacation, it's good to know a few words and phrases. Showing you have learnt some Filipino, can gain you some respect with the locals, and can open further interactions with them.

Don't worry if your Filipino is quite limited. Filipino themselves often mix Tagalog and English words within the same sentence, forming a sub language known as Taglish. Feel free to use English for those Filipino words and phrases you don't know or can't remember!

Knowing a few choice words and phrases can certainly enhance your trip to this country. If you travel around the Philippines you will see everywhere their popular form of transport, the Jeepney. It's quite an experience riding on one which I thoroughly recommend you do during your visit. However, most 'Westerners' or visitors from other countries don't seem to ride on them much.

I've been to the Philippines a few times now and have only seen a handful of tourists using the Jeepney. That is a real shame, as learning a few Filipino words will literally take you a long way, giving you extra confidence to jump on board and head to the beach, mall or wherever else you want to go. In due course I will create a page on how to ride the Jeepney.

A further reason why you should learn Tagalog, concerns the fact that many Filipinos are living abroad. A significant percentage of Filipinos are foreign workers with Filipino communities all over the world.

If you work or live alongside Filipinos, knowing a few words, even a basic phrase such as How Are You?, can help lower social barriers and create new friendships.

How I've Structured These Pages

I try to keep each of the Filipino language pages short and to the point so they become a quick reference tool.

The helps me (and I hope you ), as I like to study information in small chunks which I can easily digest.

By keeping the content succinct, vertical scrolling is reduced for mobile device users.

Key content such as vocabulary and phrase translations are presented first on the page with explanations and further information presented afterwards.

Where appropriate I put word and phrase translations, in both Filipino (Tagalog) to English, and English to Tagalog formats. I hope this helps both English speakers learning Filipino and Filipino speakers learning English.

Whilst many Filipinos can speak English, many can't, particularly those who live away from urban areas within the provinces (countryside). I hope that Filipinos who want to learn some English may also benefit from these pages.

Let Learning Commence!