Learn to speak Ilonggo
Hiligaynon is the language spoken in the Western Visayas region of the Philippines . It is a part of the family of Visayan languages. It is probably more commonly referred to as Ilonggo because it was believed to originate in the province of Iloilo. Luckly for those learning the language that id contains many words borrowed from the Spanish language. Hiligaynon or Ilonggo is believed to be spoken by over 11 million people, which makes it the 3rd most spoken native language in the Philippines.
Perhaps you have met somebody that speaks Ilonggo or you are planning on traveling to the Philippines in the Bacolod /Iloilo area and want to learn the language ? Well I have good news and bad news so let’s get the bad news our of the way first. There are very few books or study aids that you can use to learn to speak Hiligaynon, being a local language it is handed down from elders to children. It is not a language that is taught in schools as classroom lessons are taught in English. Nor is it a language that is understood outside of the Western Visayas region. So one can see the challenges of trying to learn to speak Ilonggo.
Now for the good news. I have gathered a few resources here that you can use to begin your study of the Hiligaynon langauge.
The first resource is something that was created by the United States for members of their Peace Corp who were traveling to the area. It is a pdf with words and phrases that will aid you in speaking Ilonggo. Bear in mind that Hiligaynon or Ilonggo is not a developing language so modern words such as laptop or cell phone don’t exist so the english word is used. For the new student of the language that helps a lot in the understanding.

Free download of U.S Peace Corp Language Packet

Be warned that this PDF is about 296 pages long so if you are going to print it out, get some extra paper ready.


One of the hardest part of learning any new language is getting the pronunciation correctly. For me, coming from the Midwest area of the United States and I already have an accent so I am especially challenged by the pronunciation of the words when attempting to speak Ilonggo. Here are the vowels and consonants to practice with.


like ‘a’ in “apple”
like ‘e’ in “bed” (often silent at the end of a word)
like ‘i’ in “fin”
like ‘o’ in “dog”
like ‘oo’ in “hoop”



like ‘b’ in “bed”
like ‘k’ in “kid”
like ‘d’ in “dog”
like ‘g’ in “go”
like ‘h’ in “help”
like ‘l’ in “love”
like ‘m’ in “mother”
like ‘n’ in “nice”
like ‘p’ in “pig”
like ‘r’ in “row”
like ‘ss’ in “hiss”
like ‘t’ in “top”
like ‘w’ in “weight”
like ‘y’ in “yes”, like ‘ie’ in “pie”


Common digraphs

like ‘ai’ in “chai”
like ‘ow’ in “cow”
like ‘ay’ in “say”
like ‘iw’ in “eew”
like ‘ow’ in “row”
like ‘oy’ in “boy”


The final resource that will get you started is the video channel YouTube.  There are several very basic videos that will help you to speak a few basic words such a greetings and yes and no statements.

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