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Bisaya (Visayan languages) is the main language in most of the Visayas and Mindanao while Tagalog is the main language of the central and the southern part of the biggest island, Luzon, though other languages also exist in those regions. Many variations of Bisaya exist, like Cebuano which is spoken on Cebu Island as well as many other surrounding islands. Unlike Tagalog, po and opo aren't used to indicate politeness. Instead, formal speech is used.



Other than local languages, most people in the Philippines speak English. They mostly speak Tagalog (or Filipino, as it is called), as it's being taught in all schools from the first grade onwards. Before Tagalog was made the primary basis for the national language, because of its use in and near Manila, Bisaya was the most prevalent language in the Philippines. Tagalog only became prevalent because of it being the language of the national capital and its closeness to the national language, even if Bisaya was used by the majority.

If Tagalog had not been the local language of the areas around Manila it would have never become the basis for the national language. More than likely Bisaya would have filled this role.

Generally, people with a low socioeconomic status from rural areas like farms, small towns, markets, etc. speak very basic conversational English with a heavy accent. They generally don't respond well to English at all and probably don't even understand it when spoken to as they are not used to American, British, etc. accents. In this case, some Bisayan phrases can be useful. They might treat you with ridicule because of pronunciation and the fact that a tourist/foreigner speaks their language.

Most people with a higher socioeconomic status, like those living in cities understand and speak good conversational English with a slight accent. For example, college professors, lawyers, politicians, journalists, businessmen, doctors, etc. Most employees working at chain restaurants like Pizza Hut or McDonald's, coffee shops like Starbucks, hotels, major shopping malls, etc. have been trained to engage in conversation with tourists.

Pronunciation guide


Most of the words are pronounced the same way as Cebuano. Differences include the use of the letter j in place of g. An example would be a translation of "none, really". Wala gyud is the Cebuano version while wala jud is the Bisaya version. But both pronunciations are used interchangeably by Cebuanos, Boholanos, etc.

Ng is considered as one letter in the Bisayan alphabet, although it is written as two. It is pronounced as one letter, like ng in the word wing.

Phrase list




Some phrases in this phrasebook still need to be translated. If you know anything about this language, you can help by plunging forward and translating a phrase.

How are you?
Kumusta ka? (koo-MUS-tah kah?)
How are you? (informal)
Musta? (MUS-tah?)
Fine, thank you.
Maayo, salamat. (Ma-ayo", sah-LAH-mat.)
What is your name?
Unsay pangalan nimo? (OOHN-sigh pah-NGAH-lan knee-moh?)
What is your name? (informal)
Unsay pangan nimo? or Unsay imong ngan? (OOHN-sigh pah-NGAN knee-moh. or OOHN-sigh ee-mong ngan?)
My name is ______ .
Akong pangalan kay ______ . (AH-kong pa-NGAH-lan kigh _____ .)
I am ______ .
Ako si ______ . (AH-koh sea ______ .)
Nice to meet you.
Nice to meet you.

Generally, this phrase isn't used when making acquaintance. However, it can still be said when the conversation is Bisaya mixed with English.

Palihog. (PAH-lee-hog.)
Thank you.
Salamat. (sah-LAH-mat.)
kaayo (ka-AHH-yo) can be added to the end of this phrase to make it "Thank you very much.
Thank you very much.
Daghang salamat. (Dag-hang sah-LAH-mat.)

Not a direct translation but is often used in response to salamat. It is often used as a word of agreement, as in "okay".

Oo. (OH-oh. or OHH.)
Dili. (DEE-lee.)
No (informal)
Di. (DEE.')
Excuse me. (getting attention)
Excuse me.
Excuse me. (begging pardon)
Pasayloa ko. (pah-SIGH-low-ah koh.)

Actually translates to "Don't mind me.", but is the closest thing.

I'm sorry.
Pasayloa ko.
Ari nako. (sing.) Ari nami. (plu.). It's also common to say "Baybay" (pronounced like English bye-bye)
I can't speak Bisaya
Di ko kasulti ug Bisaya. (dee koh kah-SOOL-tee oohg BEE-sah-yah.)
Do you speak English?
Kasulti ka ug Ingles? (kah-SOOL-tee kah oohg EEN-gless?)
Is there someone here who speaks English?
Naay tao diri nag-kasulti ug Ingles? (NAH-ay tauw DEE-ri' nag-kah-SOOL-tee oohg EEN-gless?)
Tabang! (TAH-bang!)

This word is used when asking for assistance, as in "Can you help me?".

Look out!
Pagbantay! (pag-BAN-thai!)
Good morning.
Maayong buntag. (mah-AHH-yong boon-tahg.)
Good high noon (from about 11AM till 1PM).
Maayong udto. (mah-AHH-yong OOD-toe.) (udto rhymes with good toe.)
Good afternoon.
Maayong hapon. (mah-AHH-yong haa-pon.)
Good evening.
Maayong gabii. (mah-AHH-yong gah-bee-ee.)
Good night.
Maayong gabii. (mah-AHH-yong gah-bee-ee.)
I don't understand.
Wala/Dili ko kasabot. (wah-LAH/DEE-lee koh kah-SAH-bot.)
Where is the toilet?
Asa dapit ang CR? (Ah-sah dah-pit ang SEA-arr?)

CR referring to comfort room. Used more commonly than kasilyas (KAH-seal-yas).




1 = usa, una, uno
2 = duha, dos
3 = tulo, tres
4 = upat, kwatro
5 = lima, sinko
6 = unom, seis
7 = pito, siete
8 = walo, ocho
9 = siyam, nuebe
10 = napulo, dies
11 = onse
12 = dose
13 = trese
14 = katorse
15 = kinse
16 = deciseis
17 = decisiete
18 = deciotso
19 = decinuebe
20 = baynte
30 = traynta
40 = kwarenta
50 = sinkwenta
60 = seisenta
70 = seitenta
80 = ochenta
90 = noybenta
100 (usa ka) = gatos, sientos
1,000 (usa ka) = libo, mil

Generally, the Cebuano version is used to talk about quantity. For example, upat ka buok nalang means I'll take four of those. The Spanish version is used when talking about money and time. For example, when saying sinko and the speaker is talking about five pesos. Alas sinko means 5 o'clock.




Clock time






Good day = Maayong adlaw (ma-AH-yong AD-low) adlaw rhymes with sad cow

Sunday = Dominggo

Monday = Lunes

Tuesday = Martes

Wednesday = Miyerkules

Thursday = Huwebes

Friday = Biyernes

Saturday = Sabado



January = Enero

February = Pebrero

March = Marso

April = Abril

May = Mayo

June = Hunyo

July = Hulyo

August = Agosto

September = Septiyembre

October = Oktubre

November = Nobiyembre

December = Disyembre

Writing time and date



Blue = asul
Black = itum
Green = lunhaw
Purple = ubihon
Red = pula/puwa
Yellow = dalag
White = puti


Car= kotse (ko che)
Sakyanan (More commonly used than Kotse)

Bus and train

Bus ug Tren




Hoy! ( Hoi!)




Peso = Piso (peeso)
Dollar = Dolyar (dul yar)
Money= kuwarta/kwarta



Let's eat! = Mangaon sa ta! (Mahng-AH-on sah tah)

chicken = manok (MAH-nok)

pork = karneng baboy (KAR-neng BAH-boy)

beef = karneng baka (KAR-neng BAH-kah)

fish = isda (IS-dah)

fruit = prutas (PROO-tahs)

vegetables = utan (OO-tahn)





Tagpila ni? (Tag-PEE-lah ni) How much is this?

Naa pay lain nga size ani? (Na-a pa-i la-in nga size a-ni?) Is there another size for this?



Asa dapit ang..? (Asa da-PEET ang) -Where is (place) bound to be?

Layo (La-YO) - Far

Dugol (DOOG - Ohl) / Duol (DOO - Ohl) - Near

Tuyok (TOO - yok) - Turn *Rhymes with 'too yolk'.

Likod - Behind

Kilid (KEY - lid) - Beside

Naa sa kilid (Na-AH sa KEY-lid) - By the corner


This Bisaya is an outline and needs more content. It has a template, but there is not enough information present. Please plunge forward and help it grow!