Filipino: Magsumikap ka!

Mabuhay! We’ll zip on over east to the Philippines to learn about Filipino, the country’s national language. This is number 34 (only three languages left), and one I have truly never, ever looked at before:

1. Romanian
2. Macedonian
3. Spanish
4. Vietnamese
5. Norwegian
6. Bulgarian
7. Slovenian
8. Malagasy
9. Japanese
10. Moldavian
11. Hindi
12. Finnish
13. Azeri
14. Arabic
15. Czech
16. Albanian
17. Cambodian
18. Serbian
19. Chinese
20. Xhosa
21. Portuguese
22. Armenian
23. Korean
24. Croatian
25. Afrikaans
26. Greek
27. Swedish
28. French
29. Thai
30. Turkish
31. Dutch
32. Hebrew
33. Danish
34. Filipino
35. Polish
36. Lao
37. Catalan

Filipino is spoken by a lot of people: over 90 million people speak it, including millions around the world. It is primarily based on Tagalog, an Austronesian language, and has lots of Spanish loanwords.

REGIONAL HISTORY: The Philippines is one of the most multicultural countries in the world and a lot of credit can be given to its history. Many different tribes arrived and settled in the archipelago in the country’s prehistory and various kingdoms were formed throughout the region. In different areas of the archipelago, the Tondo Dynasty in Manila Bay, the Butuan and Cebu Rajahnates existed and had various trading relationships with the Chinese, along with the Country of Mai on Mindoro island. Later, Muslim sultanates were formed upon the arrival of Islam in the 15th century. In the 900s, the first record of written Tagalog appeared.

Ferdinand Magellan arrived in 1521, claiming the islands for the Portuguese Spain. The first book in Tagalog, Doctrina Christiana, was also written in 1593. The country would become part of the empire, with Spanish rule lasting for 350 years. After the Spanish-American War, the islands went over to the U.S., who held control for the first half of the 20th century, despite a brief revolution of the Filipino people in the Philippine-American War.

In WWII, the Philippines suffered horribly. The country was overrun by Japanese forces and it is said up to one million died as a result of war crimes. Despite the horrible losses after the war, the Philippines finally gained independence in 1946. Ferdinand Marcos became president in 1965 and ruled for over 20 years, although his administration was marked with corruption and authoritarian rule. Corazon Aquino took office in 1986, becoming the country’s first female president and restoring democracy. Some major changes also happened a year later in 1987, including the introduction of a new constitution, making Filipino the official language. Since then, the country now has its second female president, Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

WRITING SYSTEM: Filipino uses a Latin alphabet, but with two extra letters, ñ and ng.

From looking at Philippine Portal, I didn’t notice any major differences, but the j sounds like an h and the ng sounds like “ng” in thing. The ñ is like the “ni” in onion and the double l (ll) is like the y sound in million. As you might guess, this is primarily due to Spanish influences.

FIRST IMPRESSIONS: From immediate impressions, it sounds like Khmer, except with longer words. Another thing I noticed from listening to it briefly is how many English words are used, which is quite a surprise. The language seems to use English and Spanish interchangeably, as English and Spanish numbers can be used in speech. I think that’s kind of cool, actually!

For your entertainment, a cool video in Filipino!

Infoplease – Philippines
Philippine Portal
Wikipedia (Filipino language, History of the Philippines, PhilippinesTagalog)

5 thoughts on “Filipino: Magsumikap ka!

  1. Magellan claimed archipelago for the Portuguese?

    I believe he reached the Philippines under the Spanish banner. He had, as far as I can tell, renounced his Portuguese citizenship when he joined the Spanish crown.

    1. You’re right, this was a big oops on my part. This is what Wikipedia said:

      In 1521, Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan arrived in the Philippines and claimed the islands for Spain.

      Thanks for catching that! 🙂

  2. Mabuhay ang Pinoy!…..

    This is one of the most important part of the Philippine history. But Magellan never successfully claimed the Philippines neither for himself nor for Spain. He was killed by our very own Lapu-lapu the chieftain of Mactan (an island just near Cebu). His men with bolos and bamboo spears met the Spaniard’s guns and cannons on the shores of Mactan. This is a one example of our ancestors’ bravery and heroism..


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