Officially speaking, Hiligaynon is the name of the language that is spoken by the Ilonggo ethnic group in the Philippines. None the less, the Ilonggo people most frequently refer to their language as ‘Ilonggo’ although the term Hiligaynon is accepted just as well. Despite the lack of available learning resources, the language is fluently spoken by over seven million people.
While not exact, the basic construct of Hiligaynon is very similar to that of Tagalog. Anyone with a fundamental understanding of Tagalog should have little difficulty in learning the Ilonggo language and most Ilonggos are fluent in Tagalog as well. The biggest distinction between the two languages is primarily the vocabulary. Both languages are equally salted with Spanish. If you understand the one, it is by far easier to grasp the other. None the less, you can easily learn Hiligaynon without having studied Tagalog.
The Hiligaynon language is often difficult for foreigners to grasp because there is a great lack of resource material available. Music, magazines, videos or movies are not commonly published in the Ilonngo tongue. In fact, the language is not even taught in regional schools. This latter point should be fully understood: the spelling of Hiligaynon words often changes from person to person (most commonly with the letters ‘o’ and ‘u’).
The number one most effective means for learning any language by far is immersion. Unfortunately, not everyone has the luxury of living in the Philippines to soak up the linguistic culture while learning! Whether you want to communicate your faith as a missionary, stay in touch with Filipino friends or meet the woman of your dreams, we truly hope you enjoy studying the language. The native Ilonggos always appreciate those who learn it!