When traveling to Boracay, you have plenty of ways to enjoy the tropical paradise like the locals do. But for an authentic cultural experience, it helps to learn the local language, Aklanon, before you fly to Boracay.
Interacting with the locals in Boracay is a breeze because most of them can speak English and Tagalog. Why should you bother to learn to speak their language, then?
The late Nelson Mandela couldn't have put it any better: "If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart."
True enough, learning the local language—aside from smiling, of course—is the best way to easily connect with the locals and win their trust. Just saying thanks in Aklanon will elicit a smile from a local. You may score discounts and freebies when haggling at souvenir shops, or get a better service in the airport and restaurants. It's the Filipinos' way to show appreciation for your effort to learn their language—which means you respect and care for their culture.
Whether for business or leisure, your trip will become more meaningful and fulfilling by talking to locals in Aklanon. Yes, it's challenging, but it can be learned.
Make this challenge an easier and faster process with these eight steps to learning Aklanon.
Set a specific goal
The quickest way to learn to speak a bit of the language in the place you're visiting? Googling a few words at the last minute. But that's also the least effective. Imagine awkwardly fiddling with your iPad to find an online translator and impress the local you're talking to.
Find time to learn a new language before you leave home. Have a specific goal. A vague one like "learn Aklanon" won't work because you'll keep postponing it.
Something clear like, "Be able to speak and understand a few basic phrases within X weeks before my flight to Boracay" will work better. In doing so, you'll know if you've succeeded or at least improved in your DIY Aklanon lessons.
Know a little Aklanon history
Familiarizing yourself a bit about how a language came about and its quirks will certainly help.
Here's a trivia for you: Legend has it that Datu Bangkaya, the first ruler of Aklan, couldn't pronounce the "l" sound properly because he had a short tongue. Since then, the "l" sound has been replaced with "e," so the locals pronounce their province as "Akean" with a rolling "r" sound.
Impress your Boracay travel buddies—share your newfound knowledge with them!
Learn only the words and phrases you'll actually use
You don't have to speak flawless Aklanon to communicate with the locals. You're traveling to Boracay to enjoy your time there, not to complete a master's degree in Linguistics. So learn just the basic Aklanon language, and you're good to go.
These most useful Aklanon words and phrases will come in handy when you're starting a conversation, buying food and souvenirs, ordering in a bar or restaurant, and other activities in Boracay that involve a lot of interaction with the locals.
Hay (pronounced like "hi" in English)
How are you?
I'm fine, thanks.
Mayad man, saeamat.
Mayad nga agahon.
Mayad nga hapon.
Mayad nga gabi-i.
Do you speak English?
Makahambae ka it English?
What is your name?
Ano imong pangaean?
My name is…
Ro ngaean ko si…
Nice to meet you.
Mayad nga nakilaea ko ikaw.
I don't know.
Owa ako kasayod.
How much is this?
This is expensive!
Ka-mahae man ra!
Where will we go?
Siin kita maadto?
Can I ask you a question?
What place is this?
Ano nga lugar da?
Please show me the place.
Pakituro kakon do lugar.
This is delicious!
Manami ta ra ah!
Saeamat. / Saeamat gid.
I need to go to the toilet.
Magamit ko it CR(CR means comfort room).
Write a short intro about yourself
Write a short "about me" introduction in Aklanon and memorize it before your trip. This makes it easy for you to befriend the tour guide, driver, hotel and restaurant staff, and other key local persons in your Boracay vacation.
Here's a sample intro when you want to say, "Hello, my name is Jane. I'm from Australia. How are you?": "Hay, ro ngaean ko si Jane. Taga-Australia ako. Kamusta ka?"
Practice what you've learned
When you've learned a handful of basic Aklanon expressions, keep memorizing and rehearsing it on your flight to Boracay. And once you've arrived at the Kalibo or Caticlan Airport, you can put your new skill to the test—talk to any local airport personnel if there's a chance. You may even quickly ask them to help you pronounce certain words you're having difficulty with. They'll be happy to help!
Talk to locals in Aklanon
"Paalin mo maihambae 'Where's the toilet?' sa Akeanon?" That's what you say when you want to ask a local this question: "How do you say 'Where's the toilet?' in Aklan?"
Polish your Aklanon and sound more like a local by making friends with the locals. Listening to their accent will surely help. So practice the language every chance you get, like talking to the boatmen while waiting for other tourists in your tour group. The locals will be more than glad to teach you how to pronounce Aklanon words correctly.
Keep an online dictionary or translator handy
Because you're too busy preparing for your trip to Boracay, you may be pressed for time to learn the Aklanon language. During the idle times of your vacation, sneak in some time to search the translation for the phrase that you might need to use. An online dictionary is also useful when a local can't understand your accent even when you're speaking English.
Don't try too hard!
Relax—there's no pressure to speak perfect Aklanon. What matters more is that you're understood. When something is better spoken in English, go for it.
No point in being self-conscious if your accent sounds weird or funny. Filipinos are mostly a respectful lot. You won't get any rude comment as long as you're being respectful too.
Also, there's no reason to stress yourself out and feel that you aren’t making the most of your Boracay trip just because you can't express yourself well in the local language. Just have a good time and enjoy your worry-free escape at Alta Vista de Boracay!