Visiting a place with a language or dialect different from yours is a challenge. Philippines has 2 languages with a nationwide usage which are English and Filipino. It has also many dialects and 8 are being spoken by the majority categorized through regions. Bicol Region has its own identity of spoken dialect too! We call it Bikol. Though every town in the region have their own sub-dialects but Bikol is well-known, spoken and written on all parts of the region.
Bicolanos easily learn a language so basically when you go to Bicol you will not have a hard time to deal with anybody. They will understand you right away if your sentences are not vague whether it is stated in Tagalog/Filipino or English because they are able to understand the almost all of the sub-dialects on the nearby towns in Bicol. Yet, learning some of the phrases that you mainly need in your visit will give you a comfortable assurance that what you really asked is being understood.
Common phrases you can use at conversation:
- Marahay na aga/udto/hapon/banggi! – Good morning/noon/afternoon/evening!
- Salamat po. – Thank you.
- Pakiulit po. – Pardon/Please repeat it.
When asking for direction:
- Saen po an (insert place)? – Where is (insert place)?
- Duman/Diyan/Yan/Digdi/Sa may… – There/There/That/Here/Near the…
- Ano an pwedeng sakayan pasiring sa (insert destination)? – What should I ride to get to (insert destination)?
When riding a public transportation:
- Maagi tabi ini sa (insert destination)? – Will this pass along (insert destination)?
- Pakibaba tabi kami sa (insert destination)? – Please
- Gurano po hanggang sa (insert destination) – How much will it cost up to (insert destination)?
When buying something:
- Saen ako pwede magbakal nin (insert thing)? – Where can I buy (insert thing)?
- Mang-gurano po ini? – How much is this?
- May iba kamong kolor/size kaini? – Do you have this in other color/size?
When ordering in a restaurant:
- Igwa kamo nin (insert name of food)? – Do you have (insert name of food)?
- Anong mga pagkakan nin Bicol an igwa kamo? – What Bicol delicacies do you serve?
- Pwede akong magpadagdag nin (insert thing)? – Can I request for another/additional (insert thing)?
When in a tourist destination:
- Mang-gurano an kada saro? – How much per head?
- Mang-gurano an ticket? – How much is the ticket?
- Ano an mga pwedeng gibuhon digdi? – What activities is featured here?
Learn how to count because you’ll need this in most of your dealings:
Saro – One Anom – Six
Duwa – Two Pito – Seven
Tolo – Three Walo – Eight
Apat – Four Siyam – Nine
Lima – Five Sampulo – Ten
To get the pronunciation right, consonants sounds the same as spoken in English but take note of the sounds of the vowels: A – Sounds as in “mama”
E – Sounds as in “eggplant”
I – Sounds as in “it”
O – Sounds as in “object”
U – Sounds as in “tool”
Learning Bikol is not as hard as you think. Bikol dialect is actually a mixture of words that are adopted from other dialects or languages. A native speaker of Tagalog may say, “oh, most of the words sounds just like in Tagalog” but a native speaker of Cebuano probably will also say, “there are many bisaya terms!”. Yeah, they are really right! Since language is dynamic, Bicolanos tend to adopt terms where they are comfortable and these includes some Bisaya and Tagalog words. The original Bikol terms are starting to be archaic that even the new Bicolano generations now a days do have a hard time understanding it. Still, we have that Bikol senses on the modern Bikol dialect evolving!
Don’t hesitate to try to speak in Bikol when you visit Bicol Region! Bicolanos will truly appreciate your effort in doing so.