Language

The Philippines has two official languages: Filipino and English, although a minority still speaks Spanish and Chinese. Filipino, which is based on Tagalog is the national language and is taught in all elementary and secondary schools. Although majority would consider Tagalog as their native tongue, the country has about 70 native dialects based on Malay languages.

English, the 2nd official language of the country is widely used for educational, governmental and commercial purposes. It is also easily understood because it is used as a medium of teaching in schools. The elementary and high schools conduct many classes in English and some institutions require students to pass an English proficiency exam when to be admitted. Since English is widely spoken in the Philippines, it is not unusual to hear Filipinos use a mixture of English and Filipino words or phrases which they refer to as 'Taglish".

Currently, the Philippines is the third largest group of English speaking people in the world, next to the United States and the United Kingdom. Travelers capable of speaking English, will have no problem staying in the Philippines and communicating with the Filipinos. A few sentences in Tagalog will of course be appreciated and will get you more out of your trip.

Pronunciation is relatively easy for English speakers since Tagalog is not a tonal language like some other asian languages. Tagalog uses (more or less) five vowels:

  1. a : ah
  2. e: eh
  3. i: ee
  4. o: aw
  5. u: oo

The consonant letters in Tagalog are basically pronounced the same way as in English with a few adjustments:

  1. g: is pronounced as in go
  2. h: as pronounced as in hash
  3. ng: as in sing
  4. r: like in ladder

Some phrases and a few words to get you started:

Greetings

Magandang umaga  good morning
Magandang tanghali good noon (midday)
Magandang hapon good afternoon
Magandang gabi good evening

Questions

Kumusta ka? How are you?
Mabuti naman I'am fine thank you
Paalam na! Goodbye for now!


Personal pronouns

I Ako
You Ka / Ikaw or Kayo (formal)
He Siya
She Siya
We Kami
You Kayo
They Sila

Possessive Adjectives

Ninyo You / Your
Iyo You / Your (with sa)
Mo You / Your (with ng)
Inyo You / Your
Ninyo You guys
Amin Ours (with sa - with us
Namin Our exluding listener (with ng) -us
Ko My
Akin Mine

Prepositions

Sa in/on/at/ in the/ on the/ at the
Beside sa tabi
Beneath Sa illalim / Sa ibabà
During habang
Against hindi sang-ayon

Fruits and vegetables

Mangga

Mango
Dalandan Orange
Papaya Papaya
Pinya Pineapple
Saging Banana
Lanzones Lanzones
Bayabas Guava
Talong Eggplant
Ampalaya Bitter lemon
Kalabasa Squash
Sili Hot pepper
Kamitis Tomatoes
Pechay Pakchoi
Repolyo Cabbage
Carrot Carrot
Melon Melon

Fish

Bangus Milkfish
   

Counting
Spanish numbers are used for time, date and prices
Filipino numbers are used when referring to weight, objects, things and people.

English Filipino Spanish
One Isa Uno
Two Dalawa Dos
Three Tatlo Tres
Four Apat Kuwatro
Five Lima Singko
Six Anim Sais
Seven Pito Siyete
Eight Walo Otso
Nine Siyam Nuwebe
Ten Sampu Diyes

And from eleven to twenty two is listed below.

Eleven Labin-isa Onse
Twelve Labin-dalawa Dose
Thirteen Labintatlo Trese
Fourteen Labin-apat Katorse
Fifteen Labinlima Kinse
Sixteen Labin-anim Disisais
Seventeen Labimpito Disiseyte
Eighteen Labingwalo Disiotso
Nineteen Labinsiyam Disinuwebe
Twenty Dalawampu Beinte
Twenty one Dalawampu't isa Beinte uno
Twenty two Dalawampu't dalawa Beinte dos

From twenty and up the pattern is repeating, except for the word marking the "ten" digit.

Thirty Tatlumpu Treinta
Forty Apatnapa Kuwarenta
Fifty Limampu Singwenta
Sixty Animnapu Sisenta
Seventy Pitumpu Sitenta
Eighty Walumpu Otsenta
Ninety Siyamnapu Nubenta

The words for hundred to thousands are listed in the following table.

One hundred isandaan siyento
Two hundred dalawandaan dos siyentos
Three hundred tatlongdaan tres siyentos
Four hundred apatnaraan kuwatro siyentos
Five hundred limandaan  singko siyentos
Six hundred  animnaraan sais siyentos
Seven hundred  pitongdaan siyete siyentos
Eigth hundred   walongdaan otso siyentos
Nine hundred   siyamnaraan nuwebe siyentos
One thousand isanlibo mil

When the number ends with the a vowel you put "ng" in the end. Have a look a the table below.

Dalawang saging Two bananas
Tatlong sili Three hot chili's

Then if its consonant you put “na” after:

anim na repolyo six cabbage
siyam na kamatis nine tomatoes

Days of the week

Araw Days
Lunes Monday
Martes Tuesday
Miyerkules Wednesday
Huwebes Thursday
Biyernes Friday
Sabada Saturday
Linggo Sunday

Months of the year

Buwan Months
Enero January
Pebrero February
Marso March
Abril April
Mayo May
Hunyo June
Hulyo July
Agosto August
Setyembre September
Oktobre October
Nobyembre November
Disyembre December

Some other words to express time

Ngayaon Today
Kahapon Yesterday
Bukas Tomorrow

Other helpful words

Walang Anuman You're welcome
Salamat Thank you
Nga Indeed / it's true
Pasaporte Passport
Bakante Available / vacant
ano What
ano-anu What are
ano yan What is that

Places
Simbahan        Church

Directions
Saan            where

Booking accommodation
meron po ba kayong bakanteng kwarto?               Do you have rooms available?   
magkano po bang presyo ng mga kwarto nyo?    How much does the room cost? 
anu-anu po bang presyo ng mga kwarto nyo?      What are the prices of the rooms?