Hiligaynon (Ilonggo) Language

hiligaynon_550x250Filipinos from other regions have a general impression of the Ilonggos (people of Western Visayas) as “malambing”, meaning sweet or affectionate. It can be attributed to our language, Hiligaynon. We speak with a sing-song intonation that could sound very sweet to the ears of a non-Hiligaynon speaker.

Hiligaynon is a member of the Visayan language family and spoken by around 7 million  people native Hiligaynon speakers and 4 million people who knows how to speak it. There are native Hiligaynon speakers not only in the Visayas but in Mindanao as well, such as in South Cotabato and Sultan Kudarat largely due to the migration.

Hiligaynon or Ilonggo?

I am sometimes torn whether to refer to our language as Hiligaynon or Ilonggo. Most non-Ilonggos and even the Ilonggos would refer to our language as Ilonggo. I’m neither a historian nor an expert in linguistics but through various articles I came across, Ilonggo is what you call the people that inhabit or whose ethnic origin is Iloilo province but it is commonly used to refer to the people of Western Visayas.

Hiligaynon is the lingua franca of the people of Western Visayas for there exist other languages such as Kinaray-a of Antique, Capiz and the hinterlands of Iloilo and Akeanon of Aklan. In Negros Occidental, Hiligaynon is widely spoken by the majority especially in the west coast while in the east coast facing Cebu people speak Bisaya or Cebuano. Seldom can you hear Kinaray-a except perhaps from those who are Kinaray-a speakers living in Negros Occidental.

Ilonggo historian Henry Funtecha has some interesting insights on why Hiligaynon is the dominant language of the province. Rich families from the lowland of Iloilo migrated to Negros during the boom of the sugar industry. They became hacienderos and became prominent families. They brought with them sugarcane farm workers (sacada) from Antique and the hinterland towns of Iloilo where Kinaray-a was widely spoken. Imagine if you were a sacada during those times and your amo (employer) is speaking in Hiligaynon, you would probably be speaking the language of your employer too.

How to Learn Hiligaynon Language

If you want to learn Hiligaynon, I am providing you with two valuable files to download, a Hiligaygon learning guide and a Hiligaynon-English dictionary.

The first file is the Hiligaynon (Ilonggo) Language Packet which was designed as guide for Hiligaynon language training for the US Peace Corps in the Philippines. It has a list of common phrases for daily communication, Hiligaynon to English dictionary, a workbook and grammar notes.  The guide has everything you need to start to learn Hiligaynon. Even for Ilonggos this tutorial can come in handy if you want to review your Hiligaynon. Sometimes when we use English in our daily conversations we tend to forget correct usage of our own language.

The second file is John Kaufmann’s 1934 Visayan-English Dictionary (Kapulúñgan Binisayá-Ininglís). The title is a little misleading but it is a Hiligaynon to English Dictionary. A little side note on this, our Spanish colonizers used the word Visayan to refer to the inhabitants of Panay, Negros and Romblon islands and the inhabitants of Cebu, Bohol and Leyte were known as Pintados. More on this at Wikipedia.

This Visayan-English dictionary can come in handy for Hiligaynon speakers too since it has a lot of words which are no longer commonly used in daily conversations. Since the dictionary was published in 1934, there are a lot of things which are slowly disappearing in our culture due to modernization which can still be found in the dictionary.

Learning to converse in Hiligaynon is easy but learning the intonation is another thing. But if you want to learn Hiligaynon you have to start somewhere and these files are all you need.

Download your copy below.

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  1. Trisha says

    Thanks for the links! Trying to learn this lovely dialect because of boyfriend’s from Bacolod. Though I understand some words and phrases through listening to him and his older sister talk, I think I still need this! Salamat!

    • Glady Reyes says

      You are welcome! It’s nice to learn a new language and it will make your visit to Western Visayas more enjoyable.

  2. Bruce Dungey says

    Hello, thanks for your blog this is rather an old post now but was glad to read it recently.

    I am an Australian now living in Bacolod permanently I hope. I would like to learn Illongo but feel I need a school or some formal classes anyway. Do, you or your readership know of any such formal schools?

  3. Dada says

    i cant download the file. i badly want to learn the language because of my boyfriend. i look like a dumba*s when they talk though i understand some words (which is weird). i feel really stupi* when they talk and i dont understand them and a bit paranoid too that’s why i wanna surprise him. lol :)))))

  4. Hannah Carter says

    Salamat gid for posting the link about the peace corps packet to learn Hiligaynon!! I am so excited to have access to this. Have been speaking Tagalog ng kaunti for the last 30 years but never had a chance to really find a resource for study of Hiligaynon and my son’s dad was born in Ilog (near Kabankalan), Negros Occidental. I hope your newsletter is still being published. Thanks again!!!! 😀

    • Glady says

      Thanks for subscribing to my blog Hannah! The language pack will help you learn conversational Hiligaynon. You may ask your husband to teach you too. 😀

  5. says

    My name is Artem I work for a multimedia buisness services company. We are currently on the look out for native Ilonggo speakers who might be interested in recording work. If anyone is interested in voice over work please contact me. The only requirement is that you be a native Ilonggo speaker. My email is: afurman@transperfect.com

  6. jenni says

    thanks sa link =)
    it’s very useful, my fiance is Ilonggo so he’s encouraging me to learn the language.

    • Glady says

      You’re welcome Jenni. Hope you can also visit your fiance’s place so that you will appreciate more the people and the Ilonggo culture. Besides, you will learn the language faster if you are surrounded by Ilonggos.

  7. wEnG vArGaS says

    maayung aga amiga glady, naga lapit na ang masskara,padayun sa pag pabalo sa tanan ang mga aktibidades sa dakbanwa sang bacolod. =)

    • Glady says

      Salamat sa pagbisita amiga Weng. Tani wala lang sg upang sa aton nga pag selebrar sg MassKara. Sa kaluoy sg Diyos, matatapan ta gid sg pagpaalinton sa aton mga abyan sg mga nagakahinabo diri sa aton sa pihak sg kasakuon.

  8. Marissa says

    wow! ka nice man diri, kumusta na kamo? lapit nalang ang Masskara sa Oktubre na hiwaton. :)

    maayong ugto sa tanan!

    • Glady says

      Salamat sa pagbisita Marissa! Hope to see you here more often. Yup, lapit na lang gid MassKara. Excited na gid ang tanan.

  9. says

    The problem with most Filipinos (regardless of ethnic group) is that they use the term dialect to refer to all native languages in the Philippines. It’s as if Tagalog/Filipino is the only tongue worthy of being called a language. That thinking is worse than “colonial mentality” as it disrespects the cultural diversity of our country.

    We’re home to more than a hundred languages – Hiligaynon being one of the largest – and yet many can’t accept that. Just because our country is called the Philippines doesn’t mean that Filipino is the only language we have. No country in the world is homogenous enough to have only one tongue. Switzerland doesn’t have a “Swiss” language but German, French, Italian, and Romansch. Bolivia doesn’t have “Bolivian” but Spanish, Quecha, Aymara, Guaraní and many more. And yet they’re proud of it! Why can’t we be just as proud of our diversity?

    Dialects are simply variations of a language. Take Davao Cebuano and Bohol Cebuano, for example. There’s a difference with accents, vocabularies, and phonetics, but they’re mutually intelligible. That means that speakers of Davao and Bohol dialects can still understand each other since they’re still speaking the same language: Cebuano. Same thing goes with Tagalog: speakers of the Manila dialect find the Batangas dialect funny, with the “ala eh’s”, “ngay-on”, “matam-is”, but they’re still speaking one language.

    Now drill that into your heads.

    If you want more clarification, please visit my friend Christopher Sundita’s site. http://students.washington.edu/csundita/rplanguages.html

    He’s a linguist, so he’s in the better position to say which is which.

  10. MrLao says

    hi! I’m currently downloading the tutorial on Hiligaynon dialect from your link, hoping to learn this sweet dialect of yours as soon as possible. I will be visiting my GF family in Bacolod after my work here in the middle east so this will be really a great help. Thanks!

  11. sperry says

    wew haha basta negrosanon ko ya ah.hehehe..sa tanan gle nga kabalo mg hiligaynon try nyu ni tan aw sa youtube. [YANGGAW] movie mni sa gli..thnx

  12. Edna Arante says

    I was on my lunch break when I accidentally stumbled on this site. Today here in Toronto, Canada is such a gorgeous day, cool, sunny, blue sky. It reminded me last year’s scenario when we passed by the town of Don Salvador Benedicto’ in our way to Whispering Palm Beach. Oh yes, it was so lovely a view that it took my breath away. . . . I was so sorry that I forgot my camera. . . Another thing, how I hate to be called “Bisaya” because to me I am a genuine Ilonggo in my manner of speaking, in my thinking and my behaviour.

  13. Tikalon says

    I remembered this post because someone told me something that really took me by surprise…

    A friend of my mother’s told me that I talk like I’m from Capiz kuno. Which isn’t really weird considering both my parents are from Roxas City but the thing is, they don’t even have that distinctive Capiznon accent anymore after living in Bacolod for the last 30 years or so.

    Wala lang, feel ko lang i-share. Hahahaha.

  14. Glady says

    “an Ilonggo is someone from Ilo-ilo… while a Negrense is someone from Negros.. ”

    I understand the sentiments of Negrenses who be referred to as Ilonggos. Just like when some people would call us Bisaya which we would vehemently deny saying “Indi ko ya Bisaya, Ilonggo ko ya.”

    But really, Ilonggos would still be what Negrenses are. It’s just that Negrenses want an identity of their own which are neither Ilonggo nor Cebuano. Now, don’t you think it’s about time the Occidental and Oriental Negros become one region/province?

    FYI, I’m from Iloilo but lived here in Bacolod for 5 years already. I agree, there’s a subtle difference with the way people of Iloilo speak from the people of Negros. Negrenses speak with more lambing. Mas mahinay.

    Thanks for visiting Francis and hope you can visit us again soon. 😀

  15. says

    Stumbled upon this site by accident, and yes.. the language widely spoken by Ilonggo’s is Hiligaynon.

    Offhand… People here in Manila would always mistake me for someone from Ilo-ilo… to which I clarify… Im from Negros Occidental..

    Hence… I’d say.. an Ilonggo is someone from Ilo-ilo… while a Negrense is someone from Negros..

    And a little trivia before I wander yet again into this electronic wonder we call the internet… 😀

    The dialect maybe the same… but some say that one can spot certain distinct differences between an Ilonggo and a Negrense “way” of speaking Hiligaynon..

    Mayong hapon lang da ah.. 😀

  16. Glady says

    Thanks for visiting Oliver! I observed that too since I sometimes visit San Carlos. Most Cebuano speakers in Negros Occidental understands Hiligaynon but the Ilonggos understand just a little of the Cebuano language. Well it seems the Bisaya word has now come to refer specifically to the Cebuanos. That may be so because we refer to ourselves as Ilonggo and not Bisaya whereas they would often refer to themselves as Bisaya and not Cebuano.

  17. oliver says

    Hey Glady,
    I totally agree that the dialect is Hiligaynon while the ethnicity is Ilonggo. This has always been my view. I went to school in Cebu and it is very interesting to note that whenever you take Ceres to and fro Cebu and Negros Islands the dialects being spoken changes based on location. Say for example, when you are approaching Toboso people who were talking Ilonggo will start some Cebuano words also. Another observation also is that Cebuanos like to call themselves Bisaya . I always tell my Cebuano friends that it is a misnomer since they are not the only Bisaya since it encompasses the entire inhabitants of the Visayan Islands.
    Anyway, just to let you know that I enjoy your articles.