It is common for Indonesian to think that Malaysia is the closest country to Indonesia in term of culture and language. We speak in a very similar language. My friends from Malaysia still can understand when I speak in Indonesian language and I can understand their language, Malay.

While similarities between Malay and Indonesian language is a common thing, the similarities between Indonesian and Filipino language is still unfamiliar for most people. I did not know that the two languages share similar words until I met my Filipino friends while I was in South Korea for exchange student program in 2016.

 How I Found that Indonesian and Filipino Language Share Similar Words?

So the story began when I went to Temple Stay with the other exchange students from Kangwon Province. I forgot the name of the program, but it was a 3 days and 2 night tour program to introduce the traditional culture of Kangwon Province and Pyeongchang Olympics venue to exchange students in Kangwon Province. The participants of this program came from several universities in Kangwon Province: Kangwon National University, Halla University and so on.

One of the destinations of this tour was Temple Stay which located on the mountain. While we were hiking on the hill beside the temple, I heard someone shouting, “Balik, balik, balik!”

“Balik” means return in Indonesian language. I thought it was one of my Indonesian friend told me to to return to the temple but turned out it was not.

It was actually Filipino students from my university, Angel and Jacob, with their Filipino friends from Halla University. Then I decided to join their conversation and told them I thought they were calling me in Indonesian language because the word were so familiar. It turned out that “balik” was also a word from Filipino and the meaning was also return. Thanks to this “similar-word-conversation”, I got new friends from the Philipines: Joanne, Hannah, Tanya, and Patricia.

ilham joanne knu

Meet my friends from Philippines: Joanne, Angel, Hannah, Tanya, and Patricia. Plus my Korean buddy, Jang Jihoon

On our way back to temple we had fun conversation to find more similar words in Bahasa and Tagalog. So Joanne mentioned random words from Tagalog and I need to check if the word had similar word in Indonesian. I also mentioned random words from Bahasa and Joanne checked if the words had similar words in Filipino.

The conversation did not stop there. We continued to find more similar word of Bahasa Indonesia and Filipino even after our meeting in Temple Stay. We talked via Facebook Messenger to get as many as possible of the similar words in Indonesian and Filipino language.

It was fun and we got a lot of similar words in  Indonesian and Tagalog language. This is the list of similar words we found:

Meaning in English Bahasa Indonesia Filipino
Return Balik Balik
Too (Indonesian)Red (Filipino) Pula Pula
Garlic Bawang Bawang
Borrow money Utang Utang
Right Kanan Kanan
Sky Langit Langit
Lips Bibir Bibig
I/Me Aku Ako
Ball Bola Bola
Get up Bangun Bangon
Teacher Guru Guro
Drink Minum Inom
Foundation (Indonesian)Prayer (Filipino) Dasar Dasal
Sea Laut Laot
Lung (Indonesian)Butterfly (Filipino) Paru-paru Paru-paro
Son Anak Anak
Five Lima Lima
Fear Takut Takot

Those words are only few of which we found over the conversation during the trip in Temple Stay and  discussion on Facebook Messenger. Actually there are a lot more than mentioned above. But I hope the list above can give you a glimpse of the smiliarities between Indonesian and Filipino language.

How are Indonesia and Philippines Linguistically Related?

After that, I got more curious about the connection between Indonesia and the Philippines. So I did a small research regarding linguistic similarities of Indonesian and Filipino language, and I found more interesting facts about that.

So, how Indonesian and Filipino are related in term of linguistic? To understand this, we need to go back way before the colonization of Spanish in the Philippines. The answer to the question, “How Indonesian and Filipino are linguistically related?” lies to the era before colonization of Spanish in the Philippines in 1521.

At that time, Malay was widely spoken language in the aristocracy of the Philippines because of the extensive relation between kingdoms in the Philippines and Brunei, Malaysia, and Indonesia. Malay was used as lingua franca between kingdoms in South East Asia Maritime mostly for trading and political purpose. Malay was the major Austronesian language spoken in Malaysia, Singapore, Brunei, and Indonesia.

Image Source: Wikimedia

Therefore, Malay language had major influence to Tagalog or Filipino the official language of the Philippines. The influence of Malay language to Tagalog or Filipino could be seen in Laguna Copperplate Inscription (LCI). Laguna Copperplate Inscription is the earliest written document in the Philippines. The language used in LCI was mix of Old Tagalog, Old Malay, and Sankskirt.

Meeting New Friends, Learning Something New

This is what I love from traveling. Not only that I can explore new places, I also can meet new people, make friends. And from that meeting, I can learn new things from my new friends. Probably, I would never knew that Indonesia share similar words with Philippines if I did not go to Temple Stay that time. Thanks to Joanne, Jacob, Angel, Patricia, Tanya, and Hannah I got to learn linguistic similarities between Indonesia and Philippines. I hope I can meet them soon in Philippines!

By Ilham Mubarok, ASEAN Correspondent from Indonesia