Bendera FilipinesFilipino is one of two national languages in the Philippines. The other one is English. According to a 2007 data, there are 25 million Filipinos speaking the language, which is part of the 181 living languages spoken in the Philippines.

The question is, if a Filipino speaks Filipino, who then speaks Tagalog? Well, according to the 1987 Constitution, Article 14(6), Filipino is the national language and it will be “further developed and enriched on the basis of existing Philippine and other languages.” In 1959 the language was termed Pilipino in an attempt to disassociate it with Tagalog, which is an ethnic group found in Luzon.

We can say that Filipino is an enhanced version of Tagalog, and in some context, is actually the formal term for Tagalog. Filipino and Tagalog are not different, and whether you call it Filipino, Tagalog or Pilipino, these languages use just one grammar. Filipino is more modern and accepting of other languages than Tagalog, in the sense that in pure Tagalog, the word dictionary would be “talatinigan” whereas in Filipino, it is all right to say “diksyunaryo,” which is actually Spanish in origin (diccionario). There is even a term called Tag-lish, which combines Tagalog words with English. While Filipino is taught in school as a subject, English is still the medium of instruction for all levels.

Now that the explanation of what Filipino or Tagalog is and has evolved into, let’s learn some Filipino words and maybe, a few phrases. Filipino is a rich language, and there are words spelled the same way but with the placement of accent in pronunciation, can mean differently. Most of the words commonly used are Spanish in origin. Exciting, isn’t it, but it could be confusing to some who are not used to it.


Babà                 chin
Babâ                 to go down, to dismount
Babá                 to lean or rest against the hands
Bagay               harmonious, fitted,suitable
Bagay               a thing, something
Baga                 embers, live coal
Bagâ                 lungs
Bagá                 a particle, used in asking questions
Bukas               tomorrow
Bukás               open
Dating              former
Dating              to arrive, arrival
Basa                 to read
Basâ                 moist, wet
Amin               ours
Amin               admit
Tayô                to stand (up)
Tayo                us
Tamà              correct
Tama              to be hit
Mura               cheap
Mura               to scold, to swear


Apellido          apelyido (last name)
Querida          kerida (lover)
Siempre          siyempre (of course)
Labios             labi (lips)
Fiesta              piyesta (feast)
Muñeca          manika (doll)
Ducha             dutsa (shower)
Toalla             tuwalya (towel)
Lavar              maglaba (to wash clothes)
Diseño           disenyo (design)
Explicar         eksplika (to explain)
Barato            barat (stingy)
La tienda       tindahan (store)
Gastar            gastos (expenses)
Tacon             takong (shoe heels)


One peculiarity of the Filipino language is word repetition, which is quite common in Austronesian languages. It is either to give meaning or emphasis to the word. It is reduplication, which changes the meaning of the word. It can also indicate plurality. When used in names, for which the Filipinos have a propensity for, it indicates endearment. Notice the use of hyphen in these words. Let’s take a look at some examples:

Paru-paro               butterfly
Maya-maya            in a little while (also the name of a delicious fish,called crimson snapper in English)
Liko-liko                 crooked
Anting-anting        amulet
Isa-isa                     one by one
Unti-unti                very slowly

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