Language & Local Customs
We have two official languages – Filipino and English.
Filipino is based on Tagalog, the predominant dialect from the Luzon mainland, and is used nationally to communicate among the ethnic groups. There are seven other widely used languages: Cebuano, Ilocano, Hiligaynon or Ilonggo, Bicolano, Waray, Pampango, and Pangasinense. Apart from these, there are more than 176 local dialects!
Like any living language, Filipino borrows from other languages, as well as inventing new terms among different sub-cultures.
Thanks to the American influence, American English was and continues to be taught in schools. Filipinos get a healthy amount of Hollywood movies and American TV shows too. So if you speak English, you’ll find it perfectly easy to communicate. But if you’d like to learn some useful phrases in Tagalog, you can start with these:
Magandáng araw (ma gan dang a row)
Babay (ba bai)
Oo (o o)
Hindî (heen dee)
Do you speak English?
Marunong ka ba ng Inglés? (ma roo nong ka ba nang eeng gles?)
Can you show me on the map?
Maáari bang ipakita mo sa akin sa mapa ?
(ma a a ree bang ee pa kee ta mo sa a keen sa ma pa?)
(ta ga yan ta yo
To find out how some Tagalog words are pronounced, do visit Tagaloglang.com.
Wherever you choose to go to in the Philippines, it’s the Filipinos that will make your holiday unforgettable. According to Lonely Planet, “Filipinos have a zest for life that may be unrivalled on our planet.” We’re happy people. Mingle with us long enough and it might rub off on you too.
You’ll also soon discover our love for colour. It’s on our jeepneys, tricycles, bancas, and even in our fiestas. As Asia’s only Catholic majority country, faith is also a big part of our lives. And so is family, so don’t be too alarmed to see locals with large families living in the same home.
Here are a few basic customs to keep in mind while visiting the Philippines.
- Do dress appropriately when visiting religious places.
- Service is important to us and we take great pride in meeting a customer’s needs. So don’t be shy to thank the service staff for their efforts whenever appropriate.
- Try not to be alarmed if a fellow passenger gets cosy on a jeepney. In a jeepney, space is a luxury!
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