The Filipino Language and its Conversational and Scholarly Characteristics

The Filipino Language and its Conversational

and Scholarly Characteristics

By Apolinario Villalobos


The Filipino as a language is injected with many influences from the different traders who frequented the archipelago during the pre-colonial days. The Spanish and American colonizers who stayed for a long time, practically, impregnated the Filipino culture with their own, that made the latter richer, especially, the language. The result is what today, are being spoken and used in writing by the Filipinos – the language that underwent several stages of transformations.


The unique Filipino language is originally what the Tagalogs of southern Luzon exclusively spoke as their dialect. Aside from Tagalog, other major dialects in the country are Hiligaynon and Karay-a in the provinces of Panay island, the Cebuano in the island of Cebu and other islands of the region as far down south in Davao, Bikol in the Bicol Peninsula,  Ilocano and Pangasinense in the north. The Moroland in Mindanao has its Maguindanaoan, Iranon, Tausug, and Maranao.


To unite the Filipinos, Manuel L. Quezon declared Tagalog as the “common” language, but to give it a bonding character and to remove the exclusive reference to the Tagalogs, it was called “Pilipino”, and still later, “Filipino” which is what it is called until today.


There are Filipino words that are better written than spoken, and vice versa. As a scholarly language, there are also words that are better read in “tula” (poetry), and heard in songs, as well as, part of a formal dissertation. Still, there are words that have better use in speeches, as well as, in swearing. That is what confronts the current generation of Filipinos. Most find difficulty in comprehending some Filipino words that is why, the sympathizing writer has to enclose the English equivalent in parenthesis right after them. Some words that are immoral are translated into English before they can be spoken, too.


The Filipino language further evolved into what is called “Taglish” (Tagalog/English) and is proved to have manifold benefits. The natives of the Cordillera Region who are more exposed to the English language of the missionaries use it, as well as those of the Visayas , who sound awkward when speaking in straight Tagalog, due to their regional accent.


The fast metamorphosis of the Filipino as a language is a manifestation of its steady growth. An outgrowth that many Filipinos did not notice, however, is the “gay lingo” that has become acceptable among the youth. Even the international Aldub TV series employ the “gay lingo” to the delight of its followers. One word worth mentioning is “bey” which is the corrupted form of “baby” and which means “dear”, “love”, “friend”, “sweetheart”, or just anything that connotes closeness. The “pambansang bey” is dearly tagged to Alden Richard, and it means “national love, heartthrob, heart, sweetheart, etc.”


Bloggers are doing their best in spreading the appreciation for the highly- alive Filipino language by using regional words or gay words, at times. The blogs that come in different forms such as free-versed “tula” and free-style essays are in the forms which are not found in any corrupted textbooks used in school. The viewers are then, incited to freely ask for verifications as to what they stand for or what they mean.

The Mispronounced “R” and the Abused “kung saan and “di ba”

The Mispronounced “R” and the

Abused “kung saan”, and “di ba?”


by Apolinario Villalobos

I learned since my days in elementary school the basics of the English and Filipino alphabets, their proper usage and most especially, their correct pronunciation. Part of my learning is knowing the difference between the two, the English pronunciation being “soft” and that of the Filipino being “rolling” as in pronouncing the “R”, the way it should be pronounced. But to my dismay, everywhere I go today, I hear conversations among Filipinos, especially, the younger generation, with the “R” pronounced as if they are Americans. It irritates the ear, especially, because those concerned are trying to give an impression that they are “Americanized”, hence, should talk in Filipino just like an American.

What is sad about this is that even the influential broadcasters who are looked up to by their viewers and listeners are guilty of the same practice. It is unfortunate to note that foreign talents who appear on TV talk in Filipino better with correct pronunciation than their local counterparts, especially, with the “R”, pronounced properly.

Add to that mispronunciation the abused use of “kung saan” and “di ba”. I do not know how it started, but I just noticed its proliferation in the broadcast media and among the students lately. The “kung saan” has an equivalent in English, the “in which”. So I cannot understand how broadcasters say for example, “Nagkasunog sa isang lugar sa Tondo subali’t makipot ang daan at hindi makadaan ang mga bumbero kung saan ay tumuluy-tuloy ang sunog kaya maraming nasaktan”, instead of saying a clearer statement: “Nagkasunog sa isang lugar sa Tondo subali’t makipot ang daan at hindi makadaan ang mga bumbero kaya tumuluy-tuloy ang sunog at maraming nasaktan”. Why can’t they just avoid using the “kung saan” if they do not know its proper use?

Then, there’s the “di ba?” (isn’t it?) which I find as an improper part of statements because you seem to force the person you are conversing with to accept what you said. The more  improper it becomes when used by broadcasters, especially, when doing interviews. There is a danger on the part of the guy who is fond of using the “di ba” to be embarrassed with the retort, “ewan ko” (I don’t know) from the person he is conversing with. So, the safest way to avoid getting embarrassed  is by taking the “di ba” from your vocabulary.

Filipino as a language has evolved into a richer one with the addition of new words, but let us not put it down with improper use of what are already its  integral part. Let us speak in Filipino the way it should be spoken, and speak in English the way it should be spoken. Let us be what we are.