The Hiligaynon language is heavily influenced by the Mother Spain. Indeed, traces of our Spanish Colony past are still emblazoned all over Iloilo City and Bacolod City. It was Cito Beltran who once noted that Iloilo is a city that is home to so many skeletons of its glorious past: the neglected old homes that have long been abandoned to caretakers. Thus, it is no surprise that imprints of our heavily Spanish past are still all over our language.

I recall one of my college (or was it high school?) teachers lamenting that the Ilonggo language has heavily borrowed from Spanish. Everything from the banyo (toilet) to the kusina (kitchen) is actually a Spanish word. Nobody uses the true-blue Hiligaynon word for these common terms, he lamented. Sadly, the Visayan versions of the Spanish words were much easier to use than the true-blue, "official" Hiligaynon translations. Thus, the Hiligaynon language, as it is currently used, is not purely Hiligaynon.

There are two words in this region that were distinct to me: "Algodon" in Iloilo, and "Merkado" in Bacolod.

Algodon is Spanish for cotton. I first wondered about how peculiar it is that it is spoken in Iloilo, when I saw a diskette (remember the 3 1/2 inch and 5 1/2 inch floppy disks?) case sticker with care instructions in different languages. I saw the word "Algodon," and up to today, thought it was German. It was only when I did a quick check for accuracy's sake that I discovered that the word was actually Spanish. That being said, it is funny to me that it is only in Iloilo that the word is used.

Merkado is a word you hardly hear from Ilonggos or anyone from the rural municipalities of Panay. Neither is it in the vocabulary of the people in Aklan. However, you would most likely hear this spoken by Bacolodnons. Mercado is Spanish for market. It is spelled with a "k" because Filipinized words have their c's translated to k's. And if you recall, we talked about how Bacolodnons dress up for going to the Merkado.

Marks on our language are part and parcel of the legacy of our colonial past. While the nacionalistas may abhor it, frankly, Filipinos will never be who we are, without the influence of the people who colonized us. Since the past is, indeed, past, there is nothing better to do than to embrace our heritage and enjoy it for what it's worth.

-The Scribbler


For a complete list of Spanish words incorporated into the Hiligaynon language, here's a list from Sun-Star Bacolod.