Artwork by JuRaCa

“Sa Lugar Lang” and Other Hiligaynon Words for Travelers

By Harren Fegarido

This article is is the first of a two-part series. Click here for the second part, “Kaon ‘Ta” and MORE Hiligaynon Words for Travelers”.

One of the great things about traveling is to explore not just the place, but to embrace the culture, savor the food, and experience what it’s like to be there. Activities like camping at the beach, visiting old churches, and just letting the whole “lonely planet”-life sink in is not new to Iloilo, thankfully.

Recently, the Department of Tourism noted that the number of tourists going to Iloilo are increasing compared from previous years. While I think Iloilo City is not a tourist hub per se, this small city is interesting in its own way; it provides the anxious traveler a glimpse of the old and the new, of what’s left and what’s coming up. No wonder we Ilonggos always have those “proud to be Ilonggo” moments when we see our city being featured in magazines and major social media outlets.

I personally had a chance to give a tour to some of my friends and travelers from other regions.  Yes, we can show them how “malambing” we are, how authentic our cuisines taste, and how old and grand our Colonial Spanish-era structures can be. But one thing I think we always forget is to teach them the intricacies of Hiligaynon.

Of course, we have fixed that previously in this article, but we believe there should be another guide for travelers and tourists who wanted to learn how to speak our language. To paraphrase from a clichéd-but-true phrase, do what the Ilonggos would do, right?

So, consider some of these words below as a primer for the non-Ilonggo traveler. If you are an Ilonggo though, then you could also use this guide to brush up on your Hiligaynon communication skills, if anything!

Tultulan mo ang…?”

It roughly translates to “Do you know where (this place) is?”. From my personal experience, Ilonggos are an oddly helpful bunch, particularly when it comes to giving directions. If you’re traveling to Iloilo for the first time, this is actually a great phrase to learn first!

“Sin-o ang ngalan mo?”

Though the “sin-o” of the phrase could be interchanged with “ano” if you want to be grammatically correct, the phrase above essentially equates to “What is your name?” I believe nothing breaks the barriers between tourists and locals more effectively than simply asking who they are. Be forewarned, though: just because Ilonggos are known to be friendly doesn’t mean they’ll just willingly hand over their name to just about anyone.

Sa lugar lang.

If you’re familiar with how most Filipinos say “para” when signalling a jeepney driver to stop, then this is the Hiligaynon equivalent of it.

If you want to be more specific, try saying “Sa lugar lang, ‘nong” since “’Nong” is short for Manong and is what we usually call to older men as a sign of respect. Of course, you may also encounter a few female jeepney drivers during your travels, so in this case, just refer to them as Manang.

But then again, do be mindful that a few drivers would take exception to whenever you’re reminding them how old they are, so try to be prudent with the use of Manong/Manang whenever possible.

Sa diin ka makadto?”

This phrase means “Where are you going?” It’s cool if you’re asking your Ilonggo friends where they’d be going, but try asking this to any Ilonggo you encounter on the street, and maybe you’d be shot back with, “Wala ka labot.” (which roughly translates to “None of your business.”—and you’ll be lucky if that’s the only snappy comeback you’ll be greeted with).

“Puwede kapalihog?”

Its closest English counterpart is “Can I ask a favor?”, though, as with all things, it’s one borne out of context. “Palihog” means “please”, so even going by “palihog” can be applicable with any situation like, say, handing over your fare to a fellow passenger ahead of you inside a crowded jeepney (i.e. “Palihog bayad.”)


This literally translates to “How much?”. Haggling is still a common practice in the Philippines, and some Ilonggos would even advice you to do so if you plan to buy souvenirs or native delicacies. And maybe, just maybe, you can even impress the vendors so much that they’ll even give you a discount for just knowing how to ask them the “right” way.

Just to make sure that we’re not leaving anything here to chance, here are other “bonus” Hiligaynon words that should prove helpful to you when going to Iloilo:

“Maayong aga!” – “Good morning!”

“Maayong hapon!” – “Good afternoon!”

“Maayong gab-i!” – “Good evening!”

“Huo” – “Yes”

“Indi” – “No”

“Ambot” – “I don’t know”

“Karon – “Later”

Here’s another tip: most Ilonggos still use Spanish words in counting, especially when the act involves money. So if you’re up to it, then you can use words like “dos”, “kuwatro”, “beinte”, “singkuwenta”, etc.

Language is a medium that sets people apart; consequently, it can also be a medium that could break through our shared differences and focus on our collective humanity instead. We hope this article will help any traveler—or even a fellow Ilonggo—earn a much deeper appreciation for the Hiligaynon language.

Of course, we know we may have missed some words above, but that’s where you come in! Share us your favorite Hiligaynon “traveling” word at the comments section below!

Harren Fegarido is a wanderer