How to celebrate Buwan ng Wika with your Kids


Buwan ng Wika calendar in Ilokocano

Buwan ng Wika, or National Language Month is a month-long celebration to promote the Philippine national language. It is also called Buwan ng Wikang Pambansa and is celebrated annually during the month of August. It was first celebrated in 1946 and started as Linggo ng Wika, a week-long observance, scheduled around the birthday of Francisco Baltazar, a prominent Filipino litterateur and known as the Prince of Tagalog Poets.


Portrait of Philippine President Manuel Quezon

President Manuel L. Quezon

The holiday was changed to Buwan ng Wika in 1997, with August being designated as the national language month. August is also the month of birth and death of former president Manual L. Quezon who is recognized as the Father of the Filipino Language. It was President Quezon who signed the memorandum proclaiming Filipino as the Philippine’s national language.

Buwan ng Wika is celebrated in the Philippines through a series of activities such as school programs, exhibition of talents in dance, Balagtasan, singing of Filipino folk songs, parades, and cultural plays or contests. And why not?

The richness of the Filipino culture is evident in the diversity of its languages. While Filipino is the official language of the Philippines, there are, in fact, 8 recognized major languages.


Map of the Philippines from My Filipino Story A Filipino Heritage journal for kids activity book 

Map of the Philippines from My Filipino Story: A Filipino Heritage Journal

What are the Major Languages in the Philippines? 

1. Tagalog

Tagalog is the most widely-spoken languages in the Philippines, with more than 50 million speakers in the country, about 26 million of which are native speakers. It stemmed from the Austronesian language family. The word Tagalog is believed to have been derived from “taga-ilog” or “from the river” or “settlers of the river”. It is the first language of most people living in Central Luzon, including Manila, Bulacan, Bataan, Cavite, Batangas, and other nearby provinces.

Two unique terms used in the Tagalog language are the articles “po” and “opo” which are usually placed in the middle or at the end of the sentence when speaking with an elder or someone in a higher position to show respect.

Some examples of Tagalog words and phrases are:

  • bayani – hero
  • ngiti – smile
  • maganda – beautiful
  • Maganda ka. – You are beautiful.
  • Magkano ‘to? – How much is this?


2. Ilocano

The Ilocano language is of Austronesian origin and is also called Ilokano or Iloko. It is spoken by most people in Northern Luzon, which includes the provinces of Ilocos, La Union, Cagayan Valley, and the Babuyan Islands. It is spoken by about 7 million people in the country, including people living in the highlands, as this has become the primary language for trade and commerce.

Some common Ilocano words and phrases are:

  • ading – younger sibling
  • balay – house
  • sardeng – stop
  • Agsubli ak – I’ll be back
  • Sagmamano? – How much?


3. Kapampangan

Kapampangan, also known as Pampango, Capampangan, Pampangan, Pampangueno, and honorifically as Amanung Sisuan, was derived from the root word "pampang" which means "riverbank". There are about 2.4 million estimated speakers of this language that primarily include the people of Pampanga, and those living in Southern Tarlac, some areas of Bulacan, Nueva Ecija, Zambales, and some Aeta groups. Kapampangan belongs to the Austronesian langage family and was first spoken by the Kingdom of Tondo of the Lakans.


Some common Kapampangan words and phrases are:

  • ma / indu - mother
  • tatang/ibpa - Father
  • manyaman - delicious
  • Let's eat! - Mangan ta na!
  • Let’s go home. – Muli na ta.


4. Pangasinense

Pangasinan is a word used to refer to the name of the province, its people, and their language. However, the language is also sometimes called Pangasinense. Pangasinan is another of the Austronesian languages and is derived from the root word "asin". With the prefix "pang", which means "for", and the suffix "an" which signifies location, it becomes a word that means "place for salt". This is but fitting since the province is a known for being one of the major salt-producing provinces in the Philippines. It is believed that there are about three million speakers of this language and this includes the indigenous groups Tagalog, Ilocano, and Bolinao, and some communities in Tarlac, Nueva Ecija and Nueva Vizacaya, Benguet, and Zambales.


Some common Pangasinan words and phrases are:

  • on - yes
  • andi – no
  • maliket - happy
  • Magangana ka. - You're so beautiful.
  • Antoy ngaran mo? - What's your name?


5. Bikolano

Bikol is the primary language of the people in the Bicol region, including the provinces of Albay, Camarines Norte, Camarines Sur, Catanduanes, Masbate, and Sorsorgon. Under this major language are four other languages: Northern Coastal Bikol, Southern Bikol, Central Bikol, and Bisakol, making up almost 5 million speakers of the Bikol language.

Some common Bikolano words and phrases are:


  • ina - mother
  • ama - father
  • magayon - beautiful
  • ___ an ngaran ko - My name is...
  • Ano ini? - What is this?


6. Cebuano

Cebuano is the official language of the people from Cebu and is also spoken in the neighboring islands of Negros Oriental, Bohol, and some parts of Mindanao. Cebuano is also popularly known as Bisaya. Some people refer to the language as Binisaya, Bisayan, Visayan, Sebuano, Sugbuanon, or Sugbuhanon. It is the second most widely-spoken language in the Philippines with about 21 million native speakers. Although the language originated from the Austronesian language family, some Bisaya terms are actually Spanish loanwords because of the influence of the Spanish colonial period.

Some common Bisaya words and phrases are:

  • palihug - goodbye
  • lami - delicious
  • Mangaon ta! - Let's eat!
  • Unsa ni? - What's this?
  • Tagpila? - How much?


7. Hiligaynon

 Hiligaynon is the second most widely spoken language in the Visayas region with approximately 5 million speakers. It is the major language of Iloilo province but is also spoken by people from Capiz and some areas of Aklan. "Hiligaynon" is said to have been derived from Hiligueyna, which is the Hispanized form of "manog ilig (sang kawayan)", which means bamboo floaters. The intonation applied in the Hiligaynon language is one that is gentle and flowy and often sound sweet.

Some common Hiligaynon words and phrases are:

  • ambot - I don't know
  • palihog - please
  • bituon - star
  • Ano ngalan mo? - What's your name?
  • Tagpila ni? - How much is this?


8. Waray

Waray, also Waray-Waray, Winaray, or Samarnon is the lingua franca of the Waray people in Eastern Visayas, particularly Samar, some portions of Leyte, Biliran, Masbate, Sorsogon, and some parts of Mindanao. Waray, which translates to "not" or "nothing" is the fifth most widely spoken language in the Philippines and the estimated number of Waray native speakers is 3 million.

Some common Waray words and phrases are:

  • Agi! - Ouch!
  • sangkay - friend
  • mahusay - pretty
  • Makain ka? - Where are you going?
  • Waray ak labot. - I don't care.


Comparison of Words or Phrases in the Different Languages



Good Morning

Good Afternoon

Good Evening

Thank You

I Love You


Magandang umaga

Magandang hapon

Magandang gabi

(Maraming) Salamat

Mahal kita


Naimbag a bigat

Naimbag a malem

Naimbag a rabii


Ay-ayaten ka


Mayap a abak

Mayap a gatpanapun

Mayap a bengi

(Dakal a) salamat

Kaluguran da ka


Maabig/ Masantos ya kabuasan

Maabig/ Masantos ya ngarem

Maabig/ Masantos ya labi

Salamat (na balbaleg)

Inaro ta ka


Marhay na aga

Marhay na hapon

Marhay na banggi

Salamat (na marhay) / Dios mabalos

Namumutan ta ka


Maayong buntag

Maayong hapon

Maayong gabi-i

(Daghang) Salamat

Gihigugma ko ikaw


Maayong aga

Maayong hapon

Maayong gab-i


Palangga/ Ginahigugma ta ka


Maupay nga aga

Maupay nga kulop

Maupay nga gab-i

Salamat (hin duro)

Hinihigugma ko ikaw



How to Celebrate Buwan ng Wika with your Kids 

1. Play Filipino Word Games

Play Filipino word games

Games are great ways to incorporate fun in learning. And it is no exception when learning how to speak a language. In celebration of the Filipinos’ Buwan ng Wika, here are some fun Pinoy games to play to help you learn the language:

Pinoy Henyo

Pinoy Henyo is a great guessing game to simulate your quick thinking and vocabulary skills. To play this game, write a word, in your language, and place it on one player’s forehead. The “guesser” must then guess the word using categories or other clues. The helper can only say “yes”, “no”, or “maybe” to lead his partner to the word.

Pinoy Categories 

Something similar to Pinoy Henyo is the Categories Game. This is usually played as a group with each player taking turns giving a word from a given category… only this time, you will have to use categories and words that have something to do with your hometown or home country. For instance, you can have “provinces in Luzon” as the first category. Each player must then give a name of a province in Luzon (e.g., Bataan, La Union) within a set time limit (e.g., 3 seconds). The player who fails to give a name or a word will be eliminated or must face a consequence.

Filipino Pictionary

Another fun activity is to have players guess or identify a picture with the game Pictionary. It is played by having players guess what you’re drawing. You are going to need a paper and some drawing or coloring materials.  With this game, you can unleash your creativity while practicing your word knowledge.

Guess the Picture

 If you want a game that doesn’t require much preparation, you can play a picture identification game. Look for pictures from books or magazines, show only a small part of the picture and let the players guess what it is. You can also use photos downloaded from the web. Zoom in to one section of the image and start the guessing game. Make the game relevant by using photos of prominent personalities, national heroes, or landmarks and icons from your hometown.


2. Speak your language for a day

Speak your language or dialect for the day

 There probably isn’t any better way to learn a language than to practice speaking it every day. Allot one day, or one week if you’re up for the challenge, where you are only allowed to speak your mother tongue. Talk to and argue with people in your language. You can get creative with it and do a vlog, a house tour, a podcast, or a cooking video, as long as you speak your language.


3. Post a Word of the Day (WOTD)

Post a Word of the Day

If you’re on social media, why not use your platform to promote your language? Post a Word of the Day for a whole month. If you don’t have a social media account, well, your front door, bedroom, or refrigerator door will be suitable alternatives. Make sure to use your WOTD in a sentence to avoid simply being familiar with the word, and instead actually understand it and know how to use it in different contexts. You will be amazed with how much your vocabulary can grow in just a month.

4 & 5. Read a Filipino book or learn a Filipino song

Read a Filipino Book

Learn a Filipino Song

If you prefer something more leisurely, here are a few things you can do to make your spare time more worthwhile: read a book or learn a song that’s written in your language. You will not only understand your language more, but you will also see how rich your culture, heritage, and literature are. Many interesting Filipino books and songs are available online.

 6Write your Filipino story

Write your own Filipino story


Have fun as a family with the world's first Filipino Heritage Slam Book! Let your kids discover their Filipino selves by writing down what they love about being Filipino. Filled with fun questions for themselves and the family, this activity will help them learn more about themselves and the things that make them Filipino.

Unlock their curiosity about their roots, their family and their heritage with this unique gift that will surely spark some fun conversations.

Available worldwide on Amazon.

My Filipino Story A Filipino Heritage Journal for kids activity book

My Filipino Story: A Filipino Heritage Journal (activity book for kids)



Whichever part of the world you are in, you are Filipino by blood and you are very much a part of the Buwan ng Wika celebration… so, celebrate! Remember, this not only an academic activity but it is a holiday that aims to cultivate deeper appreciation for the Filipino language and highlight its importance in giving Filipinos a sense of unity, cultural identity, and pride.


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