Why (Most) Cebuanos Do Not Like to Speak in Tagalog

This is not a hate post. I am not a linguist. Again, this is not a hate post.

Last night, my fellow bloggers from Cebu Blogging Community and I were talking about our travel stories during our dinner at Michel’s Bistro. My friend Lai then shared his story about his recent trip with a group of travelers from Luzon. He said he had the hardest time of his life conversing with them.

That line rang a bell. I, too, can’t properly speak in Tagalog. My mother is Bicolana, but Bisaya is our official language at home. Tagalog has never been spoken in the family, because (A) We are in Cebu (B) Nobody ever speaks Tagalog in our neighborhood. So, the only time I got to speak this language was in school – in our Filipino subjects.

Now, this wouldn’t have been a problem if all the people in the Philippines speak in Bisaya. Unfortunately (to some), this country has 100+ languages! On top of that, about one-third of the Philippine population uses Tagalog as their first language.*

I belong to the remaining two-thirds.

Growing up, I’ve always heard from my elders, some of the insults they get whenever they attempt to speak Tagalog. “Ano ba ‘tong mga Bisaya, ang aarte, mga Englisero/Englisera.” And in return, I would hear Cebuanos say, “Kaning mga Tagalog, mga hawd mana sila.” I’ve never truly understood this mortal hate with each other.

Now that I am in my twenties, and traveling here and there in the country, I have pretty much found three reasons why we Cebuanos really hate speaking in Tagalog. I am not sure if anyone else would agree with me, though. 😛

• Tagalog people sounds malambing when they talk. We Cebuanos are known for our gahi and pinabusdak intonation. That is why, wherever you are in the world, you will always know if there is a Cebuano/Bisaya in the crowd just by hearing our unique intonation. Which leads me to why it is always difficult for our tongues to adjust whenever we need to converse with someone in Tagalog. Nakakapilipit sa dila, Bes.

• Since Tagalog is only a second language to us, we don’t really consider it as important as English which is what we mostly use in school and most especially, at work. That’s why whenever we can’t express ourselves in Tagalog, we’d rather vent it out in English. We are not Englisera po, nakaka-nosebleed lang po talaga ang Tagalog.

• Lastly, we love our language so much we just can’t let it go. For me, Bisaya is one of the sweetest language in the country.  I mean, if a guy gives me a letter in Bisaya, I would probably fall in love with him right there and then. Hah! And the inside jokes? Oh man, incomparable!

Don’t get us wrong, guys. We do not hate you, Tagalog people. We only hate the arduous act of speaking your language, which is like solving a rather complex Math problem. Rest assured, whenever I find myself in your crowd, I always do my best to speak in my trying-hard, broken Tagalog.

Are you a Cebuano too? Comment below kung naka-relate. 😀


  • Although I can converse in Tagalog well enough, I don’t usually speak the language often because Bisaya is funnier in a nice sense of way and it’s easier to get my point across. I spent high school in an “elite” kind of school but only because I had a scholarship there (haha!) and most of my classmates and friends are rich kids and they would speak Tagalog so go with the flow nalang ko. LOL.

    I’ve had some bloopers in Manila though when I spoke with the CR attendant in Bisaya. Hahaha. She responded in Tagalog and that’s when I realized I wasn’t in Cebu.

    • zilam98

      my blooper was “mataas ang buhok” instead of “mahaba ang buhok” haha!

      • Johanna Marie Frejoles


      • hannafrej


  • Ramzy Magbitang

    As someone who has a bit of experience in speaking both because I spent time growing up in Manila and in Surigao, I’ve always kinda had little problem with speaking both. But it is kind of an odd thing and I’d agree with pretty much all of the points of your argument. Hahaha

  • Hmmm… for me Binisaya is generally isog gyod. Compared to Ilonggo, the Cebuano language in itself is strong. Maigking ka. Pero at the end of the day, I love my own language and perhaps this is the reason why I refuse to believe Tagalog is better than Cebuano, in terms of language.

  • Jullian Robin Sibi

    I agree with everything this article stands for. Although nakakasalita ako ng Tagalog, mas ganahan jud kog Bisaya kay makapanglibak kug taw hahaha. Kidding aside, it’s more natural than Tagalog for me.

  • I rather speak English than Tagalog.. ang lisod intidihin.. ang libog .hahha

  • Haha! gipost jud lagi! hahaha. Yea, I agree. I tend to express more in English than Tagalog. But I really don’t sound so gahi according to some Tagalog people I met during my trips. CHAR! ahahaha


    Ano ba itong pinagsasabi mo? Di ko po maintidihan. Naiinis rin lang ako sa mga Tagalog dahil pinagtatawanan nila pag mali o matigas yung tagalog nation pero tayo hindi naman tayo masyadong nangungutya sa kanila kung susubukan nila magbisaya. Naaliw pa nga tayo at tinuturuan natin sila.

    • hannafrej

      Nag nosebleed kos nangugutya. Hahaha.

  • Wandering Soul Scamper

    hay, magtagalog na nga tayo..” neseye ne eng lehet” parang ganun diba? Biro lang!
    Huwag kang magpapaniwala sa mga sinasabi ko. Pero talaga, totoo naman ang mga sinasabi ni Sir Carlo, nakakainis minsan, pinagtatawanan tayo pag matigas ang pagkakabigkas natin.. sila ba naman ang tigasan! biro na naman.. Hindi, yun nga, pag sila nagkamali tuturuan natin, pero pag tayo kahit taman naman, matigas lang ang dila pagkabigkas kinukutya.. Bakit kaya?
    Ewan… tanong natin sa kanila bes… nahirapan na ako sa kalisud…

    • hannafrej

      Hahaha nag nosebleed ko ani nga comment.

  • zilam98

    this is really funny, but i actually learned tagalog and its subtle inflections when GMA put out a lot of really good shows back in early to mid 2000s, particularly when they had the back to back mulawin and encantadia series, the tagalog-dubbed korean shows, and then the starstruck shows. mulawin and encantadia were interesting in that they made extensive use of old-school tagalog, which really sounded so romantic to these bisdak ears. taglish was and still is extremely irritating, (bislish is too), but mulawin and encantadia made proper, old-school tagalog sound so appealing. now that i’m here in the US, i haven’t watched a single filipino show (except for the snippets from GMA with the new encantadia), i’ve unlearned tagalog again.

    • hannafrej

      Old-school Tagalog sounds romantic! I have a friend who writes Tagalog in her blog, and damn, even though I love Bisaya so much, I also want to learn how to properly write in Tagalog too. Haha!

      Oh, I’m sure you’ll be able to learn it again. 🙂

  • Emmanuel Paterno Noval

    If I were to write a blog about this topic? This is exactly what I would’ve written. I feel you girl. I was smiling the whole time reading your blog.

    • hannafrej

      Ahaha thank you, @emmanuelpaternonoval:disqus!

  • Awkward kaayo magtagalog oi. Im having hard times hahaha.. Lami ra jud magyawyaw magbinisaya, mas intense 😀

    • hannafrej

      Hahaha katawaa nakos hard times oy

  • MikeMadz

    Well written and with no hate. We should all stop this hate between tagalogs and bisaya. We are all filipinos after all. This comes from a tagalog who speaks bisaya and has lived half his life in luzon and half in cebu.

    • hannafrej

      Thank you, @cavcebu:disqus. 🙂

  • Allan Daniel Serrano

    Ate @hannafrej:disqus , Thank you so much for creating this post. I hope this will serve as a stepping stone for closer and much better relations between the two ethnic groups. I have a question. I am curious why Cebuanos have difficulty in speaking the Tagalog language? Because, if we are going to take a closer look, Tagalog and Cebuano are both from the same language family, which is Malayo-Polynesian. English, no matter how haute couture and grand it may sound, has been and will always be a FOREIGN LANGUAGE IN THE PHILIPPINES, coming from the Indo-European, Germanic-West Germanic language family. This is not out of hate. I just want to understand the Cebuano culture. I am a Tagalog residing in Cavite. Daghang Salamat! Pagpalain po ng Ginoog.

    • hannafrej

      Hi Allan, your question got me thinking, and I actually had to ask my friends what their opinion is about this. Haha! They all had varying opinions, but it all boils down to practice. Cebu, being an island, of Cebu province reduces interactions with other linguistic groups. Unlike Luzon and Mindanao where some of the provinces are land-locked, or magkatabi lang kaya mixed yung iba-ibang languages and dialects. In the whole island of Cebu, Bisaya lang talaga mostly ang ginagamit , and even if we study Tagalog in school, hindi talaga namin nagagamit in real life.

      My Mom is Bicolana, and I remember when I was younger, mixed yung salita ko which is Tagalog, Bicolano, and Bisaya, pero eventually, naging pure Bisaya na talaga ako, because everyone here speaks in Bisaya. 🙂

      • hannafrej

        Also, English is an official language in the Philippines along with Filipino. We use English in schools and work, kaya di talaga napa practice yung Tagalog. 🙂

  • Allan Daniel Serrano

    Ate @hannafrej:disqus , I have a close friend, She’s actually my best friend. She is Ilongga, from Sara, Iloilo. She speaks Hiligaynon. But it seems to those living in Iloilo and Bacolod, it seems like they don’t have difficulty speaking Tagalog. That’s why I find it hard to accept that Cebuanos, who are fellow Visayans of the Ilonggos and Warays, are having difficulties in learning Tagalog. I hope you could expound, also for others to know. Thank you so much. God Bless.

    • Lordlors

      The Hiligaynon language is mostly described as a mixture of Cebuano and Tagalog. There are a lot of Tagalog words and phrases within the Hiligaynon language compared to Cebuano. Hiligaynon speakers have little problems with both Cebuano and Tagalog compared to Cebuano speakers having to deal with the Tagalog language.

  • Aldrin Floyd Ligutan

    I want to talk Tagalog while doing a vlog but I am not used to speaking Tagalog hahaha… Accent nga gahi… that’s why I prompt to choose english. Nice article Hanna.

    • hannafrej


  • Allan Daniel Serrano

    Ate @hannafrej:disqus… I know po, this would be a novel, I just hope you are able to read this po:

    I am very sad and my tears flow out as I discover in other blogs that generally, Cebuanos have a deep resentment over the injustices being done to them by people from the capital. I am deeply troubled and saddened as well, by this 🙁

    In behalf of the Cebuano community, sa kaibuturan po, ng akung kasing kasing, I WAN’T TO SAY SORRY FOR ALL THE DISCRIMINATION THAT IS DONE BY ABUSIVE PEOPLE FROM MY OWN ETHNIC GROUP. I think even if Dr. Jose Rizal, if He is still alive, He would spit at the faces of abusive Tagalogs, sabay sabi: “Mahiya ka dyan sa ginagawa mo.” I am asking for pardon for all the discrimination, name calling, shaming, for every abusive experience that the Cebuanos experienced. Sana po mapatawad po ninyo yung mga mapang-abuso po naming kababayan. 🙁 🙁 🙁

    And I hope we will be united once more.

    • hannafrej

      Oh dear, it’s not your fault. It’s not just the Tagalogs. I know Cebuanos who do such injustices too. It’s just that there are really people (whatever their ethnicity is) who are ignorant and chooses to instill hatred and resentment to their fellow countrymen. Let’s just hope that one day it will come to an end. And for that to happen, we must begin with ourselves. 🙂

      God Bless your kind heart, Allan. And yes, mabuhay ang Pilipinas!

  • Allan Daniel Serrano

    Ate @hannafrej:disqus , I also want to share po, that the Visayans aren’t the only ones who are experiencing that kind of discrimination. Even Tagalogs from “barrios”, such as those from Batangas and Tayabas, are also a subject of ridicule and bulling by people, mostly the rich, from Manila.

    Sana po magkabati bati pong muli ang Tagalog at Bisaya. As I believe the same Malayan blood flows in both of us. Mabuhay po ang Pilipinas.

  • Arisa

    wala man koy paki aning mga tagalog pero nindot unta kung ang akong tax dili kawaton aning mga taga imperial manila na kasagaran mga tagalog baya. tagalog = dagkong kawatan

    • hannafrej

      Hahaha dili man pud tanan Tagalog kawatan. Naa man pud mga Bisaya nga kawatan. Pero bitaw, nindot gyud unta atong tax dili kawaton. Hahaha

  • Obsessed

    Hahaha relate kaayo ko! My preference would be Bisaya > English > Tagalog.

  • Kris Dave Villarubia Austero

    I know this is an older blog but it gives me peace of mind that I am not the only one being discriminated upon when speaking in English. Bisaya gyud kong dako. But I have been going to school at an American-founded institution. Hence, our mode of teaching has always been in English, while Tagalog was just a subject in grade school, high school and college. I tend to express more in English and ultimately forced myself to be as proficient as possible in it, knowing that I am a speech teacher. But, of course, I am sometimes pointed out for speaking in English. They would always think that I am “hambog,” when I’m really not. I guess the saying “don’t stoop to their level” can come in handy when I’m faced with such criticism. Then again, that would sound so “hambog” hinuon because my level is no different from anyone’s level. It just so happens that I speak English because I went to school for it. I have been using it all my life. Kasabot man pud ko ug Tagalog but I am not able to express well in it.

    • hannafrej

      Relate kaayo! Hehe. I-ignore nalang jud ni natong muingon ug hambog. There’s nothing hambog about speaking in English kung mao gyud ang language nga mas comfortable ta i-speak. Hehe

  • Eljhon

    This us so funny, kataw-ana kaau sya. I’ll share mine, I’ve been working in Manila for over 5years now, I work in a BPO industry, I remember sa una nako na company, dili ko ka share ug stories sa mga outing or meeting because my tagalog sucks, I mean full of logs yung tipong ayaw na nila makinig sakin, which I understand. Up until now my talalog still far from reality, I am always hesitant to converse with pure tagalog people because of language barrier, not just that my accent is the first thing they always notice, they ask me, bisaya ka? Worst part so far is when they don’t get attention sa akin everytime na magsasalita ako ng tagalog. Mind you guys there’s a big BUT behind this awful experience of mine, I really don’t care at all if they make fun of my accent or if they laugh at me because of my think accent, because you know why? Kung dili ko bisaya wala koy American accent run, my workmates mostly from manila said “my accent ka; magaling talaga mag english pag bisaya, I so love your accent parang native American lang, you have a good British accent since naka work ko sa usa ka Australian company which their accent is closed to British” now I can do both, American accent if I am speaking to American clients and British accent if referring to Australian clients. Oh diba balance lang, even if I feel inferior sa national languange natin I feel so proud naman sa english accent ko kasi I feel appreciated and complemented by people. So one thing I am so proud of is if without my bisaya accent or if I am not bisaya walay balance sa akong life diri sa manila. Ug daghan pa diri lang sa taman.

    • hannafrej

      Ahaha thanks for reading this old blog post, Eljhon. You shouldn’t feel inferior because English and Filipino are the two official languages of the Philippines. It’s not Tagalog. 😉