What writing system(s) does this language use?


During the pre-colonial Philippines, Bikol writing was engraved into pieces of wood using an abugida called locally as Basahan, a Bicolano version of Baybayin.

Surat guhit (basahan) — the pre-colonial writing system in the Philippines

After the Spanish had colonized the Philippines, they changed the writing system into Latin, the alphabet also used in English and other European languages. Bikol and almost all of the languages in the Philippines are written using the Latin alphabet.

Upper case A B C D E F G H I J K L M N Ñ NG O P Q R S T U V W Z X Y Z
Lower case a b c d e f g h i j k l m n ñ ng o p q r s t u v w x y z

The Bikol alphabet includes all of the same letters we use in English, along with 'Ñ' (enye), which the Filipinos borrowed from the Spanish, and 'Ng', a digraph already available as a single character in Baybayin.


Engraved — to carve into a material.


Colonize — to migrate and settle a place and occupy as a colony.


digraph — when two letters are used to show one sound.

How many people speak this language?


Spoken by the Bicolano ethnolinguistic group, about 2.5 million people in the Philippines speak it as a native language. This makes it the 6th most spoken of the Philippine languages.


native language — the first language that a person learnt as a child.

Where is this language spoken?


Bikol originates in the Philippines, where it is spoken by 2.5 million people as their first language, and is mostly spoken in Bicol Region in southeast of the island of Luzon. It is the 6th most spoken native language in the Philippines. Bikol is also spoken outside the Philippines by Bicolano ethnic Filipino immigrants who migrated to North America, Australia, Asia, and the Middle East.


Originate — Where something came from.


Immigrant — A person who leaves his/her country and moves to another country.

What is the history of this language?


Bikol is an Austronesian Language. It was hypothesized that the Austronesian language came from Taiwan and migrated southwards through sailing. They first reached Batanes islands, by around 2200 BCE.

Soon after the Age of Contact came and the Philippines started trading with other people like Persians, Arabs, Malays, Indians, Japanese, and Chinese. The people who traded with the Filipinos also introduced their language and culture, and soon after the Filipinos started using words from their languages and dressed, ate, and lived like them.

The Spaniards came and introduced Spanish, taught the Filipinos Spanish, and soon after many Spanish words entered the Language. The Americans came and introduced English and encouraged the use of English, so English words also entered Bikol. Bikol therefore is one of the most diverse languages of the world, with Sanskrit, Malay, Javanese, Mandarin Chinese, Nahuatl, Persian, Arabic, Japanese, Spanish, and English loanwords.


loanwords — words in a language that have been borrowed from other languages.

Who are some famous authors or poets in this language?

  • Honesto "Jun" Pesimo Jr. is a Bicolano writer, teacher and the author of Bagyo sa Oktubre. He is a founding member of Kabulig-Bikol, and one of the editors of Bangraw kan Arte, Literatura asin Kultura. He also edited the book entitled Girok:erotika published by Kabulig-Bikol in 2017.
  • Adrian Remodo is a Bikol essayist and writer, from the Bicol Region of thePhilippines, who has been instrumental in the post–World War II literaryresurgence of Bikol literature. He was the 2006 winner of the regional Tomás Arejola Prize for Bikol literature in the Saysay category.
  • Jose Jason Llagas Chancoco is a multi-awarded contemporary Bicolano writer in Bikol, Iriganon, Filipino, and English languages. His first book is Pagsasatubuanan:Poetikang Bikolnon launched in 2009.
  • Kristian Sendon Cordero is a poet, fictionist, translator, and filmmaker based in Bikol. His books of poetry in three Philippine languages have won the Madrigal-Gonzales Best First Book Award, the Philippine National Book Awards, and the Gintong Aklat Awards (Golden Book Awards).
  • Abdon Balde Jr. is a contemporary Bicolano writer in Bikol, Filipino, and English. He was awarded as one of the Outstanding Bikolano Artists for 2009 in Literary Arts category in Naga City, and Southeast Asian Writers Awards for the Philippines in Thailand last 2009.

What are some basic words in this language that I can learn?

Simbag Responses
iyo yes
dai no
bako not
siguro probably, perhaps
Pataratara Greetings
Kumusta? Hi, how are you?
Marhay man, salamat. I'm fine, thank you.
Marhay na aldaw. Good day.
Marhay na aga. Good morning.
Marhay na udto. Good midday.
Marhay na hapon. Good afternoon.
Marhay na banggi. Good evening.
Saen ka hale? Where have you been?
Dios mabalos Thank you
Daing ano man. You're welcome.
Paaram. Good-bye.
Basic phrases
Tatao ka daw magtaram nin Ingles? Do you speak English?
Haen an banyo? Where is the bathroom?
Gusto ko nin . . . I like . . .
Habo ko nin . . . I don't like . . .
Ako si . . . My name is . . .
Ano an pangaran mo? What's your name?
Numero Numbers
saro one
duwa two
tulo three
apát four
lima five
anom six
pito seven
walo eight
siyam nine
sampulo ten
Counting Units
gatos hundred
ribo thousand
milyon million

What is a simple song/poem/story that I can learn in this language?


Igwa Akong Lobo is a children song in Bikol language. This song is simple and has many rhymes.

Igwa akong lobo
Naglayog sa langit
Dai ko na nahiling
Nagputok na palan

Sayang kan kwarta ko
Binakal nin lobo
Kun sa kakanon kuta
Nabasog pa ako

The translation of that song is

I had a balloon
It flew to the sky
I never saw it again
Turns out it popped

My money went to waste
Buying that balloon
If I had bought food
I would be full instead


Wikibooks has a texbook where you can find more about this language: