Lesson Notes


Lesson Focus

The Focus of This Lesson is the History of Filipino



Linguistics and History

Filipino is one of the official languages of the Philippines, and the other is English. Filipino is a mixture of several foreign languages including Spanish and Malay. The language is commonly used in Manila, the capital of the country and as a first or second language for other parts the country.

Filipino is constructed from eight different languages in the Philippines, but heavily bases its sentence construction on Tagalog, which is the common language in the capital. Though the differences are mild and can barely be detected, certain vocabulary in Filipino that is derived from foreign languages such as Spanish is translated or adopted in Tagalog in a strict manner. But clear differentiation between the two languages is vague and commonly used together.

The mixture of several languages in Filipino comes from its historical relationship with foreign countries such as Spain and the United States. The people of the Philippines, since it was a Spanish colony for over 300 years, were taught to speak the language, and also experienced the spread of Roman Catholicism. Many customs and traditions are still maintained by modern Filipino culture and Roman Catholicism still maintains to be the most popular religion.

Since the end of the Spanish-American war, English has been taught to the people in the country, thus becoming of the two official languages. English is usually used in professional and industrial environments, whereas Filipino or other dialects are used in the household.


About the Philippines: Culture

Geographically located in Southeast Asia, the Philippines consists of three major islands: Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao. There are around 120 to 175 dialects, but the official languages are English and Filipino.

The country consists of different cultures and is a melting pot of various Asian and Western influences. Because of the mix of oriental and western thought and culture, the Philippines holds a unique position. The Filipinos generally maintain conservative beliefs due to their high regard for religion (whether Christian, Islam, or other religions) and close cultural relations with other Southeast Asian countries, but they are well adapted to modern Western thought due to the influence of the West early in its history. These aspects make the country highly receptive to both Asian and Western visitors.


Writing System and Pronunciation

In writing and pronunciation, Filipino follows the Abakada alphabet (A, B, K, D, E, G, H, I, L, M, N, Ñ, Ng, O, P, R, S, T, U, W, Y), meaning it has a very similar pattern to the English alphabet, but it lacks the letters C, F, J, Q, V, X, Z. After revisions and modernization, the alphabet now includes the unique letters N, the Spanish Ñ, and the Tagalog NG.

One example that includes ng is the word Kambing ("Goat") where the Ng is pronounced the same way as the "ng" in "King" in English. By contrast, the word Ngayon ("Today," "Now") maintaining the Tagalog Ng.


Why It Is Important: The Top Five Reasons to Learn this Language Are...

Number 5: Learning a different language is fun! There's nothing like learning about a different culture and language and improving yourself by taking a trip to a new destination.

Number 4: The Philippines is affordable to visit, or to live in! Whether you're on vacation or you're there to live, the Philippines is very cheap.

Number 3: You can bond with the locals! If you familiarize yourself and use the local language to communicate with locals, it will definitely give a better experience and perspective when visiting the country. Filipinos are usually more accommodating and intrigued when you make an effort to understand their culture.

Number 2: It broadens your knowledge of the country's history. As mentioned before, there are many Spanish and English words in Filipino, and this reflects in the country's history. Naturally, Filipino culture itself reflects and has been significantly influenced and shaped by these events. It is interesting to see how the culture develops and has adopted other cultures.

Number 1: Filipinos are known to be some of the warmest people in the world. They are friendly and cheerful and known to be very family-oriented. Why wouldn't you want to experience a new bond with the Filipino culture?

Lesson Transcript

Becky: Hi everyone, I’m Becky. Welcome to FilipinoPod101.com. This is All About, Lesson 1 - Top 5 Reasons to Study Filipino
Betsey: "Magandang araw" And "hello" from the Philippines! Betsey here.
Becky: Together, we'll be your guides to everything Filipino.

Lesson focus

Betsey: In this first lesson, we’ll introduce you to my home country, the Philippines.
Becky: I’ve been fascinated by the melting pot of different cultures in the country for a long time. And when I decided to visit, I loved it even more! The country has such warm people, and some of the most beautiful beaches you will ever see!
Betsey: It really does! These are two of the best aspects of living in the Philippines. The people, and the amazing islands!
Becky: Oh! And the food is great as well, of course.
Betsey: Definitely! The Philippines is also famous for its tropical weather, which matches its beautiful white sandy beaches. The warm hospitality of the locals makes it a fantastic tourist destination.
Becky: It’s definitely a must-go country! So Betsey, please tell the listeners more about those great beaches.
Betsey: Ok! The islands in the Philippines are the best places to go for a vacation. They may not be as famous as the islands of Hawaii, but they definitely don’t disappoint!
Becky: There are three main islands - Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao, and over 7,000 smaller islands clustered around them.
Betsey: Wow! Yeah that is a lot! Only 2,000 of the islands are inhabited and so most are almost untouched, with clear white sand and views of the beautiful sea.
Becky: So, tell us - which are the best islands to visit?
Betsey: The most commercially successful and famous places would be Boracay and Cebu. Both are in an area called Visayas, and have a lot of resorts, so if you’d like an all-inclusive package of partying and relaxation, then these are the places you should go.
Becky: Oooh, that sounds great. But what if I wanted to enjoy more of the unspoiled nature, and maybe have a little adventure? Those established places can get pretty crowded.
Betsey: Well, getting off the beaten path is definitely another great way to enjoy a vacation on the islands. There are still lots of places that aren’t as commercialized, and I think they’re the best places. One I recommend is Palawan, in the west of Visayas, where you can enjoy spending time underwater! Palawan is famous for scuba diving because of its crystal clear waters.
Becky: I’ve always wanted to try scuba diving, though the name does sound familiar. I wonder if I’ve heard of it before…
Betsey: Hmm, maybe that’s because the Puerto Princesa Underground River in Palawan, was recently voted as one of the New Seven Wonders of Nature. It’s an 8.2 km long underground cave river that flows directly into the South China Sea.
Becky: That’s definitely the kind of adventure I was thinking about! Ok, so, tell me more about the other parts of the country.
Betsey: Well, what I can say is that it’s a melting pot of different cultures.
Becky: Ah yes, I have heard, for example, that English is commonly spoken in the Philippines.
Betsey: That’s right! In fact, English and Filipino are the two official languages of the country.
Becky: Well, that makes things easier for tourists!
Betsey: It does. You will definitely have less of a hard time, but learning Filipino is a rewarding experience. For a start, it is a great cultural experience, because the language itself lets you see our cultural diversity. It’s a mixture of Spanish and Filipino dialects.
Becky: So does that mean I can learn some Spanish while I’m learning Filipino?
Betsey: Sort of. Since the Philippines was a Spanish colony for over 350 years, there are certain customs and words from Spanish that are also used in Filipino.
Becky: Wow, that’s amazing. I can learn different languages at the same time!
Betsey: Spanish was also taught in school in the past, but has now been replaced with English. However, it’s still common for Filipinos to use Spanish for counting numbers, and reading time.
Becky: Really? I guess I can make up for the Spanish classes I slept through in high school.
Betsey: It’s not just evident in the language, but the Philippines is one of the few countries that is predominantly Roman Catholic.
Becky: What kind of customs has it adopted then?
Betsey: Well the most obvious would probably be religious celebrations. For example, Christmas is considered to be one of the biggest events of the year. You start hearing Christmas carols, and seeing Christmas lights and decorations, around four months before the actual day.
Becky: Wow! You must really love the holidays, huh?
Betsey: That’s an understatement! The holidays are also a time for family, and it’s very common to have family gatherings and reunions with immediate and extended family members.
Becky: That sounds like a great time of year. Now let’s talk some more about the Filipino language.
Betsey: Well, you already know that Spanish has influenced the language, but because it’s an Austronesian language, the roots of the Filipino language lie in other South-East Asian languages like Malay and Indonesian. The Filipino language itself is mostly a mixture of three different Filipino dialects - Tagalog, Visayan and Ilocano.
Becky: I thought ‘Tagalog’ meant Filipino too!
Betsey: Sort of. ‘Tagalog’, which derives from two words ‘Taga’ and ‘ilog’, meaning “from the rivers” is what is commonly spoken in the capital Manila, which is the centre of politics and business. So it’s very close, if not almost identical, to Filipino.
Becky: So can we assume that people who speak Tagalog speak Filipino as well?
Betsey: The sentence structure of Filipino is identical to Tagalog, and it’s common to refer to Filipino as ‘Tagalog’ in most cases. You can assume that all Filipinos speak Filipino, because it’s the country’s official language. So this makes most Filipinos either bilingual or trilingual. It is common for people to speak Filipino and English, as well as their own local dialect.
Becky: And here I am having a hard time learning a second language, let alone a third!
Betsey: But the easy part is that Filipino uses the same alphabet as English, so that should give you a head start when you’re learning how to read and write!
Becky: Oh, I guess that makes it a little easier. So there aren’t additional characters I need to know?
Betsey: Well, technically Filipino has its own alphabet system, called ‘Abakada’ which has some words from the Roman alphabet, and includes some additional letters. But since English has been integrated into the culture, the more modern system uses the English alphabet.
Becky: Wow, hearing about this mix of cultures and languages definitely makes learning Filipino sound interesting!
Betsey: But now let’s get to the Top 5 reasons to learn Filipino!
Becky: Number 1 - learning another language is fun! There’s nothing like getting out of your comfort zone and experiencing new things. What can be more challenging and adventurous than learning a different language, and visiting the country itself!
Betsey: Number 2 - it’s very affordable to visit! If you’re on a budget but want to experience the tropical wonders of the islands, then it’s the best place to go!
Becky: Number 3 - although you can get away with just speaking English, if you do learn to speak Filipino, it will definitely enhance your experience, and will help you create a special bond with the local people. Not to mention, you can usually get bargain prices when you speak the local language!
Betsey: Number 4 - as we mentioned earlier, the Philippines has an interesting mixture of the Western culture. It has been influenced by Spanish and American culture. It’s a rare hybrid of both modern and conservative. It treasures the wisdom of the elderly, but also adopts modern culture!
Becky: Last but not least, Number 5 - Filipinos are the most friendly and warm people you will meet! Filipinos are known to be family-oriented people. Of course, that’s the same for friends! They treat friends and acquaintances with warmth, and create a friendly atmosphere! Ok, well, that was just a glimpse of what to expect from FilipinoPod101.com! Get ready for more fun in the next lesson! Bye everyone!


Becky: Make sure you check the lesson notes for more information. Till next time, bye everyone!
Betsey: Paalam! Bye bye!