As a person who was born and raised in Sagada, the combination of Kankanaey and English languages is my native tongue. Honestly, people from my hometown do not speak in straight Kankanaey.

My Home Language: Kankanaey + English 

Kankanaey is the local language of people from central and western Mountain Province, and from the Kankanaey tribes of Benguet. Although we have varied accents, majority of our terminologies and grammatical structure are the same.

What makes Sagada Kankanaey unique is the insertion of English words or phrases. Historically speaking, Sagada received the magic touch of American missionaries turning it into an Anglican and English-speaking town.

So when you hear someone saying these phrases, you are more likely to be listening to a person from Sagada:

a.    “I-close mo nan door kad, please.”- Close the door, please.
b.    “Entako id baey is awni tay men dinner tako isdi kano kanan Lola”.- Let’s go to our house later because we’ll be eating dinner there, according to Lola.
c.    “Where is Christian? Ibagam ta umali id store tay wada surprise ko ken siya.”- Where is Christian? Tell him to come to my store for I have some surprise for him.
e.    “Esa yu i-boil nan nay pork.”- “Do boil this piece of pork later.”



Our English skills get enhanced when we deal with foreign tourists coming to our place for the wonderful natural creations that we capitalize on for living.




Strange Yet Our National Language: Filipino

Then here comes schooling. The curriculum from our national government says, we need to learn our national language- Filipino.

Filipino was declared the national language by then President Manuel L. Quezon years after we Igorots in the mountainous north were accepted as Filipinos, no longer as an animal specie of the country.

Filipino is basically based on Tagalog, a language spoken in the central provinces of the archipelago which people from the north and the south do not deal with usually.

In fact, Filipino language is stranger to Sagada people. We only encounter it when we meet tourists from Manila and when we watch national TV.

Honestly, I had problems learning Filipino in school because no one speaks it at home. But I had no choice but to learn it because it is our national language.

When I came to the city for college education, everyone was speaking in Filipino. Thus, I needed to catch up.

In pronouncing English and Kankanaey words, you need to be firm. Thus, the transition of the two languages when used in one utterance is smooth. But when you are used with pronouncing words firmly, you’ll get lost in the Filipino language. Filipino words should be pronounced in a soft manner.

I tried my best to soften my tongue when speaking Filipino. In fact, you will identify that a person is an Igorot just like me when his utterance of Filipino words is very firm.

Regional Language for A Wider Social Range: Ilocano

As a social being, I deal with people from all over the north every day.

Everyone in the four regions in northern Philippines (Ilocos Sur, Ilocos Norte, Cagayan and Cordillera) has his own mother tongue, but we all speak one language- Ilocano.

Ilocano has different variations based geographical locations. Highland Ilocano, which I speak, is known for its firmness when pronouncing the words.

Knowing how to speak in Ilocano is a big advantage. When I go to other areas of the region, I just communicate with people there in Ilocano. I do not need to speak in our national langauge because I know Filipino is rarely used in the region.

In Sagada, Ilocano is not that popular because of the domination of Kankanaey and English. However, we still use it to deal with Ilocano vendors who come to trade with us every Saturday. 

The first people to introduce Ilocano to Sagada people are Ilocano teachers in the early 20th century. These Iloco teachers rode on the back of their horses, crossed mountains ranges just to reach Sagada. They came to educate our great grandparents with modern concepts.



And the Fifth Language?

At work, we use Filipino to deal with each other. But my profession needs English skills, since I write for people from Australia, America, Britain, Ireland, New Zealand and Canada who communicate using the universal langauge.

When given a chance to learn a fifth language, I would love to learn French.

French, as they say, is the most romantic language (and Irish is the sexiest accent). I am not a fan of French language or culture, but working in Paris is extremely inspiring (and sexy as well).



Lingos Learning Platform Takes Charge

Lingos, a learning platform, helps locate language teachers in the neighborhood. It was launched in London and is now being used by hundreds and hundreds of language students around the world.

Lingos is a free platform. When you sign up, you need to enter the second language you want to learn and the area you are from.

Automatically, the platform gives you a list of language teachers near you who can help you with the desired language.

Now, you exchange messages with the teacher you want to help you with the desired language. You can meet up in cafes, public parks, at home, or even do the tutoring via Skype.

You can discuss about the pay or decide to have language skills exchange. Who knows, the teacher might be interested in learning your native language.

If you are a teacher, you may also sign up for an account. Identify your language expertise and your available schedule so interested learners may match their schedule with yours ahead of time.