12 Hiligaynon Words Every Filipino Must Learn and Use



It’s a given. Ilonggos are well known for being malambing, that sweet disposition perceptible in their affectionate manner of speaking. One may wonder, “Do Ilonggos even know how to get angry?”

You bet.  Ilonggos have a way to blow a gasket by charming you with subtle, singsong intonation which really really makes you love these people from Panay Island. Not only that, Hiligaynon, the language mostly spoken in Iloilo, Negros Occidental and Capiz, is a gem as well.  Here are some of the tinaga or words that prove Hiligaynon language is worth learning and using.




If the Tagalogs have their Bathala as their Creator, the Ilonggos have their Makaako. Though not really uttered in every day conversations, hearing this word from our deeply religious lolas is surely a heavenly music to our ears.

Use it in a sentence:  “Manalig tayo na ang Makaako ang siyang gagabay sa ating buhay.” 




Say yuhum and the universe will conspire to brighten up your day.  No wonder a local magazine is named after this sunshiny gesture. Truly, it radiates the warmth and optimism of the Ilonggos.

Use it in a sentence: Matamis ang yuhum ng dalaga nung binigyan siya ng bulaklak ng binata. 




It sounds poetic and local as opposed to using “guwapa” (a Spanish word which sadly is a common term Ilonggos, or Filipinos in general use in describing a beautiful person).  The next time you woo a girl, you may want to level up your term of endearment. Tell her the Hiligaynon magic word. You will never go wrong.

Use it in a sentence: Higit sa lahat, piliin mo ang babaeng mas maambong ang ugali kaysa sa panlabas niyang kaanyuan.





Ever felt that certain loneliness and yearning when you remember someone who’s important to you? Or when you see an object that reminds you of an event in your life? Then, kamingaw has gotten hold of you.

Use it in a sentence: Nakaramdam ako ng kamingaw nang umalis papuntang Amerika ang aking ina.




Believe me, every little girl or boy in Panay Island has been called Inday or Nonoy once in her/his life. And yes even as you’ve grown older, folks would still call you by that nickname. After all, it’s a sign of affection.

Use it in a sentence: Abalang naglalaro ng basketbol si Nonoy kasama ang kaniyang mga katropa habang si Inday naman ay nag-aaral sa kaniyang kuwarto.




As raucous as it sounds, still, kadlaw is the best medicine.

Use it in the sentence: Buong araw kadlaw lang ang ginawa naming magbabarkada.




Instead of calling your beau “sweetheart”, “honey”, or “babe”, why not use palangga? It sounds more heartfelt, right? The act of love-giving (pagpalangga) has an equivalent word “pagmamahal” in Tagalog.

Use it in a sentence: Gagawin mo ang lahat para sa iyong palangga.




In case you’re wondering why the heart is called kasingkasing in Hiligaynon, it is because it has a shape of a top or kasing (that toy which you spin rapidly on the ground), which apparently of course, looks like a human heart.

Use it in a sentence: Ikaw lang ang tinitibok nitong aking kasingkasing.




Panulay in Hiligaynon actually has a negative connotation as it means “evil or demon.”  So if something or someone has led you to commit sin, definitely, you’re under a spell of a panulay.

Use it in a sentence: Dapat mong iwasan ang tukso dahil gawain iyan ng panulay.




The word emanates from the Ilonggos’ folk tradition even before the Spaniards came. Any area such as the balete tree, acacia tree, a boulder or even a cave is said to be haunted and inhabited by spirits or in Hiligaynon language, tamawos.  These areas are being avoided because accidents usually occur.  Can you imagine the MMDA put a sign MARIIT instead of BAWAL TUMAWID NAKAMAMATAY on accident-prone areas? That would be cool.

Use it in a sentence: Napadaan kami sa isang malaking puno ng balete na sinasabi nilang mariit.




With the root word angot which has something to do with touch, kaangtanan basically refers to relationships (which implies touching).  It probably connotes the bond between Ilonggo families.

Use it in a sentence: May kaangtanan ang aking pamilya sa ina ng aking matalik na kaibigan.




This Hiligaynon word surely reflects one important Visayan value. Or do we still believe in the concept of “debt of gratitude” or “utang na loob” in Tagalog? Nonetheless, kabalaslan must be included in the least of Hiligaynon words every Filipino must learn and use. It’s shorter, and transcends beyond our economic, cultural, and spiritual practices.

Use it in the sentence: May malaki tayong kabalaslan sa mga bayaning ipinagtanggol ang ating kalayaan.


There you have it, folks! 12 Hiligaynon words that you can add to your vocab. Have you chosen your favorite word? Don’t forget to share your thoughts.


Credits go to Sir John Iremil Teodoro for his book Sa Sariling Pulong where some of these Hiligaynon words were drawn from. Also to Sir John Barrios of University of the Philippines in the Visayas whose paper entitled “Mga salitang Hiligaynon bilang mga Salitang Filipino: Ang pagsali ng mga salita mula sa Kanlurang Bisayas sa Pambansang Korpus” (www.http://sentrofilipino.upd.edu.ph/bahay/download/Hiligaynon.pdf) I found interesting and insightful. I also got some of the Hiligaynon words from his paper. 







4 thoughts on “12 Hiligaynon Words Every Filipino Must Learn and Use

  1. The Hiligaynon word for heart is tagipusuon, kasingkasing is Cebuano. Ilonggos also use kasingkasing but tagipusuon is more common. And, maambong is for boys, maanyag for girls. It is used to describe outward appearance. I am an Ilonggo, from Jaro, Iloilo City.


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