Nahigugma Kita, Boracay: The Language of the Island

Sachi Go

From the days of Lapu-Lapu to Jose Rizal, language has been an essential tool in our arsenal for liberation and independence. Spread across the 7,107 islands of the Philippines, are various incarnations of our mother tongue. Each dialect has its own distinct history that tells the tale of how our modern nation came to be.

In the island of Boracay alone, numerous regional expressions and wordings fill the commotion in the air. But what is truly considered the “Boracay Language” is Aklanon, spoken by over 390,000 natives. This is not to be confused with Ibajaynon or Akeanon, both from which it is derived from.

An interesting trait that separates Aklanon from other dialects is the use of the phoneme “ea” instead of “la”. Grammatically, it bears some distinct similarities with Tagalog in its common usage. Another link between the two is their borrowed words from certain Spanish speech, due to the historical 327-year colonization that inevitably laced Spain’s culture with ours for ages to come.

Although proficient in English and other variations of their vernacular, the islanders still keep their language alive and many even integrate it into their sentences when conversing in Tagalog with Pinoy tourists from across the nation. It is remarkable to see both the older and younger folks engaging in that lived-in banter that, even if one cannot understand the dialect, is seemingly relatable and full of the this-and-that’s and here-and-there’s that everyone knows.

Another significant dialect in Boracay is Inati, exclusively spoken by the island’s resident Ati community. Though not all members are still stable to speak it at the present time, it remains an important piece of Boracay history that gives us a thought-provoking glimpse into the little nuances and intricacies of our multi-faceted culture.

In celebration of Buwan ng Wika, let us embrace the richness of our own language and revel in the little bumps and twists in our speech and in the journey it took our ancestors to bring us the vast vocabulary that we have today.

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