How to learn Filipino-Indonesian in 10 easy words

 So it’s happening.

My exchange semester abroad is down to its last two weeks. As I wrap up the many different things I’ve started (and could only hope to start) here, I’ve started looking back on all we’ve done over the past three months.

One particular event happened last September when were lucky enough to be invited by the local government to participate in a weekend summit for all the exchange students in the region. We got to meet new foreign friends and fellow Filipinos from our university.  In addition, we also got to stay in a temple and see the preparations for the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang.



Our templestay in Woljeong Temple was in itself an experience. As I’ve shared in a previous post, I’ve basically fallen in love with Korea’s natural and manmade beauty. The brightly colored structures are the perfect marriage of traditional Korean and Buddhist influence. Look out your window and take a walk outside, you’ll be greeted by a very lush mountain range and lots of sunshine and fresh air. Woljeong Temple is a sacred heaven for any weary traveler (they’re pretty tourist-friendly, with English translations included in all their signages) tucked away from the city in a well-kept pocket in the mountains.

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It was a wonderful trip. All expenses were funded by the local government, and we were truly honored to have been part of the short yet meaningful cultural sharing from Korea. Along the way, we also got to do small exchanges with our new foreign friends. The most memorable of them being the one I was able to have with a new Indonesian friend named Ilham.


We were trekking back home during templestay when a short word with my Filipino friends caught his ear. He asked me what the word meant, and during that hike (plus a few more conversations online later), this list of Filipino-Indonesian words sharing similar to identical structures and/or meanings was born.

Can you guess which word it was?

(Filipino words or meanings to the left, Indonesian to the right. If the word or meaning is the same for both languages, it’s placed in the center.)

7aku Korean National Museum

guru Our Korean History professor, Korean National Museum

8balikWoljeong Temple, Pyeongchang

1kananGirls’ and boys’ resting quarters at Woljeong Temple, Pyeongchang

5bangon Korean National Museum

9inum Woljeong Temple, Pyeongchang

3laut Donghae (East Beach), Sokcho

10langit Wonju by dusk

4dasal Korean National Museum

selamatVisiting friends at Kangwon National University

  1. ako/aku (n.) – I/me
  2. guro/guru (n.) – teacher
  3. balik (v.) – to return
  4. kanan (n.) – right
  5. bangon/bangun (v.) – get up
  6. inom/minum (v.) – drink
  7. laot/laut (n.) – sea
  8. langit (n.) – sky
  9. dasal/dasar (n.) – prayer/foundation
  10. salamat/selamat (expression) – thank you/congratulations

Some more words:

  1. bawang (n.) – garlic
  2. bibig/bibir (n.) – mouth
  3. paru-paro/paru-paru (n.) – butterfly/lung
  4. bola (n.) – ball
  5. utang (v.) – to borrow money


The link between the two makes me think about how teacher in Korean is 선생 [seonsaeng(nim)] and 先生 [sensei] in Japanese. Beyond that, I also begin to wonder how kutsara is spoon in Filipino and 숟가락 [sootkarak] in Korean considering they’re from two different language families altogether. I could go on trying to search for more similarities between them, but maybe finding them by chance would be a bit more wonderful.

While Ilham and I both have been studying mainly Korean during our time here, it was refreshing to learn more about each other’s languages briefly. Taking an innate love for learning and living other languages besides your own to a foreign country definitely pays. As it is, the basic linguistics course I took two semesters ago was not enough to cover all there is to discover about how these languages, and in essence, what makes us we, are somehow all connected.

When I return to the Philippines, it won’t be a bother to help friends translate some basic Korean for them if I could. Another language, after all, becomes simpler when you realize letters and words are just a façade to one universal meaning.

Love and light always,


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