Iligan Variety of Sinugbuanong Binisaya

For my concept paper, I proposed the title A Framework for Translating Instructional Materials for Children with Special Needs into the Iligan Variety of Sinugbuanong Binisaya

The materials shared with us in our first Applied Linguistics class made me even more convinced of the relevance of my proposed study. For example, Pine and Turin (2017) in their article Language Revitalization acknowledged that, “While the alarms bells have sounded and the threat of languages ceasing to be spoken remains a reality for increasing numbers of communities, the indomitable human spirit in the face of adversity should not be underestimated. Language communities across the globe have proven throughout history that the odds can be beaten and that the effects of colonization are surmountable.”

Their statement strengthens my resolve to contribute to the “revitalization” of the Iligan variety of Sinugbuanong Binisaya, in my own little way by attempting to create a framework for translating instructional materials for children with special needs into the Iligan variety of Sinugbuanong Binisaya. Children with special needs who go to private special education schools in Iligan are taught in English; their therapies – both occupational and speech – are conducted in English (Abonales 2019). This, despite the Department of Education’s MTB-MLE program which requires the use of the mother tongue as the medium of instruction in Kindergarten thru third grade. (Institutionalizing Mother Tongue-Based Multilingual Education). Though my study is focused on the language used to teach children with special needs, for this essay I would like to focus on the language used to teach all school children in Iligan.

Even with the implementation of the MTB-MLE program of the Department of Education, it seems school children in Iligan are losing their Sinugbuanong Binisaya as evidenced by the many complaints of Kindergarten and Grade 1 teachers who observed that the little ones cannot understand simple instructions given in what is supposedly their mother-tongue. One teacher said she had to translate “Ibutang ang imong tsinelas sa rack” into English. But it is not only teachers who have problems with language used in the classroom. Many young parents I have spoken with have complained (albeit with a hint of pride) how the Mother Tongue subject is too difficult for their kids, as their kids know more English than Sinugbuanong Binisaya. How did it come to this? Technology and social media have played a major role in the first language acquisition of Filipino children. As parents have become too busy working to provide for the family, children are left under the “care” of television or gadgets which offer entertainment, mostly in English – Dora the Explorer, Cocomelon, Little Einsteins, Peppa Pig are just some shows that Filipino parents introduce to their kids to entertain them while they – parents – are busy working. It is not surprising then that kids acquire a variety of English as their first language even though adults at home speak Sinugbuanong Binisaya. I remember how a friend of mine who was teaching special education in a public school said she was quite surprised that one of the special kids in her class whose father was a “kutsiro” “spoke English [i.e. pronounced English words and phrases] with an American accent!” For sure both parents do not speak English! What kind of communication can take place between the special child and her parents in this condition?

As an Iliganon who grew up listening to a distinct variety of Sinugbuanong Binisaya among my elders, I am saddened to witness the decline of our kind of Sinugbuanong Binisaya as our young people’s language is continually and unceasingly influenced by not only the English language they hear from YouTube videos but also the Tagalog slang they hear from social media. How many young Iliganons when shown a picture of a bridge would call it “tulay”? I’m almost 100% sure they would all say “bridge” instead of “tulay.” Nevertheless, Sinugbuanong Binisaya is still spoken in Iligan, but just like any other language, it is dynamic and with technology and social media, it is changing a little too quickly, especially the Iligan variety which is partly due to its lack of written literature.

Earlier in this essay, I mentioned that Pine and Turin’s statement strengthens my resolve to contribute to the “revitalization” of the Iligan variety of Sinugbuanong Binisaya. I enclosed revitalization in quotation marks, as there is no imminent threat to the Iligan variety of Sinugbuanong Binisaya, but there is not much interest in the language either. It is my hope that as I learn more about applied linguistics and translation in this program, I can contribute to the popularization of the Iligan variety of Sinugbuanong Binasaya, perhaps have it officially called “Iliganon” in the future after it is officially recognized as a variety with its own orthography and set of vocabulary.

As for my concept paper, translating instructional materials for children with special needs may be a tiny, tiny step towards “Iliganon” or the Iligan variety of Sinugbuanong Binisaya being recognized as a variety, but nevertheless, I believe with Pine and Turin, that the “odds can be beaten.” As Professor Philip Shaw (KTHLearningLab 2012) mentioned in his lecture, “There’s a lot of research going on in different areas, not enough…considering the complexity of the situations that are arising and the specificity of the situations that are arising.” I am hopeful that when I finish my studies, there will be more students and/or researchers like me who will work to getting that recognition for the “Iliganon” language.


Abonales, T. (2019) Conducting Special Education, Speech and Occupational Therapies

In English For Children with Autism in the Philippines: Rationale, Problems and

Recommendations. The 2019 WEI International Academic Conference Proceedings.


EDUCATION-2019-Boston-Proceedings.pdf. Accessed September 19, 2022.

Institutionalizing Mother Tongue-Based Multilingual Education (MLE). DepEd Order No. 74


Accessed September 19, 2022.

KTHLearningLab. (2012, February 9). An Overview of Applied Linguistics [Video].

Accessed September 17, 2022.

Pine, Aidan & Turin, Mark. (2017). Language revitalization. 10.1093/acrefore/9780199384655.013.8. Accessed September 17, 2022.

Pan de Sal de Victoria

Ang tubo'ng Iligan
Kung pamahaw istoryahan
Pan de sal sa Victoria
Kanunay masaligan. 
Victoria Bakery. Aguinaldo Street, Iligan City

For most people who grew up in Iligan, Victoria Bakery’s pan de sal is a breakfast staple. Especially because the bakery is just a block away from St. Michael’s Cathedral, it’s been a tradition for many church-going families to stop by the bakery after mass to buy their pan de sal. My family is just one of those many families. I don’t know for sure how long this bakery has been around, but it should be over 40 years as I remember going there with my parents and sisters after mass every Sunday when I was a kid.

You can’t visit Iligan and not try Victoria Bakery’s pan de sal early in the morning.

Friends and relatives from Iligan who have left the city and the country only have fond memories of this unostentatious bakery that is so part of Iliganons’ lives.

Pan de sal in its brown bag
Several bakeries in Iligan sell pan de sal, but none can compare to Victoria Bakery’s. 😉

Interesting Cebuano Expressions

I’ve seen a lot of interesting and funny Bisaya expressions on Facebook lately. These are from people selling all kinds of stuff, and I thought I’d collect them and post them on my blog, and hopefully help my fellow Cebuano speakers appreciate how our language is changing and how our use of it is bringing about all the changes. Enjoy!

Bisaya Poem: Baynte Pesos


Presko pa sa akong hunahuna
Bisan daghang mga tuig na ang milabay…

Mituktugaok ang manok sa silingan
Alas kwatro na sa kaadlawon.
Wala ako milihok na gapaminaw
Sa imong hinay-hinay’ng pagbakod
Ug pagkanaug sa silong.

Sayod ako na una mo’ng pagabuhaton
Ang pagluto sa kape,
Pagbubo sa tanom
Ug pagpanilhig sa lagwerta.

Mitingog na ang radyo
Ug ang mabugnaw nga tingog
Sa tigpagpahibalo sa DXIC
Milanog sa kahilom sa tulog na syudad.

Hinay-hinay akong mibangon
Ug gikuha ang sa kagabii pa lang
Gitaguan ko sa akong gisi na school bag.

Ug sa paggawas ko sa balay
Sa pagpangita ko kanimo sa hilom,
Dakong kahayag ang mitagbo kanako.

Gilirungan sa kalayo
Ang pinakadako na kawa
Ug ikaw, ang imong dagway nahayagan
Sa kasiga sa kalayo, nakuratan
Ug nangutana – “Kasayo mo man mibangon?”

Nasimhutan ko ang humot
Sa lubi sa biko na imong galutuon
Ginaandam mo para sa imong adlaw’ng natawhan.

Gibadlong mo ako na dili magpaduol sa kalayo
Apan giduulan ko ikaw, ug gitunol
Ang pinilo na baynte pesos
Na pinatibuok pagkahuman sa pipila ka semana
Na inipon na balon nianing kamanghuran mo.

“Happy Birthday, Ma!” ug gihalog ko ikaw.
Sa akong onse anyos na pangutok, napalipay ko ikaw.
Kay sayod man ako – kwarta ang makapalipay kanimo.

Wala ko na gitagad ang imong tubag
Ug mibalik ako pagsaka sa kwarto,
Malipayon uban sa kabugnawon sa kaadlawon,
Nga napainit sa kalayo sa giluto mo’ng biko.