Bisaya Languages are: Hiligaynon, Cebuano, Waray, Aklanon, Capiznon, Kinaray-a, Bantoanon, Romblomanon, Cuyonon, Tausug etc

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The biggest misconception among Bisaya (Visayan) people is that Cebuano is the only Bisaya language and the only Bisaya people which is totally FALSE

Is Bisaya a language?

No. It is a language family consisting of languages spoken in the Visayas and northern Mindanao. Bisayan languages include Cebuano, Hiligaynon, Waray, Karay-a, and Surigaonon, among others.

Dr Jecon Dreisbach PhD
PhD in Critical sociolinguistics Politics of Philippine Languages, identity, migration, culture, & media.
PhD in Sociolinguist and interdisciplinary social scientist
De La Salle University


The term Bisaya (Visaya) as applied in the Philippines, does not only refer to people but also to geography and language. Geographically, the Bisayas cover the islands of Tablas, Romblon, Sibuyan, Panay, Guimaras, Negros, Siquijor, Cebu, Bohol, Bantayan, Camotes, Masbate, Leyte, Biliran, Samar, and numerous smaller islandsin the central Philippines. Linguistically, the word Bisaya refers to the language of the people in the region. It should be noted, however, that Bisaya comprises several closely related dialects, principally Aklanon, Kiniray-a, Hiligaynon (Ilongo), Sugbuhanon (Cebuano), and WarayWaray

Source: 1 J o h n C a r r o ll, ” T h e W o rd B is a y a i n t h e P h il ip p in e s a n d B o r n e o ,” S a r a w a k M u s e um J o u r n a l , I X ( J u ly – D e c e m b e r 1 9 6 0 ) , p . 5 3 2 .To m H a r r is o n , “ B is a y a : B o r n e o – P h ilip p in e I m p a c t s o f I s la m ,’’ S a r a w a k M u s e u m J o u r n a l , V II ( J u n e 1 9 5 6 ) , p . 4 3 .


Visayan People Base on the book of H. Otley Beyer and other anthropologists

The Visayans or Visayan people The Visayans or Visayan people (Visayan languages and Tagalog: mga Bisaya) are a Filipino ethnic group whose members share a great extent of cultural, historical and linguistic affinity stretching across islands within the Visayan Sea. The people are speakers of one or more Visayan languages, the most widely spoken being CEBUANO, HILIGAYNON, AND WARAY-WARAY. They live in the Visayan island group and in many parts of Mindanao.. The Visayans, as one ethnolinguistic umbrella and notwithstanding the population exclusive to that of Visayas, are the largest ethnic group in the country, numbering at around 33 million as of 2010.

KABISAY-AN refers both to the Visayan people collectively and the lands occupied by them. The Anglicized term Visayas (via Hispanized plural form of Bisaya) is commonly used to refer to the latter. Based on loose definitions, the unofficial boundaries of Visayas traditionally comprise the following provinces commonly known where Visayans or people with Visayan culture reside: Aklan, Iloilo, Antique, Guimaras, Negros Occidental, Negros Oriental, Cebu, Siquijor, Bohol, Southern Leyte, Leyte, Biliran, Northern Samar, Eastern Samar, Samar, Romblon and Masbate.

According to H. Otley Beyer and other anthropologists, the term Visayan was first applied only to the people of PANAY and to their settlements eastward in the island of Negros, and northward in the smaller islands, which now compose the province of Romblon. In fact, at the early part of Spanish colonialization of the Philippines, the Spaniards used the term Visayan only for these areas, while the people of Cebu, Bohol, and Leyte were for a long time known only as Pintados. The name Visayan was later extended to these other islands because, as several of the early writers state, their languages are closely allied to the Visayan “dialect” of Panay. The impression of these similarities was in fact carefully analyzed by David Zorc, who, while able to linguistically classify the Austronesian subfamily termed Visayan languages, noticed their overall connections as one dialect continuum. However, these must not be confused to dialects, since not all Visayan languages contain a unified set of features.

Source: Based on the book of H. Otley Beyer and other anthropologists

REFERENCES: • · G. Nye Steiger, H. Otley Beyer, Conrado Benitez, A History of the Orient, Oxford: 1929, Ginn and Company, pp. 122–123. • · · Zorc, David Paul. The Bisayan Dialects of the Philippines: Subgrouping and Reconstruction. Canberra, Australia: Dept. of Linguistics, Research School of Pacific Studies, Australian National University, 1977. • · · Cf. BLAIR, Emma Helen & ROBERTSON, James Alexander, eds. (1911). The Philippine Islands, 1493–1803. Volume 04 of 55 (1493-1803). Historical introduction and additional notes by Edward Gaylord BOURNE. Cleveland, Ohio: Arthur H. Clark Company. ISBN 978-0554259598. OCLC 769945704. “Explorations by early navigators, descriptions of the islands and their peoples, their history and records of the catholic missions, as related in contemporaneous books and manuscripts, showing the political, economic, commercial and religious conditions of those islands from their earliest relations with European nations to the beginning of the nineteenth century.”, pp. 257–260. • · · Jovito S. Abellana, “Bisaya Patronymesis Sri Visjaya” (Ms., Cebuano Studies Center, ca. 1960) • · · Argos, B. M. (26 November 2007). “Binukot: Revisiting Western Visayas’ only indigenous group”. Retrieved 18 April 2015. • · · Paul Morrow (1998). “The Maragtas Legend”. Retrieved 17 April 2014. • · · Maria Christine N. Halili (2004). Philippine History. Quezon City: Rex Bookstore, Inc. pp. 9–10. ISBN 971-233-934-3. • · · Celedonio G. Aguilar (1994). Readings in Philippine Literature. Quezon City: Rex Book Store, Inc. pp. 64–67. ISBN 971-231-564-9. • · · Rasul, Jainal D. (2003). Agonies and Dreams: The Filipino Muslims and Other Minorities. Quezon City: CARE Minorities. p. 77.


“Bisaya” was used to describe the Panay people

Mentrida, Alonso de, 1559-1637: Diccionario de la Lengua Bisaya, Hiligueina y Haraya de la Isla de Panay (in Spanish; Manila: Imp. de D. Manuel y de D. Felis S. Dayot, 1841)

Meˀntrida, A. (1617): Arte de la Lengua Bisaya-Hiligayna de la Isla de Panay. Revised by Fray JoseˀAparicio. Tambobong: Pequeña Tipografíˀa del Asilo de Hueˀrfanos.

The books that Fr. Alonso wrote on grammar, catechism, and ceremonies are arguably best recognized. Among these are the Ritual for the Administration of the Saints Sacramentos, the Arte de la lengua bisaya hiligayna de la Isla de Panay, the Catecismo de Doctrina Cristiana en lengua bisaya, and others.

In 1590, at the Convent of Our Lady of Grace of Casarrubios del Monte, Fr. Alonso made his vows to the Order. While serving as a missionary in the Philippines, he held a variety of positions, including those of Provincial Definitor (1614), Prior of the Convento de San Pablo de Manila (1618), and Prior Provincial of the Augustinian Province of the Most Holy Name of Jesus in the Philippines (1623). He also worked for other Augustinian institutions and missions in Panay (1607), Passi (1611), Bulacan (1617), and Bacolor (1620).

The books that Fr. Alonso wrote on grammar, catechism, and ceremonies are arguably best recognized. Among these are the Ritual for the Administration of the Saints Sacramentos, the Arte de la lengua bisaya hiligayna de la Isla de Panay, the Catecismo de Doctrina Cristiana en lengua bisaya, and others.



Bisaya is a group of related languages belonging to the Austronesian (Malayo-Polynesian) family.
Spoken in the central and southern Philippines, it is comprised of roughly 25 languages, some near extinction with under 1,000 native speakers and others are spoken by millions.

Hiligaynon, Cebuano, Waray, Aklanon, Capiznon, Kinaray-a, Bantoanon, Romblomanon, Cuyonon, etc.
Bisaya languages in Mindanao Cebuano, Ilonggo. Surigaonon, Butuanon.

Panay, Romblon, Negros, Cebu, Bohol, Siquijor, Leyte, and Samar

Hiligaynon, Cebuano, Waray, Aklanon, Capiznon, Kinaray-a, Bantoanon, Romblomanon, Cuyonon and many other Bisaya languages.

  1. Bisaya Island of Panay:
    Hiligaynon is the spoken Bisaya language in Iloilo and Roxas,
    Karay-a / Kinaray-a is the spoken Bisaya language in Antique and parts of Iloilo.
    Aklanon is the spoken Bisaya language in Aklan
    Capiznon and Hiligaynon are the spoken Bisaya languages in Capiz.
  2. Bisaya Island of Negros:
    Cebuano is the spoken Bisaya language in Negros Oriental.
    Hiligaynon is the spoken Bisaya language in Negros Occidental.
  3. Bisaya Island of Cebu.
    Cebuano is the spoken Bisaya language in Cebu.
  4. Bisaya Island of Bohol
    Boholano (local version of Cebuano language).
  5. Bisaya Island of Leyte:
    Waray is the spoken Bisaya language in Northern Leyte.
    Cebuano is the spoken Bisaya language in Southern Leyte.
  6. Bisaya Island of Samar:
    Waray is the spoken Bisaya language in Eastern Samar.
    Cebuano is the spoken Bisaya language in Southern Samar.
  7. Bisaya Island of Romblon:
    Rombloanon is the spoken Bisaya language in Romblon.
  8. Mindanao is not in the Bisaya islands but many Bisaya people migrated in the 1940s.
    Cebuano, Hiligaynon, Surigaonon, Butuanon & Tausug are the spoken Bisaya languages in Mindanao.

In the 1940s, heavy migration from the Bisaya islands of Cebu and Negros Oriental to Mindanao spurred by government-sponsored resettlement programs is the reason why 90% of Mindanao people speak the Cebuano language. Other Bisaya people who came to Mindanao are the Ilonggos from Iloilo in Panay; they settled around Cotabato and brought with them the Hiligaynon language. Other Bisaya languages spoken in Mindanao are Surigaonon and Butuanon.

Top 3 Most Spoken Bisaya Languages:
(1.) Cebuano 20 million;
(2.) Hiligaynon 10 million;
(3.) Waray 3 million;


Ilonggo Is also Bisaya


The origin of the Bisaya tribes in BISAYA islands

Bisaya is an indigenous people from the northwest coast of East Malaysia on the island of Borneo. Their population is concentrated around Beaufort, Kuala Penyu, Menumbok, Sipitang, Labuan Federal Territory and in Limbang District, Sarawak. The Bisaya tribe has many similarities with the Dusun Tatana tribe, especially in terms of language. It is evident that some of their dialogical language conversations are almost identical if they have a dialogue with each other. Nowadays the Bisaya living in Sabah are Muslim, while the Bisaya living in Sarawak are mostly Christianity. In Brunei, they are referred as Dusun, Jati Dusun and Bisaya (Though they are not to be confused with the Dusun people of Sabah). The Bisaya people are also regarded as a relatives of the Dayak people whereas Bisaya was not brought into Borneo instead they are aboriginal of the land.

Introduction / History

The Bisaya of Malaysia is located in western Sabah along the northern coast of Brunei Bay and also in northern Sarawak along the rivers which flow into Brunei Bay. Inhabiting the middle reaches of the Limbang River, they are often called “people of the middle” or “people of the river”.

The Bisayan culture and language are quite similar to that of the Sabah Dusun and related groups in Brunei and Sarawak. In fact, some believe that the culture area should be labeled Bisaya-Dusun. The Bisayan language, Basaya, is a part of the North Indonesian branch of the Austronesian language family.

The Bisaya in Malaysia live among the much larger Malay groups. However, local Malays are important to the Bisaya, as they supply them with buffalo, boats, seafood, and Malay medicines. Although they have borrowed some customs from surrounding peoples, the Muslim Bisaya remain culturally unique.

Origin and etymology

Several theories have been put forward by various researchers regarding the origins of the name of the Bisaya people. Beyer H.O. in 1926, Hester E.D. in 1954 and Harrison in 1956 suggested that the name may have come from the empire of Sri Vijaya (Sonza, 1972). However, in 1960, Eugene Vestraelen (Professor of Linguistics at the University of San Carlos, Cebu City) cautioned that the linguistic derivation of Vijaya would not be Bisaya but Bidaya, or Biraya.

Another theory was suggested by John Carroll:

According to John Carroll (1961:499-541), the term Visaya might be the Sanskrit Vaisya, denoting the 3rd caste of the Hindu caste system. The Philippine term Bisaya as found in Malay writings meant ‘slave’ or ‘the country of slaves’ and referred to a geographical area of the Philippines where slaves are formerly found and captured.— Joh Carroll, The word Bisaya in the Philippines and Borneo, Sarawak Museum Journal, 1960


First Malay Settlement?  Malandog, Hamtic, Antique Province, Philippines

Based on facts compiled in a book Maragtas by Pedro Alcantara Monteclaro, written in 1907, there are legends which tells the story of the ten chiefs (Datus) who escaped from the tyranny of Datu Makatunaw from Borneo to the islands of Panay. The chiefs and followers are believed to be the ancestors of the Visayan people. The arrival is celebrated in the Festival of the Ati-Atihan in Kalibo, Aklan.

Datu Sumakwel founded the town of Malandog, considered to be the first Malay settlement in the country. Malandog is now a barangay in the present-day municipality of Hamtic, which was named after the historic sakup.

When the Malayan Datus led by Datu Sumakwelan reached the island of Panay, they landed at Malandog which has become one of the barangays of Hamtic at present. Finding the place marshy and unsuitable for settlement, they moved down three kilometers south. There. They found wider plains with abundant trees and materials needed in the construction of their houses. They later named the place “Hamtic” because the place was inhabited by big ants that hummed and produced “tik” sounds when bite. It was on the place when the first Malayan settlement and the purchase of Panay between Date Sumakwel and the Aetas Chief. Datu Marikudo took place. Panay was purchase for one gold sadok and one gold necklace.

The origin of the term “Visayan “ is unclear. Some sources say it refers to Shri Vijaya, the ancient island Southeast Asian empire to which the original Visayans supposedly belonged. Others consider the term a literal rendering of the Visayan sadya or the Tagalog saya, meaning happiness. The latter version appears to stem from the stereotype that Visayans are a generally laid-back, fun loving and happy-go-lucky people. But as Visayans themselves would put it, they are a hardworking people who just know how to enjoy life.

Despite two scholars, Juan Francisco and Lourdes Rausa-Gomez, debunking this myth way back in the 1960-70s in scholarly journals and at least one book.

History: Tausug is part of the Bisaya family

Bisaya is a group of related languages belonging to the Malayo-Polynesian family. Spoken in the central and southern Philippines, it is comprised of roughly 25 languages, some near extinction with under 1,000 native speakers and others spoken by millions. Bisaya includes Cebuano, Hiligaynon , Aklanon, Capiznon, Kinaray-a, Bantoanon, Romblomanon, Cuyonon, Waray, Surigaonon, Butuanon, Tausog, etc. Spoken by approximately 28 million people, the Bisaya language family has the largest number of native speakers in the Philippines.


Jeconiah Dreisbach is an interdisciplinary social scientist and sociolinguist. He is doing his Ph.D. in Humanities and Communication at the Universitat Oberta de Catalunya, specializing in critical sociolinguistics. Jecon is part of the interdisciplinary research group Language, Culture and Identity in the Global Age (IdentiCat) and does research on the convergences of multilingualism, migration, intercultural contact, education, and family language policies. Concurrently, he is a visiting doctoral researcher at the Department of International Studies of the American University of Sharjah in the United Arab Emirates. In the Philippines, Jecon is a lecturer at the Philippine Studies program of De La Salle University, teaching courses in Philippine language, culture, and media studies. He co-edited the book Environment, Media, and Popular Culture in Southeast Asia (Springer, 2022). He also serves as a managing editor for Studies in Ethnicity and Nationalism and an editorial board member for LLT Journal: A Journal on Language Teaching, Ghancara: Indonesian Journal of Language and Literature Education, and the Malaysian Journal of Media Studies. Jecon is also interested in the linguistic and cultural aspects of public health studies, linguistic anthropology, translation studies, and popular culture studies.

Thesis Committee:

Joan Pujolar Cos, PhD (Universitat Oberta de Catalunya)
Main Supervisor

Beatriz P. Lorente, PhD (Universität Bern)

Laavanya Kathiravelu, PhD (Nanyang Technological University)
Migration Studies Adviser


Common Misconception of Ilonggo & Hiligaynon

Another misunderstood language is Hiligaynon. A lot of uninformed people refer to Ilonggo as a language which is wrong.

Ilonggo is not a language. Ilonggo means the people of Iloilo who trace their ethnic roots or Ilonggo is not a language. Ilonggo means the people who trace their ethnic roots or bloodline in Iloilo province in the Bisaya Island of Panay. The majority of the Ilonggos in Iloilo speak the Hiligaynon language; in some parts of Iloilo near Antique, some Ilonggos speak Kinaray-a. Hiligaynon is also the language spoken in Bacolod and Negros Occidental provinces, Roxas, Guimaras, and parts of Cotabato in Mindanao.. For Detail watch

The term “Ilonggo” is derived from the Spanish term “irong-irong”, referring to the Filipino word for nose (“ilong”) and an islet in the Batiano River in Panay. “Ilonggo” is considered to define a specific group of people whose ethnic origins are in the provinces of Iloilo, Guimaras, and Panay, while “Hiligaynon” defines the language and culture of the Ilonggo people.Thus, both terms are interchangeable in referring to the culture of the people or the people themselves


Watch Ilonggo is NOT a language

Here are some of the most common Bisaya words in different Bisaya languages: Hiligaynon, Cebuano, Waray, Aklanon, Capiznon, Kinaray-a, Bantoanon, Romblomanon, Cuyonon, Surigaonon, Butuanon

sugilanon gin biyaan ilambos maguba mando hilabtan nahadlok pabilin mangamoyo balos gasaulog bahandi bulawan pang himakak butang kulba baligya looy tindog ipa dakop padayon sumbag humay kamot lugod bangko katongdanan toyo palibog salig makalingaw pauli unod tag iya kasayoran ma pinalanggaon matumba gilauman kapoy ungangan didto tomar kanta palihog sugod nasiplatan toltolan katol batasan matahom atop mag basol basolon maka tambong galampos hulat bahin hinay duaw kahoyan pangitaon maayo maanad balibaran luib gaba hinolsol bulag takna atobang bisan tognaw tiil makahibalo pasabton abe pinaagi hubog agdahon tingoha buhian kalimtan samtang pasaylo kaayohan tan awon dasma manguha ipatoman dumot kalibutan tinguha nabilin kinahanglanon dugay silingan dugang talaw ginadayonan mahibal-an madakpan hibalo dakpan kabaklaan tugutan pugong tawganay malipayon kurog hubag halokan paagi gakos simhotan lipong kaugalingon pirme kulbaan gamiton sogilanon tilawan nag dayon mahibal an atobangon atimanon hatagan tagaan labi na katalagman padolong pag-abot manduan dako dakpon hitabo kuhaon mangayo ihabla ipasaka istorya daug win pananglitan lapas kawat kasuguan kastigo akto dukol bag o kaunon ninyo mahimo mangita aw kada adlaw niadtong ika duha tanan sakop natabo nahitabo pag ikaayo batok tawo sulod basihan bug-at sa aton ato pagdako lawas kabataan desidido ka lain lain, homay, padulong saka logos gihapon gihigugma tago gubaon kamo pangibabaw palayo himoon sablagan pangitaa sala ,Ila nga nakit an, gina duso mabalik bayaran ibobo danlog ibabaw gahom kinahanglan paglupad mga balay unong dagway pamahaw Katingalahan nakahibalo lingaw agwanta pundo pa kusoga isog singgit katoltol buut kadugay kalimti makaluto kaon mahatagan pagpaiuli nabalaka makigkita utro ginatuman lagom kabukiran tyabaw nahuman mandoan matoman mabuhat ginikanan nahulog ulanan pamati dira init diri pahibalo tomanon tonga dal-on dala makig – away ipakita subo amiga amigo kusog buhaton nawong bana mahadlok tan-awon baybayon pahilabot abot bawion kawatan kabalos kabalo testingi palangga lumba gagmay katawhan tagsa pagkabutang pagsaulog tomana dungag andam naa makatodlo basi eksakto sala. pagtoo magulang karon later sudlan imo hinlo lubot anogon manunudlo pasudlon Kaayo angkon tilaw damgo silot palibot agay tungod tingala samad pani bag-o sandig giban tog labot butangan luto pagkaon pahulay kalamay dalhon gyud bukal Lipong suya ginhawa pongko Adlaw kwarta kutog Tohog agi Tiil batiis tahi. Tindog kontra sulong nangayo libak pakaon antos huway masaligan baskog panulay niwang Tabon tolon piyong salawayon polo tuig lomos baso Dugang Gamay togotan Mando sag ob sungayon baybay suba buhi Tan Panimalay tabang manghod lab as pila buang lavyan bugaw ihawon pugngan gasaulog. bahandi. bangkol dakpon, padoding laum hagad lambos panimalay Mantinir batasn Bahandi. Bulawan SUMBAG Halokan Gakos Tilawan Logos Mahimo Sugilanon Gihapon Gihigugma Tago Dumot Gubaon Maayo Dakpon Padayon Kamo Pangibabaw Palayo Himoon Sablagan Sala Gina Natabo Mabalik Bayaran Ibobo Danlog Ibabaw Gahom Hinay Kinahanglan Paglupad Nakahibalo Sulod Lingaw Nag Katoltol Buut Kadugay Bisan Didto Takna Makaluto Kaon Mahatagan Pagpaiuli Nabalaka Makigkita Utro Ginatuman Lagom Kabukiran Mag Gagmay Katawhan Tagsa Pagkabutang Tomana Tambong Naa Makatodlo Basi Eksakto Lapas Sala Pahibalo Pagtoo Pag Magulang Looy Karon Kawatan Sudlan Maguba Imo Malipayon Bana Istorya Ginikanan Hinlo


Ilonggo Is also Bisaya


Ilonggo is not a language

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